There are only 17 days remaining until Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie for 2020 spring training. This past week, they seemingly filled the final, very important vacancy in hiring Luis Rojas to be their new manager. They also resigned Rene Rivera to a non-guaranteed contract with big league incentives to provide catching depth for the upcoming season. At first blush, the roster looks set. It’s not hard to envision the opening day roster. However, that may be less of a luxury and more of a problem.

Ideally, there should be some competition in spring training. And there should be depth for when injuries inevitably hit. And with some big names being run through the rumor mill, the Mets owe it to themselves to explore opportunities to upgrade their lineup, rotation, bullpen, and bench. With two and a half weeks til spring training, the Mets front office cannot sit on their hands. There’s work to be done.

Beef up the roster

Last off-season the Mets wisely stashed a bunch of veterans in AAA Syracuse. Outfielders Carlos Gomez, Rajai Davis, and Gregor Blanco; infielders Danny Espinosa, Ruben Tejada, and Dilson Herrera; catcher Rene Rivera; and pitchers Hector Santiago and Luis Avilan were all signed to minor league deals and several of them got pressed into duty. So far, the Mets have signed Rivera, the lefty reliever and reclamation project Chasen Shreve, outfielders Jarret Parker and Ryan Cordell, infielder Max Moroff, and pitcher Pedro Payano. If you haven’t heard of those last few guys, don’t feel bad. Neither did Matty Mets.

As of now, the active 26-man roster will likely look like this:

Rotation (5): Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, Rick Porcello

others in the mix: Michael Wacha, Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt

Bullpen (7): Edwin Diaz, Dellin Betances, Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman, Brad Brach

others in the mix: Michael Wacha, Drew Smith, Chasen Shreve, Paul Sewald, Daniel Zamora, Jacob Rhame, Tyler Bashlor

Outfielders (5): Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Yoenis Cespedes, Jake Marisnick

others in the mix: Jarrett Parker

Infielders (7): Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil, Jed Lowrie, Luis Guillorme, Dominic Smith

others in the mix: Andres Gimenez

Catchers (2): Wilson Ramos, Tomas Nido

others in the mix: Rene Rivera

The projected starting rotation, lineup, bullpen, and bench all look good to very good, but there’s little room for injuries and not enough competition. The Mets have too many older and injury prone players to not add more insurance to the roster. Most of the names listed as “others in the mix” are uninspiring. Right now the roster is less than 30 legitimate players deep. It needs to be closer to 40.

A quick glance at MLB Trade Rumors shows that there are still some free agents available who could make solid additions. Obviously, Nicholas Castellanos won’t settle for a minor league deal, but many of the others might. When the game of musical chairs nears its end, these guys get nervous and want to keep their careers going. Two names that jump out at me are versatile utility man Brad Miller and starter/reliever Collin McHugh. There are still plenty of available outfielders, infielders and right-handed relievers from which to choose.

Explore blockbusters

Names that have been floated in trade rumors include All-Stars Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, and Kris Bryant. These are among the best of the best. The Mets may not have any glaring holes, but any one of these players would immediately become one of, if not the best, players on our team. Betts is in his walk year and the Red Sox reportedly want any trade partner to also take on David Price‘s gargantuan contract, so this might not be a match. Bryant’s situation is in limbo as he may be entering his walk year or have two years of arbitration remaining depending on the long-awaited league ruling. Lindor may be the best shortstop in baseball and would not only represent an offensive and defensive upgrade over Rosario (who would certainly be part of the trade package), but he’d immediately be our best player.

Arenado may be the one the Mets should really think long and hard about. He’s already under contract, just entering his prime at 28, and is a super star. He’s a legitimate MVP-caliber, #3 hitter and widely considered the best defensive third baseman who’s ever played the game. He’s unhappy in Colorado and the Rockies need to move him. The Mets would have to be willing to go over the luxury tax threshold for one year until some salaries come off the books and reset it next off-season .It would only amount to about a $4 million penalty. The bigger question is, what would it take?

