After hiring Brodie Van Wagenen as their new general manager, the Mets have been the story of the offseason. They’ve been in on practically every player on the trade market, and have been extremely aggressive. They have ways to go before they’re a playoff contender, but they could be with offensive upgrades.
Current State: Playoff Contender
Mets Hire Brodie Van Wagenen as GM
In a shocking development, the Mets hired general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to be their new general manager. Van Wagenen, 44, has no prior experience in an MLB front office. He previously worked as an agent at Creative Artists Agency, so he’s making a strange transition from the guy vouching deals to the guy making deals. He is the former agent for several Mets players, such as Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaad, Jason Vargas, and Todd Frazier. The Mets are at a critical stage in their franchise, and many including myself believe that they should entertain offers for deGrom and Syndergaad to boost their farm system and to start a rebuilding phase. That may have been the choice under runner up Chaim Bloom, who has a much better resume than Van Wagenen. Van Wagenen, meanwhile, declared the Mets “will win now and in the future”. That’s a great proclamation, but it’s more of a sign that the Mets are going to be staying in the middle, making undisciplined deals to improve their team that is currently in bad shape. The Mets were so close to getting it right in Bloom, but they may have made a colossal mistake hiring Van Wagenen.
Mets Acquire 2B Robinson Cano and RP Edwin Diaz In Exchange For OF Jared Kelenic, SP Justin Dunn, OF Jay Bruce, RP Anthony Swarzak, RP Gerson Bautista
In an absolute blockbuster, the Mets have acquire second baseman Robinson Cano and reliever Edwin Diaz in exchange for outfield prospect Jared Kelenic, pitching prospects Justin Dunn and Gerson Bautista, outfielder Jay Bruce, and reliever Anthony Swarzak. Cano, 36, was suspended for violating MLB’s performing enchaining drug policy. In 80 games last season, he had an .845 OPS and a 3.2 WAR. That’s actually a very impressive season, as he would have been on pace for a 6 WAR had he played a full season. Still, he’s 36, and the Mets are on the hook for $100 million of his salary over the remaining five years of his contract. If he begins to regress due to age, New York will be stuck paying an unproductive player $20 million, a risk this team can’t afford to take, especially with Jeff McNeil already capable of handling everyday duties at second base. Diaz, 24, is the real prize of this trade. He was dominant last season, with a 1.96 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and a 1.61 FIP. His 15.2 K/9 and his 2.1 BB/9 are an outstanding combination for a reliever, and there’s no doubt he was the league’s best reliever this past season. Still, he has only one year proven, and while he comes at a cheap price now, his arbitration price will skyrocket. Therefore, the Mets won’t be getting enough surplus value from Diaz to makeup for the negative value they’ll get from Cano. The main issue with this trade is also parting away with two key prospects in a thin farm system. Kelenic was the 6th overall pick in the 2018 draft and is a can’t miss prospect who may be a star in short term notice. Meanwhile, Dunn is a near MLB ready pitching prospect who should be a solid middle of the rotation starter. Bautista should fill in as a solid reliever, so that’s three potential impact major leaguers, including a potential superstar in Kelenic that they parted with. Getting rid of Bruce and Swarzak clears up some salary, but the Mets are still making too huge of commitment financially and with the prospects they are giving up. They are paying the price for a prime Cano and the dominant Diaz from last season, and the chance they receive that is extremely unlikely. This could turn into a disaster and a huge mistake by Van Wagenen.
Mets Sign RP Jeurys Familia
The Mets have brought back reliever Jeurys Familia, signing him to a three year deal worth $30 million. Familia, was traded from the Mets to the A’s in mid-July last season. Between those two teams, he posted a 3.13 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and a 2.65 FIP. Still, there was one glaring red flag from Familia this past season. His ground ball rate went down by a huge amount, going from 60.3% to 46.3%. Considering he’s your typical sinker ball power pitcher, that’s concerning. However, he struck out batters at a solid rate (10.4 K/9) and his walks were down from the year before (5.5 BB/9 to 3.5 BB/9). As long as he continues to show more consistent command and his ground ball rates go slightly up, than this a solid move. However, Familia isn’t exactly consistent, and the Mets may have been better off signing someone more reliable such as David Robertson. This isn’t a bad deal by any means, but it’s the type of deal where the Mets are getting market value at the best and likely won’t receive any excess value from this contract.
Mets Sign C Wilson Ramos
To fill a hole at catcher, the Mets have signed Wilson Ramos to a two year, $19 million contract. Ramos, 31, had a terrific season between the Rays and Phillies last year. He had a .845 OPS last year, outstanding for a catcher, and had a 2.7 WAR. He’s an average defender behind the plate, with negative 5 defensive runs saved and 0.3 framing runs last season. Therefore, his value comes from his bat, and he’s easily one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. He’s still by no means a defensive liability, and he does have a reputation for working well with young pitchers, which can be seen with his time as a Ray. He’s one of the game’s best catchers, and to get him at just under $10 million per year for the next two seasons, especially with catchers in high demand, is incredible. Ramos isn’t the most reliable catcher due to his injury issues, but if he’s healthy, than the Mets may have made one of the best moves of the offseason.
