If you were to describe the New York Mets 2021 season in one word, it would be disappointing. With a hot start to the season, the Mets grabbed first place in their division and didn’t give it up for 103 days. Needless to say, their second half was completely different. After getting eaten up by injuries, including the NL MVP frontrunner Jacob deGrom, the Met’s second half was flat-out bad. Even after acquiring Javier Baez at the trade deadline, their hitting was lackluster, and their pitching disappointed. As a result, the Mets finished the season third in their division and missed the playoffs.
Since their season ended, the Mets have been in pursuit of a POBO (President of Baseball Operations) for a couple of weeks now and have had no luck. The Mets also need to bring in a new general manager after realizing Zack Scott, who had been on administrative leave, from his duties just a few days ago. Finally, they need to hire a new manager. When free agency starts, the Mets will have a lot of questions to deal with, for example, what they do with their eleven impending FA’s, including Marcus Stroman, Michael Conforto, Baez, and Noah Syndergaard.
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If the Mets want to compete in 2022, Steve Cohen has to be willing to pull out their checkbook and spend big. One big issue with their current roster is their starting pitching. With Stroman and Syndergaard leaving, the Mets rotation loses their second-best pitcher, as well as their most reliable. There are still questions surrounding the health of deGrom and what Taijuan Walker will be after having a rough end to his season. Bringing in multiple starters has to be at the top of the Mets offseason board.
The Mets also have two-thirds of an outfield to fill. Other than Brandon Nimmo, the Mets outfield underperformed last year. Conforto played himself out of a big contract and just yesterday declined the Mets qualifying offer, and the questions about Dominic Smith‘s future with the Mets linger in the air. Finally, their infield needs work. The same questions about Smith’s future will also be asked about J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil‘s future with the Mets. Most importantly, the Mets lose Baez, who was by far their best player after coming over from Chicago last year. All three of those holes will need addressing if the Mets want to play deep into October next year.
Keys to the Offseason
Go Get a Top Starter
Another ace-like pitcher is a necessity for the Mets this offseason. Other than deGrom, the Mets don’t have someone that they know is going to slab the rubber every fifth day and deal. We saw the Mets struggle during the second half of the season when deGrom went down with an injury, as well as when Walker’s arm started to hang. So the best thing for the Mets would be to find someone that can replace Stroman’s production. Whether that’s Stroman himself or another ace on the market, it is a need for the Mets.
Revamp the Outfield
With the departure of Conforto and question marks surrounding Smith, a revamp of the outfield is key. Other than Nimmo, who slashed .292/.401/.437 last year, the Mets outfield stunk. Conforto’s BA was under the Mendoza Line for most of the year, while Smith was below average at the plate. Although bringing in a big name like Nick Castellanos would be great, I could also see the front office acquiring some lower-tier players that could play a utility role in the outfield. If the Mets want a shot at the crown in 2022, then revamping their outfield is a must.
One More Star
Whether it’s re-signing Baez or bringing in Carlos Correa, one more star in Queens is a need for the Mets. Even though the Metropolitans traded for and paid Francisco Lindor last year, one more big-time player, preferably in the infield, would make a huge difference. When the Mets acquired Baez last year, they were able to see the impact he made on the field. Star power is a real thing, and another nine-figure player in Queens would only help.
Javier Baez, 28, Shortstop
Even with a not-so-hot start to his 2021 season, Baez thrived after coming over to Queens. Playing in 49 games with the Metropolitans, Baez had a .299 BA and slugged at a .515 clip. He also finished with a 141 OPS+ as well as a 143 wRC+. Not only can he do it offensively, but he is one of the most electric players you will see step on a field. He can make plays with his glove that not many can and can win games solely with his baserunning. He also made the $341 million dollar man better. Baez and Lindor have shown that they are great baseball players separately, but together they elevate each other to another level. Although a hearty multi-year contract might be necessary to retain El Mago, he proved that he is worth it.
Marcus Stroman, 30, Starting Pitcher
After accepting the Mets qualifying offer in 2020, Stroman was worth every penny. He finished the year with a 3.02 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, and a 133 ERA+ while throwing 179 innings which was the most on the Mets. Even though his strikeout numbers aren’t through the roof, he gets the job done in ways that work for him. For a guy just standing 5’8” feet in the air, Stroman brings swagger and confidence that is irreplicable in baseball. The New York native is probably looking for a multi-year contract upwards of a 25 million AAV. Another ace is needed in Queens, and Stroman fits that category perfectly.
Kris Bryant, 29, Third Basemen/Outfielder
With a bounceback 2021 season, the former MVP, Bryant, played himself into a big contract this winter. He finished his 2021 season with a slash line of .265/.353/.481 and a 123 wRC+. His versatility in the field is a big part of his value as a free agent. He can play just about every position in the outfield, as well as the corners in the infield. Although Bryant’s price will be high this offseason, his versatility and consistency make him worth the big check you will have to write him.
Aaron Loup, 33, Relief Pitcher
When thinking about Loup’s 2021 season, the one word that comes to mind is dominant. Pitching in 65 games, he finished with a 0.95 ERA and a 422 ERA+. When Loup was on the mound last season, everyone knew he was going to get the job done. His brilliance in 2021 will probably earn him a nice contract this winter, but adding the southpaw back to the bullpen would be a great move for the Mets.
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