Name made an interesting comment the other day, one that shouldn’t get lost. He wondered why teams were giving out long-term commitments to hitters, rather than pitchers, that would extend them to their age-37 season and beyond. He found many more pitchers than hitters that were productive at that age. That corresponds nicely with an idea of mine about the 2022 Mets.
Everyone talked about the average age of the team last season, as it was one of the oldest teams in the league. But while that may be true, it was because of veterans in their 31-33 seasons, not guys three years and more older than that. The only hitter the Mets had in 2022 who was 36 or older (36 used because that’s what the split is at Baseball-Reference) was Robinson Cano and if somehow you forgot how terrible he was, he posted a .501 OPS before the Mets mercifully cut him.
Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar and Starling Marte will all be in their age-34 season in 2023. That will be the final year of their contract for Canha and Escobar. Marte will have two additional years, taking him through his age-36 season. The oldest hitter next year may be Darin Ruf, who would be 36. But there’s no guarantee Ruf makes the Opening Day roster.
It’s something to keep in mind when advocating for long-term extensions for either Pete Alonso or Jeff McNeil. I’m a fan of both players but not a fan of them being on the team with a big contract as they push 40. It’s especially difficult for McNeil, who didn’t make the majors until he was in his age-26 season. McNeil’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season. If you were to sign him to an extension today, it could be only five years before hitting B-R’s final age bracket or six years before hitting Name’s threshold of 37.