Mets reportedly avoiding free agents with qualifying offers attached to them

Mar 4, 2021; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) hits a grand slam home run against the Washington Nationals in the fifth inning of a spring training game at Clover Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets want, and need, to sign several free agents if they want to keep up with the Atlanta Braves, and potentially the Philadelphia Phillies, in the NL East division. Sure, the trade market is also an option, but it’s unlikely that too many impact players become available this offseason.

However, while the Mets certainly want to sign several players who can contribute in 2022, there is one caveat. Per MLB insider Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and SNY’s Joe DeMayo, they will only consider free agents who did not receive the qualifying offer, at least at this jucture.

The problem is that most of the biggest names, the ones who can truly impact a game or a series, are attached to qualifying offers: Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Freddie Freeman, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, Nick Castellano, Robbie Ray, and many more.

The rule indicates that if a team (the Mets, in this particular case) signs a player attached to a qualifying offer, it will need to forfeit its second pick in next year’s MLB Draft. This year, the qualifying offer is valued at $18.4 million.

The Mets need to start thinking about the health of their farm

The Mets did not sign their first-round draft selection last year, Kumar Rocker. They will get that pick again next year, which is the tenth overall, but their regular selection, the 14th, would be unprotected, which means they would lose it if they sign a big free agent who received a QO.

But the landscape is not as bleak as it appears. Several top players, such as Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Starling Marte, Kris Bryant, Kenley Jansen, Kevin Gausman, Jon Gray, Carlos Rodon, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber did not receive the qualifying offer or weren’t eligible for it.

Additionally, they can, and should, focus on re-signing their own free agents. They have already lost Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Loup, but need to prioritize bringing back Marcus Stroman. Also, Javier Baez showed in half a season that he could be a long-term piece.

After not signing Rocker and trading 2020 first-rounder Pete Crow-Armstrong for Baez, the Mets really need to maximize the potential of their draft picks. Building a strong system should be a priority too, together with big league performance.