By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the surprising news that the Mets made one of, if not the most biggest splash of the 2021 off-season! The Mets acquired 4 time All-Star, 2 time Gold Glover, 2 time Silver Slugger and Platinum Glover shortstop Francisco Lindor and Right handed pitcher Carlos “Cookie” Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Shortstops Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez and Gulf Coast League pitcher Josh Wolf and Gulf Coast League outfielder Isaiah Greene. An absolute Steal, a fleecing of the Cleveland Indians if you ask me.
This trade is one that surprised not only the entire state of New York, but The National League East and even the Entire League! What does this mean exactly? It means several things and I’ll dive deep into what this means so everyone can understand.
The First thing that this trade means is that the Mets are automatically projected to be a top contender not only for the National League East Division title, but also for National League Pennant and maybe even a World Series title. While trading away the depth in Rosario and Gimenez may hurt slightly, it’s a high reward that is more than worth the Price. If you’re wondering who will be the backup shortstop if Lindor goes down, 2nd Baseman if McNeil goes down or 3rd Baseman if Davis goes down, The answer has been on the Mets bench the entire time in the form of one Luis Guillorme. While he’s not the flashiest of players to be excited about, Guillorme is a stellar defensive player and his glove has proven more than effective when needed. Guillorme may not be the best offensive option for a team, if needed to be a defensive replacement or start for someone who’s injured, then he’s a perfect man for the Job. I’m sure that the Mets will sign some depth players to Minor League Deals in the coming weeks, but as of right now, all you have to worry about in terms of the infield, is the fact that the Mets have an Elite Shortstop, along with two great choices for First base in Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith, a hit machine in Jeff McNeil at Second Base and Power hitter 3rd Baseman in JD Davis.
When it comes to pitching now, acquiring Carlos Carrasco or “Cookie” as he’s known, helps the rotation in a Major way. Carrasco is a solid pitcher and fits exactly what the Mets need in a Middle of the Rotation arm. His ERA in 11 years in the big leagues is 3.77. A 3.77 ERA is quite the feat and for the Mets, Carassco does not cost the Mets much in terms of money, draft picks or years. The Former Indians pitcher has 2 years left on his contract, plus a club option for the 2023 season. The Mets with now acquiring Carlos Carrasco, don’t have to hilariously overpay for a pitcher in Free agency. If they wanted to, they can do one of two things in terms of rotation arms. Option one is rely on southpaw Steven Matz or right hander Seth Lugo to be the #5 starter and Option two is sign a Veteran to a short term, Team friendly deal such as Jake Odorizzi, Corey Kluber or even Taijuan Walker to be the #5 starter and have both Matz and Lugo in the Bullpen.
If the Mets decide to go the route of option one, then the #5 starter spot would be a temporary stay for Matz or Lugo until Noah Syndergaard eventually comes back from Tommy John Surgery, forcing Matz or Lugo back into the Pen eventually pushing David Peterson to be the #5 Starter with Syndergaard, Carrasco or Stroman to the #4 spot. Option two is a little complicated. Signing Odorizzi, Walker or Kluber would mean they’ll be mainstays in the rotation and most likely not go to the bullpen when Syndergaard returns. The likely situation would be sending lefty David Peterson to the Minor leagues when Syndergaard comes back. It’s doubtful to think that the Mets will go after Trevor Bauer, who wants more than Gerrit Cole money (over 36 Million Dollars a year). While Bauer may be good to have to some, Bauer comes with Baggage that I won’t get into again. You may refer back to other articles I’ve written on the matter. The likely scenario are letting Matz/Lugo as the temporary #5 or signings a veteran pitcher.
The Mets only need about two more pieces to add to their roster. One is a Center Fielder and the other is another reliever. Now, you may be asking “What if there is or isn’t a DH?” Well, I’ll get into that right now. There are some things that’ll happen, but I’ll go into the most likeliest of situations if there is and isn’t a DH.
Let’s start off if there is not a DH. If there isn’t a DH in the National League this year (Unlikely), I doubt the Mets will be in the Market for a center fielder, although it wouldn’t surprise me if they are. The likeliest of situations if there isn’t a DH, is the Mets will probably keep Brandon Nimmo in Center Field and have Dominic Smith play Left Field. I must mention though that Sandy Alderson said in a press conference that the Mets don’t see Dominic Smith in left field as an Ideal situation. Option two if there isn’t a DH, is either A: The Mets acquire a Center Fielder through signing or trade, or B: Have Nimmo play Center Field and have either Guillermo Heredia or Mallex Smith in Left Field. Again, it’s unlikely that the DH will not be back in the National League, but I find this to be the likely situation should the DH not come to the National League this year.
