2021 Mets Hot Stove: Team Seeking Top Available Players

As is the case with all of MLB, the 2021 Mets Hot Stove is underway.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, “[the] Braves have been aggressive so far, and the Mets will not be far behind, aiming at the best available players. A source says the Mets are targeting more than one of the big four of the winter (Springer, Realmuto, Bauer, Lindor): It’s all true.”

Breaking down this quotation, we can optimistically infer that the Mets are prepared to offer two of these players adequate contracts to attract them to New York, but which two players would best position the Mets toward winning the World Series in 2021

The Mets Are Strong at Shortstop

In my opinion, the Mets can eliminate shortstop Francisco Lindor, since Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez should be able to cover the position. Giménez was great defensively at shortstop last season, always seeming to make the tough play when the team needed it. Rosario was slightly worse offensively last season, but he is still a solid option for New York’s lineup. We could see Rosario moved to third base or even left field, positions that Rosario played in the minor leagues.

Possible Mets’ Key Players: Bauer and Realmuto

Now, the Mets will have to choose which player they would not offer a contract to. Assuming that all three players would be interested in joining the Mets if the numbers worked, I believe that the Mets should offer a contract to J.T. Realmuto and Trevor Bauer. George Springer would be a huge help to the Mets, however, the team has bigger gaps in the rotation and at the catcher’s position. 

Mets Weakness: The Catcher’s Position

Starting with J.T. Realmuto, the Mets currently only have Tomás Nido and Ali Sánchez as catchers on their depth chart. Since Nido only played in seven games in 2020, we must look at his 2019 numbers for an indication of his potential.

In 2019, Nido was a sub .200 hitter with an average of .191 and he struck out 37 times out of 136 at-bats (27.2% SO rate). Therefore, it does not seem like Tomas Nido could lead the Mets to a World Series. Finally, Ali Sanchez has only had nine at-bats, so it does not seem like he could be a starting catcher for the 2021 season. 

Given the weak options at the catcher’s position, J.T. Realmuto would be a winning move for the franchise. Realmuto is an exceptional hitter, batting .278 for his career and .266 last season. He also hit 11 home runs in 47 games for Philadelphia, which would have translated to 38 home runs in a 162 game season. Realmuto is also very good defensively at the position, so his defense would be a large upgrade from Wilson Ramos

The Mets Need a Starting Pitcher

Next, Trevor Bauer would be my other selection for the team to sign. Currently, the Mets’ rotation is Jacob Degrom, Marcus Stroman, Seth Lugo, David Peterson, Steven Matz, and Noah Syndergaard (when he returns from injury).

The problem here is that Seth Lugo would be more valuable as a bullpen piece, and Steven Matz was completely ineffective during the 2020 season. With Bauer in the lineup, the Mets’ rotation would most likely be Jacob Degrom, Trevor Bauer, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and David Peterson/Steven Matz. For some analysis on Steven Matz’s future in New York, check out this article.

Bauer would be the second pitcher in the rotation behind Jacob deGrom, however, Bauer has Cy Young Potential for 2021. In 2020, he had a 1.73 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP. He also struck out 100 batters in 73 innings pitched, which is a great ratio for a pitcher.

Bauer can effectively throw his curveball, cutter, slider, sinker, and four-seamer to keep hitters guessing at the plate. While his fastball is only around 93 mph on average, he makes up for it by mixing his pitch arsenal depending on the hitter. Bauer would be a huge acquisition for the Mets, but it would probably take around $20M to sign him for next season.

As free agency progresses, we will see how much Steve Cohen is willing to spend on these big-name free agents, and how these players can impact the Mets for the 2021 season. Cohen has already made a statement by cleaning out the Mets’ front office, so apparently, he means business.

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