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.

New York Mets: Wilfredo Tovar and Tom Windle Signed to Minors

Simeon Woods-Richardson

After making an impactful minor league move by signing Jerry Blevins and Jerad Eickhoff, the New York Mets made a subtler move. Former Mets shortstop Wilfredo Tovar and left-handed pitcher Tom Windle signed to minor league deals with an invite to spring training.

In 2008, Tovar first signed with the Mets as a young 16-year old out of Venezuela. He never stood out offensively during his minor league career and only played in nine big-league games with the Mets. Tovar went 3-for-18 (.167) from 2013-14 with the Mets and was granted free agency after the 2015 season.

He spent 2016-19 in the minor league systems for the Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Angels. During 2019, the Angels brought Tovar to the big leagues but only hit .193 during that period. Tovar is likely a defensive replacement for the Mets should any of their good defense infielders get injured.

Another Former Phillie

Windle started his career in 2013 after being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers. They shipped Windle to the Phillies, along with Zach Eflin, in exchange for Jimmy Rollins. From 2015-19, he pitched in relief throughout the Phillies farm system but never made it past AAA. After his release in 2019, he signed with the Boston Red Sox and became a minor league free agent this offseason.

Windle has a similar pitching motion to Kenny Rogers and throws from a three-quarter arm slot. He throws a fastball that sits in the low 90s with cut at times. Windle also features a mid-80s slider but is only useful against lefties. His inconsistent control and lack of dominant pitches have left him stuck in the minors. It will take a dramatic change in pitching style for Windle to crack the big league roster in 2021.

New York Mets Best Infield Options on the Free Agent Market

The New York Mets have plenty of offense throughout the infield,, but they lack any good defenders. Their infield defense was a big part of their disappointing 2020 season. Even with Robinson Cano‘s season-long suspension, it will take a trade to make room for a couple of the guys on this list.

1. D.J. LeMahieu

D.J. LeMahieu was always a good contact hitter during his Colorado Rockies days and found his power stroke with the New York Yankees. His .336 average and .536 slugging percentage combined with versatility at three different infield positions earned two consecutive top-five MVP finishes. If the Mets sign LeMahieu, it severely limits the playing time for J.D. Davis. As much as fans love Davis, LeMahieu is a much better player on both sides of the ball.

2. Tommy La Stella

Tommy La Stella is a good utility infieder for their bench that lacks power. He is good defender at second base and corner infield positions. LaStella is the type of player the Mets can play for 100+ games without worry of a dramatic production drop off. Current roster option, Luis Guillorme proved himself as a capable hitter for average but La Stella provides the power Guillorme lacks.

3. Kike Hernandez

Every winning team has someone like Kike Hernandez on their roster. Hernandez may never get 500 at-bats in a season but will find his way into 130+ games due to his ability to play every position except pitcher and catcher. He has good power for and is a super utitility player who fills the role of multiple players. The Mets have a roster with plenty of defensive fluidity and Hernandez would fit well for all of the possible combinations manager Luis Rojas rolls out.

4. Marwin Gonzalez

Marwin Gonzalez is a lower tier, less athletic version of Hernandez. He still plays the same amount of positions as Kike but is better suited for the corners of the infield and outfield at this point of his career. Gonzalez never replicated his 2017 season where he hit .303 with 23 home runs and 90 RBIs and disappointed with the Minnesota Twins. Should Rojas aim to keep a consistent lineup, Gonzalez provides a better option than Hernandez. He is slightly older, cheaper and is coming off a poor 2020 season.

5. Jonathan Villar

Jonathan Villar is not this low because he is worse than all of the players in front of him. It is due to the likelihood that Villar is surely looking for a starting opportunity. Villar has shown flashes of power but does not carry the patience of prototypical lead off hitter.

His best comparison is a switch hitting version of Amed Rosario but the difference is their versatility. He plays up the middle and center field, allowing the Mets have options if Villar has a good season. Villar inconsistency as a everyday play limits to him as a backup role for good teams.

 

New York Mets Best Relief Pitching Options on the Free Agent Market

New York Yankees, Justin Wilson

The New York Mets may not need extra bullpen help but the more,, the merrier. Like the starting pitching market, there is a clear-cut top guy in Liam Hendriks, but the Mets already have a dominant closer. What are the other strong, late-inning options for the Mets to bring in for the 2021 season?

1. Liam Hendriks 

Liam Hendriks is the best reliever in baseball over the last two seasons. In 99 games since 2019, he has a 1.79 ERA, 39 saves, and an astounding 13.1 K/9. Hendriks only allowed six home runs in that span of games and would undoubtedly make the Mets bullpen the best in baseball. He is well within the Mets budget, but Hendriks may not be as high on their list as George Springer or Trevor Bauer.

