Free Agent Target: Marcus Stroman

Consistent, Durable, Energetic, Doesn’t rely on high velo and had success in New York. That’s Marcus Stroman. The 30 year old righty is coming of a great year as a Met as he (like Gausman), made the most off his QO and is now set to get a multi year deal in free agency.

In 2021, Stro made all of his starts (33) with great consistency. Something no other Mets starter was able to do. He was a rock in the Mets rotation after New York lost their ace in Jacob deGrom. It wasn’t Stro that cost the Mets their first place spot, as he gave the Mets quality innings in most of his starts.

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Stroman had the ninth best ERA in 2021, pitching to a 3.02 ERA over 179 innings. In that span he pitched to a 3.49 FIP and 1.14 WHIP. For a pitcher that pitches to contact, a 1.14 WHIP is very solid. Best part of Stroman’s game? Keeping the ball in the ballpark. Stroman had the 6th best HR’s allowed per nine rate at 0.85 HR/9. He was also 10th in the majors in ERA plus at 133, which shows how good his 2021 was.

But it’s not just the 2021 season with Stroman. In comparison to Gausman, Stroman has had consistent success for years. Over his career he owns a 3.69 ERA, 3.62 FIP and a 1.26 FIP. His formula to success with a 7.5 K/9 is pitching to contact and keeping the ball in the yard. Him being a terrific athlete himself, helps too.

Made the Cut

So how does Stroman find success? He doesn’t rely on strikeouts and doesn’t rely on high velo. Different pitches with different movement is the way to go for Stro.

Stroman uses 6 different pitches, mostly relying on 4 (Sinker, Cutter, Slider and Splitter). He uses a four seamer up in the zone to surprise a batter at times and sneaks in a curve once in a while, but those pitches combined for just 3.3% of the pitches thrown.

So let’s get more into his main arsenal of pitches. Stroman throws his sinker the most, trying to get ground balls with it. His Sinker gets 3 inches of drop, which he mostly throws down in the zone. With the sinker he features a slider, which gets solid horizontal movement (4.2 inches), which moves the other way. The slider mostly ends up down and away to righties, while his sinker ends up mostly down and in. He throws these two pitches for a combined 65.1% of the time and works very well together.

Baseball Savant

With the Sinker and Slider, Stroman also features a Cutter and Splitter. His Splitter is a new pitch and he mostly throws in down and in (below the zone) to right hand side, while he throws his cutter to the outside part of the plate. His Splitter gets him a high ground ball percentage, which might become a bigger part of his arsenal in years to come.

Mathew Brownstein

It’s beautiful to see how he locates and uses the movement on his pitches for the best. Below is a great look at Pitching Ninja overlay on his Sinker/Slider/Splitter, which shows why he is successful.

https://youtube.com/shorts/4nmewdHVz50?feature=share

People might look at his Baseball Savant page and get scared? Yes Stroman allows some hard hit contact and doesn’t fan a lot of hitters, but that’s how he had found success for years. Another plus is that Stroman doesn’t rely on velo, so if he loses some with age, he should still be solid. Movement is what makes Stro great.

Stroman will get paid, probably in the Wheeler range and he deserves everything he gets. He is a durable, consistent bet on the market with consistent success for years. To me, him or Gausman are the pitchers to go after, with them not costing the 14th overall pick. Personally I would be very pleased if the StroShow stays in Queens.

Photo credit: New York Porch Sports on Twitter

Free Agent Target: Kevin Gausman

The Mets have a new GM in place, as Billy Eppler was introduced as the new GM on Friday. Main part of the press conference, was Steve Cohen mentioning the Mets will spend. The bigger ptospects will most likely stay within the organization, so needs will be filled in free agency.

One of the bigger needs the Mets have is starting pitching. With Syndergaard gone and Stroman a free agent, the Mets need a top line starter. To me, there are 6 top of the rotation starters avaliable right now, so let’s get into that.

First up, Kevin Gausman: the other right-hander besides Stroman who made the most out of accepting the Qualifying Offer last off-season. The 30 year old right hander was tremendous in 2021, pitching to a 14-6 record with a 2.81ERA. Gausman was a workhorse collecting 192 innings, without missing any starts during the season.

