New York Mets: No Universal DH in Agreed Health and Safety Protocols

The New York Mets desperately needed the universal designated hitter for the 2021 season but will not get their wish. Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on health and safety protocols for 2021, including 7-inning doubleheaders and a runner starting on second during extra innings.

MLB did not want the universal DH and felt it was not important towards COVID-19 safety like the other rule changes. For the Union to get the DH, they have to agree on an expanded postseason. Ironically, playing extra innings is a health risk but asking players to add more games to the postseason is perfectly fine. This ongoing chess match between Rob Manfred and Tony Clark is a competition between two people in well over their heads.

Will The Rules Stay?

Anyone against the extra-inning or doubleheader changes can hope they do not remain past 2021. It will not be easy to agree upon a new collective bargaining agreement before 2022. The future Zoom meeting will feature arguments on these topics, along with much more. There is good reason to assume the two controversial rules are just for the pandemic. The universal DH is a higher priority to the Union than playing fewer doubleheader innings or shortening extra-inning games.

The Mets suffer the most without the universal DH as they are stuck with Brandon Nimmo’s defense in center field. Unless Nimmo is traded before spring training, Jackie Bradley Jr. is off their radar. In a perfect world, Bradley plays center, Nimmo in left, Dominic Smith plays first, and Pete Alonso becomes the DH.

Signing Albert Almora Jr. meant the Mets saw this as the likely outcome. Bradley would be an expensive fourth outfielder with a multi-year deal. Almora gives the Mets flexibility, a bat for left-handed pitching, and a defensive replacement.

Since each position is at least two players deep, the Mets seem finished with adding position players through free agency. They may add a free agent pitcher (Jake Arrieta/Rich Hill), but their next position player move is likely through trade.

New York Mets: Jackie Bradley Jr. Still Remains as an Option

When the New York Mets signed Albert Almora Jr., many thought they were done adding outfielders to their roster this offseason. Jackie Bradley Jr. is still a viable option despite the designated hitter looming as baseball’s million-dollar question.

If Bradley is still on the market when/if the DH comes to the NL, the Mets should focus on signing him immediately. Bradley becomes an impossible signing without a DH because there will be too many players for three outfield spots.

MLB says the 2021 season will not have a universal DH, but the players union wants it. Pitchers are getting paid unprecedented amounts of money, and front offices need them protected at all costs. The union and MLB are at an impasse because the players do not want to trade an expanded postseason to get the universal DH.

Get The DH

The Mets would benefit from a universal DH more than any other team in the NL. It automatically improves their offense, but it makes their defense a strength for the first time in years. Bradley is not an offensive star, but his center field defense is stronger than anything else he could provide for the Mets.

The Mets signed Almora to be their fourth outfielder and play against left-handed pitching. Signing Almora to his deal leaves the Mets with more options to upgrade either third base or get another starter. Their next big move seems like a trade more than a free agent signing. With Kris Bryant consistently rumored to be traded at any point, he looks like a strong candidate for the Mets to bring in.

New York Mets: What is Next After Bauer Signed With The Dodgers?

New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant

The New York Mets lucked out when Trevor Bauer decided to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. They did not overpay for a similar version of Carlos Carrasco and gave them more options before spring training. The Mets roster is already the best in the NL East, but what else could they do to improve it?

Option #1: Rich Hill, Jake Arrieta, or any other starting pitching depth

Bauer would have given the Mets a dream rotation, but the Mets did not need him to win a World Series. The current rotation gives the Mets a top-5 group in baseball, and quality depth would make it better. Rich Hill would be the ideal backup plan if Joey Lucchesi does not bounce back or David Peterson has a sophomore slump. Even at the age of 41, Hill would compete with Lucchesi for the fifth starter spot.

Option #2: Jackie Bradley Jr.

The absence of a designated hitter in the National League leaves the Mets with a tough decision in their outfield. Signing Jackie Bradley Jr. gives the Mets four starting outfielders for three positions. The best move would be to give Bradley 2-3 years to have him on the roster once the DH gets to the NL.

Bradley would serve as the fourth outfielder for the first year but start in center field in 2022. The center field for the next two offseasons is very thin. This deal would be done with an eye for the future, but it will be tough to get Bradley to agree on.

Option #3: Kris Bryant and/or Jackie Bradley Jr.

This option requires the most parts to make it happen. Kris Bryant is heading into the last year of his deal with the Chicago Cubs, who are looking to shed payroll. Coming off a down year and currently on the last year of his deal allows the Mets to buy low on Bryant as they did with Francisco Lindor.

