Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
MLB free agency is officially underway, and while there is a steep dropoff after the triumvirate of Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg, there are still dozens of quality players available.
For the Mets, there are solid options on the market who could help them address their three biggest needs: The bullpen, center field, and the starting rotation.
New York also has the option of going the trade route to fill some or all of their needs, but with the team in need of restocking their farm system (instead of further diminishing it), the wiser play would be to fill most of their needs via free agency.
Along the above lines, here are five free agents the Mets should consider pursuing...
LHP Drew Pomeranz
The Mets are facing a bit of a conundrum when it comes to the bullpen. They need to strengthen it, but there are five pitchers -- Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and Justin Wilson -- who seem locked into roles for 2020. Two of those pitchers (Diaz and Familia) struggled badly in 2019, so the Mets will have to hope for rebounds. And they'll need to fill in around them.
Pomeranz, a soon-to-be 31-year-old left-hander, is among the most enticing relievers on the market. After struggling as a starter with the Giants this past season, he was traded to the Brewers, used almost primarily in relief, and had eye-popping numbers.
In 25 games (24 relief appearances, one start) for Milwaukee, Pomeranz had a 2.39 ERA (2.68 FIP) and 0.91 WHIP with 45 strikeouts -- an eye-popping 15.4 per 9. If the Mets feel that can translate to 2020, they should pounce.
OF Brett Gardner
Gardner is past his prime and the career-high 28 homers he hit in 2019 should be taken with a huge grain of salt due to the juiced ball. But even at 36 years old, Gardner is still a valuable player.
If the Mets targeted Gardner, it would be with an eye on him playing center field, where he was worth -2 DRS in 820 innings in 2019. It was the first season of his career where Gardner graded out as below average in center, but that kind of defensive production would still be a huge upgrade for the Mets.
C Yasmani Grandal
We recently wrote at length here about the Mets potentially tageting Grandal, who they nearly signed to a four-year $60 million deal last offseason before pivoting to Wilson Ramos and inking him to a two-year deal.
One of the best-hitting catchers in baseball, Grandal would offer the Mets a substantial upgrade defensively over Ramos. The tricky part for the Mets would be whether to sign Grandal first (hurting their negotiating power with teams interested in trading for Ramos) or trading Ramos first (hurting their negotiating power with Grandal when it comes to how much he'll get paid).
RHP Zack Wheeler
Yes, Wheeler is the Mets' own free agent, but he still counts.
After engaging in discussions with Wheeler's camp during the season about a potential extension, that dialogue has continued, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said on Monday after confirming that the team has extended a qualifying offer to Wheeler.
The qualifying offer attached to Wheeler could depress his market a bit, but he's still expected to cash in on a deal that pays him close to $20 million per season for four or five years.
The Mets' main starting pitching target really should be Wheeler, who has shown flashes of brilliance and could be close to a total breakout.
RHP Michael Pineda
If the Mets don't bring back Wheeler and don't ink Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg (with pursuits of either of those pitchers not expected), there are lots of other options on the market.
It might also be a safe assumption that if the Mets don't bring back Wheeler, they won't pursue a pitcher such as Madison Bumgarner, either. So who might be the best fit in that scenario?
Pineda, who missed 2018 due to Tommy John surgery and saw his 2019 season end early due to a PED suspension that was reduced to 60 games on appeal.
The 30-year-old Pineda, an enigma at times during his career, had a 4.01 ERA (4.02 FIP) and 1.16 WHIP with 8.63 K/9 in 146 IP (26 starts) in 2019.
One complication is that Pineda will miss the first 39 games of the season due to his PED suspension. But if the Mets feel the gamble on Pineda is worth it, they can potentially slide Robert Gsellman to the rotation for those six or seven starts.
As is the case, if the Mets feel Pineda -- with his solid three-pitch mix -- can replicate the above numbers in 2020 and beyond, they should consider pouncing.