The New York Mets had a very disappointing season in 2020. At the start of the year, there were some high expectations tied to the franchise, with up-and-coming young talent and an active competitive window. Lots of things went wrong, though, and the Mets finished in the basement of the National League East division.
The season wasn’t a complete waste, though. Young talents such as shortstop Andres Gimenez, starting pitcher David Peterson, and first baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith emerged and performed admirably, becoming long-term pieces for a franchise in dire need of them.
Now, the future looks brighter than ever. A new owner is finalizing a deal to take over the New York Mets: Steve Cohen, a hedge fund billionaire, still needs at least 23 positive votes out of 29, but everything points out to a quick resolution. He is, presumably, willing to invest more in payroll and make the team an annual contender.
To do that, the Mets need to invest in starting pitching, desperately. Jacob deGrom and David Peterson are the only sure things for 2021 and beyond. Steven Matz is also under contract, but he had a lousy season and his role is still unclear.
The Mets do not need Lindor
That’s why those advocating for the Mets to trade for Cleveland Indians’ shortstop Francisco Lindor should know that they need to direct their resources into solving the starting pitching issues. Lindor is an expensive player who will be a free agent after the 2021 season. He is too good (although he was basically average with the bat in 2020, slashing .258/.335/.415 with a 100 wRC+) but is very expensive.
Instead, the Mets should target one of Cleveland’s young starters. Zach Plesac, Triston McKenzie and Aaron Civale come to mind. They are all good and cheap, and with lots of years of team control.
Plesac pitched 55.1 innings of a 2.28 ERA and a 3.39 FIP. Civale had 74.0 frames of a 4.74 ERA and a 4.03 FIP, with a decent 3.92 xFIP, while McKenzie finished 2020 with 33.1 innings, a 3.24 ERA and a 3.91 FIP. Of course, it is unclear if the Indians will be open to negotiating any of them, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
They surely won’t be cheap, but the Mets need to give to receive. They do have a trade piece or two, despite giving most of their prospects in the last two seasons.
But the Mets do not need Lindor. They have two shortstops in Rosario and Gimenez. What they need is to be active in the free agent and trade markets to bring a very good starting pitcher, or three.