The Rockies want to save money and stay young, but don’t seem to be primed for a rebuild with a solid rotation, Trevor Story and a number of other quality players on the roster. We could help them reset by offering a package around the young and controllable J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith, as well as someone like Robert Gsellman and a prospect or two. In return for all that plus taking on every penny of Arenado’s contract, we could help balance the books a bit by having them take on Cespedes as well. McNeil would move to left field in this dream scenario in which we’d greatly improve our defense and suddenly have one of the most feared lineups in the National League. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but it’s certainly worth exploring.

Less than three weeks to go and this team is not quite ready for prime time.

42 comments on “2020 Mets not yet ready for prime time

  • Pete

    Matty I made the same proposed trade months ago here on Mets 360. I got shot down with the same deal you’re proposing. The only difference is I added Cano not Cespedes.

    • MattyMets

      Pete, that’s a big difference. Cano is untradeable. Also, in the past week the Rockies may have become a little more motivated.

  • Dan Capwell

    Colorado is in a really tough spot with Arenado. They seemingly can’t keep him, but they just can’t dump him for nothing, nor are they likely to want to trade him inside the division.

    I read where they want a CF and a 1B. We have the latter in Dom. Would they take Dom & Nimmo plus Kevin Smith and Franklyn Kilome? It means McNeil back to left (or maybe Center) and Cespedes probably on the move elsewhere.

    The other deal would be to include Pittsburgh–give the Bucs Nimmo, Smith and Kilome for Sterling Marte and then package Marte and Dom to Colorado.

    Either of those deals would be a bit more palatable here perhaps if we subbed JDD for Nimmo.

    FWIW, I am in agreement on signing both Colin McHugh and Brad Miller. The former was an “Omar Guy,” drafted by the Mets in 2008.

    • Bob P

      Nimmo, Smith and Kilome for Marte? I wouldn’t give up Nimmo straight up for him.

  • Brian Joura

    “there’s little room for injuries and not enough competition.”

    Are there 5 teams in the majors with more depth on the MLB roster than the Mets? Six, possibly seven of the eight starters could go down and the Mets could put a solid MLB regular in their place. If a SP goes down, they have at least two guys who could move in from the bullpen to take over.

    The bullpen starts off with eight guys who might have question marks but at least they’re not using Bashlor or Rhame right out of the gate and it’s very possible that Sewald or one of the minor league guys like Blackham or Gilliam or Uceta leapfrog the Bashlor Bunch for first bullpen promotion.

    We all have our fingers crossed for better bullpen production in 2020. You want to say that’s the Achilles heel of the team, no one will argue. But they have depth and who wants competition? They say if you have 2 QBs competing for the job you don’t have any.

    Dom Smith had a really good year last year. But there’s no competition because Pete Alonso is better. And that’s how it should be for a team competing for the playoffs.

    • Chris F

      Chris Russo has the Mets slotted for 4th in the NL East. I think Ronnie would likely have them 3rd based on his comments about the Braves and Nats.

      I think starting pitching is a house of cards past Noah. All are number 5 starters or worse. If either deGrom or Syndergaard goes on the DL, I cant see enough starting pitching to reach the post season. I suppose the hope would be for magical bounce back by Porcello and/or Wacha.’

      My position as of today is that the Mets and Phillies will be punching it out for 3rd and 4th.

      • Brian Joura

        You keep bringing up people like Jim Bowden and Dan O’Dowd and Chris Russo and my response is that just because they can coherently string words together in front of a microphone doesn’t make their opinions good ones. They’re in the entertainment business, not the knowledge business.

        Keith Law knows more about baseball than those three guys combined. But listening to him is the entertainment equivalent of watching paint dry. I’d rather read an article by Law – who no one has ever claimed was a Mets fan – than listen to any of the MLB Network guys that you like so much to quote.

  • BoomBoom

    Hearing some comments about how veterans don’t want to sign minor league deals with the Mets this season after the way some of them were treated last year.

  • Remember1969

    Interesting article.

    I was into the top part reading how there is not enough depth – needing up to 10 more MLB ready players. I tend to think that the roster as is currently constructed is as deep has it has been for a long time. Perhaps another veteran or two that would consider a Syracuse job for a bit – Brad Miller is not a bad idea – would be good, but 8 or 10 more seems a bit unrealistic.

