One busy offseason lies ahead for the New York Mets. Following a disappointing early playoff exit, the team has many core players set to be free agents.
It starts with the rotation where, aside from Max Scherzer, the rest of the group can potentially go. Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker both have player options and are expected to opt-out. A mutual option between the team and Chris Bassitt will make for a fascinating call. Carlos Carrasco has a club option and seems unlikely to be back.
Then, in the bullpen, Edwin Diaz, Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Trevor Williams, and Mychal Givens are all set for free agency.
Essentially, most of both the staring and relief pitching are complete unknowns. Add in that Brandon Nimmo is going to be a free agent, and clearly, many tough decisions are coming for the Mets.
Let’s take a look at how the Mets should prioritize who their top five free agents are.
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Top 5 free agents the New York Mets should retain:
5. Seth Lugo, RP
The two honorable mentions to just miss the top five were Taijuan Walker and Adam Ottavino. While Ottavino had a strong 2022 for the Mets, age gives Lugo the nod here.
With Ottavino turning 37 in late November and Lugo turning 33 around that same time, it is logical for the Mets to keep their younger bullpen option. Not to mention, Lugo is a lifelong Met who clearly sounded like he wants to stay when meeting with the media following the team’s playoff exit.
Lugo has pitched in the majors for the Mets since 2016, appearing in 275 games (38 starts) for the team, and has a 3.75 ERA. He posted a 3.60 ERA in 2022 while appearing in a career-high of 62 games.
Lastly, with all of the Mets starting pitching unknowns, knowing Lugo can start should make him that much more of a priority for the Mets.
4. Chris Bassitt, SP
The ending to Bassitt’s 2022 season with the Mets was a tough one. Whether he wants to remain with the team following some of his recent comments is unknown.
Ultimately though, he won 15 games in 30 starts for the Mets this year while having a 3.42 ERA. He finished tied for 22nd in the MLB with 181.2 innings pitched.
As highlighted as an honorable mention above, if the Mets and Bassitt opt to go separate ways, it makes Taijuan Walker potentially that much more valuable to the Mets this free agency.
3. Brandon Nimmo, CF
With his reliability every day and value to the clubhouse, it was tough to not put Nimmo at two. However, the dominance of the top two, when available is tough to rank third here.
Unless the Mets are somehow landing Aaron Judge, keeping Nimmo should be a relatively easy call. He is not only available but one of the assets to this lineup, one that struggled mightily down the stretch.
Nimmo is known for working counts to start games at the top of the lineup and can get on base with his plate discipline. Since being in the majors with the Mets in 2016, Nimmo’s batting average over the last seven years is .269. He is coming off a year in which he posted by far a career-best of 64 RBIs.
His glove in center field improved drastically over the years. Nimmo should still be with the Mets, turning only 30 around the start of the 2023 season.
2. Jacob deGrom, SP
The big unknown entering free agency for the Mets, does Jacob deGrom want to remain with the team?
It is an unfortunate question, but it seems possible the star pitcher may be looking elsewhere. After nine years of dominance with the Mets, deGrom is set for a big third contract that will likely run the rest of his career (turns 35 next June).
If it comes down to going with the best contract and deGrom does have interest in remaining with the Mets, the team should undoubtedly look to retain him. In some of his starts this year, he reminded everyone of just how untouchable he can be.
deGrom’s pending free agency will be an intriguing one. Hopefully, the Mets show strong interest.
1. Edwin Diaz, RP
Edwin Diaz was nothing short of sensational for the 2022 Mets and only turns 29 right before the start of next season. Keeping Diaz should be a no-brainer with possibly many moving parts to both the starting rotation and bullpen.
The home-field advantage the Mets get with a tight lead as Diaz enters games late is huge for closing out games.
Diaz is coming off a 32-save season with a ridiculous 1.31 ERA and a 3-1 record in 61 games. His unhittable slider led the way to a whopping 118 strikeouts.
In a league where even average bullpen pitching is hard to come by, re-signing Diaz should be the top priority for the Mets entering 2023. His youth, dominant 2022 production, and the fan engagement at Citi Field whenever Diaz enters a game provide the Mets with more than enough of a reason to sign Diaz long-term.