With Spring Training in full swing and Opening Day less than a month away, the New York Mets find themselves in an interesting predicament before the first pitch is thrown. The free agent market has finally shifted, with the top-two talents, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, heading to the National League. Unfortunately for the Mets, Harper has landed in the same division as them with the Philadelphia Phillies, capping off a successful offseason for Philadelphia filled with the acquisition of top-level talent.
There’s no doubting that New York has made moves this offseason to put themselves in a position to be successful, but the extent of what impact these moves will have is the question. Sure, they did acquire the best closer in baseball last year in Edwin Diaz, the best available second basemen according to WAR in Jed Lowrie and have one of the best rotations in baseball consisting of Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz. But there are still way too many questions on the offensive side. Only time will tell, but it can be said that the Mets certainly have the cards against them with the Phillies, Braves and Nationals all surging to the front.
The Phillies signing of Harper ended one of their most successful offseasons in team history, also acquiring outfielder Andrew McCutchen and catcher J.T. Realmuto to create one of the most feared lineups in baseball. I think most Mets fans can agree with me when I say this was the exact kind of offseason New York desperately needed, with the Mets instead going for cheaper deals that didn’t totally break the bank like Harper’s did.
The Phillies minor league system and checkbook may be pretty close to depletion after the acquisitions of Realmuto and Harper, but they will have a bat in their lineup that can give Mets fans the chills for the next 13 years. If the Mets were really all in on this year like they said they were earlier this winter, they would have done anything in their power to acquire such a presence like Harper, and especially wouldn’t have let their division rival grab him before they did. Regrettably, it looks to me like the Mets only did enough to stay within contention and be relavent, rather than do enough to win a World Series.
To prove to their fans and the rest of the league that they are for real about winning, New York needs to acquire one of the last big name pitchers available on the market. A less needed Craig Kimbrel is still on the market for an extravagant price, but much cheaper and vital options like Dallas Keuchel or Gio Gonzalez could put the Mets in a different tier.
While Gonzalez and Keuchel are a little past their prime at 33-years-old and 31-years-old, respectively, they could bring a great deal of value off of a one-year deal, which is most likely what they’ll sign due to how late it is in the offseason. Gonzalez went 10-11 with the Nationals and Brewers in 2018, posting a 4.21 ERA over 171 innings, while Keuchel has been more successful, going 12-11 in 2018 with the Astros while sporting a 3.74 ERA over 204.2 innings. Both are high quality starters who can certainly bring much more to the table than Jason Vargas can, who went 7-9 with a 5.77 ERA and negative WAR for the Mets last season.
The ship has already sailed for the Mets to make an impact move that could shake up the whole league, but they could make one that forces other teams to actually look at them as a serious contender. It’s time to stop playing games Brodie.