Over those 192 innings, Gausman collected 227 strikeouts, allowing just 150 hits. He was ninth in WAR by pitchers at 5.4 (2nd best of Free agent pitchers), 7th in WHIP (1.04), 6th in hits per nine and 5th in innings pitched. Clearly one of the top pitchers in the game in 2021.

Palmer Sports

So how does Gausman got his success? After being a below average starter, pitching to a 4.30 ERA from 2013 to 2019. But since the shortened season in 2020, he has pitched to a 3.00 ERA with a 1.05WHIP. Those are some solid numbers, so what’s the difference?

Fangraphs

Main difference: the Splitter. He really found the vertical movement on the Splitter, getting way more success over the last two seasons with that pitch. The adjustment started in 2019, but improved over the last two seasons. Before 2019, Gausman had more horizontal movement on his Splitter, but he ditched that for more vertical movent (see picture below)

Baseball Savant

With the difference movement came the success with that pitch. In the short 2020 season, he collected -9 Run Value and last year his splitter was one the best pitches in the game with -23 run value. That pitch had the third best run value off any pitch in the game, with him using it just 35.3% of the time. He had the best run value per 100 pitches with his splitter at -2.2. This shows how a adjustment in a pitch movement can do for you.

Baseball Savant
Baseball Savant

To me this adjustment and success with the Splitter is something thats sustained. With a clear explanation why his splitter found more success, to me it shows he found his wat to be successful with that pitch.

The splitter made the overall numbers for Gausman very attractive. He collected solid strikeout numbers, doesn’t allow many hits and doesn’t allow a high percentage of barreled up balls. His K percentage, Walk Rates, whiff rates and chase rates were all above average.

Another plus with Gausman is that he doesn’t have a QO attached to him, which is a big thing for the Mets. With them not signing Rocker, they have the 14th overall pick on the line, which to me makes it hard to believe believe Mets take a player with a QO attached. This alone makes Gausman more a realistic target over someone like Robbie Ray.

I am a big fan of Gausman and his splitter and hope the Mets make a serious push for him. However there are other solid options on the market, that makes a lot of sense for the Mets.

Photo by: SF Giants on NBCS (Twitter)

Free Agent Target: Starling Marte

Many fans have had their eyes on Marte since the Pittsburgh Pirates had the star centerfielder on the trading block. Eventually, the Pirates would end up sending the right-handed slugger to Arizona. Now a couple of seasons later, Marte is a Free Agent and could find himself in Flushing, Queens before the start of the 2022 season.

There isn’t a ton of top tier talent on the free agent market and it’s no secret that the Mets will be looking to improve defensively in center. With Conforto likely on his way out, this gives the team the opportunity to move Nimmo over to the corner while trying to find a competent enough bat to captain the outfield.

“But Gem, he’s 33 years old, he can’t play center.”

Listen, I get what you’re saying but no. Looking at Marte’s Baseball Savant page, you’ll see that he still ranks around the top of the league when it comes to OAA (Outs Above Average). The same goes for his sprint speed, maximum exit velocity, as well as his xBA.

If all of this is making you want to vomit, I understand, so let’s look at the basics.

In 2021, Marte hit .310 while getting on base at a .383 clip and slugging a respectable .458 with the Miami Marlins and Oakland Athletics. Not to mention his 27 doubles, 12 home runs, and an amazing 47 stolen bases to go along side those numbers.

Throughout the span of his 10-year career, the Dominican born outfielder slashes .289/.346/.451/.797 with 126 home runs and 296 swipes. While the Mets aren’t necessarily a slow footed team, they’re not exactly burners on the paths, either. His addition would bring a huge threat to the top of lineup.

Also read: Could a Smith for Bellinger Trade Work?

MLBTR has Marte getting approximately $80M for 4 years and Tim Dierkes has him signing with the Mets.

However, Jim Bowden of The Athletic thinks that the outfielder is a “great fit” for the Yankees so I believe Marte’s agent will be busy fielding offers this winter. Anything can happen, but if he does see his way on to the Mets, this lineup would have changed drastically.