Trading J.D. Davis, Jeurys Familia, and a mid-level prospect like Carlos Cortes or Michel Otanez might be enough to get the deal done.  The riskier but more likely move would trade Davis, Nimmo, and a prospect outside the Mets top 30. It would open up two positions for each player, free up money for the Cubs, and give the Mets a dynamic lineup.

The potential lineup of Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, Kris Bryant, Dominic Smith, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, James McCann, Jackie Bradley Jr., and the pitcher is very enticing. It gives them the ideal righty/lefty combination they have been searching for.

The trade is a huge ask but a viable option. Acquiring Sonny Gray and Eugenio Suarez would require prospects the Mets cannot afford to trade. The ideal 2021 situation with Bryant equals .275/35/110, a World Series ring, and Bryant receiving a lucrative contract during free agency.

 

New York Mets want Jackie Bradley on short deal, but he is seeking four years

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The New York Mets have clearly done their homework this offseason by addressing the starting rotation, the bullpen, and bringing one of the best shortstops in the game in Francisco Lindor. However, they still have one glaring hole in the defensive alignment: center field.

It’s not like the Mets don’t have alternatives. Brandon Nimmo is one of the best leadoff hitters in MLB, capable of taking walks, hitting for power, and contributing on the basepaths. The problem is that no metric rates him as a good, or even average, defender out there in center.

The Mets were connected to George Springer all winter, but he ended up signing with the Toronto Blue Jays. That has caused the team to shift their focus to the second-best center fielder in the free agency pool: Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley Jr. had +5 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in the shortened 2020 season and is one of the game’s premier center fielders. Offensively, he has been a bit below average overall in his career (a 93 wRC+ confirms that, with 100 being league average offense) but he was good last season, with a .283/.364/.450 slash line, a .352 wOBA, and a 120 wRC+. He also hit seven home runs and stole five bases.

The Mets don’t want a long-term contract

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the talented defensive wizard is looking for a “significant contract, perhaps beyond four years.”

SNY’s Andy Martino had reported in the past that Bradley wanted a long-term deal, but every indication is that the Mets prefer a shorter commitment for the 30-year-old outfielder.

The fact that Springer signed in Toronto means that the New York Mets could risk looking at the bottom barrel of the free agent market if they swing and miss on Bradley, too.

On the last week of January, Martino had stated that while the Mets and Bradley make a lot of sense, both sides were “far apart in value.”

New York Mets still in on George Springer and are showing interest in Jackie Bradley

The New York Mets made the statement of the year (so far) on Thursday, trading four players to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Francisco Lindor, an All-Star shortstop, and pitcher Carlos Carrasco.

Despite the considerable additions to the payroll that both players represent, the New York Mets still aren’t done building their roster towards the 2021 season. So far, they have filled their starting catcher position with James McCann, brought a top reliever in Trevor May, and traded for Lindor and Carrasco. But they still could use a center fielder.

Thankfully for Mets’ fans, the Lindor and Carrasco blockbuster doesn’t mean anything regarding the pursuit of George Springer. The 31-year-old center fielder is still a target according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Springer is perhaps the top offensive player available, along with catcher JT Realmuto. The former Houston Astro hit .265/.359/.540 (140 OPS+) with 13 homers in 222 plate appearances last season, with good defense. He was also spectacular in 2019, setting career highs in average, OBP, slugging, OPS+, WAR, home runs and RBI according to CBS Sports.

Another good center field option for the Mets: JBJ

Additionally, the Mets have been in contact recently with free agent Jackie Bradley Jr. according to MetsMerized online’s Michael Mayer.

JBJ, who has played his whole career with the Boston Red Sox to this point, is the second best center fielder on the free agent market. He is seen as a defensive wizard in center field, even moreso than Springer. He had a 118 OPS+ and 5 defensive runs saved in 2020.

With Springer said to be looking for at least $175 million this offseason, it is possible the Mets pivot to Bradley jr. He is not nearly as good with the bat as Springer, but wouldn’t cost as much and is a superior defensive player. Either way, the offseason is far from over for the hungry New York Mets.

New York Mets Best Outfield Options On The Free Agent Market

New York Yankees, Kevin Pillar

The New York Mets desperately need a center fielder, and George Springer perfectly fits the mold. If the Mets strike out on Springer, what are their other options to fill a huge need in the outfield?

