Mets showing interest in several right-handed bats
Also, a quick discussion around Manny Machado and Shohei Ohtani
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
The Mets have expressed interest in Andrew McCutchen has a fourth outfielder, although its unclear if McCutchen would entertain such a role right now (New York Post)
The Mets are also showing interest in Adam Duvall and Trey Mancini (SNY - on-air)
Upon Carlos Correa’s six-year deal becoming official with the Twins on Wednesday, the Mets issued a statement which read, “We were unable to reach an agreement. We wish Carlos all the best.”
A deeper dive into the free agent options left for the Mets… ✍🏻
We are back in what seems to be a quieter chapter of the off-season, a part of the baseball calendar where the back halves of rosters are filled out, big league invites are extended to players looking for another chance, and smaller trades are both conceived and executed to try and balance both rosters and budgets as teams begin to prepare for spring training.
For the Mets, the air has been let out of the balloon a little bit, which was expected to an extent after they couldn’t reach a final agreement with Carlos Correa after a three-week fiasco of a negotiation between Billy Eppler, Steve Cohen and Correa’s agent, Scott Boras.
While I continue to feel the Mets made the right decision by not assuming so much risk with Correa, it’s still disappointing and a drag considering all that transpired. But as I said many times over the course of the last few weeks, if Correa’s demands ever came down, the issues with the physical would be less of a concern for clubs and it would mean a new market could develop for him. It did, albeit a small one in the end and Correa did the right thing by taking the better (and very risky for the club) offer from the Twins.
Good luck to him, hopefully for his sake the Giants and the Mets end up being wrong about the long-term integrity of his ankle. He’s a great player, he makes the Twins better right now and in-turn, the Mets need to figure out where they can find an additional 20 or so home runs and 50-75 RBI in the external markets.
That’s not going to be easy for the Mets now. They can find it in theory with the word, “IF” tied to all of their options.
Make no mistake - this isn’t meant to serve as a diminishment of what the Mets have achieved this off-season. They’ve checked every one of their primary boxes at the highest possible levels both in the field and on the mound, spending a ton of money in the process. Their luxury tax payroll is still around $350 million and with the penalty, it’s between $440-450 million, by far the largest in the sport.
So, for those who have said the Mets are punting 2023 and aren’t all-in, save it. Seriously. Because that’s just silly.
Also, I am going to get this question out of the way right now about Shohei Ohtani and Manny Machado.
For now, the Angels believe they are a contender in 2023. They have made several shrewd moves to bolster their roster, and in an era where 12 teams make the playoffs, there’s no reason to believe that on January 12, the Angels are a second-division team. So to that end, why would the Angels even consider moving Ohtani right now? The issue about value as a rental doesn’t apply to him, especially when the normal star rental player is now garnering such large prospect packages in return, so if the Angels are out if it in July, they’ll have plenty of teams to create a robust market and a massive haul back as a result.
As for Machado, the Padres got to the NLCS in 2022, and they’ve taken an all-in approach this winter ahead of 2023. Machado hasn’t even said himself if he is opting out of his contract even if it would seem like all but a certainty. There’s no reason to expect the Padres to be a second-division team themselves in 2023, so trading Machado at any point would only diminish their chances at a championship this season. They’re going to try to win a championship with him, attempt to retain him after the season, and settle for a draft pick if he leaves.
And when it comes to the Mets with these two players, all the evidence suggests they’ll be in big time on their free agencies.
So, be patient.
Now, onto the subject at hand…
Yesterday, I wrote about where the Mets might be able to go and labeled Adam Duvall, Andrew McCutchen and Trey Mancini as possible targets to help buy them what they need from the right side of the plate.
The funny thing is, none of these three players fit their overall offensive strategy, mainly because they all strike out a ton and the Mets have a very contact-centric roster. That’s a good thing but of course they lack a deep power core and normally, power hitters come with a price of a high strikeout rate.
Then again, we are at that part of the off-season where teams are looking at secondary pieces, and those pieces are a little more flawed than the typical top shelf free agent.
Of the three, the player that checks the box the most for the Mets - from my seat anyway - is Duvall. He of course would come with questions about the wrist injury he sustained last year but he’s two years removed from a 38 homer, 113 RBI (league leading in that category) campaign with the Braves and Marlins. There’s no question he’s an all-or-nothing bat and that makes him a square peg in a round hole philosophically for the Mets, but honestly, the Mets could use a little diversity in their lineup and simply put, they need another bonafide power threat somewhere in this lineup. He would join the Mets as a DH and/or backup outfielder and if he’s healthy (there’s the IF!), he could prove to be one of the great free agent values of the winter. Duvall has produced an even 100 (league average) OPS+ over the last three years while averaging a home run ever 16 plate appearances during that span.
There’s also Trey Mancini, who the Mets had interest in acquiring last summer before he went to the Astros. He really struggled in Houston which contributed to a lackluster final line for the 2022 season, but he’s still just 30 years old and a capable right-handed power bat who can play first base and both corner outfield spots. He’s also a true inspiration in the sport, having battled back from cancer after missing the entire 2020 season. Skills-wise, he’s much like Duvall in that there’s a lot of swing-and-miss in his bat and not a lot of walks, but again he has power the Mets seek from the right side and his versatility could make him an asset for this roster. Before he was dealt to the Astros, he produced a 113 OPS+ in 92 games with the Orioles in 2022 and a 104 OPS+ overall since his return from cancer treatment after the 2020 season.
We discussed Andrew McCutchen a little bit in yesterday’s newsletter, but he’s another option that could help get the Mets those additional 20 home runs and 70 or so RBI. Like the aforementioned Duvall and Mancini, McCutchen is going to be a high-strikeout, low OBP option in all probability but while he’s not the speed demon he once was, he adds that element to the roster to an extent and as I said yesterday if he’s used right, he can be a good, “less is more” player at this point in his career and serve as a quality complimentary piece for this roster. He has averaged 18 home runs and 61 RBI with a 104 OPS+ over the last three seasons, bolstered by his 27 home run campaign with the Phillies in 2021.
The question will of course end up being, assuming one of these three are added to the mix, is do the Mets have enough to mitigate their weak points from 2022? The only answer I can offer is overall, this team is good enough right now to win the division and adding one of these players should give enough offense to at least buy them time for an assessment ahead of the trade deadline.
But this time, the Mets will need to avoid playing the margins at the deadline, be a little less risk-averse, and make the impact trade(s) they need to go for a championship.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Dodgers swung a trade to land Miguel Rojas from the Marlins in exchange for prospect Jacob Amaya (official release)
Nelson Cruz is going to the Padres on a one-year, $1 million contract (Z101)
The Orioles acquired a swing-and-miss arm for the bullpen, snagging Darwinzon Hernandez from the Red Sox in exchange for cash (official release)