Adding Hendriks would create a three-headed monster with Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo. It allows the Mets to mix and match their bullpen, similarly to the Tampa Bay Rays. Pitchers are creatures of habit, but all three have shown versatility to pitch prior to the ninth inning.

2. Brad Hand

Moving to the bullpen was the greatest thing that ever happened to Brad Hand‘s career. Since 2016, Hand has a 2.70 ERA, 104 saves, and three All-Star appearances. Despite the Cleveland Indians attempt to save money, it was still a surprise for the team to waive him after the season.

The Mets bullpen is desperate for a left-handed reliever after Justin Wilson became a free agent and the Mets non-tendered Chasen Shreve. Hand would create a different breed of a three-headed monster in the bullpen with his ability to neutralize lefties. Left-handers have no success against Hand; they have hit well under .200 since Hand became a reliever. Hand would be the perfect neutralizer for NL East lefties Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, and Juan Soto.

3. Alex Colome

Alex Colome is a more likely right-handed option for the Mets. The 32-year old veteran only allowed two earned runs in 22.1 innings pitched. Colome is as close to Mariano Rivera 2.0 as anyone can get. He only features a cutter and 4-seam fastball, ditching everything else.

Versatility is the name of the game for relievers this offseason and Colome fits the mold. He has 138 career saves but is likely an eighth inning reliever with Lugo. The Mets have a lot of hard throwing, swing and miss relievers; Colome is a good change of pace in comparison. He is a master of inducing weak contact due to his tremendous cutter. Hitters had a 3.1% barrel rate in 2020.

4. Justin Wilson

The market is a lot quieter on Justin Wilson than it would have been last offseason. Wilson would agree 2020 was not his finest season but had a 3.66 ERA in 23 games. He fits perfectly into any role the Mets have and even lefty/righty splits in his career. Wilson was a big part of the Mets resurgence in 2019 and is an underrated part of their bullpen.

5. Keone Kela

Keone Kela comes with plenty of injury and personality baggage which is a huge risk in New York. His bad clubhouse reputation is well documented but partnering with the culture with the Mets could benefit him. The lights out stuff is proven with a career 3.27 ERA and 11 K/9 but he ranks low due to injuries and past suspension. Kela is primed for a one year deal with an option for a second due if the risk pays off.

 

New York Mets: Best Starting Pitching Options On The Free Agent Market

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Mets still have a big need to fill in their starting rotation. Trevor Bauer immediately sticks out as the top option still on the market, but what does plan B look like for the Mets? Or who else do they bring along if they sign Bauer? Either way, there is still plenty of talent for Jared Porter to swoop up.

1. Trevor Bauer 

It is no surprise that Trevor Bauer is at the top of the list after his magical Cy Young award-winning season. Bauer led the league in ERA (1.70), shutouts (2), and had 100 strikeouts. The number of years for Bauer’s deal fluctuates from one all the way through five, and he will definitely be expensive. The biggest question concerning his on-field performance is whether his spin rate and dominance are sustainable pitching in a full season.

The other huge question comes with Bauer’s off the field personality. Bauer is active on social media, YouTube, and loves making a big statement. Whether you agree or disagree with what he says and does, overlooked news in Ohio is on the back pages in New York. If the on-field performance is successful, Bauer will thrive in the league’s biggest market. Should he struggle, the media and the fans will do everything in their power to get under his skin.

2. Jake Odorizzi

Do not write off Jake Odorizzi as a bad option in the Mets rotation. His career ERA (3.88) was better than Bauer’s (4.04) before the 2020 season started. Unfortunately, an injury-plagued season caused him to finish with a 6.59 ERA in four starts. Odorizzi was an All-Star in 2019 and is one year older than Bauer.

Odorizzi is a significantly cheaper option for the Mets and will likely sign for 2-3 years. He averaged 30 starts a year from 2014-2019 with the production of a good rotation option. Odorizzi is not an ace, but he would fit in as a good third starter behind Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.

3. Masahiro Tanaka

Much like Odorizzi, Masahiro Tanaka has been one of the most consistent starters in baseball since his 2020 debut. Tanaka has a 3.74 career ERA, 3.33 ERA in the postseason, and two All-Star appearances on his resume. The biggest concern is his partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow. Like Seth Lugo, Tanaka has opted to pitch through it instead of undergoing Tommy John Surgery.

Tanaka would alleviate the heavy stress load at the back of the Mets rotation. He was a front line starter for most of his New York Yankees tenure. Tanaka could remain part of a six-man rotation when Noah Syndergaard returns; if the Mets sign Odorizzi with him. He could also fill the role starters like Julio Urias, and Nathan Eovaldi did in the bullpen during the postseason.

