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.