Four Players Steve Cohen Should Target Aside From Trevor Bauer or J.T. Realmutoby Ben Fadden October 31, 2020 1 comment
Steve Cohen is the new owner of the New York Mets and he’s ready for free agency beginning Sunday night. Here are four players Cohen should go after to make the Mets into a contender.
The Wilpons are gone! It’s the best news Mets fans have heard in years. Now, Cohen gets to head a big offseason filled with speculation of where the biggest names in free agency will land. Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, and George Springer are the best three free agents in the winter, but it is going to take a while for them to sign.
Mets fans are going to expect Cohen to walk away from this offseason with at least one of the three previously mentioned superstars. Today, let’s focus on the tier of players below those three.
To be clear, I believe the Mets should obviously go after Realmuto, Bauer, and Springer. However, that process will take care of itself and those three players likely won’t be signing until 2021.
The Mets aren’t in the same position the Yankees were last offseason when they believed that Gerrit Cole was the final piece to the puzzle for them to win it all. The Mets are more than a couple of superstars away from competing with teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres for the NL pennant.
Here are the players that Cohen and Sandy Alderson should be going for at the start of free agency beginning on Sunday evening.
Brad Hand, 30, Relief Pitcher
Hand should be one of the Mets’ top priorities at the very beginning of free agency since the Cleveland Indians declined his $10 million club option to make him a free agent. The Indians didn’t even want to pay his $1 million buyout, so they put him on waivers. Yet, no teams wanted him on what essentially would’ve been a one-year, $10 million deal.
Hand is one of the league’s best relievers. However, nobody pursued him even on a bargain because of teams’ revenue losses due to COVID-19. In 2020, Hand had a 2.05 ERA with 16 saves in a 60-game season, which would amount to over 40 saves in a regular 162-game season.
New York’s bullpen hasn’t been good the last few years and it has been headlined with the struggles of Edwin Diaz. He came over from in the lopsided trade executed by general manager Brodie Van Wagenen that sent the Mets’ best outfield prospect to the Seattle Mariners for Diaz and an aging Robinson Cano on an expensive contract.
Adding the three-time All-Star would only make the Mets bullpen situation better and would be an excellent start to Cohen’s reign as owner.
Liam Hendriks, 31, Relief Pitcher
Hendriks is an even better reliever than Hand is. He’s coming off a 2020 campaign, finishing with a 1.78 ERA for the AL West champion Oakland Athletics. His season was good enough to win him the 2020 Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year award.
Obviously, Mets fans understand that they don’t need to worry any longer if they will have enough money to sign the best reliever on the free-agent market, as Cohen is worth over $14 billion.
If Hendriks comes to New York, he would slot into the closer role and be part of a much scarier bullpen. Diaz had a better season in 2020 than in 2019, but even if he struggles, the 7-8-9th inning combination could be Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, and Hendriks.
Corey Kluber, 34, Starting Pitcher
Obviously, when it comes to the free-agent starting pitchers, Bauer is going to get the headlines, and rightfully so. He should win the 2020 NL Cy Young award, but the addition of Kluber would certainly help the back end of the rotation.
Marcus Stroman likely won’t return to the Mets, as he is going to command more money than he deserves. If the Mets are spending money in other spots (like Bauer and/or Realmuto), he just doesn’t make much sense.
On the flip side, Kluber makes sense as a low-risk and very high reward signing. Fans remember him from his days with Bauer in Cleveland when he was the ace of the 2016 AL Champion Indians. However, he has dealt with some injuries since then.
The two-time Cy Young award winner was traded to the Texas Rangers, who believed that they gained a frontline starter to pair with Mike Minor. Kluber never performed up to expectations, as he only appeared in one inning all season due to a shoulder injury.
Texas declined his $18 million club option which made him a free agent.
The Mets would be buying low for a guy who could end up being the steal of the winter if all works out.
Charlie Morton, 36, Starting Pitcher
Morton would be more than just a fourth or fifth starter in the Mets’ rotation. He is regarded as one of the best big-game pitchers in baseball. Morton achieved this after leading the Rays to a Game 7 ALCS victory over the Houston Astros this past postseason.
People around baseball describe the 2017 World Series champion as a great leader on and off the field for young pitchers. He is also invaluable with his consistency on the bump.
The Tampa Bay Rays declined his club option, making him a free agent. Money isn’t a problem for the Mets but could be what lures Morton away from a team like the New York Yankees.
Morton grew up idolizing Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens and prefers to stay on the East Coast close to his home. If he is willing to pair up with Cole in the Bronx, why wouldn’t he be open to driving across the city and pair up with the best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom?
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