Hey kid, wanna buy Jay Bruce?
New York Mets: (87-75)
Yoenis Cespedes, 4 years, $110M
Neil Walker, 1 year, $17.2M (qualifying offer)
Fernando Salas, 1 year, $3M
Jerry Blevins, 1 year, 6.5M with club options
Alejandro de Aza to the Atletics in a minor-league deal
Justin Ruggiano to the Giants in a minor league deal
Bartolo Colon, Braves, 1 year $12.5M
Jon Niese to the Yankees on a minor-league deal.
Jim Henderson to the Cubs on minor-league deal
Logan Verrett traded to the Baltimore Orioles for cash
Kelly Johnson remains unsigned as a free agent…do the Braves know? Should we call them?
Sandy Alderson approaches a bunch of young GMs at the Winter Meetings. His 1930’s fedora is covering his eyes. “Hey kids,” he whispers to the group, “I have a great, once in a lifetime deal for you. A real shoe in. I promise. Insane value.” He opens the side of his trench coat to reveal Jay Bruce, snuggled into a pocket, eyes glazed over. Curtis Granderson lays in wait around the corner in case he is needed. This was the bulk of Mets “activity” this winter: trying to hock Jay Bruce off to anyone who lingered on the idea too long and hesitantly willing to part with Granderson in tandem if that’s the only viable offer on the table. It makes sense why New York would want to keep a white knuckle grip on the GrandyMan: he was the one of the only consistent bats the team had the whole season.
After a blockbuster and Queens invigorating Cespedes signing at the beginning of the offseason, the Mets slowed their roll for most of the winter. While they parted ways with many, the Amazins didn’t add a single player to their 40-man that was acquired from another ball club.
While Neil Walker’s qualifying offer gained significantly less fanfare, the signing may prove to be just as vital for run support. It seems that the right of passage for Mets players to get injured while having a good year, only then can they be enshrined as a franchise stronghold. Walker landed on the DL at the end of last season for back issues, and despite missing a big chunk of games, still put up strong numbers for the Mets (.282/.347/.476). Now imagine the offensive season he’ll have next year if he can keep clear of the DL.
The Mets parted ways with lefty pitcher James Looney, who then signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers because that’s what you do when you’re 33 years-old and still have a smidgen of gas left in the tank. The sentiment remains for most of the free agents the Mets parted with: they’re not going to be missed.
The starting rotation last season was a constant parade of injuries and DL stints. If everyone’s arm stay healthy (Looking at you, Matt Harvey), the Mets are set to have a strong pitching lineup. Starting pitcher health is especially important considering the loss of Bartolo to the Braves. New York still has flexibility in Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. Gsellman looks like an even more promising option as spring training progresses. The 23-year old threw three shutout innings on Monday against the Marlins, cementing that his 2.42 ERA over 44 2⁄3 innings last season was not just beginners luck. New York is already stacked when it comes to late game relief, so taking every measure to reinforce their starting rotation puts them in hot pursuit for the NL Wildcard once again.
And then there’s David Wright. Wright, who may have angered a magical witch disguised as a hag to have all the injury bad luck that he’s had the past three years. Expecting him to come back to the team swinging (literally) is a delusion of grandeur. The Mets put all their offensive eggs in the third baseman’s basket and neglected to accrue any supplemental bats for this upcoming season…just in case.
You’d think that having nearly their entire rotation go down with injuries last season, coupled with the loss of Big Sexy, that the Mets would use this offseason to hoard pitchers and pitching prospects. I’m not usually a proponent of teams cherry picking dozens of position players and stuffing them in a basement, but it wouldn’t have hurt to gather up a few veterans who know what they’re doing and safeguard against a disaster like last year.
It feels like a common sentiment with this team is, “If (BLANK) can stay healthy, the Mets are poised to have a strong team.” Dress everyone in bubble wrap and we should be good to go. Or, you know…find some players with power and hopefully pawn off Bruce in the process.
Did the Mets have a winter for the history books? That depends on how you see history. If you think it’s about darn time they rename the team “The New York Cespedeses”, then maybe the excitement of the outfielder’s monster contract carried you all the way through to spring training. But if you were looking for the Mets to add a little more substance to the team in way of healthy bats, especially in their farm system, you were probably left disenchanted with what the winter brought to Queens. Here’s hoping that the Mets make good on their stagnant offseason come Opening Day.