4. Alex Wood

Alex Wood falls into the category of a lower tier of a starter who is a crapshoot. These types of pitchers have past big league success but struggled over the last season or two. Wood is a prime example of that a “roll of the dice” move. Wood will be 30 on opening day and has a 3.45 career ERA in 138 career starts. Injuries and lack of a rotation spot with the Los Angeles Dodgers hurt his last two seasons. Before 2019, Wood had a 3.29 ERA, putting him as a reliable starting pitcher.

Wood has plenty of familiarity with pitching in big games after spending most of his career with the Braves and Dodgers. He would be a good option to sign along with Trevor Bauer to give the Mets five capable starters. Wood also has experience in the bullpen, which translates well to the postseason.

5. Jose Quintana

Jose Quintana is another pitcher who fell on hard times over the last two seasons but still is a decent arm. A thumb injury and lat strain limited him to 10 innings in 2020 after being known for durability throughout his career. After making 25 starts in his 2012 rookie season, Quintana rattled off seven consecutive 31+ start seasons.

Quintana has a 3.73 career ERA and is the type of pitcher who can maintain success as he gets older. He is a contact pitcher, known for his ability to generate soft contact. Quintana is a quality option to supplement a strong rotation and would benefit from working under pitching coach Jeremy Hefner.

New York Mets Opinion: Offseason Free Agent Targets Going Forward

New York Yankees, Trevor Bauer

The New York Mets have a good start to their offseason, but as always, fans want more. They secured Trevor May and James McCann and found themselves a highly regarded general manager in Jared Porter. With plenty of big names still on the market, where should the Mets look next?

1. George Springer

Obviously, the top spot is between George Springer and Trevor Bauer, but Springer is needed more. Partnering Springer along with Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis gives the Mets lineup a perfect balance from both sides of the plate. Both of them will complement the outstanding left-handed power very well, and Springer is a proven clutch hitter. His versatility to hit in the top and middle of the lineup provides plenty of options for manager Luis Rojas.

The Mets also need a center fielder who is capable defensively. Springer is, at worst, is average defensively in center field. It will be a major upgrade from Brandon Nimmo‘s defense. Signing Springer would create a log jam in the outfield, but only if there is no designated hitter. If there is no DH, it makes Nimmo the odd-man-out between Michael Conforto and Dominic Smith

2. Trevor Bauer

Much like J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer is likely to drag out the offseason to get the perfect deal. He will likely be as expensive but differ in the number of years needed. Bauer’s biggest question is whether he is the Cy Young caliber pitcher from 2020 or the career 3.90 ERA pitcher. Any team would be happy to have either in their rotation, but each commands different contracts.

Put all the social media and on-field antics to the side, and the Mets need Bauer. His demeanor and hard-working personality are shown in an unorthodox way, but Bauer’s focus is on success. Bauer’s 4.55 ERA in his worst full season would have made him the third-best starter in the 2020 Mets rotation. The biggest question is if he wants to be a number second fiddle behind Jacob deGrom?

3. D.J. LeMahieu

D.J. LeMahieu is the signing that would open up trade options for the Mets. It would guarantee Jeff McNeil as the every day second baseman and leave Davis without a spot. The Mets could stock their depth or deal Davis, Amed Rosario, and a mid-level prospect for Francisco Lindor. With Andres Gimenez almost big league ready, they may not want to waste three players on a one-year rental.

This is not overlooking what LeMahieu brings to the Mets. He is a gold glove caliber defender at second and third base. LeMahieu has a rare combination of contact, power, and clutch hitting; the latter is what the Mets lacked throughout 2020. He will be 32 on Opening Day, and signing him may force the Mets to keep him through his age-37 season. As they look to go younger, LeMahieu’s length request may be a deal-breaker.

4. Liam Hendriks

Just the fact the Mets can be in on every free agent on the market is a luxury on its own. Signing Liam Hendriks gives the Mets the best bullpen in baseball. It potentially eliminates the typical closer role but in a good way. By no means is this a shot at Edwin Diaz; it allows the Mets to use their bullpen similarly to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Seth Lugo and Trevor May would join Diaz and Hendriks at the high-leverage relievers. If healthy, Dellin Betances potentially fits into the same category. Instead of putting relievers in situations where they pitch in back-to-back days or four times in a week, they can pick and choose easier. With four, potentially five dominant relievers in the bullpen, they can have the firepower to end games after five innings.