    Then I dropped down into the argument for Arenado. While he is one of the top 10 players in the league (not sure I am ready to crown him the all time best defensive third baseman), and his bat and defense would be great in New York, trading 4 major league pieces for him slices off all the depth they have. Is Arenado at third and a limited outfield of McNeil, Nimmo, Conforto, and Marisnick with no first base depth, and very limited backups for third (and now second if McNeil is a full time outfielder) better than having Davis, Smith, and Cespedes to form a well rounded roster with capable backups at every position not named catcher? I’m sorry, I do not put Lowrie and Guillorme in the same ‘depth’ class as Davis and Smith (or Cespedes).

    My biggest issue with this team is catcher – I am really worried about that when Ramos goes down with a hamstring pull in April and the catchers are Nido and Rivera.
    As far as Arenado, I pass at the cost of that this year and become a player on the market after the season – perhaps Betts. . Realmuto. .

    • Eraff

      There’s a problem wityh surrendering MLB Depth/tradeable assets in Feb—you will absolutely need them in June when you’re finishing your team.

      You could trade McNeil, Dom and a Big Prospect for Arenado—that might have some traction…I haven’t measured that—but trading off all duplication and depth anjd assets in an attempt to Perfect a Team at game one is absolute folly

  • Metsense

    The Mets are ready for prime time but they should explore any opportunity that improves the present team but always be mindful of the future.(learn the lesson on the Cano/Diaz trade)
    Miller signed a minor league contract last year so maybe he would sign one for the Mets.
    McHugh, who is a slightly better than average pitcher, should secure a major league contract and he probably wouldn’t sign with the Mets as their 7th starter. (and the Mets don’t have pitcheing room on the major roster unless there is a trade.)
    Conforto, Syndergaard and Stroman are three Mets that should be approached for extensions before spring training. BVW should test waters to find out if those players are affordable and signable. If not, then move them in a blockbuster trade before the Mets lose them like they did with Wheeler.
    If I am fantasizing, then I would get Betts (with an extension) to play centerfield. The Twin’s Buxton would be my backup plan.

    • MattyMets

      Metsense, I agree with you about working on contracts for those guys so they don’t become the next Wheeler. I blogged about that a few months ago.

      Brian, I think we should all start using the phrase “Bashlor Bunch.” It epitomizes the ineffective AAAA reliever that throws batting practice out of the bullpen that we’re all sick of seeing.

      • Metsense

        Matt, a read your exceptional article last November and I was remiss for not commenting at that time. I concur that it is necessary to locked in young talent in order to be cost effective and well as “branding” the team’s identify. All three players that we’ve identified, Conforto, Stroman and Syndergaard, are good players, under 30, and the Mets don’t have replacements for them in their minor leagues.
        Per fWAR Conforto was the 8th ranked MLB RF in 2019. According to Spotrac, the current 8th place makes $11.5 M. Syndergaard was ranked 17th and Stroman was ranked 23th.(fWAR) The current salaries for those positions currently are $20.M and $17.5 M. (Spotrac)
        BVW should start now before spring training and see if these players would accept a reasonable offer that the Mets can afford. If not, then he should look trade them while they have market value.

        • Metsense

          Conforto when is categorized as just an outfield is ranked 15th by fWAR and the current salary in Spotrac is $16M.

        • Pete

          Metsense, Conforto is represented by Boras so you can forget any extension there.

  • TJ

    I’ll go political on this one and agree that the Mets have depth and lack depth at the same time. Their problem is that the depth they lack essentially can’t be acquired at this point. They current need is for AAA level guys that are ready to make the leap, abd their sytem doesn’t have any, especially bullpen guys. I’d love to add McHugh, but Metsense makes great points, he likely wouldn’t be interested given the presence of Macha, and they already have 12 pitchers on big league contracts. My hope is that the starters in AAA, specifically Kilome ans Szapucki, have very strong seasons and present as options for the pen later this summer.

    My gut still hopes they save their bullets now in order to strike at the deadline…Arenado is a stud and Marte is solid, but let’s see how this group shakes out, especially Cespedes and the catching.

    • Brian Joura

      Just a year ago everyone was seemingly so impressed by the Mets’ Triple-A depth. Then, when it came time to use it – well, that depth turned out to be zero help at the MLB level.

