Is Freddie Freeman a Good Fit for the Mets?

Major League Baseball is back, bay-bay! After the MLBPA and the owners have come to an agreement, teams are now again allowed to negotiate deals with free agents. One of those free agents that are set to garnish a lot of attention is first baseman Freddie Freeman.

The feeling and perception around the league is that Freeman has played his last games with the Braves and plans to be moving on, as reported by Joel Sherman.

There aren’t too many MLB teams that would refuse Freddie Freeman and what he has to bring to the table, offensively as well as defensively. While Freeman is already at the age of 32, he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down just yet.

It’s been rumored that the Tampa Bay Rays have shown interest before the lockout took place, as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers even offering Freeman a multi-year deal.

The first baseman hit .300/.393/.503/.893 in 600 AB’s for the Braves in during the 2021 campaign, along side 31 home runs and 25 doubles. Freeman took home the Silver Slugger Award while also leading the league in runs scored in what could be his final season in Atlanta.

The Braves did put an offer of $135M on the table throughout five years, however it’s said that the former MVP has his eyes set on at least a six year pact.

The deal is going to take some serious commitments in the form of cash and the amount of years involved. But with Steve Cohen seemingly willing to go the extra mile, it isn’t completely out of the question.

What if the Mets made a deal? How would it effect them?

It would give the Mets a number three hitter for at least two to three years in the form of a solid defensive glove at first. Former Mets catcher and current analyst on SNY, Anthony Recker has stated in a segment that Freeman is the type of player that still wants to be on the field.

It’s a valid statement considering we’ve heard the same from Pete Alonso, also a first baseman. With the DH set to take over, it does give the Mets the option to have both players in the lineup.

However, this would likely force Dom Smith off of the Mets roster. While he’d be an obviously great bat off the bench, a trade would give the team the chance to acquire a middle of the rotation arm or even replenish the MiLB system.

But the answer is “Duh!”, Freeman is a great fit for the Mets.

Photo: Fox Sports

Tuesday’s Pitching Preview & Lineup (7/27)

The 53-45 New York Mets will play the third game of a five -game set against the 49-51 Atlanta Braves. After splitting Monday’s doubleheader, the Mets look to put some more distance between the two teams.

The Mets plan to send right-hander Jerad Eickhoff to the hill, making his fifth appearance of the season. The Evansville, Indians native is 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA and has 9 K’s in 16.1 innings pitched.

The Atlanta Braves will have 37-year old righty Charlie Morton on the mound, a former third round pick with the Braves back in 2002. In his last start, Morton picked up his 9th win by pitching six innings while giving up two runs and striking out eight against the Philadelphia Phillies

Morton, so far is having a good season, pitching to a 3.65 ERA but owning an impressive 9-3 record. The Flemington, New Jersey native has also struck out 130 batters in 111.0 innings pitched, so far this season.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM EST and will be televised locally on SNY.

MetsJunkies Recap: Mets drop second straight

After being blown out the night prior, the Mets came back and played good baseball, however it would go down in a loss. Jacob deGrom gave up three runs out of the gate in the bottom of the first, two of them coming off of an Austin Riley home run.

The Mets did get on the board first in the top half via a hard hit single by Michael Conforto. Lindor would score on the play after stealing a bag off of the Ian Anderson/Kevan Smith combination.

Dom Smith would hit a pair of home runs, his 7th and 8th of the year. While the surge in power was great to see in the latter innings, it still wasn’t enough as they fell short 4-3 to the Braves.

Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning and has lowered his ERA to 3.34 after making his 34th appearance of the campaign.

The Mets look to turn things around in the Subway Series against the Yankees starting on Friday, weather permitting.

Thursday’s Pitching Preview 7/1

The 41-35 New York Mets will play the last of a three-game set against the 38-41 Atlanta Braves. After losing Wednesday’s contest in a blowout (20-2) at Citi, the Mets look to take the series on the finale.

