Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Mets are currently brushing up against the $208 million luxury tax threshold and are perhaps unlikely to reach any extensions with players of their own until they get some salary cap relief.
But that relief should come after the 2020 season, when Yoenis Cespedes, Wilson Ramos, Marcus Stroman, and others are off the books, freeing up tens of millions of dollars in 2021 and beyond.
With the above in mind, and with the goal being to win now and in the future, the Mets would be wise to lay the groundwork for potential extensions for some of the players below, with an eye on striking deals soon after the 2020 season ends...
Conforto, who is set to become a free agent after the 2021 season, told SNY contributor John Harper during spring training that while he's open to discussing an extension, he's also willing to bet on himself.
Still, Conforto said the decision will be his -- not one made by agent Scott Boras.
"Those are big decisions and it can become a distraction," Conforto said. "If I go out there and play the way I'm capable of, everything will take care of itself. Scott's got my best interests in mind but at the end of the day it's my decision."
The Mets, whose outfield situation is very much in flux with J.D. Davis' ability to be a regular out there unknown and no high-impact prospects coming any time soon, should make locking up Conforto their number one priority.
According to SNY contributor and former front office exec Adam Fisher, an extension for Conforto could fall somewhere between deals signed by Nick Castellanos and Charlie Blackmon.
At first glance, it might seem nuts to think about an extension for Alonso at this point.
He's under team control through the 2024 season and doesn't even hit arbitration until 2022.
But Alonso is unlike any player the Mets have developed since David Wright -- in terms of ability, presence, connection with the fans, and love for the organization.
2024 is relatively far away, but the Mets should be trying -- even this soon -- to set things up for Alonso to be a lifetime Met. And if Alonso is open to discussing a deal that buys out a few of his arbitration years and tacks on a few more after that, the two sides should get to work on hammering one out.
The benefit for Alonso would be an immediate payday, and the benefit for the Mets would be locking up one of the best young players in baseball at a below-market rate.
The Mets have already built up some goodwill by doing right by Alonso twice -- calling him up to start the 2019 season instead of manipulating his service time and then giving him a record-deal for a second-year player.
This one may be incredibly unlikely due to the recent rocky (but now somewhat mended) relationship between player and team and Syndergaard's uncertain future.
But if you're the Mets, now could be the time to attempt to take a small gamble on Syndergaard (who is set to be a free agent after 2021) returning from Tommy John surgery without issue and being the pitcher he was from 2015 to 2018, when he had a 2.93 ERA (2.66 FIP) and 1.13 WHIP while striking out 573 batters in 518.1 IP as he established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The Mets' rotation after 2021 has a grand total of one current member expected to be in it: Jacob deGrom. So they need some more certainty.
And while gambling on an injured Syndergaard might be slightly risky, the upside is tantalizing.
Like Syndergaard, Matz is set to be a free agent after the 2021 season.
Unlike Syndergaard, Matz has not yet shown top-of-the-rotation potential.
But Matz still has tons of value as a mid-rotation starter under 30 years old who has been consistent and healthy over the last two seasons.
In an ideal world, the Mets would lock up both Syndergaard and Matz. But in the event Syndergaard walks (as many anticipate) it would definitely be advantageous for them to be able to hang onto Matz.
Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario
McNeil (because of his relatively advanced age), Nimmo (because of his recent health issues), and Rosario (because he hasn't yet put together a full season) all present interesting cases.
But like the four players above, the Mets should have McNeil, Nimmo, and Rosario near the top of their list when it comes to players they should be trying to keep in Queens for a long time.