An Early Look at the Mets Off-Season Strategy

As the 2021 season enters its final stretch, we can somewhat see what the New York Mets need to do come November. The Mets are still in playoff contention, but their hopes continue to trickle away daily. In an effort to bring some positivity/excitement, let’s make an early evaluation on what the Mets should do this off-season.

Evaluating Pending Mets Free Agents

Marcus Stroman: Re-sign. Not just re-sign, extend. Stroman is 31 years old and has proven invaluable to the Mets. I am sure he will be receiving many offers this off-season, but what he has done with the Mets in 2021 is enough to earn him a lengthy deal from Steve Cohen. I anticipate he gets a four-five year deal worth $15-18 million a year at the very least.

Michael Conforto: Re-sign, under one condition: It is a one year contract. After the season Conforto had, you cannot sign him more than three years, and he isn’t going to want that. Conforto, 29, is going to want a one-year deal or a six or seven-year deal. If the Mets offer him a one year contract in the neighborhood of $15 million, he really can’t decline it. This allows him to have another season to reset his market value to then get the major contract he desires. He will be 30 years old next off-season, giving him the ability to still land a five-year contract somewhere.

Javier Baez: Re-sign, under one condition: It is for two or three years. Considering that the Mets didn’t trade Ronny Mauricio at the deadline, I think it is best to pin him into second base in the future. Therefore, you can ink Baez to a short-term deal to fill that spot for the next couple seasons. The Mets will not be able to sign anybody that is significantly better than Baez at second base for three years. Baez is unlikely to be offered a contract for more than three years because of how much of a crapshoot he is at the plate. He has said that he would play second base for the Mets alongside Lindor, and I think the Mets should take him up on that.

Dellin Betances: Let him walk.

Jeurys Familia: Depends on the end of the 2021 season. He has been going through a real rough patch in August, after having a really great first half. Familia, 32, is at the end of a three-year deal that he inked before the 2019 season. If he settles down and has a good rest of the year, he is a prime one-year contract candidate. If he struggles, let him walk.

Noah Syndergaard: We all want Noah Syndergaard to succeed when he comes back from Tommy John surgery. The issue is, we do not know what pitcher he will be in 2022 when he is fully healthy again. I would not want to give him more than a one or two-year contract. The Mets would be taking a huge risk in extending Syndergaard for more than three years because of the uncertainty of his elbow, and his past injury history. Like Conforto, Syndergaard will likely not get nearly as much money this year as he would if he took a one-year contract and hit the market again next fall.

Jonathan Villar: Re-sign him. Why the heck now? Villar has been a savior for the Mets in 2021, and would be a great bench piece for them come 2022. Only issue is, some team may be willing to give Villar a two or three-year deal to be a starter. The Mets would likely not want to go more than one-year as a bench player. Because of this, Villar would likely take the deal with more security.

Aaron Loup: Throw the bank at him. In all seriousness, the Mets really need to keep Aaron Loup. Loup, 34, is having the best season of his Major League career. His age probably entails a two or three-year deal, and likely not for more than $7 or $8 million. For the season he had, and the difficulty of finding a great lefty arm in the bullpen, there is no reason not to bring him back.

Rich Hill: Don’t sign him. Unless Hill will accept a minors deal, there is no reason for the Mets to bring Hill back.

Jerad Eickhoff: Let him walk.

Cameron Maybin: Drop him off at a train station.

Positional Evaluation

Starting Pitching: Assuming the Mets ink Stroman, the rotation would be complete for the 2022 season. It would look something like this: deGrom, Stroman, Walker, Carrasco, Syndergaard and Peterson. The Mets may feel inclined to look for another starter in the place of Peterson. If they would like to trade him for prospects, they could glance at the very old starting pitcher free agent market, or take a look at potential trade targets. However, because they already have six starters, I don’t think it is necessary to look at starting pitching this off-season, other than depth pieces.

Relief Pitching: The relief market this off-season is going to be plentiful, but not very talented. The best arms available will be Jansen, Hand, Raisel Iglesias, Archie Bradley, Daniel Hudson, Corey Knebel and Mychal Givens. In a normal year, these guys wouldn’t make much more than $8-10 million, but this year they will likely be asking for more because they are the best out there. I don’t think it is necessary to go after one, unless Familia walks. Even at that, the Mets may throw David Peterson and Trevor Williams into the bullpen.