Now lets Dive into if the DH does indeed return to the National League (Likely). For Starters, The Mets will likely sign Francisco Lindor long term before Spring training starts. I find it hard to believe that the Mets gave up all that they did to have Lindor around for one year, but I digress. There are some routes the Mets can go and with updates going around about George Springer wanting $175 Million dollars over the course of 6 years (Around 30 Million Dollars per), I don’t think the Mets will spend that much for a Center Fielder, let alone a 31 year old Center Fielder. If George Springer were to get this deal, I tend to think that he will play Center Field for only 2-3 years before becoming a Corner outfielder. However, a scenario for the Mets is that they do sign George Springer for what he wants or less and he becomes the Mainstay in center field. If there is a DH, Springer will most likely be the starting Center Fielder, Brandon Nimmo will stay in Left field, Michael Conforto in Right Field and either Mallex Smith or Guillermo Heredia will be the 4th outfielder on the Bench. Another scenario is that the Mets will find a cheaper alternative in either Free agency or trade.
The other options for the Mets are Free Agents Jackie Bradley Jr, Kevin Pillar, Kike Hernandez and Albert Almora. While these aren’t the sexiest names out there in Free agency next to George Springer, they are certainly a cheaper alternative. Another route to go is the Trade route and acquire Rays Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. Kiermaier isn’t a great offensive bat, but he is a 3 time Gold Glove winner and a Platinum glove winner. If the DH does return to the National League and Springer is either too expensive or signs somewhere else, I think either signing one of Jackie Bradley Jr/Kevin Pillar or going the Trade route for Kevin Kiermaier will be the likeliest of routes. Personally, I think the best option outside of Springer is to trade for Kiermaier. He’ll give the Mets a solid defensive center fielder, he’s also under control for the 2022 season, followed by a 2023 club option for 13 Million Dollars that comes with a 2.5 Million Dollar buyout. I think acquiring Kiermaier if Springer doesn’t sign will be the Smartest move for the Mets, although I wouldn’t have an issue if they signed Jackie Bradley Jr or Kevin Pillar.
Finally, the one reliever for the Bullpen. Whether the DH returns to the National League or not will not affect the Bullpen. The Mets signed former Twins reliever Trevor May at the beginning of December 2020. While the signing was a very good one, It’s not enough to say the Bullpen is solidified. The Mets need one more arm for the Bullpen and there are two relievers out there in Free agency that the Mets could sign that are intriguing. One is right hander Liam Hendriks and the other is left hander Brad Hand. Both relievers would be a solid piece to the bullpen no matter who you sign. The question fans will ask is “Why not both?” I find it unlikely the Mets will sign both relievers. The Mets will most likely sign one of the two.
Personally, I think the Mets will go after Brad Hand for the simple reason being that he’s a lefty. Why is a Lefty so important? Besides possibly Steven Matz heading to the Bullpen, who else is there that’s a lefty? Jerry Blevins maybe, but he’s signed to a Minor league deal and will most likely not be on the Mets opening day roster unless there is an injury. Daniel Zamora is a lefty, but I find it doubtful that the Mets will have him on the opening day roster seeing as he’s more than a liability in the pen. I think the Mets go with Brad Hand due to a few factors. One is that he’s a lefty, Two is that he’s had solid numbers throughout his entire career. Hand is also a 3 time all-star and can be a strong veteran presence for the Mets.
While Hendriks is another good reliever to have, He recently ran into success the past two years. The remainder of his career was up and down to say the least. Some good years, some bad years and some forgettable years. While I’m open to the idea of having Hendriks as part of the Bullpen, the fact remains that the Mets need at least one more lefty in the Bullpen if Matz is going to be part of it. The past few years, the Mets had Justin Wilson as the main lefty, but with Wilson most likely not returning to the Mets, they are in need of a lefty and an effective one and that’s where Hand provides a hand (No pun intended).
I hope I was able to give you an in depth look at several situations and scenarios of what could happen and how the results could possibly pan out.
Photo from NY Mets Twitter