Mets Acquire OF Keon Broxton In Exchange For RHP Bobby Wahl, RHP Tim Hill, and INF Felix Valerio
To add some depth their outfield, the Mets have acquired outfielder Keon Broxton in exchange for minor league pitchers Bobby Wahl and Adam Hill, to along with minor league infielder Felix Valerio. Broxton, 28, has the tools of an everyday major league player, but can’t seem to put it together. Despite his raw power and superb athleticism, he’s struggled to the tune of a 92 OPS+ in two and a half seasons at the major league level. Last season was his worst so far, as he had a .691 OPS and just a .281 on base percentage. A lot of these struggles can be attributed to his strikeout rate, which is an alarming 35.1% during his time in the majors. While he did improve in 2018, he still struck out 31.5% of the time, and that swing and miss will likely continue to hold him back from realizing his true potential. When Broxton does make contact however, he does so with high quality, as his career hard contact rate is 37.9%. His hard contact rate was 38% in 2018, higher than the previous season, yet his batting average balls in play dropped to .217. With his elite speed, that signals extreme bad luck. If that actually jumps up to .302, as STEAMER projects, a bounce back could definitely be in order. Even then, Broxton provides immense value thanks to his stellar defense. Despite only playing in 51 games, he posted 13 defensive runs saved and a 8.8 ultimate zone rating. To put that in context, he was on pace for 42 defensive runs saved had he played the same amount of games this year as he did in 2017 (139), and his ultimate zone rating per 150 games was 59.9. In fact, Broxton may be the best outfield defender in all of baseball. The Mets gave up three solid young pieces, but no one seems to be a significant loss. For four years control of Broxton, who immediately makes New York a more athletic and deeper team, is probably worth it.
Mets Acquire RHP Walker Lockett and INF Sam Haggerty In Exchange For C Kevin Plawecki
In a trade that will send catcher Kevin Plawecki to Cleveland, the Mets have acquired right handed pitcher Walker Lockett and minor league infielder Sam Haggerty from the Indians. Lockett, 24, provides the Mets with some much needed pitching depth, or does he? He had a 4.73 ERA in Triple-A and a 9.60 ERA in the majors, and showed few signs of promise and should not be counted to apart of the Mets’ plans at all. Haggerty, 24, has also failed to show any signs of promise in the minors. Plawecki wasn’t worth keeping with a catching surplus, but the Mets didn’t gain anything with this trade at all.
Mets Sign 2B Jed Lowrie
In an interesting signing to say the least, the Mets have signed second baseman Jed Lowrie to a two-year, $20 million contract. Lowrie, 35, sure picked a perfect time to have his best season of his career. He posted a .801 OPS with a 120 OPS+, and also had a career high 4.8 WAR. He would’ve been a great addition for a number of teams, but I’m not sure the Mets are the right team. New York has already acquired Robinson Cano this offseason, who has in the past expressed his desire to remain at second baseman. That’s an issue, since Lowrie has been predominantly a second baseman in the past three seasons, with a few innings in a third base and no innings at shortstop since 2015. If the Mets try to move him around the infield, that might take a toll on the 35-year-old, which may lead to decreased offensive production. My main problem with this signing however, is that this will likely take at bats away from Jeff McNeil. The 26-year-old posted a 140 OPS+ in his rookie season, and he should’ve been given a chance to prove that was no fluke, even if that was in a utility role. Now, there isn’t any room for him in the infield, meaning the Mets have a wasted asset on their roster. Why not use that $10 million per year to add an established center fielder, or an extra reliever? In an effort to add depth, Brodie Van Wagenen may have actually hurt the Mets’ ability to add more in places they actually need it. Lowrie is a productive player and will continue to be one, but this isn’t the right fit.
Mets Sign RP Justin Wilson
To bolster their bullpen, the Mets have signed reliever Justin Wilson to a two year, $10 million contract. Wilson, 31, has been a very productive reliever throughout his career. Last season with the Cubs, he posted a 3.46 ERA with a 1.43 WHIP and a 3.64 FIP. He’s always had swing and its stuff, and he continued to miss bats at a terrific rate (11.4 K/9) this past season. It’s a little concerning that he’s induced more fly balls than ground balls, but that just makes the fit with the Mets, who play in pitchers friendly Citi Field. It’s also intriguing that he posted a 2.12 ERA on the road this season, which makes this signing look even better. Quietly, with the additions of Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Wilson, the Mets have built an outstanding bullpen to compliment their amazing rotation, and getting arguably the best lefty reliever still available in free agency at a very affordable cost was a stellar move. A lefty reliever was one of their main remaining needs, and Wilson is a terrific fit.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Mets Make
Stats Courtesy of Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Baseball Savant