'Mad Max' carves up Marlins, more spring cuts and are the Mets incomplete?
Max Scherzer's spring debut goes swimmingly in Jupiter. Plus, while the team may be better is New York's roster still missing pieces?
What’s Up with the Mets? 🌴
RHP Max Scherzer made his spring debut for the Mets and pitched very well: 5 IP, 3 H, ER, 0 BB, 5 K (72 pitches)
New York made their most recent round of spring cuts as they sent 2B Travis Blankenhorn, SS Ronny Mauricio, 3B Mark Vientos, OFs Khalil Lee and Nick Plummer, C Patrick Mazeika and RHP Jose Butto down to minor league camp
The Mets reportedly did not want to pay the asking price for free agent relievers Kenley Jansen or Andrew Chafin, who have since signed elsewhere, due to the new luxury tax threshold (SNY)
Mets Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza was in camp with the club on Monday with 1986 champion Mookie Wilson soon to join him (NY Post)
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets vs. Astros
Starters: Jacob deGrom vs. Jake Odorizzi
When: 6:10 PM EST
Where to Watch: SNY
The Mets are improved, but don’t feel finished 📝
To say that the Mets have undergone a total transformation over this offseason would be quite the understatement.
After a disappointing season that included publicized fights, clubhouse turmoil and a fifth straight year without postseason baseball, the Mets had a lot of difficult decisions to make. For starters, they had to decide what they were going to do with the six key free agents they had on their own team.
After both Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto declined qualifying offers, the club let Thor, Marcus Stroman, Javier Báez, Aaron Loup and Jonathan Villar all sign elsewhere. Conforto is the lone man that has yet to sign with a team.
It is clear that this organization, now one full year into their new ownership, made the decision to turn over their roster from one season ago and reload with not only proven talent but veteran talent and leadership, to boot. This is a team that was aggressive right from the start of the winter, signing the top free agent center fielder on the market Starling Marte, ending the club’s long search for Carlos Beltrán’s replacement since being traded in 2011. The club also brought in a pair of solid veteran bats in 3B Eduardo Escobar and OF Mark Canha, both of whom have track records of being clubhouse leaders.
And then came the move that shook this town, and baseball as a whole, to it’s core as the Mets signed RHP Max Scherzer to a three-year contract after it was widely believed that he would never agree to sign in the New York market.
The team has made a few more roster solidifying moves since the lockout ended, as well, trading for RHP Chris Bassitt and signing RHP Adam Ottavino to a one-year deal.
This is a club that is marketably different than the one that came before it and much improved from where they started this offseason. There is no doubt that this is a team that should be in the thick of things not only in their division but in the entire National League in 2022.
But still, something feels like it’s missing.
While yes, this promises to be the most fruitful Mets team since at least 2016 — their last playoff berth — there are still some apparent holes on this roster, and ones that have existed for quite some time. The need for a left-handed reliever has been apparent since the club let Aaron Loup walk several months ago and signing Chasen Shreve to a minor league deal or hoping that young starters like David Peterson or Thomas Szapucki can convert to being successful lefties out of the bullpen is leaving far too much up to chance for a team that has loaded up to win now. The club reportedly did not sign LHP Andrew Chafin — who signed a two-year, $13 million contract with Detroit — over luxury tax concerns and the best left-hander in the trade market, Trevor Rogers, is likely no longer available with the Twins newfound effort to win in 2022 after signing Carlos Correa.
And despite bringing in three new starters in their every day lineup in Marte, Escobar and Canha, their starting nine still doesn’t feel complete. While it is certainly a deeper lineup than it was a season ago, outside of Pete Alonso there is a severe lack of a power threat on a team that already struggled to hit for extra bases in 2021.
The club chose not to sign players like Kyle Schwarber or Nick Castellanos — both of whom wound up with the Phillies last week — to try and bolster that power deficiency and at this stage of the offseason, there’s not much left to choose from aside from the only Mets free agent still on the market: Michael Conforto.
Though he is coming off of a difficult season, it should be noted that Conforto has played in New York his entire professional career, plus he would offer an additional threat of power to this lineup and be one of their few left-handed hitters on the roster. It’s also worth mentioning that Conforto did finish the 2021 season on a better note than he started, hitting .255/.348/.451/.799 over his final 71 games.
If the Mets decide not to re-sign Conforto, or he decides he’s better off in a new situation, they will likely go into the regular season with the roster they currently have. This is a win-now team (the average age of their six major offseason additions is 34.1), and while fans should have the confidence that this front office and ownership will be aggressive to fill needs at the trade deadline, it still feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to go into a win-now season less fortified than they could have been.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Yankees and Padres have checked in on the availability of Cubs C Wilson Contreras in a trade (670 The Score)
Rockies INF Ryan McMahon officially agreed to a six-year, $70 million contract extension with the club
The Yankees reportedly were not finalists for free agents SS Carlos Correa or Trevor Story because of the luxury tax threshold (SNY)
Marlins LHP Richard Bleier agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract extension with the club (El Extrabase)
The Reds signed INF/OF Brandon Drury to a minor league contract (The Cincinnati Inquirer)
The Dbacks signed LHP Oliver Pérez to a minor league contract (The Arizona Republic)