By: Joe Messineo

Could This Really Be a Quiet Offseason for the Mets?


The New York Mets had an incredible run in the postseason this year – and it almost got them to the top. The Mets won the National League Pennant before falling to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.

The Mets are a young team, though, and another deep run next season seems like a very realistic possibility. With starting pitcher Zack Wheeler coming back from Tommy John surgery, the Mets should have even better pitching than they did this past season. They need some hitters, but that won’t be too much of an issue: as a big-market team in win-now mode, the Mets are sure to hand out some large contracts this offseason. Right?

Well, maybe not. The Mets front office has indicated that they won’t pursue high-priced free agents, and they’ve also gone on record saying that they’re highly unlikely to deal any of their starting pitchers. Could this really be a quiet offseason for the Mets?

Why Wouldn’t the Mets Make a Trade?

The tricky thing about the Mets’ position is that their surplus is in pitching, and pitching is their bread and butter. Though Matt Harvey’s pitch count fiasco led to some rumblings about trading him, his subsequent postseason performance seems to have put that speculation to rest. After him, there’s Jacob DeGrom, who is also untouchable. Noah Syndergaard might net a decent return, but he’s also a key pitcher for the Mets.

That leaves Steven Matz, who debuted this year, and Zack Wheeler, who missed the 2015 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. These two pitchers aren’t as key to the Mets, but they also won’t net a huge return in a trade. If the Mets want a star shortstop or outfielder, they will have to trade Harvey. And reports indicate that Harvey will net them only one or the other, not both. That means pulling the trigger on a one-for-one trade for, say, Red Sox OF Mookie Betts. Even armchair GMs might get a little nervous imagining that one.

If the Mets make a trade, expect them to draw from the back end of their rotation or to swap one of their other lower tier chips, like CF Juan Lagares or C Kevin Plawecki. The return on deals built around players like these would be much lower than one built around Harvey, obviously. Don’t expect any blockbusters from the Mets this offseason.

Why Wouldn’t the Mets Sign a Top Tier Free Agent?

It’s pretty easy to understand why the Mets won’t make a huge trade. It’s a lot harder to understand why they won’t sign free agents.

The Mets were once a free-spending team, one that suited their huge market. They were also a dumb team, and that led to some really toxic contracts. After ownership lost money in Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme, they tightened the purse strings. They did promise, though, that a return to competition and more support from the fans would lead to more spending. Those conditions seem to have been met, but it’s not clear that the budget is increasing.

And money isn’t the only issue – there’s also the years involved in signing a modern mega-contract. Mets GM Sandy Alderson is adamant that such long-term contracts simply don’t work. You can’t sign a superstar without offering a deal of seven years or so, and a refusal to do so is going to keep the Mets away from big-time guys like Jason Heyward and Justin Upton.

Is a Quiet Offseason a Good Idea?

As we hinted at above, we agree with the Mets’ approach to the trade market. Right now, a trade built around a superstar pitcher would deal a blow to the Mets’ strongest asset. With Wheeler sure to be on an innings limit, losing an ace would be a bigger deal to the Mets than it might appear at first glance.

But the Mets’ insistence on avoiding superstar contracts seems shortsighted to us. Prices go up in baseball free agency, and some of the mega-deals that once shocked the world now look pretty fair to the teams that agreed to them. With Justin Upton and Jason Heyward both coming to free agency younger than the average player does, a mega-deal is less dangerous, because those players won’t be as old at the end of their contracts as is typical with superstar free agents. The Mets are a big-market team, and if they want to win it all next year, they should start acting like one.

About Joe Messineo

Joe is a co-founder of Rukkus, a web & mobile marketplace for sports tickets. As a former Division I pitcher, he has a deep love for sports and a passion for writing.

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