Catcher: McCann is there for a few years, and Nido is too.

First Base: Pete Alonso.

Second Base: I previously mentioned that the Mets should sign Javier Baez to a two or three-year contract to play second base. That then means that Jeff McNeil is an odd-man out. I think the best thing for the Mets to do is trade him to boost the farm system. McNeil is a good player, but he has a few years left in his contract, has been really inconsistent, and is at the end of his peak value. Baez is very inconsistent too, but would you rather have Baez or McNeil at second base for the next few years?

Baseball Savant
Baseball Savant

The top photo is Jeff McNeil in 2021, the second photo is Javier Baez in 2021. Those numbers are percentiles compared to the rest of the league. The higher the number, and the more red, the better. Baez has more categories that are better than McNeil. On top of that, I think Baez has more upside, especially being alongside Francisco Lindor. Those two could fire each other up and make the other play better.

Shortstop: Francisco Lindor.

Third Base: The Mets have many options here, and I believe this is going to be the most active position for the Mets this off-season. The third base market is severely thin, but Kris Bryant headlines the group. I believe the Mets will aggressively pursue him. Bryant, 30, is coming off a bounce-back year with the Cubs/Giants, and can fit into the infield with his former Cubs teammate Javier Baez. (All the Mets need is Carlos Santana and they will have the entire 2016 World Series infield.) However, maybe the Mets don’t need to focus on a third baseman to play third base. Trevor Story and Carlos Correa, shortstops, could slide over to third base. Do not forget about the current Mets third baseman, who will be under contract until 2025, J.D. Davis. Davis is a really good bet for the Mets in this situation too. At his best, he could hit .290 with 30 home runs. The issue is, he has been riddled with injuries the past two seasons. Because of this, there are many questions about his ability to stay healthy.

The wild card in the third base deck is Brett Baty. Baty is the Mets top third base prospect, and likely will be up in 2023 or 2024. He is going to be the Mets third baseman of the future. That being said, you can’t really block his position much past 2024. Unless the player the Mets sign can move over to another infield position that isn’t shortstop, they are going to have to settle on a three-year contract. The issue with that is that Bryant, Story and Correa are all superstars, who will likely land contracts of at least five years in length. The most likely situation is that they keep Davis, and don’t sign anyone. However, that won’t stop the Mets from engaging in plenty of contract negotiations.

Left Field: Dom Smith may have had a rough year, but he deserves another season or two to re-establish himself as a superstar.

Center Field: Brandon Nimmo established himself in 2021 as the Mets center-fielder of the future. This was further instated when the Mets traded their top center field prospect, Pete Crow-Armstrong. Nimmo had a great year in 2021. However, he is entering the last year of his contract. The priority here is to give Nimmo a contract extension in the Spring.

Right Field: Going to copy and paste what I said about Michael Conforto, then will go into other options. Re-sign, under one condition: It is a one year contract. After the season Conforto had, you cannot sign him more than three years, and he isn’t going to want that. Conforto, 29, is going to want a one-year deal or a six or seven-year deal. If the Mets offer him a one year contract in the neighborhood of $15 million, he really can’t decline it. This allows him to have another season to reset his market value to then get the major contract he desires. If Conforto does not re-sign, the Mets can hope that Nicholas Castellanos of the Reds declines his option, and becomes a free agent. Other than that, right field is very thin, with Avisail Garcia being the next best choice.

Most of these things can be completely washed away with one potentially new rule: the universal DH. Until then, we proceed as if it will not exist.

It will be interesting to see where the Mets go this off-season. Their best bet may be to explore the trade market more than the free agent market. The only issue with that is the Mets lack of tradable prospects.

The 2021-22 off-season is going to be filled with the Mets being involved in many talks, as expected. Which talks will lead to deals?

Wendell Cruz – USA Today

The Case to Sign Shane Greene

One of the most common names in the game today when discussing free agents remaining is Shane Greene. Here is why the Mets should take a chance.

Palmer on Pittsburgh

Shane Greene. Why hasn’t he been signed yet? Why has he really had no talk about him this off-season? Should the Mets sign him?

