In the end it was a disappointing season. Let’s not lose the fact that they did win 101 games last year. They were a playoff team and an elite team in the Major Leagues. There are more improvements that they could make to bolster the roster. Before they do that though, they have to make decisions with team options and with house free agents. Let’s look at the team options first.
Carlos Carrasco has a team option of $14m. Starting pitching is a valuable asset. There are also three other members of the rotation that could be free agents this year. They should exercise his option to avoid scrambling for another spot in the rotation. They can always trade him later if everything works out and fill up the 5th starter with David Peterson.
Daniel Vogelbach has a team option of $1.5m. Although he is a one-dimensional player he did fill the void for a left-handed batting designated hitter. His inexpensive salary and his .793 OPS makes it very easy to exercise his option.
The in-house free agents will not be so easy. The Mets do not have replacements in their minor leagues to replace these in-house free agents. They don’t have major league assets to trade. They are reluctant to trade their minor league assets for these replacements. Let’s look at the in-house free agents next.
Brandon Nimmo is a really good lead off batter and a plus defensive center fielder. There is no free agent that is a “true” center fielder that could replace him better. He is in the catbird seat in this free agent market. 5/100 would be reasonable but I could see 5/120 in this market. They should sign him.
Edwin Diaz was a lights out closer last year. At 30 years old he should get a multi-year contract. He should be offered somewhere in the neighborhood of 5/81-100 but also do a qualifying offer. They could pivot and sign a different less talented closer and a setup man at nearly the same price and with less years committed. They should sign Diaz because he is still young and can pitch in the New York environment.
Jacob deGrom , when healthy, is the best pitcher in baseball. They should offer him 3/135 -150 to get it done. If he leaves then it will be his personal decision and not the lack of money the Mets offered.
Chis Bassitt had a good season. He has a player option of $19m. If he should refuse the player option, then make him a qualifying offer and then offer him 2/38 with a third year team option. It would be hard to replace his 30 starts and his 181 innings.
Taijuan Walker also had a good season. He is the youngest in the regular rotation at 30. They should offer him 3/42-45 and with a fourth year team option.
If they were to have the same rotation in 2023 then that would be okay. After all, they did win 101 games but it would be difficult to duplicate that mark with four starters at 34+ years old.
Adam Ottavino was their primary set man but he is 38 years old. He made $5m this year. They should offer him 1/6 but no more. It is similar to Aaron Looper situation last year and that worked out fine. He isn’t a priority.
Trevor Williams 1.5 BWAR and was paid $3.9m. He was an integral and valuable part of the pitching staff as a long relief man, a short relief man and a spot starter. They should offer him 2/8 with a third year team option. Because of his roster spot, he would be termed as a fringe player, so he shouldn’t be a priority but he would be useful.
Seth Lugo ($3m), Michael Givens ($3.5) and Tommy Hunter ($1m) were not a problem in the bullpen but they shouldn’t get a salary raise by the Mets either. Trevor May made $7.75m last year. He was overpaid in his Met career. He is only a $3-4m a year relief pitcher going forward. The Mets should pursue other options on the free agent market first. If another team wants to give them a raise then the Mets should bid them farewell and good luck.
Last year, the position of catcher and right-handed batting designated hitter were a problem. They already have an in-house solution for the problem in Fransico Alvarez and Mark Vientos . Vientos had success in AAA so it is now a sink or swim decision. Why have a top prospect in AAA for 1 year and not use him? Alvarez is the future and the offense struggles for the current catchers make the future become now.
The roster should be improved with a 4th outfielder and a left handed set up man. The decisions on team option players and in-house free agents will decide how to move forward in the rest of the off-season.