The offseason is far from over. Dozens of free agents, lots of them of the high-profile variety, are still without a team. However, with all the moves the New York Mets have been able to pull off, it is fair to wonder: have they done enough to be considered the favorites to win the National League East division title?
In the shortened 2020 campaign, the New York Mets finished with a 26-34 record in 60 games, tied with the Washington Nationals in the last place of the division. The Atlanta Braves took the honors with a 35-25 balance, the Marlins were four games back, and the Philadelphia Phillies were seven games behind. Both the Mets and the Nats were nine games out of first place.
That is a considerable advantage for the Mets to overcome, but last year was a different story. The Braves had a considerably better roster back then, and New York had to deal with lots of injuries, especially on the pitching side. To be fair, Atlanta also lost Mike Soroka to an Achilles injury and Mike Foltynewicz was never the same after his great 2018.
The Phillies appear to have entered a cost-cutting phase and are apparently willing to trade pitcher Zack Wheeler in order to make funds to re-sign JT Realmuto. Miami has an up-and-coming roster, but still feels one or two years off being true division title contenders.
Mets and Braves appear a step ahead
Washington has a formidable rotation and Juan Soto, one of the best hitting outfielders in the game. Plus, they traded for Josh Bell. They should be players in 2021, and don’t forget they won it all in 2019. However, the crown for “best roster” as of now appears to be between the Mets and the Braves.
The Braves added two excellent rotation pieces in Drew Smyly and Charlie Morton. They have an amazing offensive core, with Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and others. But they lost Marcell Ozuna, one of the best hitters in MLB last season. There is a chance they re-sign him, but it hasn’t happened yet.
The Mets added their starting catcher in James McCann (the second-best at the position in the free agent class, after Realmuto), reliever Trevor May, and they swung a trade with the Indians to bring shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco. Now, their rotation has Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard (in June or July), Carrasco, Marcus Stroman, and 2020 rookie sensation David Peterson. Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are waiting in the wings.
And, with the addition of Lindor and McCann and the return of the Mets’ 2020 offensive core – including breakout star Dominic Smith, 2019 Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, JD Davis, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto – New York’s offense is looking loaded.
It wouldn’t be fair to proclaim the Mets as division winnners at this point. Games need to be played. But they have done enough to enter the conversation and pose a serious threat to the Atlanta Braves.