Tonight’s contest will feature a two-time Cy Young and a Hall of Fame’r in the making. Jacob deGrom will hit the hill for the Mets, looking to improve his 7-2 record as well as his immaculate 0.69 ERA.

deGrom’s last outing came against the Phillies back at Citi Field, and was solid. He went on to throw 6.0 innings as he only gave up two runs on three hits and one walk. He also struck out five, increasing his season totals to 122 in 78.0 innings pitched.

The Atlanta Braves will have 23-year old local Ian Anderson on the mound, a former first round pick (3rd Overall) of the Braves in the 2016 draft. In his last start, Anderson pitched six innings while giving up three runs in a loss against the Cincinnati Reds.

Anderson, so far is having an above average season, pitching to a 3.42 ERA while owning a 5-4 record. The Rexford, New York native has also struck out 88 batters in 81.2 innings pitched, so far this season.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:20 PM EST and will be televised locally on SNY.

MetsJunkies Recap: Mets split Doubleheader with Braves

The Braves and Mets set up shop for two games on Monday and the teams split the doubleheader. The first game of the day featured Jacob deGrom and of course, he did Jacob deGrom like things.

The Mets’ ace hit the mound and threw five innings of shutout baseball while striking out six batters. In the process, deGrom was able to lower his already minuscule ERA to 0.50 while also improving his record to 7-2.

Dom Smith plated across three runs in the 5th with a sharply hit double off of left-hander Sean Newcomb. The extra base hit put deGrom in a good situation with the Mets up 4-0.

Seth Lugo entered in the 6th and gave up two runs on a Ozzie Albies home run. Lugo’s ERA now sits at a still very respectable 2.89 after the appearance.

Edwin Diaz did however come into the game in the 7th and shut down the Braves, earning his 15th save of the season.

The Mets would end up dropping the second game to the Braves as they were shut out in a 1-0 loss.

Jerad Eickhoff made his Mets debut as the right-hander pitched four scoreless innings while striking out three. The former Philadelphia Philly may have pitched well enough to get another nod at some point down the line.

Miguel Castro would be the Mets pitcher of record as he gave up a bullet of a line drive home run to Ronald Acuna, over a leaping Kevin Pillar in center. Even though Castro picked up the loss, he owns a 3.03 ERA and has been a reliable arm.

Both Sean Reid-Foley and Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning, combining for three strikeouts.

Tomorrow’s contest will feature a matchup of Charlie Morton versus Marcus Stroman.

Tuesday’s Pitching Preview 5/29

The 25-20 New York Mets will play the final out of a three-game set against the 24-26 Atlanta Braves. After winning their fourth straight, the Mets look to keep the momentum going.

The Mets plan to send their ace Jacob deGrom to the hill, making his eighth appearance of the season. The DeLand, Florida native is 3-2 with a 0.80 ERA with 74 K’s in 45.0 innings pitched.

deGrom is coming fresh off of a start in which he tossed five innings, giving up just one earned run on three hits. Luckily, he should be pushed to go a little bit further in today’s contest against the Braves.

The Atlanta Braves will have 27-year old Max Fried on the mound, a veteran left-hander making his eighth appearance of the campaign. Fried pitched seven innings while giving up just one run on four hits.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 PM EST and will be televised locally on SNY, as well as nationally on ESPN.

Walker exits game

New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker has exited the game.

Walker exited the game due to “left side tightness”. The right hander got through the first three innings on 33 pitches while only giving up one hit.

Monday’s Pitching Preview & Lineup 5/17

The 18-16 New York Mets will play a three -game set against the Atlanta Braves to kick off the series down in Georgia.

The Mets plan to send right-hander Taijuan Walker to the hill, making his eighth appearance of the campaign. The Shreveport, Louisiana native is 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA with 39 K’s in 41.0 innings pitched.

Walker picked up the win in his last outing against the Baltimore Orioles on the 12th of May. He pitched 7 innings while having surrendered just one run on four hits, as well as walking three.

The Atlanta Braves will have 27-year old Max Fried on the mound, a left-hander coming off of a no-decision against the Toronto Blue Jays on the 12th. This will be the Mets’ first time seeing Fried during the 2021 season.

