Javier BaezAs this disappointing season fizzles out this weekend, Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson will be focused on finding a new General Manager and/or President of Baseball Operations. This new person(s) will have to hit the ground running as the Mets have a lame duck manager and coaches, as well as 14 free agents. Okay, since three of them are Jerad Eickhoff, Heath Hembree, and Cameron Maybin, let’s just call it 11.

First up is Noah Syndergaard and this is an easy one. Issue the qualifying offer. The homegrown hurler has expressed a desire to stay in New York and desperately wants to re-establish his value. His one-inning outing on Tuesday gave us some reassurance that the long-haired one will be back to his dominant self after a near two-year layoff. He’s still just 29 and hopefully has many good years ahead of him. A healthy and motivated Syndergaard will go a long way toward solidifying our rotation next year.

Another homegrown star who can be issued a qualifying offer is Michael Conforto. This has been a very disappointing season for the right fielder who was pegged to command a major contract on the open market. Had he stayed healthy and enjoyed another 900+ OPS season there would no doubt be a dozen teams calling Scott Boras only to find out the asking price was $200 million over seven years or somewhere in that pricey neighborhood. Unfortunately for Conforto, no owner is going to sign off on that contract for a corner outfielder coming off a .713 OPS season.  Because of his age, track record, and agent, Conforto might not accept the qualifying offer so the Mets should have a backup plan in mind, whether that’s Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant or a more affordable option.

Having taken the qualifying offer last off-season, pitcher Marcus Stroman is not eligible to do so again. The 30-year-old righty has had a durable and dependable season and has proven himself worthy of a contract. Given the injury histories of most of our other starters, the Mets can’t afford to lose Stroman. Stroman is one of the only prime aged quality starters hitting free agency so he won’t come cheaply, but money is no longer a concern for this team with Cohen writing the checks. Rich Hill is also a free agent and could be a depth option, but he’ll be 42 in spring training so, caveat emptor.

And as long as Uncle Steve has his checkbook out, in-season acquisition Javier Baez looks like a keeper. His gold glove, power bat, improved patience at the plate and versatility make him a valuable part of the team. There’s always a chance some team offers El Mago a truckload to play shortstop, but there are many other available options and he likes playing alongside his buddy Francisco Lindor at Citi Field. Baez’ righty bat helps balance the lineup and his smooth glove solidifies the infield. Having him lock up the keystone, allows us the flexibility to shift Jeff McNeil to third base or left field.  It also opens up the option to use McNeil, J.D. Davis or Dominic Smith as a trade chip.

Another player that must come back is Aaron Loup. The lefty was our best reliever by far this season and has earned a contract. The Mets should make sure he sticks around. Most of the rest of the bullpen is under contract for 2022 except for the perpetually injured Dellin Betances and the perpetually frustrating Jeurys Familia. It’s time for the organization to move on from both of these enigmas. Brad Hand is also a free agent but he does not look anything like the same player from his all-star seasons.

Two key members of the bench mob are hitting free agency in outfielder Kevin Pillar and Jonathan Villar. Both could find a place on next year’s team, but Villar especially will be tough to bring back. The versatile infielder has been a starter for much of his career and another team may want to offer him that opportunity again. Pillar, while not a real slugger, is a valuable reserve and shouldn’t cost much to bring back on a one or two year deal.

Bringing many of our free agents back does not mean we can’t sign others and it certainly doesn’t mean we can’t make trades. The 2022 Mets certainly will not look exactly like this year’s model.

21 comments on “Eleven Mets face free agency – Who’s coming back in 2022?

  • Footballhead

    Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch! I really can’t agree with this article. No more long-term contracts please. Qualifying offers are barely any better. No; I’m looking for a total organizational overhaul and or rebuild. Time to emulate the successful franchises who do so much better, with so much less. Cardinals, Braves for instance. Even teams that do spend stupid money like the Dodgers and Yankees can do so because they are successful, due to their front office savvy.

    I’m willing to trade assets like Alonso and deGrom, and bundle them with loser contracts like Cano, McCann, Lindor; for higher grade prospects. Other teams have done so (against us), but again, we need a competent front office to do so.

    I also say no to Baez, Syndegaard, Villar, Conforto getting QO or long contracts. Stroman is going to sign with the Yankees. McNeil, Smith & Davis will not bring back anything in trades after their down years, so keep them and hope for bounce-back years. Also keep Pillar, Hill, Loup & Hand.

    Goodbye to Betance & Familia & Lugo. There will be enough bodies available to fill the pen & roster for 2022 & 2023 until a revitalized farm system makes us competitive again. Sacrifice the next two years instead of pretending we are in the same league as the Atlanta Braves.

