The Mets add two pitchers but aren't done, and two young bats New York needs to deliver in '23
Amazins add Jose Quintana and Brooks Raley but continue looking for pitching, and can Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty become starters early in 2023?
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
The Mets officially announced the free-agent signing of RHP Justin Verlander to a two year $86.66 million agreement that comes with a $35 million player option for 2025 (official release)
New York selected RHP Zach Greene from the Yankees in the 2022 Rule 5 draft (official release)
New York continued to add to its rotation on Wednesday, inking veteran southpaw Jose Quintana to a two year contract (story)
The Mets also picked up some relief help, acquiring lefty Brooks Raley from Tampa Bay in exchange for minor league southpaw Keyshawn Askew (story)
The Mets would still like to add a third starting pitcher, which could potentially lead to a Carlos Carrasco trade (New York Post)
New York continues to talk to RHP Trevor Williams about a reunion - he is still deciding what role he wants to pursue (Martino)
The Mets sent minor league outfielder Jake Magnum to Miami to complete the earlier trade that brought RHP Jeff Brigham and Elieser Hernandez to the club last month (Miami Herald)
Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty are becoming more important by the day✍🏻
The deeper we get into this offseason, the feeling around the Mets is that it’s growing increasingly unlikely a legitimate offensive reinforcement is on the way.
Following the additions of Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana in the rotation New York has already blown past the heralded Steve Cohen tax of $290 million, meaning they have to pay 90 cents on the dollar in tax beyond that threshold.
And, they still need an outfielder, another starting, most of a bullpen, and depth.
The easiest and least disruptive way to address their need for a center fielder and leadoff hitter is simply to re-sign Brandon Nimmo, something the team and its fans alike still hope comes to fruition. But even if it does, the offense the Mets are going to take into 2023 is going to look mostly the same as the one that faded down the stretch this past fall, one which lacked power, didn’t run the bases well, and struggled to score runs at times.
Save for potentially two interesting differences.
The Mets top two prospects are catcher Francisco Álvarez and third baseman Brett Baty. Both players reached the Major Leagues briefly last season, and if the team has its way, they’ll both claim starting jobs in spring training and run with them.
The 21-year-old Alvarez in particular is someone New York simply has to get right. He’s currently the top ranked offensive prospect in the game, and is coming off a season that saw him dominate the minor leagues.
In 112 games split between Binghamton and Syracuse a year ago, the Venezuelan native slashed .260/.374/.511 with 27 homers, 22 doubles, and 78 RBI.
The Mets were understandably hesitant to insert him behind the plate in the middle of a September pennant push, but they believe whole heartedly in his bat, and are confident a full spring training working with the club’s pitchers will prepare him to be this team’s starting catcher.
He doesn’t have to run with the baton behind the plate right away, but the Mets need to ensure his bat matures into the force it can be at the big league level. With Tomas Nido on the roster as a solid back-up and James McCann still here—for now—New York in theory has other options behind the plate. But Mets catchers hit seven home runs in 162 games in 2022, tied for last in the majors. Their .306 slugging percentage was the sixth-worst, the .262 on-base percentage the fourth-worst. The group produced a 66 wRC+ (league average is 100).
Álvarez has an incredibly high offensive ceiling and is the one internal player that has the greatest potential to impact this team’s offense, especially behind the plate where they got next to no output from in 2022.
Baty is a close second behind Álvarez.
The Mets selected the left handed swinging third baseman 12th overall in the 2019 draft, and while he got off to a slow start in his first professional season and then lost the 2020 campaign during the pandemic, Baty has been everything the Mets hoped he would be over the last two seasons.
Prior to his big league promotion last August, the Round Rock, TX native slashed .315/.410/.533 line with 19 homers and 60 RBI in 95 games—like Álvarez, split between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Syracuse.
Injuries to Eduardo Escobar and Luis Guillorme forced Baty to the big leagues probably earlier than the Mets would have preferred, and while he hit only .184 in 38 at-bats he did not look as overmatched as those numbers might indicate.
New York still has Escobar under contract and more likely than not will begin 2023 with him at third base. But if Baty can deliver a big spring don’t think it wouldn’t force team brass to have a long discussion. Particularly with the uninspiring DH options on the current roster, having both Escobar and Baty on the roster at the same time could prove to be the most prudent option.
The Mets primary competition in the NL East—even after Philadelphia’s run to the World Series and big acquisitions of Trea Turner and Taijuan Walker—remains the Braves, and one thing Atlanta has done better than anyone lately is develop their own young talent (an sign them for seemingly forever). Just look at the young players they have locked up to form a dynamic core for years to come.
Austin Riley. Ronald Acuna Jr. Ozzie Albies. Matt Olson. Michael Harris.
Time and time again, the Braves have gotten immediate contributions from young players that have been pressed into service, and it’s time for the Mets to do the same thing.
Guys like Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio are other names that could contribute in ‘23, but to me, it all starts with Álvarez and Baty blossoming into productive and reliable everyday players, which in-turn will allow them to see where players like Vents and Mauricio fit long-term.
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Hot Stove 🔥
Late Wednesday night the Padres agreed to a massive 11 year contract with former Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (New York Post)
The Braves sent two minor leaguers to Detroit in exchange for right handed reliever Joe Jimenez (official release)
Boston signed Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida to a five year contract worth the largest guarantee of any position player coming to the Major Leagues from Nippon Professional Baseball (ESPN)
The Dodgers are not pursuing Carlos Correa due to the potential backlash of signing the former Astro, who was involved in the 2017 cheating scandal against Los Angeles in the World Series (Athletic)
The Twins are showing interested in signing Dansby Swanson (Athletic)
The White Sox are showing no interest in trading Tim Anderson (Athletic)
According to Cole Hamels agent, the lefty who hasn’t pitched since 2020, would like to pursue a comeback (New York Post)
Rob Manfred spoke on Wednesday and said the Angels are hoping to complete the sale of the team before opening day