2017 finds the Mets roster in an awkward place, with enough strengths that contention is within reach but enough weaknesses that standing pat could prove fatal to the team’s chances. Alderson and co. have their work cut out for them.
Where to start?
The White Sox are finally rebuilding, and might move Chris Sale for the right package. I can’t think of any Mets options for Sale that don’t start with Amed Rosario, but how about aiming a little lower and going after Jose Quintana? Sell high on Seth Lugo as a potential replacement, and move Travis d’Arnaud while his slugging pedigree is still relatively recent. These two are supplemental pieces; the cornerstone of the trade would be Jay Bruce, giving the White Sox a much-needed OF/DH with power. The Mets could also offer the Sox some financial flexibility by taking James Shields and part of his salary. Shields may be done as a good starter, but with a move to the ‘pen and a little acclimation time in AAA, I’m sure he could become a lights-out reliever if he could regain the control he had for the first 9 years of his career.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, the Diamondbacks have crashed and changed management, leading me to wonder – is the time finally right to attempt a Paul Goldschmidt deal? The Mets can offer Lucas Duda to replace him, a fly ball hitter who should thrive in Arizona. The Mets can offer a high-ceiling pitcher or three. The Mets can offer a controllable young player who’s unlikely to become a huge asset, but would be a steal if he does. How about Steven Matz – Duda – Brandon Nimmo – Zack Wheeler? This really depends on how much the D’backs like Matz. If they don’t, subbing in Quintana would be an option.
I’d also ask the D’backs to throw in Andrew Chafin, a groundball guy who developed strikeout ability last year but posted a 6.75 ERA due to what the advanced metrics see as awful luck.
These would be my key winter moves.
Then, in the spring, I’d make one more. With the games not mattering yet, and with a ton to prove, Matt Harvey will surely show up in the best shape of his life and be throwing 99 past hitters in spring training. That’s the time to trade him to an all-in contender like Boston for a young stud prospect like Andrew Benintendi or Rafael Devers. I don’t expect Harvey to thrive in New York going forward, whether for physical reasons or mental ones, and the Mets desperately need to deepen their ranks of potential impact players for the future.
The Mets need Yoenis Cespedes, and Cespedes seems to like the Mets, so I’d hope a deal could get done without any ridiculous behavior on either side, such as lowball offers from the Mets or 7-year demands from Team Yo.
That will leave the team with limited financial flexibility, and probably preclude major upgrades over the current roster at both primary positions of need, catcher and second base. My take is this: I liked having Neil Walker on the team, but his range was subpar and I doubt back problems bode well for a middle infielder’s future. At second base, the drop-off from Walker (the best-fitting free agent, as far as I’m aware) to what the Mets have now might not be that bad. The same is not true at catcher. I’d earmark the FA budget for Wilson Ramos and hope that no one gives him a crazy contract based just on 2016.
My 2017 Mets:
Lineup and Bench
1. 3B Jose Reyes
2. RF Curtis Granderson
3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt
4. LF Yoenis Cespedes
5. C Wilson Ramos
6. SS Asdrubal Cabrera
7. 2B T.J. Rivera / Wilmer Flores / Ty Kelly / Matt Reynolds
8. CF Juan Lagares
• Sign Rajai Davis to sub for Grandy against lefties and pinch-run.
• If Michael Conforto earns playing time, give him time in RF with Grandy moving to CF and Lagares sitting.
• If David Wright refuses to retire, then whenever Reyes, Cabrera, or the 2B needs a day off, plug Wright in at 3B and move Reyes around as needed. David can also pinch-hit against lefties.
• Bring back R.A. Dickey to serve as swingman, long relief, and injury sub. The knuckleballer suffered from Rogers Centre for four years, and from having another knuckleballer in his division in 2016. If he can throw as many strikes as he did during his Mets time, he’ll thrive again in the N.L.
If Montero ever musters the courage to throw strikes, his fastball is sneaky and gets a lot of pop-ups. His change-up is deceptive, so when it’s moving, it’s a good second pitch. The slider is just enough to keep righties off the fastball.
Summing it Up
With Ramos providing improved offense and defense behind the plate (and not killing the Mets as an opponent), Goldschmidt anchoring the lineup and the infield, Quintana bringing an impeccable record of health and success, a few bullpen additions offering some 7th inning upside, and a new stud prospect or two bolstering the farm, I think the Mets would be in a great position for 2017 and beyond.
What do you think of these moves? Do you have some ideas of your own? Please let us know in the comments!