    • Mike W

      I agree with you. Why spend all of this money and go way over the cap to have the same team we have now, which is a third place sub .500 team. Can I say it. Trade deGrom. He is 33 already. Would being back a haul even after his injuries this year.

    • Patrick LaCourse

      This was a train wreck in the making giving Francisco Lindor an outlandish contract.
      Not that he is not a fine player but it raised the expectations of a team littered with the likes of Jeff McNeil, James McCann and Dominic Smith who are really bench players on strong teams. Then lets magnify this by bringing in the most overrated player in MLB in Javy Baez.
      Again, on the surface a great talent but not a model of solid consistency. It really does not matter how much they spend and for the record I don’t believe Jacob Degrom is on the Mets Mount Rushroom. At age 33 he has 77 career wins. Tom Seaver had that many wins at age 26. For the record I would say Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, and the 4th upon reflection could be Degrom, Ron Darling or maybe David Cone. Should be an interesting off season.

  • Woodrow

    Conforto or a Bryant,Castalanos or Schawber? It’s a no Brainer,no QO for Conforto.

  • Woodrow

    Diaz for Sanchez.

  • Steve_S.

    I agree with much of what you’ve outlined.

    But I would keep Stroman. Even if deGrom and Thor are OK next year. Peterson and McGill can be in the pen or minors until the inevitable injuries.

    And other than signing Baez to play 2B, I’d try hard for Bryant, who can play 3B and the OF. As you said, add at 3B and the OF.

    Also, signing 1 or 2 bullpen guys would be advisable.

  • Wobbit

    A smart GM in any sport cashes in great players at or just past their peak for the future. Let the Yankees and Dodgers give us a cache of “can’t miss” talent for the likes of deGrom or Alonso. But this won’t happen because the FO is afraid of alienating the fans, especially the casual fans who don’t scratch too deep.

    I’d like to see a total overhaul. Keep Carrasco, Megill, Peterson, and Walker. Trade deGrom (and his ten wins) and rebuild the SP rotation with youth and the cheaper FAs.

    Build around Nimmo in the OF, Lindor in the infield, and McCann as the catcher until Alvarez arrives. No choice in those cases. Take Cano to court to negate his contract… he will be worse than terrible.

    In the bullpen, give Lugo another season. Keep Loup, Diaz, Castro, Diaz, May if he is contracted, not if he isn’t. Wave bye bye to Familia, for my sake.

  • Metsense

    Cohen has say he want to win a championship in 5 years. This disappointing season indicates that he will have to spend more money if he wants to achieve his goal in that time frame. The free agent market is the quickest way. With that in mind, he will have to upgrade in the free agent market at a needed position.
    Syndergaard and Conforto should be offered a QO if they don’t accept then tried to a better replacement and get a draft choice also. Stroman would be nice but there are Ray and Gausman can replace him or Syndergaard. Baez would also be nice but Semian is worthy also. Hill should be very affordable for depth. Villar should be a depth piece with Byrant the primary free agent target because he can play 3B (until Batty) and OF. Loup should be signed and Pillar has an option that should be exercised. The Mets don’t have farmlands ready or good trade chips so Cohen will have to spend money achieve his goal and he will probably have to overpay.

    • Footballhead

      I hope your wrong about Cohen. The last thing we need is a ‘nicer’ version of Steinbrenner as regards of winning now, no matter what the cost. He’ll be taken advantage of by other organizations for sure. What’s worse then cheapo owners like the Wilpons? Desperate rich owners like Cohen I’m afraid. Lindor took him for a ride with his bluff, and now he’s stuck with a player, when other options were available. Again, it all comes down to having a competent, professional baseball savvy front office. That’s harder to put together it seems then cobbling together a roster.

      • Metsense

        The Mets need a competent, professional baseball savvy front office that can make a plan. If the Mets would blow up the salary cap (and Cohen can afford it) and sign Syndergaard, Stroman, Baez, Bryant and (Ray or Gausman) and some quality veteran bench pieces they could compete for the next few years. Using that time, they could then stockpile their minor leagues and in 4-5 years they would have replacements for their major team.

        • Steve_S.

          Makes sense, overall, Metsense! I especially agree on Bryant to replace Davis, Villar et al. at 3B for a year or two, and then move to the OF (when Vientos or Baty is ready). I would sign at least one free-agent OFer, as well.

          Do we need to go after Ray or Gausman, with deGrom, Walker, Stroman, Walker, Megill and Carrasco on board? And would one of them even want to come here, with six starters signed already?