All incredible questions, and I don’t really have any answers for you. What I can provide are facts and opinions.

Why Hasn’t he Been Signed Yet?

This is probably the best question people have been asking. Arguably one of the best relievers in baseball in 2020, who at this point can probably sign for dirt cheap. However, something we have seen all off-season is that the reliever market it just not there. The only reliever who got a good contract was Liam Hendriks, and even he was somewhat under-paid. Alex Colome signed a cheap contract with the Twins after being a top 50 player in 2020. Jeremy Jeffress signed a Minor League contract after putting up a 1.54 ERA last year. Relief pitching is probably the second-most underwhelming positions in baseball today, behind catcher, which should lead to great players getting great contracts.

I know it is strange, but compare this to JT Realmuto. Realmuto signed a record contract with the Phillies. He is possibly the best catcher in the game and got a contract relative to the talent that is seen at that position today. Not only is he potentially the best player in a position that is severely weak in talent, but he has struggled the last few seasons. He still got paid.

Back to Shane Greene. Oftentimes when there is a question about whether a player should be paid or not, it comes from their past in the game. Normally those players had one great year, but otherwise struggled. Shane Greene has not had that in his time. Since 2017, Greene has a combined 3.25 ERA in 221 IP, as well as a 1.197 WHIP in that time. Those are very good numbers. In that same time, Liam Hendriks had a 2.86 ERA in 198 IP, as well as a 1.079 WHIP. Hendriks clearly has better numbers, but he also has more than 20 less innings thrown that Greene. Hendriks has been much more reliable the last two seasons, posting an ERA under two those years. That doesn’t take away that Shane Greene has been very consistent and good.

Simple answer- no idea why he hasn’t signed.

Why Has There Been Little Talk Surrounding Him?

This is a question that only MLB front office’s can answer. My main guess is because of these numbers. Before you read the chart, answer this question in your head- is Shane Greene a strikeout pitcher or does he pitch to contact?

Baseball Savant

The number that really stands out to me is his K%. We are living in the world of the strikeout. If you’re not striking somebody out, you better be playing like Kyle Hendricks. He pitches to contact, and most people probably didn’t even know that before reading this article. To be honest, I didn’t even know that before I began this. That is the number I think people are scared of. He doesn’t strike out the world, and he really doesn’t strike out much of anyone. He had a K/9 of 6.8 in 2020, which was among the leagues worst. In a world where people are expecting to see strikeouts from pitchers, that could potentially be a main reason why Greene hasn’t gotten much chatter.

My guess- strikeouts are a major reason.

Should The Mets Sign Him?

This is the age old question. The interesting thing for the Mets is that they bullpen is filled primarily with strikeout guys. Headlining that group are: Dellin Betances, Miguel Castro, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Trevor May. The Mets don’t really have a reliable pitch-to-contact guy in the bullpen at the moment. Aaron Loup is going to be the main lefty-on-lefty pitcher, Jacob Barnes isn’t proven yet, Seth Lugo is currently hurt, and the rest is really up in the air. The main pitcher that comes to my mind as the current contact guy is Robert Gsellman. In 2019, he was in the 41st percentile in K%, so it is clear that he is a guy that relies on the defense. However, Gsellman isn’t necessarily reliable anymore as the player he once was.

This means that Shane Greene would slot in right away as the main pitch-to-contact guy in the Mets bullpen. It is important to have a guy on the team that you can call in and get a double play, and right now I would probably say that Jeurys Familia is that guy.

Familia and his sinker is going to be something to watch in 2021. The main question is will that sinker get swings and misses, soft contact, or hard contact. When he’s at his best, he is going to get swings and misses, but a soft contact pitcher is always welcome for a guy that is no longer the closer. If Familia is going to be a contact pitcher, then the need for Greene is sharply lower. However, Familia is getting strikeouts at a very high rate in Spring Training so far.

The way things stand at the moment, the Mets do not have a soft contact pitcher in their bullpen. It seems like signing Greene would be a major boost to a questionable, and quite literally hit or miss, bullpen. I believe signing Greene could be very beneficial, but I would approach with caution.

Photo Credit David O’Brien The Athletic