Although the MLB season is suspended until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mets will be looking forward to competing for their first NL East title since 2015, a season which also included a trip to the World Series. In 2019, the Mets fell just short of the playoffs as injuries and blown saves continued to plague the team.
The Mets had a lot to cheer for last season, rookie first baseman Pete Alonso went to the All-Star game, won Rookie of the Year and the Home Run Derby, and led the league in home runs. The veterans kept up with the newcomer as outfielder Michael Conforto had a career year with 33 home runs and 92 RBI and Jacob deGrom won the Cy Young Award for the second straight season.
Despite signs of hope, the season ultimately disappointed as they missed out on the playoffs, coming in third in the NL East. The Mets had hoped to make it back to the postseason, but a trade of veterans Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak, along with prospects, for star closer Edwin Diaz backfired as the Mets were unable to solve their bullpen issues ending the season with 27 blown saves, the second worst mark in the league.
Moving into the 2020 season GM Brodie Van Wagenen made some rather questionable moves. Zack Wheeler, 29, was not retained as he declined his qualifying offer and signed with the rival Philadelphia Phillies, while older players Rick Porcello, 31, Dellin Betances, 31, Rene Rivera, 36, and Eduardo Núñez, 32, were tabbed to join the 2020 team.
This continued the long time Mets tradition of signing veteran players with low risk and low reward. Many fans have criticized these moves as they feel the owners, the Wilpons, are avoiding putting any more money into the team as they attempt to sell the Mets.
At Spring Training, the Mets are doing just as fans had hoped they would. Jeff McNeil is tearing the cover off the ball with a batting average of .500 and an OPS of 1.324. Brandon Nimmo has had a good spring so far after suffering a bulging disc injury last season hitting just above .400 with a current OPS of 1.152.
Despite the hot start from McNeil and Nimmo, Alonso has struggled to begin. The all-star slugger is batting just .235 with an OPS just above .500 while debuting a tweaked batting stance.
The two best performances from offseason signings for the Mets have come from their pitching staff. Rick Porcello has posted a 1.50 ERA in 6.0 innings so far. Michael Wacha has performed even better than that with a 1.17 ERA in his 7.2 innings pitched. While Porcello is a proven veteran with a Cy Young Award under his belt, it is an encouraging start for Wacha, a one-time All-Star who has yet to pitch over 200 innings in a season.
And here's Wacha's deal per Cotts:
"$250,000 each for 40, 45, 50, 55 relief appearances
$500,000 each for 10, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 points, with Wacha earning 1 point for each start or relief appearance of 3 or more innings"
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) March 7, 2020
With all the depth in the Mets pitching rotation, it seems as if the Mets could make a trade featuring Long Island native Steven Matz who has performed well so far posting a 1.50 ERA in 6.0 innings. Last year in 30 games Matz had a 4.21 ERA, 153 strikeouts and went 11-10, but struggled in away games, where he had a 3-8 record with a 6.62 ERA. This, of course, showed that he has an equally great record at home where he went 8-2 with a 2.31 ERA, but the Mets are going to need more consistency as they look to be solidly int he playoffs this season.
A trade for another bullpen arm would make sense as Diaz, Familia and Betances have all gotten off to rough starts in spring training, or they could look to use Porcello as a bullpen piece while splitting starts between Steven Matz and Michael Wacha.
Another move to consider would be a trade centered on Matz for an outfielder to bolster the oft-injured rotation especially with the uncertainty surrounding Conforto who isquestionable for the start of regular season after suffering an injury to his right side after a collision.
Yoenis Cespedes is another name that needs to be mentioned. Cespedes notoriously fractured his ankle while on his ranch in Florida and missed the entire 2019 season. Due to his non-baseball injury, Cespedes’ contract was restructured to be just a fraction of what it once was. In this newly restructured contract year, you can take it to the bank that Cespedes is itching to comeback after being sidelined for so long, but a timetable for medical clearance is unclear at this point.
According to FanGraphs, the Mets are currently projected to finish second in the NL East with 87 wins and have a 60.3 percent chance of making the playoffs.