          • Metsense

            Ray, Gausman and do dare I say Scherzer would come because they would be guaranteed for a rotation position. Carrasco and Walker, with their one year of control, are expendable for trade. Get the best deal for one of them. Megill, Peterson and Willams are controlled so they are depth starters.

            • Steve_S.

              Good points.

  • T.J.

    Well, there will be 6 months to bandy about the comments above and the composition of the 2022 club. Most if not all of us agree that this team needs some new blood. However, it also needs to implement a formula that will deliver sustained success. 2022 will be a balancing in order to accomplish both.

    Definitely Retain – Syndergaard, Loup
    Think about – Baez, Stroman, Hill, Conforto
    Let Go – Cano, Eickhoff, Cano, Hembree, Maybin, Cano, Familia, Hand, Villar, Pillar, Betances, and did I mention Cano

    Syndergaard is a question mark but I’ll overspend for one season on the possibility of 150 innings of quality starting at the back end of the rotation. Loup was just too good to let walk for a team with moneybags ownership.

    Conforto is tricky, but a one year overpay obligation isn’t that much of a deal. Based on the expected marketplace, Baez will be too pricey, and they need some change positionally. Stroman is tough but again I’d see what the marketplace yields, combined with other alternatives, before passing.

    Additionally, I would absolutely market deGrom to get a feel for return. This to me is the key to the entire offseason. He is an all-time great Met, on their starter’s Rushmore, and I wouldn’t deal him from a rebuild mode. But, clearly, he is looking for Cole/Strasburg-type money after 2022, and given his age and issues that is just too risky for sustainable winning. There will be some teams – let’s say the Padres and Angels – that absolutely need to win in 2022 and could put together a package that fit well with the Mets. In a sense, deGrom is irreplaceable, but bringing back a haul including a high end rotation arm ready in 2022, plus a quality potential pen arm, could set the table for both competing in 2022 and sustaining the winning well beyond.

  • MattyMets

    It’s weird to think of a team that never made the playoffs as having a core, but there are a lot of good, young-to-prime age, likable players on this team. Gonna be some hard decisions for the new GM to make.

  • TexasGusCC

    Matt, as Metsense touched upon, the Mets have a $6MM option on Pillar. He’s not great, but I don’t think that’s too bad.

    As for trading JDG, I don’t like it. I like the reasons, but just don’t like trading away a quality player. Did the Dodgers trade Kershaw? No. They took payroll to $280MM and didn’t say a word. But, they kept their better prospects and their better players.

    Trading Alonso? Sure! In a heartbeat if the return is good enough. The Mets have tons of options at first base and the Royals and Indians have no first base solution, tons of pitching prospects and like affordable players.

    If we make decisions based on quality, not with our Wilpon trained minds that measure the Luxury Tax, we would see Conforto is worth a QO and hope he takes it. We all know he’s better than this year showed. He’s a consistent 3 WAR player, except for this year. Don’t forget that this year had a pretty lousy offensive support staff to “guide” the players.

    I agree with Wobbit that Cano will be a disaster. He’s 39 years old coming off a year that he didn’t play.

    Lastly, while I don’t like Baez to return and prefer a more contact oriented player like Correa or Seaver, the problem I really have is trading our better players/prospects to get rid of bad contracts. What!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you guys Wilpons or something? Did you not lose Kelenic in order to add Swarzak and Bruce to the Seattle deal? Let’s get passed that thinking already, please.

    Would DiPoto do Kelenic for David Peterson? Would we?

    • Steve_S.

      Tex, I read that Pillar has a player option at $2.9 million, with a $1.4 million buyout. He might just stay in NY for the $2.9 million.

  • BobP

    I’m surprised at all of the calls for trading Alonso. Sure, anyone can be traded if the move makes sense but Alonso is a really good, young, controllable hitter. He’s the one offensive player who came close to their expectations this year and stayed healthy all year. His defense seems to have improved and his advanced metrics have him around average. I’m all for making some widespread changes, but of all the players on the current roster Pete is near the bottom of who I would be looking to move.

    • TexasGusCC

      Bob, it’s not to trade him just to get rid of him. It’s trade him to get two good young starting pitching players in return and stock your organization. The Royals or Indians won’t give up that commodity easily, while the Mets have other options at first base. If the price isn’t paid, you keep him. These organizations have tons of starting pitching and the Mets need it.

      • BobP

        I get it Gus but you’d have to be talking about more than 2 good pitching prospects. It would have to be young, controllable pitchers with at least some track record. It’s hard to comment without knowing specifics, but it seems like there’s a lot if sentiment to move him and it seems to be more guilt by association. If I were to rank all of the Mets problems this year, I’d probably have Alonso last.

        • Woodrow

          They aren’t trading Alonso and they shouldn’t.

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