      For the most part, this depth gets nowhere near full-time play. So basically you’re banking on small sample luck, regardless if you have guys who were good in the majors three years ago or if you have Quad-A minor league lifers or young guys with little to no MLB experience. Adeiny Hechavarria joins the Braves and puts up a .372 BABIP in 70 PA. In his last 44 PA with the Mets, Luis Guillorme had a .344 BABIP. If either of those guys got 400 PA, their BABIP wouldn’t be anywhere near those figures.

      I don’t want to jump for joy because the guys in the minors have name value. Luis Guillorme can be lucky just like Adeiny Hechavarria. And Carlos Gomez can be unlucky just like Johan Camargo.

      There’s this whole mythology built up over having veterans with MLB experience. I guess Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Rajai Davis, Carlos Gomez and Juan Lagares didn’t get the memo.

      • MattyMets

        There are a lot of better OF options out there than Jarrett Parker.

        Back to the rumor mill for a second. I think my biggest issue with the Marte rumors is that a good player that might bring marginal improvement is not worth breaking the bank for in prospects, depth or luxury tax. If the Mets are going to exceed the threshold they should do it to land an all star and real difference maker.

        https://www.mlb.com/news/mets-unlikely-to-trade-for-pirates-starling-marte

        • Brian Joura

          But that’s the point. How many PA do you think Jarret Parker is going to get? If we made a poll and made the options 0-25, 26-100, 101-200, 201 and up — the overwhelming amount of people would vote for the first two categories. And Jarret Parker is just as likely to get lucky and have the hits drop in as anyone else. And he’s just as likely as Rajai Davis or Carlos Gomez to not be lucky and can’t buy a hit.

          If the Mets get to the point where their sixth OF is going to make or break their season, they’ll go out and trade for someone who they could not realistically get or keep here in late January.

    • Eraff

      “My gut still hopes they save their bullets now in order to strike at the deadline…Arenado is a stud and Marte is solid, but let’s see how this group shakes out, especially Cespedes and the catching.” TJ

      Yes!

  • Eraff

    I see the Mets as the first or second best team in the NL East. You always need Pitcher Health, but the Mets have depth and quality throughout the roster.

    The Braves are young and sensational. Philly hasn’t done enough and lacks depth everywhere. The Nationals caught a lucky wind…. they’re good, but they’ve lost their best player.

    I’ll continue to say that they should keep their Roster and Prospect bait Dry and Safe…identify needs when you see your team play. They have depth of Tradeable assets, and a strong possibility of greatly increased values.

  • TexasGusCC

    Both the Braves and Nationals lost star third basemen that may have been the MVP’s of their respective teams last year. Too, the Braves enjoyed very good health. The Nationals lineup is deeper than the Braves’ version but I fear neither. The Phillies are actually my biggest worry.

    The Mets last year beefed up the inaugural Syracuse Mets roster with MLB players, but those players couldn’t help the big club. Watching Wieters just get signed and Caleb Joseph makes me feel better about Rivera. He’s not great but will have runs and have an extra base hit.

    • Remember1969

      I tend to agree with ERAFF that the Mets seem to have one of the top two teams in the NL East. Until last night I thought the Braves were the best, and they may still be. When I first read TexasGus’s statement the the Nats lineup was deeper, I didn’t agree until I took another look. Now I kind of do on a position by position compare, the Nats are better at Short, Left Field, and Center Field. The Braves at First, Second, and Right Field. Catcher and Third Base are toss ups, but the Nationals bench depth is better. The Nats starting staff is more top-heavy (1,2,3 are superior, but the Braves depth is better). The Braves bullpen is better.

      I don’t know that the Mets can claim the #1 player in the division at any one position (Maybe 3rd base and/or #1 starter and if Diaz gets straightened out, the closer), but I believe they have less overall positional weakness in their starters than any of the other teams. If Yo is ready and can be at all productive, I believe the Mets bench depth is the best in the division.

      I think the Phillies have only one position leader – at catcher. I agree with ERAFF that the they (Philly) lack depth all over. The ‘wildcard’ there is the manager – Girardi always seemed to get more out of a team that I thought was possible, but other than that, I see the Phils as a 4th place team.

