Here’s a comment of mine from February of 2020:

Mets fans know firsthand the value of depth.

I blame BVW for a few high-profile bad moves but he deserves credit for building the team’s 25-man roster depth to better than it’s been for a long, long time.

My opinion is that the Mets are about 2 years away from having good upper minors/40-man roster depth.

The Mets recently announced the players they were not picking up options for, along with those whose contracts were finished and were now free agent. Those moves left their 40-man roster at 31. There have been some surprising non-tenders by other clubs and some hoped that new owner Steve Cohen would flex his financial muscle by picking up guys like Darren O’Day and Brad Hand, players who would certainly be big improvements over what the club carried in 2020.

Perhaps this wouldn’t have been a good look for Cohen – spending money on his first day as owner while other clubs are claiming to be in such bad financial shape. Or maybe the club doesn’t have any interest in spending more on middle relievers than they’ll pay their closer next year. Regardless of the “why,” the Mets, along with every other club, passed on picking those guys up and being responsible for their original contract.

There seems little doubt that supply is going to be much, much higher than in recent years. And just like you don’t walk into a store and buy the first mattress you see, you don’t have to pick the first eight-figure contract that comes your way, either. The Mets did make some moves yesterday, picking up two pitchers for depth purposes, ones who don’t figure to make the Opening Day roster, yet guys who you figure will get a shot at some point during the 2021 season.

The new Mets are Jacob Barnes and Nick Tropeano. Barnes is a reliever, a fastball/slider guy with a heater regularly in the mid-90s. The problem, especially last year, was that the slider wasn’t a good pitch at all. Maybe the Mets feel they can help with the slider or have him focus on another pitch. FanGraphs lists him as not having an option left. Tropeano has been primarily a starter in his MLB career but all seven of his appearances last season came out of the pen. Tropeano has a much deeper repertoire than Barnes but is somewhat similar in that one pitch wasn’t giving him great results. This time, it’s the splitter that batters were punishing. Also, Tropeano has an option remaining.

Adding these two players, the 40-man now sits at 33. And according to mlb.com reporter Anthony DiComo, the Mets don’t have any pressing needs to promote a minor leaguer to the 40-man prior to the Rule 5 Draft. DiComo singles out Shervyen Newton as the biggest candidate and Newton was not very good when we last saw him in Lo-A in 2019.

So, there’s a lot of room to add guys from free agency. And the current 40-man still has guys you wouldn’t lose any sleep if they were cut from the list. Patrick Mazeika, Paul Sewald and Daniel Zamora all currently have slots. Really, the Mets could add 10 new guys to the 40-man at this point in time. And if they did that and still found guys they liked – they could make additional moves. Let’s take a quick look at the guys on the 40-man not likely to start the year on the Opening Day roster.

Barnes – Power reliever who had a 3.54 ERA in 147.1 IP from 2016-18 with the Brewers
Ariel Jurado – Depth starter candidate with very little MLB success
Franklyn Kilome – Potential long man out of the pen if Mets will utilize that role
Corey Oswalt – Depth starter candidate who gave up 2 ER in 4.1 IP in his only 2020 start
Sewald – Low-leverage reliever
Thomas Szapucki – Oft-injured minor league starter with a world of potential
Tropeano – Depth starter candidate with 39 MLB starts under his belt
Zamora – Lefty reliever who was useful in 2018, poor in 2019 and didn’t pitch in 2020
Mazeika – 27-year-old catcher who has yet to have a PA in the majors.
Ali Sanchez – Long touted as a top defensive backstop but didn’t look MLB-ready
Robel Garcia – Added a few days ago, Garcia is a righty-hitting infielder who showed some pop with the Cubs in a brief look in 2019.

Ideally, the farm system starts cranking out guys to fill more spots on the 40-man, even if they’re players with ceilings as solid MLB reserves, not a pretend reserve like Mazeika. We will know the Mets are on good footing when they can regularly bring up guys from the 40-man who can play a useful role in the majors, whether for two weeks or three months. And some of those players will be farm system products and others will be guys from other orgs with previous MLB experience. There’s nothing wrong with having guys like Barnes, Garcia and Tropeano on your 40-man roster.

Even if we’re waiting for more exciting names to be added later.

5 comments on “Mets make three moves to add to 40-man roster depth

  • TJ

    Brian,
    Spot on write-up. Without doing a deep study, I sense that the Mets have more 40 man roster flexibility this season than they have had in a long time. When adding that to having the combination of a new, wealthy owner in a big time buyer’s market, this is a unique opportunity for the Mets to take a very big step forward. Of course, it will require sound choices. Additionally, to some degree, despite this current market, it is quite difficult to import those roster 26-40 players that are controllable, with options, and can provide quality depth. Those almost always have to be home grown, but every now and then you can hit on one.

    Alderson may have the most freedom/flexibility that he has every had in a given offseason. I sense this offseason will be less about the Bauers and Realmutos and more about identifying and signing the guys in the next level that will perform well in 2021 – from the the Klubers, Hands, etc.

    • Brian Joura

      I’m not sure if they have more flexibility this year or not. Yes, there have been times where they needed to protect multiple people from the Rule 5 Draft. But part of the roster equation is knowing when to cut bait on guys who came up through your system. They kept guys like Bashlor and Rhame for years despite no MLB success and limited Triple-A success. It would be one thing if these guys were getting knocked around in brief MLB samples but had 2-something ERA’s in Triple-A. But that’s not what was happening. There’s got to be enough guys coming up behind them to make carrying them not a wise move.

  • Rob

    Spot on as usual. I just really dont se Oswalt as major league pitcher. While there is some talent there just seems confused and lacks confidence when out there.

  • Mike W

    The next six weeks leading up to the winter meetings could be very exciting. It will be very interesting to see who the Mets sign and what possible trades they may make. I think they may sign one big name before the winter meetings and make a couple of trades at the meetings.

    What feels great is the word hope. To have a new owner who wants to win with deep pockets is terrific. We all wished for the Wilpons to go away and now we have our early Christmas present. They are gone.

    I have a gut feeling that they will really go after Realmuto. They may to try to strike early with a lot of these players.

    Also would be interesting to be a fly on the wall to see what Alderson’s perspective is on the current roster, especially at first base.

  • Metsense

    This is going to be a financial interesting offseason When the Indians declined the Hand option it resonates through out the industry. Brach unsurprisingly renewed his option. Betances surprisingly renewed his option because he felt like he couldn’t get a $3m contract. Now Stroham has a QO and it should be telling how it works out. Teams are saying that they’re going to cut 30-40% of their payroll. Fortunately the Mets have new money and it should be a buyer market. There maybe an opportunity to trade a Met low paying star for a pitching ace that has a large contract. Food for thought.

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