The Mets are in a unique position this offseason to reshape the look and feel of their team as new GM Billy Eppler gets to work under eager owner Steve Cohen, whose resources should help New York compete at the top end of the market.
After listening to what team president Sandy Alderson said earlier this month at the GM Meetings, the expectation should be that much of what the Mets do this offseason will revolve around signing free agents.
To paraphrase Alderson, there are two commodities in baseball: players and money. The Mets have plenty of money, and are reluctant to part with key players at the moment.
Part of the Mets’ reluctance is because their farm system is top-heavy. Another reason is that so many of their big league players are coming off down years that negatively impacted their value to other teams.
Still, the Mets have the ammunition to make a big trade if they so choose. And while they should be making certain prospects off limits (including Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty), their unique position in the 2022 MLB Draft would help them quickly replenish the system in the event they moved some key pieces of it in a trade this offseason.
Of the players throughout the league who are expected to be on the trading block, there are some who are under team control for quite some time and would likely take an enormous haul to acquire.
There are others who are closer to free agency and/or are relatively expensive, potentially making the cost to acquire them more palatable for a Mets team that could approach the market tentatively.
Here are five players, with varying expected acquisition costs, who could interest the Mets this offseason…
The Mets’ main need this offseason, even before Noah Syndergaard jilted them to join the Los Angeles Angels, was starting pitching.
There is plenty of it on the free agent market, but beyond Max Scherzer — who might not have any interest in signing with a New York team — there probably isn’t any pitcher out there aside from perhaps Robbie Ray who has the upside of Castillo.
Castillo, who turns 29 in December, has yet to put it all together. But when you combine his career numbers (3.72 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 9.8 K/9 over five seasons) with his electric fastball/changeup/slider arsenal, you get a pitcher who would be a terrific fit near the top of the Mets’ rotation.
The Reds are reportedly open to discussing Castillo with other teams (though The Athletic reports he’s doubtful to be moved) and the price will likely be very high, with Castillo having two full years of team control remaining.
Cincinnati would be justified in asking interested teams for more than what the Toronto Blue Jays traded to the Minnesota Twins during last season’s trade deadline for Jose Berrios, who had a year and change of team control remaining at the time.
Buxton is set to hit free agency after the 2022 season and has been oft-injured during his career, including being limited to just 61 games in 2021 due in part to hip, hand, and hamstring issues.
The above means that while Minnesota can ask for a ransom in exchange for Buxton, they are very unlikely to get it.
When healthy (which has been rare), Buxton has been a difference-maker. A center fielder who slugs above .500 (as Buxton has done over the last three seasons) is hard to come by.
For the Mets or any other interested team, they will have to weigh the risk that comes with the soon-to-be-28-year-old Buxton with the reward he could provide if he’s able to stay on the field.
3B Matt Chapman (and any other Oakland A’s player)
During the GM Meetings, Athletics GM David Forst made it clear that they are open for business as they enter what is expected to be a rebuild.
That means that players like Chapman, first baseman Matt Olson, and pitchers such as Frankie Montas and Chris Bassitt are available.
The Mets should inquire about any A’s player they feel could make sense for them, but the one who could be the best fit is Chapman.
He is coming off a down year, having slashed just .210/.314/.403. But what he did from 2018 to 2020, when he hit .259/.341/.510 with 70 homers in 338 games, is probably more indicative of the type of offensive player he is.
Chapman, who is under team control through 2023, has also been one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball since making his debut in 2017.
The White Sox picked up Kimbrel’s $16 million option for the 2022 season, but they might have done so with the intention of trading him.
After dominating with the Chicago Cubs through July, Kimbrel struggled badly after being traded to the White Sox near the deadline, posting a 5.09 ERA (4.56 FIP) in 23 innings over 24 appearances.
If the Sox are indeed looking to trade Kimbrel, who is set to hit free agency after the 2022 season, they can expect something decent in return. But Kimbrel’s proximity to free agency and his cost should keep that price down.
For the Mets, who should be looking for more late-inning help for their bullpen, Kimbrel — who could form a lethal two-headed monster with Edwin Diaz — would be an ideal fit if the price is right.
OF Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates
Turning 27 years old in January and under team control through the 2025 season, Reynolds has hit .290/.368/.490 in his first three big league seasons, including a ridiculous 2021 campaign where he slashed .302/.390/.522 with 24 homers, 35 doubles, and a league-leading eight triples.
In addition to his offensive prowess, Reynolds has been an above average defender at all three outfield spots throughout his career, though he regressed a bit in center field this past season.
Of all the players on the market, Reynolds might cost the most.
And it’s understandable why the Pirates will likely put an incredibly high price on Reynolds, which could make him an unlikely fit for the Mets at this time.
Source: Yahoo Sports