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Could Springer push Mets over the edge?
Jan. 12: With the Mets fresh off
The addition of Carlos Carrasco in the trade that also landed superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor should help strengthen the Mets’ starting rotation, but FanGraphs’ depth charts projections suggest that the club is still a bit behind the Padres and Dodgers overall. The addition of Springer would allow the Mets to slide Brandon Nimmo (-14 Defensive Runs Saved as a center fielder and +5 DRS as a left fielder in his career) to left — a position at which team president Sandy Alderson said he’s not comfortable with starting Dominic Smith on an everyday basis.
The Mets will be holding out hope that the NL once again implements the designated hitter in 2021, which would allow them to keep Smith’s bat in the lineup without needing to find a spot for him in the field. If that is indeed the case, then sliding Nimmo to left and adding Springer in center could be the final piece New York needs to further close that gap between itself and the NL’s other top contenders.
Will Mets meet Springer’s asking price?
Jan. 9: What will it take to land Springer this offseason? According to SNY’s Andy Martino, around $175 million.
— SNY (@SNYtv) January 7, 2021
Martino adds that he’s hearing the Blue Jays’ offer on the table for Springer is below $150 million, and goes on to say that while Springer would be nice for the Mets to add after the blockbuster move they made to acquire Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, “the Mets can’t spend like drunken sailors,” borrowing a line from new owner Steve Cohen earlier this offseason. “I would be stunned if the Mets gave him [$175 million],” Martino said.
Another point Martino brings up is that Springer may have to move to right field as his primary position within a couple of seasons, which would create a dilemma for New York with current right fielder Michael Conforto.
Mets reportedly discussed Bryant with Cubs
Jan. 8: Francisco Lindor apparently wasn’t the only top trade target on the Mets’ radar before they completed a deal with Cleveland for the star shortstop and right-hander Carlos Carrasco on Thursday. According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, there has been dialogue between the Mets and Cubs about third baseman Kris Bryant recently.
There’s been dialogue between the Mets and Cubs recently about Kris Bryant. The Cubs really like catcher Francisco Alvarez, one of the Mets’ top prospects. Sandy Alderson indicated yesterday he isn’t trading top prospects.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) January 8, 2021
New York’s trade with Cleveland cost the team infielders Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez as well as right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene, its Nos. 9 and 10 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.
Per Puma, the Cubs “really like” catcher Francisco Alvarez, the Mets’ No. 2 prospect. However, Mets president Sandy Alderson indicated after Thursday’s trade that he isn’t moving top prospects.
Bryant, 29, played just 34 games last season and had a career-low .644 OPS. The 2016 National League MVP Award winner recorded a .901 OPS over his first five seasons.
Like Lindor, Bryant is a year away from free agency. Both earn salaries in the $20 million range in their final year of arbitration eligibility.
The Cubs recently traded Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the Padres for four low-level prospects, signaling an interest in cutting payroll and looking to the future. The team may continue to shop Bryant, though MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes that a trade market hasn’t really developed for him. The Mets’ trade on Thursday likely takes them out of the mix.
Bryant would be an upgrade at third base over J.D. Davis, but the Mets have other areas to address and are now roughly $32 million away from the $210 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold, according to projections from FanGraphs’ Roster Resource.
Kris Bryant should have more of a market than he appears to: .889 lifetime OPS, brings flexibility (can play all 3 OF positions in addition to 3B), 1 year to go at fairly reasonable rate (about $18-19M).
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 8, 2021
Lindor, Carrasco en route to New York, will Mets continue to push?
Jan. 7: After several anxious weeks for Mets fans, New York has made its first blockbuster move under new owner Steve Cohen. The Mets have traded for superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland in exchange for shortstops Andrés Giménez and Amed Rosario and Minor Leaguers Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene, New York’s No. 9 and No. 10 prospects.
Welcome to New York! 🍎
— New York Mets (@Mets) January 7, 2021
The Mets were long cited as a frontrunner in the Lindor trade sweepstakes, and as exciting as his acquisition is, it also raises some questions for the Queens club. Will New York, for instance, be able to convince Lindor to sign a long-term extension and thus keep him there beyond the 2021 season? And does this trade take the Mets out of their long-rumored interest in star free agents including Trevor Bauer and George Springer, or simply embolden them to keep going on a potential all-in push under Cohen?
Many insiders believed the industry was waiting on the Mets to make a splashy move in order for the Hot Stove to really start lighting up. It appears we’ve reached that starting line — perhaps especially for the Amazin’s.
FanGraphs’ Roster Resource projects the Mets still have roughly $32 million to spend before hitting the $210 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold. Mets president Sandy Alderson indicated Thursday that the team isn’t viewing the threshold as a hard cap.
“It’s a significant demarcation,” Alderson said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a line that can’t be passed.”
