Mets maintaining interest in lineup upgrades as they remain, "opportunistic" in the market
The Mets may have their eyes on a former Met to help boost their offense
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
After not signing Carlos Correa, the Mets remain interested in upgrading their offense, with their eyes potentially on JD Martínez and Michael Conforto (Athletic)
The Mets are remaining, “opportunistic,” but believe the heavy lifting in free agency is done, Mets GM Billy Eppler told reporters on Wednesday
Eppler told reporters the Mets were originally interested in signing Brooks Raley when he was a free agent last winter
The Mets will host 125 students from five local Title 1 schools in Queens for their annual holiday party today at 11 AM at Citi Field - Buck Showalter, Brandon Nimmo, and Todd Zeile will be in attendance with Zeile dressing as Santa Claus for the children
Did you know? 📖
Justin Verlander’s 3.23 ERA since his first full season in 2006 is tied for the sixth-best in baseball among starters who have pitched at least 1300 innings in that time.
Here is the top 10 - three of the pitchers have pitched for the Mets:
Clayton Kershaw (2.48)
Jacob deGrom (2.52)
Chris Sale (3.03)
Max Scherzer (3.11)
Roy Halladay (3.17)
Justin Verlander (3.23)
Gerrit Cole (3.23)
Stephen Strasburg (3.24)
Zack Greinke (3.25)
Cliff Lee (3.29)
As the Mets look to improve their offense, they need to seek more right-handed competence ✍🏻
The Mets pursuit of star infielder Carlos Correa once again proved several things about the club this week:
They are absolutely all-in for 2023 (duh)
There are absolutely no financial barriers when seeking improvements to the club (duh)
They know they need more offense (this will relieve many of you)
Now, for the record, Correa should be the exception to any rule for any club when it comes to signing a free agent. I’m not so sure that it should be an exception to give out a 13-year contract, but he’s a superstar nonetheless and is better and will be better than 99 percent of any prospect that comes through any organization’s farm system over the next five year.
The same can be said about Shohei Ohtani next winter and Juan Soto the winter after that.
In the end though, the Mets can’t sign everyone. Well, maybe they can if they choose. And for a few moments on Tuesday, it seemed like that notion could come to fruition.
Anyway, we’ve talked about the first two things above at nauseam lately, which really brings us to number three, which is an area of the roster the Mets haven’t at all addressed to this point in the off-season short of re-signing Brandon Nimmo.
Here’s a quick review/MLB rank of the Mets offense in 2022, which represented the output of pretty much everyone who is currently on the roster:
Second in batting average (.259)
Second in on-base percentage (.332)
Third in weighted runs created plus - wRC+ (116)
Third-best strikeout rate (18.2%)
Overall, this is all pretty awesome and a big reason why the Mets were able to win 101 regular season games. But it feels a little superficial, doesn’t it?
After all, the offense was pretty Jekyll and Hyde for a bulk of the second half and in September/October in particular, culminating with that decisive loss in the playoffs against the Padres in which they recorded just one hit.
The Mets as a team drove produced 735 RBI. Again, a very good mark which was the sixth-best in the majors. But over 32 percent of those RBI came from two players - Francisco Lindor (107) and Pete Alonso (131). There were 23 other players who got at least one plate appearance for the Mets in 2022, that which produced the remaining 497 RBI with the next best individual total courtesy of Escobar at 69 (25 of which came in his final 30 games).
What that means is there was too much of a dependency on two players to be daily run producers and not slump (which they did, because everyone slumps), especially down the stretch when the Mets really needed the butter to be spread to all parts of the bagel.
They also depended too much and too often on scoring runs with two outs, a strategy that good teams employ but is not sustainable at the rate the Mets were at, especially early in the 2022 season.
For context, the Mets scored 321 runs with two outs or 42 percent of their total output, the third-highest total in the game - the Braves scored 331 with two outs, the Dodgers 321.
For what it’s worth, those three teams - who totaled 313 regular season wins between them - combined for three wins and 34 runs combined in the playoffs in 2022, and none of them won a playoff series.
Specifically, what really hurt the Mets in the second half was partially self-induced. The Mets knew they needed to address their offense at the trade deadline and attempted to help solve those problems by creating a multi-pronged solution to their woes in the designated hitter spot. That solution included a combination of Tyler Naquin, Daniel Vogelbach, and Darin Ruf.
The problem was each of these players is good at one thing offensively and Naquin and Vogelbach specifically could be neutralized late in games with pretty much every left-handed reliever in the game. They became a three hit for every run offense as a result, which made scoring runs in bulk difficult to do, especially since the Mets only had two well-rounded power threats (Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso).
The Mets also struggled against left-handed pitching right from the jump. They ultimately finished with a .246 batting average against southpaws, placing them at 15th best overall in the game, but that placement doesn’t indicate the amount of catch up they played against lefties over the course of the year. Alonso specifically hit just .247 against left-handed pitching and while he did produce an .836 OPS, his power dropped off substantially, which was certainly surprising given his career slugging percentage against right-handed pitchers is similar to that against left-handed pitchers.
Perhaps that was an aberration, but either way it indicates the Mets need to be better against left-handed pitching going forward, and certainly have a need to be more competent from the right side of the plate. Correa would’ve gone a long way towards solving that equation, JD Martínez could help in that regard as well - despite his overall drop-off in 2022, Martínez did have a .998 OPS against left-handed pitching.
Adam Duvall is another player for the Mets to consider in free agency, although his career-splits don’t necessarily indicate a specific fit. He has historically been a low-average, high-power bat from the right side and was a big part of Atlanta’s championship run in 2021, a season in which he totaled 38 home runs and a league-high 113 RBI. He was limited by a wrist injury which hampered his performance last year, something which required season-ending surgery in July. But he could prove to be a great value for a team like the Mets as he looks to potentially re-establish a market for himself in a year.
Wil Myers and AJ Pollock - two other imperfect free agents - could serve the Mets well in this role as well.
Myers is coming off an injury-plagued year with the Padres, during which he hit .261/.315/.399 overall. But he did produce an .815 OPS against left-handed pitching. He did miss two months with a knee injury and never really found a consistent groove, although he did manage to keep his OPS+ for the season above league-average at 108.
Pollock’s career has been defined by injuries, as he’s played more than 117 games just three times in his 11-year career. He did play in 138 games in 2022 although he produced a sub-league average OPS+ of 91. while hitting .245/.292/.389. But he did produce a .935 OPS against southpaws and could be a good bounce back candidate if he can stay healthy.
Perhaps one of Martínez, Myers, Duvall or Pollock could fill this necessary void on the right side for the Mets. They all seem to fit the mold of a, “less-is-more” player at this point in their respective careers, which could work to the Mets advantage in the marketplace this winter.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Dodgers agreed to sign former Met Noah Syndergaard to a one-year, $13 million contract (ESPN)
The Tigers agreed to sign Michael Lorenzen to a one-year $8.5 million contract (Fansided)
After losing out on Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox would still like to make improvements up the middle (Boston Globe)
Kenta Maeda and Sonny Gray are drawing trade interest for the Twins (Athletic)
The Padres aggressively pursued Chris Bassitt before he landed with the Blue Jays (New York Post)
After signing Bassitt, the Jays have expressed interest in signing Johnny Cueto (Sportsnet)
The Orioles have an interest in signing Michael Wacha (MLB Network)
The Yankees are considering Nathan Eovaldi as a backup option to Carlos Rodón (New York Post)
The Cardinals are unlikely to meet Rodon’s contract demands (Athletic)
The Nationals signed both Matt Adams and Travis Blankenhorn to minor league contracts (official)