The Mets announced a bunch of moves yesterday, including one or two that seem surprising. While it was expected for Carlos Carrasco to declare for free agency and Omar Narvaez to exercise his option to remain with the club, the Mets also waived six players. Those were: Peyton Battenfield, John Curtiss, Elieser Hernandez, Bryce Montes de Oca, Denyi Reyes and Tim Locastro. By my count, that leaves 33 players on the 40-man roster, counting two guys who will need to be activated from the 60-day IL, players with options who may or may not be back and arbitration-eligible players who may still be non-tendered.
The options and non-tenders will be sorted out soon enough, which leaves promoting players who would otherwise be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. Jeremiah Jackson is a lock to be added and there are others who will be protected as well. But let’s look at the guys currently on the 40-man:
Pitchers – Bickford, Brigham, Butto, Coonrod, Diaz, Garrett, Gott, Hartwig, Lucchesi, Megill, Murfee, Ottavino, Peterson, Quintana, Raley, Reid-Foley, Senga, Smith, Walker
Catchers/Infielders – Acuna, Alonso, Alvarez, Baty, Guillorme, Lindor, Mauricio, McNeil, Narvaez, Vientos
Outfielders/DH – Marte, Nimmo, Stewart, Vogelbach
Given how thin the outfielders are on the current 40-man, it was very surprising to me to see Locastro cut loose so soon. And, yeah, guys like Locastro are available every offseason. But he did a credible job and seemed like he would be an asset as the club’s fifth outfielder. It’s my belief that a case could be made that he would be a better fit on the club than DJ Stewart. That may seem crazy given their respective final numbers. But Stewart had a hot streak that he’s not likely to replicate going forward. At the end of the day, the Mets think it will be easier to replace Locastro’s speed and defense than it will be to replace Stewart’s power.
All of the pitchers waived are at least a tiny bit surprising, although my guess is that Montes de Oca will elicit the most hand-wringing from the fanbase. It’s my opinion that none of these five pitchers will be missed all that much. Rather, if the club was going to cut ties with Curtiss – why not Brigham, Coonrod and Garrett, too? According to FanGraphs, Brigham and Garrett have an option available, while Coonrod does not. And just for the record – Coonrod stinks. He has a lifetime 5.54 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in the majors. My hope is that he never pitches a game for the Mets again.
My opinion is that Bickford is worth having on the 40-man. But if the Mets cut ties with him, it wouldn’t be anything about which to get alarmed. Let’s create three groups from our current 33-man roster. The first is guys who should be upgraded. The second are guys that are more or less cromulent but could be removed for an upgrade. And the final one is guys who will be on the Opening Day 40-man unless they are traded.
Group 1 – Brigham, Coonrod, Garrett, Walker
Group 2 – Bickford, Gott, Hartwig, Murfee, Reid-Foley, Smith, Stewart, Vogelbach
Group 3 – Butto, Diaz, Lucchesi, Megill, Ottavino, Peterson, Quintana, Raley, Senga, Acuna, Alfonso, Alvarez, Baty, Guillorme, Lindor, Mauricio, McNeil, Narvaez, Vientos, Marte, Nimmo
That’s 21 players who are seemingly safe to be on the 40-man when the season starts. And we can certainly quibble about several of those, too. Omar Narvaez’ contract seemingly guarantees his spot but few would be disappointed if the Mets cut him loose. Starling Marte might be in the same boat as Narvaez. Luis Guillorme is a potential non-tender candidate but the Mets have already removed his internal competition.
At the bare minimum, the Mets have 11 additions to the 40-man, made up of the seven spots they’re currently short, along with the four from Group 1 above. It seems likely there will be a couple of additional spots from Group 2, too. A few of these will be minor leaguers added before the Rule 5 Draft. But it just goes to show how much work is to be done in the offseason.
Roughly a year ago, the then-GM was dubbed Quick Draw Billy Eppler for his decisiveness making moves. It will be curious to see how David Stearns acts in this regard. An old roommate of mine told me once that good things come to those who wait but only after the scavengers get first pick. Here’s hoping to Stearns being decisive enough to get first pick while adding the pieces missing at the top of the roster.
He can be deliberate in other phases, so long as the Brigham Bunch is gone by the time that the regular season starts.