      If the Mets gel and continue their path from 2H2019 and they can maintain health, they are certainly ready for prime-time. My concerns are still catcher, still not as good defensively as I really like, and don’t have enough team speed.

      My thinking is this is a three team race for the NL East in 2020 (on January 25).

  • NYM6986

    One key is whether Cespedes comes back ready to play. It’s not the heal calcification issue as much as whether his freak ankle breaks are healed. 30-40 more HRs in the lineup lengthens the lineup and gives then a very potent group of hitters. That puts JD, Smith and a hopefully a healthy Lowrie to anchor the bench. Love the Rivera signing as with his D behind the plate and hitting 8th we don’t need his bat. Of course another star player would be great but we will likely wait until the July trade deadline for that upgrade. I can’t wait for pitchers and catchers to report!

  • John Fox

    A couple of points about trading for Arenado. He has a full no trade clause in his contract and is probably more interested in going to a team that is more of a contender than the Mets. Also he can opt out of his current contract after 2021, and plenty of players seem to do that.

  • Pete

    I think the new trend is not to opt out of a contract (J.D.Martinez). So much depends on the age of a player and the current market situation. You’d have to find a way to make sure $$$ that he foregoes an opt out. But he sure would solve a lot of issues for third base defensively for years to come not to mention his offense.

  • Chris F

    One of the greatest issues facing the Mets remains pitch efficiency from starters. The bullpen, no matter how fancy it looks here in January, is the last thing the team needs to count on as a slam dunk. Once you get pitchers throwing only 15-16 outs per game and sitting at near 100 pitches, you are talking about near 10 outs from the pen – day after day. That’s a recipe for disaster. Sure that load is fine in April, but then the overuse sets in fast and takes it’s toll for months, as we have seen repeatedly.

    I just dont see the rotation as special after Noah. Matz, Stroman, Porcello inspire zero confidence, yet have to perform big time. I think the team needed Cole or at the very least Wheeler. So if the outfall is the same story we see from the starters say 15, 16, 17 outs per game, that leaves 9+ outs on a regular basis for the pen, which is on paper fine but in practice unknown beyond Lugo. Seems like quite a set up for the trouble to which we are accustomed.

    • Brian Joura

      My opinion is that asking the bullpen to get 9 outs on a regular basis isn’t the problem. It’s when they have to get 15 outs twice a week when you get in trouble.

      And maybe that’s mitigated somewhat if Wacha’s in the bullpen and can give you multiple innings.

    • Eraff

      Washington’s top 4 starters (number of styarts in 2019) pitched 749 innings in 121 starts….. 6.19 I/GS. The top 4 projected Starters for the 2020 Mets Logged 745 innnings in 128 Starts…5.82 innings per start. ….. that’s less than one added out per start for The Nats, and They Won a Championship!

      (The comp was 2019 Stras/Corbin/Max/Sanchez versus 2019 Jake/Thor/Matz/Marcus)

      • Remember1969

        And their bullpen was just as much of a mess at the Mets, maybe moreso.

      • Metsense

        Eraff, my thoughts exactly. The National League average for Innings pitched by a starter is 5.1 or 16 outs leaving 11 outs for the bullpen. Is it a recipe for disaster? A prudent team will prepare for the normal.

        • Chris F

          The Mets are starter centric. It’s easy to say that they are avg with starters, but they are below average in defense etc. I’ll tell ya one big difference: the nationals are defending World Series champs, and we finished with 86 wins and third place. The two are a million miles away.

          I see the Mets at about 84 +/- 2 wins for 2020.

          • Remember1969

            I tend to disagree with your pessimism. While I understand that the Nats started poorly, they came together and got extremely hot at year end and through the playoffs and the World Series. Had both teams played .500 ball in the month of Jun, the Mets would have finished two games ahead. Playing even ball with the World Series winner over 5/6ths of the season does not tell me they are ‘a million miles away’ (especially since they had the same record after the all star break).

            How do you see Washington finishing? I believe they are weaker without Rendon . .are they still a 90+ win team in your eyes? Atlanta? Philly?

