As the Mets entered the final hour before the July 30th trade deadline, nothing had yet come to fruition. Just minutes later, it became apparent that Cubs shortstop Javier Baez was on his way to Queens, along with starting pitcher Trevor Williams. As the minutes continued to tick toward 4:00 PM, the feeling of expectation lingered. As a matter of fact, it was reported afterward that the Mets continued to work towards a deal for Twins’ pitcher Kenta Maeda and possibly also Josh Donaldson.
Much to the dismay of many Mets fans, the deadline came and went with no further additions. Overall, it seems like a mixed bag for the Mets. On one hand, the Javier Baez/Francisco Lindor double-play combination should be absurdly fun. On the other, the Mets sent a top-five prospect away and were unable to acquire a bullpen upgrade or impact starter. After watching 10+ rental relievers get moved for relative peanuts, it’s difficult to understand why the Mets wouldn’t make a similar move to solidify their relief pitching.
Mets’ New Lineup
Baez will certainly face his share of criticism in New York, being a low-OBP, free-swinging hitter. Despite that, Baez is still a great power hitter, and adds significant value on defense and on the basepaths. Baez leads all Mets not named deGrom in bWAR with 2.8, and is one shy of the lead in home runs with 22.
On top of this, Baez will upgrade the Mets lineup in a number of ways. For one, the Mets desperately need someone who can hit lefties, and Baez currently holds a .965 OPS against southpaws this year. He should be arriving in Queens just in time for the Mets to face Reds LHP Wade Miley tonight.
Baez will immediately slot into the lineup at SS, supplanting the Villar/Guillorme combination. When Francisco Lindor returns in 2-3 weeks, it will also give Luis Rojas the flexibility to platoon J.D. Davis with either Dom Smith or Michael Conforto. Assuming the Mets do not suffer any significant injuries before then, the team could run out a lineup that looks like this in September:
The positional versatility of McNeil could also allow the Mets to start Davis at third against lefties with McNeil in the outfield.
Mets’ New Pitching Staff?
Unfortunately, the Mets pitching corps doesn’t look all that different after the deadline. It’s especially disappointing to see an overworked bullpen give up five runs over five innings just hours later.
On the bright side, the rotation is no longer two-fifths empty. With the news that deGrom is now sidelined until at least September, the Mets will proceed with a rotation of Walker/Stroman/Carrasco/Hill/Megill. Plus, the addition of Trevor Williams means there is at least one backup option before the Mets give another start to Jerad Eickhoff and his 8.69 ERA.
The bullpen is where things feel most disappointing. The Mets have somewhere around 7 solid relievers with Diaz, May, Loup, Lugo, Familia, Castro, and Smith. However, that 8th bullpen spot has been questionable all year, and it’s hard to understand why the front office wouldn’t try and swing a deal to replace Anthony Banda with, say, Raisel Iglesias. Even the lower-tier relievers moved at the deadline would represent a significant upgrade over the untested group that the Mets have shuffled in and out of that spot all season.
The Mets certainly could have benefitted from a few more moves at the deadline. All in all, however, the Baez trade sends a clear message that Steve Cohen’s Mets are not the Wilpon’s Mets; it’s hard not to get excited seeing management bring in two of baseball’s most exciting players in the first half-season of the new regime.
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