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Max Scherzer's hammy whammy, Brandon Nimmo's future, and the Mets avoided making a trade for the sake of one
The Mets may have dodged a bullet by backing out of a blockbuster trade with the Padres
What’s Up with the Mets? 🌴
Max Scherzer (hamstring tightness) did not make his scheduled start in an intrasquad game on Saturday, and wouldn’t commit to being ready for opening day.
If Scherzer isn’t available for opening day, Mets manager Buck Showalter hinted the Mets could opt for a bullpen game.
The Mets and Brandon Nimmo have yet to begin negotiations on a contract extension (New York Post)
David Wright will not be at Old Timers’ Day in August (Daily News)
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets vs. Marlins
Where: Clover Park - Port St. Lucie, FL
Starters: TBD vs. RHP Chris Bassitt
When: 1:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: WPIX
The Mets avoided making a trade for the sake of making a trade📝
Saturday turned out to be a whirlwind day for the Mets only to land them right back where they started - in serious need of additional starting pitching for a rotation echoing that which was in shambles in the second half of 2021.
In between, they reportedly ramped up their conversations with the San Diego Padres to acquire RHP Chris Paddack, 1B Eric Hosmer, and RHP Emilio Pagan in exchange for Dominic Smith. The Mets ultimately backed away and killed the deal, according to the New York Post, but Smith wanted this deal to go through as he is seeking an everyday role and doesn’t want to platoon or serve as a backup with the Mets, according to SNY.
Also, while the Mets didn’t play a Grapefruit League game on Saturday, Max Scherzer was unable to make his scheduled start in an intrasquad game due to continued tightness in his right hamstring, leaving his Opening Day start very much in question.
It was indeed quite a day for the Mets with a lot to unpack.
Despite still needing to find additional starting pitching, backing off from this particular deal might ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Hosmer just didn’t fit on the Mets roster. They already have a primary first baseman in Pete Alonso and were planning to use Robinson Canó as a potential backup. Additionally, using Hosmer as an outfielder in any capacity would be an adventure on a good day. Hosmer hit .269/.337/.395 with 12 home runs and 65 RBI in 151 games while producing -4 defensive runs saves for the Padres last season. Since the start of 2019, Hosmer ranks 20th out of 21 first baseman in both wRC+ (88) and fWAR (1.7), finishing ahead of only Justin Smoak who hasn’t even played since 2020. Hosmer was in the upper tier in hard hit percentage, strikeout rate and exit velocity last season, although that was watered down by his chase and walk rate. Even with the Padres reportedly picking up $34 million of the $59 million owed, Hosmer was a square peg in a round hole for the Mets and could very well have been flipped for another piece or designated for assignment upon his arrival.
Then there’s Paddack, who has struggled through regression with his fastball since his rookie season, and went 7-7 with a 5.07 ERA in 108 1/3 innings in 2021, allowing 15 home runs with only 99 strikeouts before being shutdown with a mild elbow sprain in September. He does have three minor league options remaining, but would project as a back-of-the-rotation starting pitcher for the Mets out of the gate, which presumably means the Mets would’ve had Tylor Megill and David Peterson start for Triple-A Syracuse to begin the season, both of which arguably offer the same value as Paddack at a minimum.
Pagan would’ve arrived with question marks of his own. The 30-year-old will earn $2.3 million in 2022 and is under team control through the 2024 season. Like Paddack and Hosmer, he struggled as well in 2021, going 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA in 67 appearances with 69 strikeouts and 18 walks in 63 1/3 innings for the Padres. Pagan is a strike thrower although the quality of his strikes fell into question in 2022, as he allowed a lot of hard contact which resulted in 16 home runs allowed during those 63 innings. He’s a three-pitch pitcher featuring a four-seam fastball, cutter and change-up, the cutter being the least effective pitch in his arsenal by far.
For what it’s worth, the Mets need a major league left-handed reliever far more than another right-handed reliever at the moment.
At best, while this deal was clearly centered around Paddack and Pagan with Hosmer essentially as a throw-in, the trade with the Padres would’ve been net-neutral for the Mets talent-wise and certainly a more expensive scenario than the one they have now with Smith, Megill, Peterson, and perhaps both Trevor Williams and Jordan Yamamoto. That it’s not happening is probably a good thing, leaves them more flexible and more fluid for something else.
Any trade needs to make them stronger and better. Simply put, this one did not, and both Steve Cohen and Billy Eppler clearly realized that in the end. There’s no reason to make a deal just because it’s there to be made, even if they were considering this deal before deGrom went down.
Now breathe, because its time to discuss the twist with Dominic Smith.
If he ultimately doesn’t want to be with the Mets, for whatever reason, they should find a way to accommodate him. The Mets should want people in that clubhouse who want to be there. Smith is within his right to believe he has earned a starting role, whether the Mets or anyone else believe that to be the case or not.
As such, they should figure out how they can get better & give Smith that opportunity, and a trade somewhere can be mutually beneficial. The Mets still really need pitching depth, and Smith is clearly a piece that can help get that done as this dead deal with the Padres might suggest.
Whether that ultimately happens or not remains to be seen. And Smith could still find a way to earn his way back into the everyday role he unquestionably earned with the Mets before struggling through both injury and underperformance in 2021. Time and his performance will tell that story, wherever he is. If Smith is ultimately retained, Buck Showalter and the Mets will have to figure out how to manage this point of contention for Smith as well.
If nothing else, the chaos with the Mets rotation has revealed their willingness to immediately mitigate these serious concerns, but also suggests a possibility deGrom could be out well into the second half, if not longer. The Mets might not be able to immediately pivot and address their pitching concerns before opening day, but it’s certainly an indication they’re aggressively trying to do just that.
Around the League 🚩
The Orioles avoided arbitration with Trey Mancini (The Athletic)
Star prospect Bobby Witt Jr. has made the Royals opening day roster (Heyman)
The Yankees acquired C José Trevino from the Rangers for RHP Albert Abreu and LHP Robby Ahlstrom.
The Orioles are considering a reunion with former Met RHP Matt Harvey (Heyman)
The Yankees and Aaron Judge have not made significant progress on a contract extension (The Athletic)