Mets eyeing Kluber, Paxton
Jan. 5: There’s a lot more starting pitching out there beyond just Trevor Bauer, and the Mets have their eye on two lower-cost, high-upside free agents: Corey Kluber and James Paxton.
The Mets will attend Kluber’s workout on Jan. 13 in Florida, and they also attended Paxton’s workout in December, a source told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo on Tuesday.
The Mets will be among those in attendance at Corey Kluber’s throwing session next week, per source. They also sent someone to James Paxton’s workout last month. Both are intriguing arms, as high-upside guys who started a combined six games last year due to injuries.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) January 5, 2021
Kluber and Paxton are both higher-risk than a top-of-the-market free agent like Bauer, as they both missed most of the 2020 season due to injuries. But if they’re healthy in 2021, they could be good value signings.
Kluber made only one start last season before tearing the right teres muscle in his pitching shoulder, and he’s made only eight total starts the last two years. But from 2014-18 with the Indians, the 34-year-old right-hander went 83-45 with a 2.85 ERA, averaged 218 innings and 246 strikeouts per season and won two AL Cy Young Awards.
Paxton, meanwhile, had back surgery last winter and then dealt with a left flexor tendon strain during the season, limiting him to only five starts. But the 32-year-old lefty went 38-17 with a 3.54 ERA from 2017-19 with the Yankees and Mariners, while averaging 149 innings and 183 strikeouts.
MLB Network insider Joel Sherman also thinks the Mets should go after Kluber. Writing for the New York Post, Sherman cites John Smoltz and Bartolo Colon as examples of starters who came back from arm injuries to succeed in their mid-to-late 30s. He also reminds Mets fans that Kluber’s five-year run from 2014-18 looked a lot like Jacob deGrom’s five-year run, at the same ages (28-32), from 2016-20.
Sherman thinks the Mets could sign Kluber to a short-term deal with performance bonuses tied to his number of innings or starts, and then also add another free-agent starting pitcher like Jake Odorizzi.
Report: Mets ‘optimistic’ Springer will land in Queens
Jan. 5: It’s still not clear whether the Mets or Blue Jays — the two perceived frontrunners for Springer at this point — are coming anywhere close to his reported asking price of $150 million or more. But the mood in Queens still appears to be chipper: a source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that “team brass is optimistic Springer will be wearing a Mets uniform by the time Spring Training begins.”
Obviously this is just one report, and an “optimistic” feeling does not equate to the guaranteed sight of Springer in orange and blue. But by all indications, the Mets’ focus remains on the big bat of Springer that could significantly improve their outfield rotation. Should Springer sign elsewhere, Puma lists Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier, Kevin Pillar and Jake Marisnick as alternative options (either via free agency or trade) for the Mets in center field.
Report: Mets have interest in Hand
Jan. 4: The Mets are showing interest in free-agent reliever Brad Hand, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.
Mets have interest in star closer Brad Hand, who had a 2.05 ERA, 1.37 FIP and 0.77 WHIP and led the AL with 16 saves. Sandy Alderson mentioned back at the time that the new regime might have claimed Hand when he was on waivers had it been their call then.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 4, 2021
After making the All-Star team in 2017, ’18 and ’19, Hand led MLB with 16 saves last season, finishing with a 2.05 ERA and a 1.37 FIP in 22 innings. However, the Indians opted to pay his $1 million buyout rather than picking up his $10 million option for 2021. Cleveland placed Hand on outright waivers before that, but the left-hander went unclaimed.
Acquiring Hand would give the Mets some insurance in the ninth inning. Closer Edwin Díaz rebounded in 2020, posting a 1.75 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings, but he converted only six of his 10 save chances, giving him 11 blown saves in 43 chances across his two seasons with the club.
Adding another reliever would also free up Seth Lugo to remain in the rotation, if the Mets so choose.
Mets president Sandy Alderson said the team might have claimed Hand if his regime was in charge at that point, but it was shortly before Steve Cohen finalized his purchase of the franchise and installed Alderson as team president.
Could Mets pivot from Springer to other free agents?
Dec. 30: The Mets “remain seriously interested” in George Springer, but the two sides don’t appear to be close to a deal in the final days of 2020, according to SNY’s Andy Martino.
Martino reports that the Mets and Springer “are still a good distance apart on value,” with the center fielder asking for “well over $150 million.”
The reporter notes that Springer is still a more likely target for the Mets than Trevor Bauer, writing that “there has been no evidence of a serious pursuit of Bauer to date.”
It’s possible the team could zero in on Bauer if talks stall with Springer, though the pitcher is likely seeking a comparable deal.
The Mets could also choose to spread out their resources to sign multiple second-tier free agents, such as Liam Hendriks and Jake Odorizzi, something Martino considers to be a “legitimate” possibility.