1. George Springer

There is no more convincing for the Mets to sign Springer. He is an improvement defensively and brings a proven postseason bat for a roster that lacks postseason experience. Springer is also a much needed right-handed power bat in the Mets lineup that perfectly balances their offense.

2. Kevin Pillar

Kevin Pillar is a significant downgrade from Springer, but his offensive production has improved over the last two seasons. Pillar has 27 home runs and a .440 slugging over the last two seasons. While Pillar’s defense has declined over the last few seasons, he is still an update from Brandon Nimmo. No disrespect to Pillar, but anyone not named George Springer would be a complete failure for center field.

3. Jackie Bradley Jr. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. is still a good defensive center fielder, but his offense is filled with inconsistency. 2020 was Bradley’s first season with an average over .270. His power numbers have also fluctuated over his career, which does not project him to be a major upgrade in center field. Bradley would be a lower walk rate, better defending version of Nimmo.

4. Joc Pederson

Joc Pederson is always a tremendous power threat but his center field days might be far behind him. Pederson only hit .190 in 2020 but came alive in the postseason with 15 hits. If the Mets choose to move J.D. Davis or the DH is implemented in the NL, Pederson is very much worth a look.

5. Michael Brantley

Michael Brantley is a huge shot in the dark for the Mets. But if you are going to have a horrible defense, why not try to win with overwhelming offense. The Mets offense would become the best in baseball with a .470+ sugging percentage hitter at every position. Signing Brantley would all but end Davis’s tenure in New York. Nimmo would remain in center while Brantley man’s left (if there is a DH). But you have got a better chance of landing a Play Station 5 than the Mets signing Brantley.

New York Mets: The Possible Infield Options With D.J. LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Mets have “recently contacted” D.J. LeMahieu, according to Jon Heyman. Take that as you may but signing LeMahieu would strengthen their offense and drastically better their infield defense. If signing LeMahieu has traction, then the Mets have multiple combinations to work with during 2021.

The continued guessing game on a designated hitter for 2021 makes dealing with the free-agent market harder for every National League Team. The Mets already have DH options in place, but it does not make decision-making any easier.

In a few of these situations, J.D. Davis becomes very expendable. He was already part of rumors along with Amed Rosario for a Francisco Lindor trade. The obvious missing part is the missing prospect(s) needed to complete the move. As enticing as the trade seems, Davis, Rosario, plus a prospect might be too much if Lindor does not remain with the Mets past 2021. If Lindor was the difference separating the Mets from being a World Series contender, giving up a little extra would be reasonable.

No DH Option 1: LeMahieu to Third, McNeil to Second

With Robinson Cano suspended for the entirety of 2021, the Mets can move Jeff McNeil to second base. LeMahieu plays third base while Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis handles the left field. The infield defense would be significantly better than in 2020, but the outfield would still suffer. Signing LeMahieu could make signing George Springer tougher. It certainly could still happen, but Jackie Bradley Jr. or Kevin Pillar is more realistic in that situation.

No DH Option 2: LeMahieu at Second, Davis/McNeil at Third

LeMahieu at second shows, the Mets are content with either Davis or McNeil at third base. Davis was better defensively in 2020, but neither one stood out. Second base is LeMahieu’s natural position and is where he won all three of his Gold Glove awards. Andres Gimenez should play shortstop when pitchers like Marcus Stroman and David Peterson are on the mound. Stroman especially is a groundball pitcher, and solidifying the defense up the middle would attempt to make up for the weak corner options.

DH Option 1 (With Springer in CF): LeMahieu to Third, McNeil to Second, Nimmo in Left, Smith DH

This is the dream scenario for the Mets, especially with the DH in place. They would get a good balance of offense and defense they have not found in years. Offensively, the lineup would become a nightmare to pitch to, and the overall team defense improves. Even if the center fielder becomes one of the two names mentioned earlier, the defense still improves, but the offense would lose some punch.

DH Option 2 (Without Anyone New in CF): LeMahieu to Second, Davis to Third, McNeil to Left, Smith DH

With Brandon Nimmo in center field, the Mets cannot afford two below-average fielders in their everyday outfield. McNeil defended much better in the left-field after moving from third base. While Nimmo struggles in center field, McNeil and Michael Conforto would handle the corners. This is the least likely option as the Mets are almost guaranteed to sign a new center fielder.

Of course, there are way more options than the four mentioned. The idea of Rosario at third base or Gimenez at shortstop changes the whole dynamic of LeMahieu at the roster. The great part of this offseason is the ability to contemplate good solutions. In the past, ownership settled for options similar to slapping duct tape on a leak.