            • Chris F

              I believe the Mets will be fighting with the Phillies for 3rd and 4th come September, all other things being equal. I think the Braves with finish first, the Nats second, the Mets/Phillies 3rd and 4th. Not a ton may separate them all, but enough that neither the Mets nor Phillies will be playing baseball in October.

              As I’ve said many times, everyone tends to look at things as optimistic or pessimistic. Im actually trying for realistic, which even still means I can root passionately. I think starting pitching is going to be worse. I dont trust the situation in the pen one bit (I think Familia is and has been washed up, Diaz is a head case, and Betances is unknown). Defense has not improved one lick. I dont see that offense has improved, although there is the potential of addition by subtraction with Frazier gone. Alonso will almost never be as good (although fingers crossed). Its hard to put any money on the steep decline of Cano, Rosario is hard to know. McNeil will basically be taking a full time role in the majors at 3B for the first time. Outfield really hasnt changed, except for adding Ces, who hasent faced major league pitching in nearly 2 years, and who is clearly out of shape.

              • Brian Joura

                Realism? You always think the worst of the Mets and the best of everyone else. You think all of the question marks of the other teams are going to be answered positively and all of the question marks for the Mets will be answered negatively.

                Now, if you want to say your extreme pessimism is to counter-balance the extreme optimism you see here and elsewhere — I’d have no problem with that.

                • Chris F

                  …and yet the team is objectively average to bad year after year, no matter what the FO tells us and what fans believe.

                  I dont make the team lose.

                  .490 winning over last decade

                  • Brian Joura

                    Apply your same “realism” to the other NL East teams, please.

                  • Remember1969

                    Wow . . so 5 years ago, they were in the World Series. In the last ten years, only one other team in the NL East can say that (once). A lot has to go right to reach the top.
                    I might argue that injuries rather than overall roster makeup were bigger factors in the end results over the last few years. While the depth of the roster is what helps get through those bumps, losing Nimmo and his nearly .400 OBP at the top last year was huge. Having the Cespedes of 2015 for the last three years might have really helped. I look at the Diaz situation last year in the same light as an injury – he started out very well in April, then got turned around for whatever reason. I am not ready to label him a head case. I don’t have enough info (or have done enough research) to know if he was misused or miscoached, but before he went awry, he was the right man for the job. Say what you want about what the Mets gave up in the trade, but bringing Diaz in after his 2018 season was a good get at the time. And even Familia last year was not a horrible signing – he pitched very well with Oakland after being traded there in 2018. Things just didn’t work out with that . . but what would you have done differently? (without having hindsight to work with). In short, relief pitching is the most volatile job in baseball. The 2020 staff has the potential to be very good .. and the potential to fail again as does every other bullpen in baseball.
                    I am still optimistic that the Mets are in the mix for the division. The loss of Wheeler may hurt some, but overall, I believe they are actually better going into 2020 than they were coming out of 2019, something that I don’t think either the Braves or the Nats can say for sure. The Braves may be about even, possibly a bit better only because of the pitching depth they picked up. They will miss Donaldson. The Nats put a lot of pieces in there that would have been crucified by the bloggers had the Mets made the same moves (Cabrera, Kendrick, and Thames as the top of the depth chart at 3rd, 2nd, and 1st, respectively). Castro’s best days are behind him. Strasburg and Hudson were key moves, but they were not additions. The Phils made some big moves before 2019 and look where they ended. Are they better now with Gregorius and Wheeler (and Girardi)? Possibly. I will go out on a limb with a ‘bold’ (fearless) prediction that Porcello will actually have a better year in New York than Wheeler in Philly. He will miss the spacious confines of Citi.

  • MattyMets

    I call BS on the Mets report about why they didn’t get Marte. DBacks get him for two second tier prospects but Pirates supposedly asked the Mets for their top prospect and a proven, controllable major leaguer?! Mets always do this post-deal spin crap when they miss out on a trade or free agent signing.

    That said, I’m glad we didn’t get him. If BVW wants to move Davis or Smith and land another player, there are other areas where we could use help more than yet another outfielder.

  • Pete

    Matty the only player I want to see the Mets trade for would be Arenado. Might as well hold on to Smith and Davis. Trade them for something that’s going to be a game changer not a maybe player on the decline.

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