The 2020 Mets have been up and down in this strange 2020 season, often seeming to be a piece or two away from being a powerhouse team. There are a few ex-Mets out there who are having banner seasons, and they could have been those precious missing pieces. The one thing these ex-Mets have in common is that all of these players left the team, either by release, free agency or by being non-tendered.

The Mets starting rotation this year has been feast or famine, with only Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo being reliable options. The back end of the starting corps has been disappointing. Zack Wheeler had been a fixture in the rotation for a few years, and he had been very good in 2019. That year he was 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA and a WHIP figure of 1.295. He was especially good in the latter half of the year. He was eligible for free agency, but by all accounts, he would have preferred to stay with the Mets should they have made him a competitive offer. As we all know, the Mets did not make a serious effort to sign him and Wheeler signed with Philadelphia. Instead the Mets chose to go the retread route for their rotation, picking up declining starters Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello.

Wheeler has been the bright spot of the Philadelphia staff this season, with a 4-0 record, a 2.47 ERA and a Whip of 1.10 to date. He has been among the ERA leaders all season. He was sharp against the Mets for most of the game on Labor Day, with one bad inning to mar his effort. It still ranks as a quality start, and of course the Phils won the game in extras.

Since the Mets did make a qualifying offer to Wheeler, they did receive a little something in the form of the 69th overall pick in this summers’ draft. That compensation pick turned out to be High School outfielder Isaiah Greene, who is years (if ever) away from playing in the bigs.

Catcher is another position of need for the current edition of the Mets, with starter Wilson Ramos providing anemic offense. His defense, to be charitable, has been subpar. Back in 2018 new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagernen made a series of moves at the beginning of the season, one of which was the release of catcher Travis d’Arnaud. Mr. d’Arnaud caught on with Tampa Bay and had a very productive 2019. This season d’Arnaud signed with Atlanta, and he has been raking at a .317/.369/.545 clip with 6 homers so far. His .914 OPS would look awfully good in the Met batting order. The Mets have mostly been RISP challenged this year, while d’Arnaud has shined in that regard with a BA of .357 in RISP situations. Since d’Arnaud was released, the Mets got nothing back for him.

Fan favorite Wilmer Flores was non-tendered subsequent to the 2018 season. One of the key sparkplugs of the 2015 pennant season, Wilmer was not good defensively, wherever he played for the Mets. He was very productive with Arizona last year, putting up a .317/.361/.487 slash line. Now with the Giants, the 28-year-old Flores has been hitting at a .299/.345/.533 clip. With the DH now in play in the NL, Flores has been a valuable contributor to an improved Giants team.

It’s been a while since Justin Turner was a Met, the third baseman was non-tendered following the 2013 season. In that off season he retooled his swing and he became a star of the launch angle revolution. Once he left the Mets, he became a mainstay of the perennially contending Dodgers. His best year was probably 2017 when he slashed .322/.415/.530.

Turner has tailed off a bit this year, but he is still a contributor to the Dodgers. The 35 year old is currently on the injured list, but he has played 32 games hitting .282/.384/.410. He has been even better than d’Arnaud in RISP at bats, he has hit at a .394 rate in those situations in 2020.

The ex-Mets listed have all thrived this season, and the key ones like Wheeler and d’Arnaud could potentially have turned this season around for the Mets had management been more rational in its operation of the roster.

15 comments on “Zack Wheeler and the ex-Mets who are starring elsewhere

  • Name

    How about some of our old relievers?

    Rafael Montero – resurfaced with the Rangers last year. In 2020 he’s been their closer in a twist which no one saw coming. He must have figured out how to throw strikes with a 1.6 bb/9 last year and 2.5 bb/9 this compared to his Mets career of 5.2 bb/9

    Hansel Robles – Angels closer in 2019, but utter disaster in 2020. 13.09 ERA and coming off a 3 walk no outs recorded outing.

    Also wanted to note Addison Reed – rare bullpen piece who struggled elsewhere and actually thrived with the Mets. Signed with the Twins following the 2018 season and was meh for them. Injured in 2019 and released mid-way through the season.

    • John Fox

      Name, I thought about Robles but because of his disasterous 2020 he really did not fit into my overall theme of players who were allowed to walk but could have helped the Mets this year. Montero completely slipped by me.

  • Dan Capwell

    Despite a few big moments, the last week (Alonso’s homer on Seaver Day, the 14 run explosion vs. Philly and the torrid Labor Day comeback that fell short), I am convinced that this year’s version of the Mets will resemble last year’s version: some good players on an incomplete team that will fall just short. I am ready to turn the page on these guys. Get rid of Jeff this week and BVW next month. Bring in a real GM who can more accurately gauge talent and an owner who isn’t afraid to spend money to keep it.

    Wheeler wanted to come back. TdA was finally healthy. Montero was miscast as a starter. All of these moves, plus Turner (and Murphy) were made because of this shoestring budgeting that ownership handed down. Spend big on a few pieces and fill the rest with minor league deals, one year deals to guys coming off injuries, and pre-arb types. And when the later start to get expensive cut’em loose.

  • TJ

    This is a great article, and an excellent point by Name to mention those relievers.

    Hindsight is 2020, and likely fans of every team can point to some guys the team gave up on/let go that performed well elsewhere. No one is perfect. However, the Mets are clearly really bad. I’ll give a pass on Murphy, as much as it hurts. I was a big mistake unless the Mets saw him as a legit 1B power bat. Turner was a huge mistake as well, but there had to be non-baseball reasons. Whatever.

