As the Major League Baseball offseason drags on, the New York Mets are checking their offseason boxes. Their recent blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Indians for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco is the latest transaction that moves the needle for the Mets.
To acquire the aforementioned All-Stars the Mets surrendered former top prospect Amed Rosario, infielder Andres Gimenez, right-handed pitching prospect Josh Wolf, and outfield prospect Isaiah Greene. This trade is worth the price of admission.
Now, the Mets didn’t need to prioritize adding an impact bat this offseason, as they finished the sport’s 60-game regular season first in MLB in batting average (.272). Their issue was they were 13th in runs (286). They put a lot of runners on base but left a cringeworthy amount stranded. The thought of an offense headlined by the likes of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Michael Conforto picking up the slack in that regard was feasible.
With that said, the Mets did three things in this trade: beef up their offense, improve their infield defense, and add a much-needed top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.
Sure, Lindor hit a career-worse .258 last season. At the same time, he is and has been one of the premier shortstops in MLB across his six-year career. Lindor hits for both contact and power from both sides of the plate (he sports a career .833 OPS) and has finished in the top eight among MLB shortstops in DRS in each of the last five seasons.
All in all, Rosario struggled to get in a groove as the Mets starting shortstop, and dealing Gimenez for Lindor is justifiable.
Meanwhile, Carrasco has been one of the best right-handed pitchers of the last decade. He provides length, logs strikeouts at a high rate, and is coming off a bounce-back 2020 campaign. Last season Carrasco posted a 2.91 ERA and 82 strikeouts across 12 regular season starts. He blows his fastball past hitters and gets them to wave at his slider.
Jacob deGrom is the best starting pitcher in baseball, but the Mets entered the offseason with a shaky rotation. Marcus Stroman, who accepted the $18.9 million qualifying offer, suffered a calf injury and opted out of the 2020 season, Noah Syndergaard is coming off another season-ending injury, and Steven Matz has struggled to get his offerings across the plate. Manager Luis Rojas needed another arm.
With deGrom pitching to his Cy Young tendencies, Carrasco performing more like his 2020 self than his 2019 self (a 5.29 ERA), Stroman pitching at a respectable level, and David Peterson building off his plausible 2020 campaign, the Mets have a sturdy rotation with upside. Maybe Syndergaard can give them 25 starts and pitch deep into games? Could Stroman return to being an off-speed assassin?
Albeit they gave up a pair of recent second-round draft picks in Wolf and Greene, the Mets didn’t have to surrender Alonso, McNeil, or Smith, their three best hitters, or any of their tenured pitchers to facilitate this trade.
Prior to executing the multi-player swap with Cleveland, the Mets made a pair of impactful signings, agreeing to a two-year, $15.5 million deal with reliever Trevor May and a four-year, $40.6 million deal with catcher James McCann.
May posted a combined 3.19 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP across his last three years out of the Minnesota Twins bullpen. Meshed together with Edwin Diaz coming off a monster season (a 1.75 ERA and 50 strikeouts across 26 appearances), as well as Seth Lugo and one of their homegrown starters committed to being a reliever (Matz?) and the Mets have a capable bullpen.
McCann is one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. Across the last two seasons (149 games) he has blasted 25 home runs while recording an .808 OPS. McCann fills the vacancy that existed behind the plate and improves their lineup.
There are few unchecked boxes with this roster.
The Mets have improved their offense, depending on the way you view Robinson Cano being suspended again for the use of performance enhancing drugs coming off an .896 OPS season, infield defense, rotation, and bullpen. The puzzle pieces are starting to create a compelling image.
Many organizations remain quiet this offseason, which is due to waiting on a clear-cut financial outlook on the upcoming season and/or waiting out some of the top-tier free agents. The Mets’ productive offseason comes in handy with their likely stiff division, the National League East.
The Atlanta Braves made it to Game 7 of the NL Championship Series without 80 percent of their projected opening day rotation last season and signed veteran right-hander Charlie Morton; the Washington Nationals have added Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber to their lineup, will have a healthy rotation, and are a year removed from winning the World Series; the Miami Marlins just reached the playoffs, have absurdly deep organizational pitching depth, and have an improving offense; the Philadelphia Phillies are a competitive foe.
The Mets would benefit from adding another starting pitcher and rotation outfielder. That said, they’ve enhanced their roster, are filling voids, and are going to be a player in the NL this season.