This season, Fried owns a 1-1 record with a 6.55 ERA, while striking out 24 in 22.0 innings of work.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM EST and will be televised locally on SNY, as well as nationally on ESPN.

Monday’s Pitching Preview 5/17

The 18-16 New York Mets will play a three -game set against the Atlanta Braves to kick off the series down in Georgia.

The Mets plan to send right-hander Taijuan Walker to the hill, making his eighth appearance of the campaign. The Shreveport, Louisiana native is 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA with 39 K’s in 41.0 innings pitched.

Walker picked up the win in his last outing against the Baltimore Orioles on the 12th of May. He pitched 7 innings while having surrendered just one run on four hits, as well as walking three.

The Atlanta Braves will have 27-year old Max Fried on the mound, a left-hander coming off of a no-decision against the Toronto Blue Jays on the 12th. This will be the Mets’ first time seeing Fried during the 2021 season.

This season, Fried owns a 1-1 record with a 6.55 ERA, while striking out 24 in 22.0 innings of work.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM EST and will be televised locally on SNY, as well as nationally on ESPN.

NYM CF Mallex Smith: Candidate for The 2021 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award

Earlier in the offseason, the Mets may have made one of their biggest move in signing 11 minor league free agents that included Jose Peraza, Arodys Vizciano, and 27 year old Centerfielder Mallex Smith! Smith was originally drafted by the Padres in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft out of Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, FL. Before I go into a deeper analysis as to why I think he could be a comeback player of the year, lets look at the history of Smith as he bounces around different ballclubs.

TRADED TO THE BRAVES: On December 19, 2014 the Padres traded 2B Jace Peterson, LHP Max Fried, 3B Dustin Peterson, and CF Mallex Smith to the Braves in exchange for LF Justin Upton and RHP Aason Northcraft.

2016 SEASON – ROOKIE DEBUT: Smith made his MLB debut with the Braves in 2016 where in 72 games and 215 PA, he slashed a .238/.316/.365 with 3 HR and 16 SB in 24 attempts. The then 23 year old, also had a Strike out rate (K%) of 22.3% with a Walk rate (BB%) of 9.3%, Which is not too bad for a Rookie debut.

TRADED TO THE MARINERS AND TO THE RAYS: On January 11, 2017 The Braves traded Mallex smith to the Seattle Mariners with RHP Shae Simmons for RHP Thomas Burrows and LHP Luis Gohara. A few hours after being traded from the Braves, the Mariners trade Smith to the Tampa Bay Rays along with INF Carlos Vargas and LHP Ryan Yarbrough for LHP Drew Smyly.

2017 – 2018 SEASON – THE GOOD: Mallex Smith played two seasons with Tampa, which included a break out year in 2018. During the course of his time at Tampa, Smith played 222 G with 826 Plate Appearances where he slashed a .287/.354/.389. He’s not known for his power so the youngster only hit 4HR but he did steal 56 SB in 73 attempts. His speed was the game changer as he lead the league in triples in 2018 with 10. It is also worth noting that in 2018, he only struck out 98 times (K% of 18%) and walked 47 times (BB% of 8.6%). He finished 10th place on OBP for the year.

TRADED TO THE MARINERS (AGAIN): On November 8, 2018, the Rays traded Smith to the Mariners with OF Jake Fraley for OF Guillermo Heredia (yes, same guy on the Mets in 2020) and C Mike Zunino.

2019 SEASON – THE BAD: Things started to go south for Smith in 2019. In 566 plate appearances, he slashed a horrid .227/.300/.335 with a K% of 24.9 and a BB% of 7.4%. The only good that came out of this season for Smith was that he had an MLB leading 46 SB in 52 attempts. He also hit a career high of 6 HR that season.

2020 SEASON – THE UGLY: In 2020, Smith production went further south. Smith had delayed his debut to the M’s summer camp for undisclosed reasons. He missed out a few weeks to prepare for the already shorten season due to the pandemic. He was able to make the M’s opening day line-up, but only appeared on 14 games before getting optioned back to the alternative site. He made 47 Plate appearances, slashing a pathetic .133/.170/.178 with while only stealing 2 bases striking out 13 times with while drawing only 2 walks. Meanwhile, the Mariners had some great production coming from Kyle Lewis who earn the AL Rookie of the Year award at CF. The Mariner’s have a bright future in their OF prospects that are close to MLB level in Jared Kelenic (ahem, thanks again Brodie) and Julio Rodriguez. Mariners did not tenure Smith and he opted out to Free Agency.

