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The deGrom market begins to take shape, and the one way Bellinger fits the Mets
The Rays have emerged as a potential suitor for Jacob deGrom. Plus, how Cody Bellinger makes sense for the Mets as a flier – not a starter.
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
The Rays are among several teams forming a “solid” market Jacob deGrom (SNY)
The Mets held a Zoom call with free agent LHP Carlos Rodón on Tuesday (New York Post)
The Mets are intent on landing a top starting pitcher this winter - be it deGrom or somebody else - and they are prioritizing this piece over Brandon Nimmo right now (New York Post)
Tim LaMonte — the club’s hitting coordinator — has left for the Reds to become their hitting coach (SNY)
The Mets parted ways with bullpen coach Craig Bjornson (New York Post)
Marc Tramuta - the club’s amateur scouting director - has been re-assigned and will serve as a high-level evaluator who will work in both the amateur and international markets (The Athletic)
The Mets have not been in contact with RHP Seth Lugo’s camp this offseason and don’t view the righty as a starting pitcher (New York Post)
Cody Bellinger makes sense for the Mets as a flier, and nothing more ✍🏻
When Cody Bellinger burst onto the scene back in 2017, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would have expected that his Dodgers career would’ve ended with a non-tender.
The former National League MVP, a man who hit 111 home runs with a .928 OPS and 144 OPS+ over his age 21-23 seasons, has fallen on hard times over the last several years, leading to his unlikely free agent availability this offseason.
After such a sterling start to his major league career, the-still-only-27-year-old Bellinger has hit .203/.272/.376 with 41 home runs, 134 RBI, 286 strikeouts, 99 walks and a 74 OPS+ over the last three seasons. No one could have ever anticipated such a severe drop-off from a kid who’d win Rookie of the Year and MVP in his first three years in the big leagues, but here we stand.
Yet despite his gargantuan struggles, which have now gone on for nearly as long as his success ever did, there is likely going to be quite a bit of intrigue around Bellinger this offseason.
Let’s call it the “maybe I can change him” effect. I mean, it makes sense, right? When you’ve seen a player hit such peaks early in their career it is incredibly tempting as an organization to bring him in and see if a few tweaks, a change of scenery and perhaps a new hitting philosophy can recapture the magic that was once so obviously there.
There are some reasons to believe that Bellinger could at least reinvent himself as a productive power hitter in this league, specifically the fact that the shift will be largely banned starting in 2023. This past season, Bellinger pulled the ball 45.3 percent of the time, the second-highest percentage of his career, while hitting the ball on the ground 35.6 percent of the time.
Now, Bellinger has always been a fairly dramatic pull hitter, but that sort of thing is emphasized even more when you’re not hitting the ball as well as you once did.
And while it is in a drastically smaller sample size, it is worth noting that Bellinger has hit .329 over the last few years when facing a standard shifted infield defense.
All that being said, the Mets should be interested in taking a flier on Bellinger, but only if it’s just that – a flier. While it’s certainly possible that they’re able to take advantage of the shift ban and get something to click in his swing, this team is too good to be penciling in a reclamation project gamble into their every day lineup. Even with the ban of the shift, there are still drastic issues with Bellinger’s swing path and approach that you’re not guaranteed to be able to reconcile. As a bench player whose role could expand, or a potential part of a designated hitter platoon, it makes a lot of sense. But, if you’re slating him in as a starting player or even a center field replacement for Brandon Nimmo should they allow him to leave in free agency, it simply is not the type of move a win-now team should be making. In that scenario, the risk is just too great.
Ultimately, I believe that’s the approach that the Mets will take – and it’s the reason they probably won’t be able to sign him. There are plenty of other teams that either have the caliber of offense where they can afford to take a gamble lower in the order or one that’s on a different timeline altogether and under no pressure to win in 2023, thus allowing them to offer Bellinger the chance to play every day, which will be his best opportunity at restarting his career.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Orioles could be in the market to trade for a big starting pitcher such as Corbin Burnes, Pablo López, Zach Plesac or Tarik Skubal (Rosenthal)
The Astros remain interested in re-signing RHP Justin Verlander but haven’t been in contact with him recently, per team owner Jim Crane
Former Dodgers and Marlins manager Don Mattingly is in talks to join the Blue Jays coaching staff (Heyman)
The Dodgers signed RHP Shelby Miller to a one-year, $1.5 million contract (Rosenthal)
The Nationals officially signed INF Jeimer Candelario to a one-year, $5 million contract
Disney paid MLB the remaining $900 million for the remaining 15% of BAMTech, the company MLB had originally formed, split and sold a controlling stake to Disney in 2017. This creates another $30 million in revenue for each of the 30 clubs (Sports Business)