Kodai Senga says 'hello' with Justin Verlander on deck, and a problem solver for the Mets power shortage
The Mets introduce RHP Kodai Senga with Justin Verlander's press conference to follow. Plus, how a trade for Christian Walker could provide a huge power boost
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
The Mets introduced RHP Kodai Senga for the first time at Citi Field on Monday morning
Senga will wear No. 34, recently worn by RHP Noah Syndergaard
New York will follow suit with another press conference later today, as they are set to introduce RHP Justin Verlander at Citi Field
Former Mets RHP Seth Lugo signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Padres where he is expected to have the opportunity to start (The Athletic)
Mets radio play-by-play announcer Wayne Randazzo is reportedly leaving the booth to join the Angels telecast (The Athletic)
SS Ronny Mauricio (No. 6 prospect) was named Dominican Winter League MVP after hitting .287/.335/.468 with five home runs, 15 doubles, two triples, 31 RBI and an .803 OPS in 47 games
Former Mets RHP Mychal Givens signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Orioles with a mutual option for 2024 (Fansided)
Christian Walker could be the power hitter the Mets offense is missing ✍🏻
The Mets heavy-lifting this offseason may very well be over, after signing $386.7 million in free agent contract, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t work to be done.
And though the club did finish this past season with the 6th-most runs scored and 4th-best fWAR on offense, there is still a pretty large hole when it comes to their lineup – they need power.
While Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor combined to hit 66 home runs just between the two of them, the rest of the team hit a total of 105 balls out of the park last season. Overall their 171 home runs as a team ranked at a league-average 15th in the league, finishing behind teams such as the Mariners, Giants and Twins – none of which are known as teams with a large amount of power.
The team also managed to get virtually nothing out of their right-handed hitters at the DH position as the two main culprits, JD Davis and Darin Ruf combined for just four total home runs and a -0.8 fWAR with the Mets in 2022.
Now that all the heavy hitters in free agency have come by the wayside and Steve Cohen’s late charge to sign Carlos Correa came up short, the club will most likely have to look to the trade market if they want to adequately fill out this lineup entering next season. And that’s where Christian Walker comes in.
In 160 games for the Dbacks last year, Walker had the finest season of his major league tenure, hitting .242/.327/.477 with a career-high 36 home runs, 25 doubles, 84 RBI, 122 wRC+ and 4.1 fWAR. Walker also struck out in 19.6 percent of his plate appearances, which is the lowest mark of his career.
Walker also lit up quite a few Statcast metrics over the course of his powerful 2022 campaign, as he ranked highly in xwOBA (92nd percentile), barrel percentage (82nd percentile), hard hit percentage (72nd percentile), expected slugging (92nd percentile), max exit velocity (86th percentile) and chase rate (82nd percentile). Walker noticeably made significantly more contact this past season than in any other, as his chase rate was the lowest of his career (23.1 percent) while his contact percentage on pitches in the strike zone (84.4 percent) was the highest. And when he’s making contact, he’s hitting the ball pretty damn hard.
It is worth noting, in relation to the Mets’ potential interest, that Walker is only going to be an option at first base and DH (he’s played just one game in his major league career at any other position). That limits New York’s usage of him primarily at the DH spot while also being able to use him to fill in once every week or two for Alonso at first when he needs a spell. It’s not the most ideal situation for the Mets, who would prefer to have some positional flexibility and be able to rotate several players into that DH spot, but with the game-changing power that Walker provides it may very well be worth that small sacrifice.
With the trade market yet to develop this offseason, it’s tough to tell if Walker will actually be available or not, or what the price tag may be even if he is. Considering that the Dbacks finished in fourth place and 13 games out of a playoff spot, and that Walker is now 31 years old and is coming off far-and-away the best season of his career, it would make sense for Arizona to take advantage of that and trade him at the peak of his value.
The Mets certainly won’t be dealing the cream of the crop in terms of prospects, but who’s to say that a deal couldn’t be centered around Ronny Mauricio or another mid-level prospect in this farm system.
Perhaps they’ll go a different route, choosing to sign old friend Michael Conforto to a short-term deal in free agency or targeting another slugger in a trade that none of us have on our radar yet. But if the Mets really are looking for an upgrade at the DH position that can provide some serious pop, Christian Walker oughta be right toward the top of their list.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Braves officially signed OF Jordan Luplow to a one-year, $1.4 million contract – their first major league signing of the entire offseason
The Dbacks have checked in on free agent INF/OF Brandon Drury (Rosenthal)
The Orioles have received trade interest in SS Jorge Mateo (Rosenthal)
Dodgers RHP Noah Syndergaard believes he’ll be able to go back to throwing 100 MPH this season (MLB.com)
The Phillies officially extended GM Sam Fuld through the 2025 season