METS SIGNED MALLEX SMITH TO MINOR LEAGUE DEAL: As mentioned earlier, the Mets quickly signed 11 players into minor league deals on November 4th. They took the opportunity to add much needed depth at CF before other teams could sink their teeth into Smith.

DEFENSIVE UPGRADE:

In 2019, Smith ranked 8th in Outs Above Average (OOA) for any OF Position with 10 while logging in 9 Runs Prevented. In 2020, he did not play enough games to be eligible, but also see below on how horrid the Mets defensive numbers were. Spoiler alert, it sucked.

2019 OOA Rankings Baseball Savant
2019 Mets OOA Baseball Savant
Mets 2020 OOA Baseball Savant

THE OFFENSE: I took a look into Smith’s number to see if I can see any evidence of what exactly changed from his 2019 to 2020 season. Granted 2020 was a much smaller sample size, and in my opinion, Smith did not get enough time to prepare with the team as his sessions at the summer camp were delayed due to undisclosed reasons. That aside, the number one thing that popped out to me during his 2020 season was his BABIP. His BABIP was well below the league average of .300. In short, when he was putting the ball in play, he was a victim of either very bad luck or amazing defensive on the field. His BABIP was .188. This may be me speculating a bit, but I think he may have made attempts to over compensate by attempting to be more aggressive in the strike zone, and trying to sell out for power, a tool in which he lacks. The Speedster, appeared lost, while his counterpart, Lewis was scorching hot.

Fangraphs.com

The 2020 MLB season was a season where every single game was much more significant than ever. Not that a normal season is okay to lose, but in a shorten 60 game season meant that if a team lost, they had more grounds to cover in a shorter period of times. In a regular 162 game season, the club can be more patient as a player works through a slump. You also have the option to send a player down to the minors as long as they have enough available (Smith has 1 option remaining on his contract) to improve and figure out what the issues were. In a 60 game season were the playoffs were expanded, clubs were treating every game as a playoff game and if a player was slumping, there was much smaller tolerance to see if they could figure it out.

THE PROJECTIONS: Most projections have Smith seeing 200 or less AB. This make sense due to the abundance of left handed hitting OFers the Mets currently have, and how the Mets are linked towards the FA acquisition of George Springer. One thing that most of the projections indicate is that Smith will see regression on his OBP which would go back up north of .318. The most compelling projection that I seen is the one on Baseball reference where they are projecting him to see a decent amount of time in the OF and producing the following numbers.

Baseball Reference

Smith is also a left-handed hitter so the need for his bat may be limited. I expect the Mets to make some moves this winter that would shift the team around to work out the current log-jam of having too many poor defensive performers at LF and 3B. I also expect Mallex Smith having the potential to breakout of the 2021 Spring Training which will push the (much more analytical) Mets to include his bat and speed in the line up.

IN CONCLUSION: The Mets signing Mallex Smith to a minor league deal was one of the smartest things they have done in the offseason. They are taking a very low risk on giving Mallex Smith a chance. The pay off could be so significant that it could be the missing piece to the Mets defensive woes in the position and give them a push for a playoff slot or more. It is no secret that the Mets have a great offensive team. They also have a decent pitching rotation in which they are more than likely to further improve. Their bullpen, is top notch! However, if the defenders can not keep the opposing teams from scoring as they have, all that great pitching performance just goes to waste. This pitching staff needs to have the confidence to step up on the mound without questioning their teammates defensive abilities. If they need to throw a sinker to induce that double play ball, then so be it. They should also not have to worry about how much defensive ground their OF would be able to cover. If Mallex Smith gets the opportunity to play every day, he has the upside to be an impactful player that pitchers can trust to make the necessary outs.

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)