5. Jake Odorizzi

What if I told you Jake Odorizzi might be just as good as Trevor Bauer? Odorizzi has made 192 starts, thrown 1042.1 innings, has a 1.24 WHIP and a 3.92 ERA in nine seasons. Bauer has made 195 starts, thrown 1190 innings, has a 1.27 WHIP and a 3.90 ERA in nine seasons. The biggest difference? One is coming off an injury-plagued season, while one is coming off a dominant Cy Young award-winning season.

If both were free agents last offseason, Odorizzi would have the upper hand. Unfortunately for Odorizzi, baseball has a major recency bias. The Mets need a reliable starter to round out their rotation, and missing out on Bauer does not stop them from doing so. Odorizzi likely will not have the Cy Young outburst like Bauer but is a quality, mid-rotation starter. If the Mets pass on Bauer, combining Odorizzi with someone like Masahiro Tanaka gives the Mets a strong rotation. They will have Noah Syndergaard returning by mid-season and potentially allows them to sign at least one of the other three names above.

New York Mets: James McCann Agrees to 4-Year/$40+ Million Deal

New York Yankees, Yankees, James McCann

The New York Mets have secured their catching position for the next couple of years as James McCann has finally agreed to a four-year deal. The 30-year old veteran joins the team after a couple of strong offensive seasons with the Chicago White Sox.

McCann brings what Wilson Ramos lacked behind the plate. He is an improved pitch framer and is a catcher that the Mets pitching staff will be happy to work with. Offensively, he has found his stride by hitting .276/.334/.474 with 25 home runs and 75 runs batted in over the last two seasons.

McCann vs. Realmuto

The Mets had to choose between an expensive J.T. Realmuto for six years or a more suitable option for two years. With the history of catchers declining as they get older, the Mets’ wiser choice was to bring in McCann before another team swept up both. Though some still prefer Realmuto, the type of contract dictated that McCann was the better option.

McCann joins an offense that was one of the best in 2020 despite getting minimal production from their catchers. The intriguing part of McCann’s offense is his hard-hit percentages and exit velocities steadily increasing over the past four seasons. Despite heading into his age-31 season, the Mets feel like he is coming into his own at the plate.

Tomas Nido will backup McCann behind the plate in 2021. McCann lost time to fellow All-Star Yasmani Grandal behind the plate in 2020, but expect McCann to be out there for 115-120 games like he has throughout his career. Now that the catching situation is solved, the next focus will be between the duo of George Springer and Trevor Bauer.

Why the New York Mets Should Make a Run at Josh Donaldson

New York Mets, Josh Donaldson

Over the past few days, there has been plenty of noise surrounding the potential trade of Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies. Despite how good it would look to put an MVP candidate at third base, the New York Mets should put their focus on Josh Donaldson.

Arenado is undoubtedly one of the best third basemen of his generation, but the ramifications of the trade could hurt the Mets more than it helps. The Mets would be forced to give up more than Arenado is valued, when another quality third baseman is right under their nose.

Arenado is also due at least $35 million per year until the end of the 2025 season. For an organization that hopes to have their starting pitching and sluggers like Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto in their plans, the money will not be in place to keep the crew together.

Quality over Quantity

This is where Donaldson comes into play. He very quietly homered 37 times and had an OPS of .900. Since Donaldson is a free agent, there is nothing for the Mets to give up in place for him. Not to mention Donaldson had a higher WAR than Arenado.

Going into his age-34 season, Donaldson would not be in New York to carry the middle of the order the way Arenado would. His bat is still great among third basemen, and the Mets can negotiate a deal very similar to Dellin Betances’. Offer Donaldson a one-year offer with multiple option years along with incentives for specific statistical achievements.

Add to Depth

Donaldson played 155 games after dealing with injuries for the previous two seasons. With the Mets, Donaldson will receive more days off and only have to play 135-140 games. The Mets have multiple interchangeable parts, which include J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Jed Lowrie if he survives the offseason. Donaldson becomes the everyday third baseman while the outfield spots become a revolving door and, most importantly, keeps everyone fresh.

With having this much depth means it gives the Mets room to make trades. They can use another arm in the bullpen, prospects, or most importantly, an everyday center fielder. Signing Donaldson allows the Mets to part ways with Davis, Brandon Nimmo, or Dominic Smith without being hurt, but enables those pieces can bring back a solid return. Not to mention, there will be a team who will take a risk on Jed Lowrie as well.

Signing Donaldson will also allow the Mets to weaken their competition while getting stronger at the same time. The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals are the front runners for Donaldson, and whoever signs him becomes the favorite to win the division. It also gives the Mets a very dangerous and balanced lineup.

The Mets have been silent on making any moves since the Betances signing. Their current roster structure puts them in a perfect place to compete, but signing Donaldson makes them a front runner to take the National League crown.