Avoiding Machado and Harper, Mets Make Small Deals

Jed Lowrie, an all-star in 2018, signed a two year, $20 million deal with the New York Mets. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Well Mets fans, I was hoping by this time in the offseason we’d be celebrating the signing of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado or even as a consolation prize, A.J. Pollock. It looks like all three of those names will not be in Mets uniforms for the 2019 season. 

Instead, New York has made many small moves, most importantly the signing of veteran infielder Jed Lowrie to a two year, $20 million deal. They also signed left-handed relievers Luis Avilan and Justin Wilson, finalizing their bullpen and infield to earn the mark as true contenders this year. 

With these signings, Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen has put the notion in fans heads that the organization does not have the money to dish out large contracts to either Harper or Machado and that they will look to transition young star Jeff McNeil into the outfield. As much as I like McNeil, who hit .329 in 225 at-bats playing mostly second base for New York in 2018, I believe this is a cheap cop-out by the Mets who certainly do have the resources to acquire one of these players. 

New York certainly did have to spend money this offseason in other areas of the team, bolstering their bullpen with important pieces capable of winning ball-games, and building an infield with multiple players who know how to win. But they didn’t really spend an overwhelming amount in the process. Sure, they took on a lot of salary in acquiring second basemen Robinson Cano and reliever Edwin Diaz, and they have to pay Yoenis Cespedes around $29 million this year even if he might not play, but the Mets got Lowrie and Ramos at almost discount prices. 

Although both are slightly past their prime, Ramos and Lowrie were quite successful in 2018, both earning spots on the all-star team last season. Ramos, who the Mets signed for two years and $19 million, hit .306 with 15 home runs and 70 RBIs in 111 games for both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies last season. Lowrie hit .267 in 157 games with 23 home runs and 99 RBIs for the Oakland A’s. 

Lowrie has proven to be very durable in the past two years, playing in over 150 games in 2017 and 2018 for Oakland. A true .260 hitter in his career, the Mets know what they’re getting with Lowrie. With Lowrie hitting his career high in home runs last year, New York hopes the pop in his bat will transition to Citi Field and provide a spark for the Mets lineup. Ramos comes to New York after playing one of the best seasons of his career in 2018, and after only playing 64 games in 2017, hopes to stay away from the disabled list again in 2019 for the Mets.

But unfortunately, both of these signings are not the type that can completely change the course of a team. New York has a boatload of talent with one of the best rotations in baseball, but simply has not been able to muster enough to push past their rivals in the standings. The Mets have no superstars in their lineup, and without one will never be able to win the World Series they are pursuing while they have Syndergaard, Wheeler and DeGrom at reasonable prices. 

With that being said, the Mets do have enough in their lineup to win a lot of ball games in 2019. Lowrie, Amed Rosario, Cano, Peter Alonso and Ramos make up one of the strongest infields in the National League, and Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares, Jeff McNeil and Keon Broxton certainly have proven they can get the job done in the outfield. This, along with their stellar pitching, can make a good ballclub.

But where would the Mets stack up if Machado and Harper end up the NL east playing for the Phillies, Nationals or Braves? They definitely wouldn’t be anywhere near the top. 

There’s a lot to be excited about Mets fans, but a lot to be concerned about as well. Let’s hope Machado and Harper end up in the American League and that these offseason moves will be enough to make a push towards the World Series. 

Till next time, Mets fans!