    Montero and D’Arnaud really bother me. Montero was a guy with pinpoint accuracy in the minors that was afraid to come at big league hitters since he got pounded early when he did. He had some arm issues, then got TJ, and was never given a chance to return, likely to hold a roster spot for some replacement level vet. That was a major sin. You can’t teach his type of command, and with quality stewardship, this guy could become a quality reliever. They let him go for nothing.

    D’Arnaud, they paid $3.5 mil and let him go over some dopey baserunning, after dealing away Plawecki, with no depth in the system. I mean, this is mind boggling and doesn’t take big picture into account. D’Arnaud was a disappointment, but no one ever questioned he was an MLB caliber catcher when healthy.

    Time will tell on Wheeler, and we’ll see if he can be replaced at a discount (Bauer?) given MLB COVID finances, but losing quality players for little to nothing is not good, and losing them to division opponents consistently is not only bad, it is brutal as a fan.

    • Wilponzi

      There were a lot of fans shouting to get rid of TDA since he arrived. I guess the Wilpon’s and Brodie were listening. Jeff liked to say he was thinking outside of the box, especially when he hired Brodie. Also many of these moves were made while Alderson was GM. Getting rid of Jeff and Brodie would be big, big pluses. But if they kept Wheeler, they would be at least 4 or 5 games up from where they are now. You develope players and then just get rid of them is planly stupid.

    • Brian Joura

      The Mets were set up to retain their pitching but BVW took the money that should have went to Wheeler and instead spent it on Cano. If instead of making that awful trade, BVW had approached Wheeler about an extension before the 2019 season happened, he probably could have gotten Wheeler for somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of what he ended up signing once he hit free agency.

      It was set up for the Cespedes money to go towards Noah and the Wright money could have been used for a Stroman or a Conforto.

      • TJ

        Precisely, and your points just amplify how miscalculating Brodie or Brodie/Jeff have been. And to think, McNeil and Alonso were just gifted by Alderson, performing much higher than expectations. Conforto, Smith and Nimmo have grown into their own and justified their #1 pick status. The potential for elite pitching was in place, it just needed to be retained and kept healthy (that piece involves a bit of luck). While Rosario has underperformed since his #1 MLB prospect ranking, Gimenez has arrived ahead of schedule and Guillorme is looking like a very valuable utility piece. Lugo is another piece that is potentially very undervalued given his performance vs. his tenure. They really do have a good core here…hopefully the new ownership will allow the flexibility to make the right moves without mortgaging the future, personnel-wise.

      • Metsense

        I agree Brian, letting Wheeler walk and not offering him a contract extension in the off season of 2018 was another of BVW bad moves. A successful, under 30, healthy starting pitcher who pitches 185+ innings is difficult to replace. Wheeler wasn’t a deterrent to the rotation or the team. He was an asset. The pending sale of the team will remedy these situations; more cash flow and a new GM.

    • John Fox

      Thanks TJ, I can remember when Montero was just about the top pitching prospect in the organization about 2015 or 2016, guess he was a real late bloomer

  • HOF19

    You folks here on Mets 360 will never believe this but I know a few Yankees fans that right now (I can’t believe I’m gonna type this ) But Yankee fans that would trade the entire Yankees bullpen for the Mets bullpen…………..Doom and Gloom in Yankee-ville I guess .

  • MattyMets

    Others having nice seasons – Kevin Plawecki and Darren O’Day. There are other relievers I’m not thinking of, but the Mets have long had a knack for cutting the wrong guys in the bullpen.

    Looking ahead to the off-season, and hopefully new ownership and GM, I’d really like our first move to be declining the option on Ramos. I hated that signing at the time and really hate it now. BVW had all his eggs in the Realmuto basket and nearly traded away way too much to get him, but when he and Grandal slipped through his fingers, he made a panic move for a bad defensive catcher who only hits singles and clogs the bases. I can’t complain about d’Arnaud. We gave him enough chances to stay healthy and produce. Who knew he’d be the catching version of Al Leiter or Curt Schilling. The mistake was that he should have not been tendered at all – waste of money. Wheeler was completely mishandled. Should have either been locked up or traded the previous year.

    • Metsense

      The Mets backup catching situation has been mismanaged by BVM. Ramos was a good signing (12/18/2018) after Grandal turned down as very fair offer. Ramos had a above average offense in 2019. In 2018 the Mets used Plawecki (92 OPS+), Mesoraco (98 OPS+), TDA (injured, played 4 games, 79 OPS+ and 94 OPS+ in 2017) and Nido (23 OPS+) .BVW had to choose one of these four players to be the backup. In the off season of 2018, Plawecki no options left, TDA was arbitration eligible, Mesoraco was a free agent and Nido had one option remaining left. TDA was tendered for $3.5m and then cut. Mesoraco, the best offensive option signed for $1m and was cut. Plawecki was traded Lockett who just got cut . BVW ended up with Nido with his 2019 45 OPS+. TDA shouldn’t have been tendered but traded instead. Mesoraco should have made the team. Nido optioned to the minors.

      • John Fox

        I agree with you Metsense on Mesaroco, he should have been kept, most all the pitchers on the staff loved throwing to him

  • JimO

    Cohen is the biggest “acquisition” we can make. Once the deal is done and he is place, all of the current regime’s miscues will be in the rearview mirror.

  • TexasGusCC

    And no one mentioned Blake Taylor, who just went to the Astros for one year of a crappy player that was easily replaceable by resigning Lagares?

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