The Mets made the biggest splash of the Hot Stove season last Thursday, acquiring shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland.
Landing two players of that caliber — especially a star as magnetic as Lindor — is notable in any context. But it was especially huge for the
The Mets made the
Landing two players of that caliber — especially a star as magnetic as Lindor — is notable in any context. But it was especially huge for the Mets, given their place in a competitive National League East headlined by the three-time defending division champion Braves. According to FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski, his ZiPS system had the Mets seven games behind Atlanta in the projected standings before the trade. Now, the two teams are virtually even, with the Mets’ chances of making the postseason jumping roughly 31 percentage points, up to 72.4%.
In fact, ZiPS shows that at the time of the Lindor trade, the Mets had the most to gain of any team, in terms of playoff probability, by making a five-win addition to their roster (or roughly the combined impact of Lindor and Carrasco). But there are many other clubs that would derive a comparable bump from such a move.
Working off Szymborski’s calculations, here are five of the teams that could benefit most from a Mets-sized splash, and one way in which each could pull off that sort of feat. Note that these suggested moves are not necessarily at that five-win level — those are difficult to find — but still would provide a significant boost to each team’s October hopes.
This is a time of opportunity in Anaheim. Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon are superstars in their primes, and the American League West might be as ripe for the taking as it’s been in a while. Houston and Oakland both are likely to lose multiple key players, while Seattle and Texas don’t appear ready to leap back to the top of the standings just yet. New Angels general manager Perry Minasian has replaced Andrelton Simmons with José Iglesias at shortstop and added closer Raisel Iglesias but has yet to land the sort of difference-making player who could change the balance of power in the West.
One splashy move: Signing free-agent right-hander
They seem to be in the mix for quite a few impact players this offseason but so far have not landed any, with re-signing lefty Robbie Ray their one notable move. However, it figures to be more of a matter of who and when than if. The Blue Jays jumped from 95 losses in 2019 to 32-28 in the shortened ‘20 campaign, making the postseason behind a young core of position players and last year’s big free-agent acquisition, Hyun Jin Ryu. The club still finished behind the Rays and Yankees in the division, but with Tampa Bay saying goodbye to Blake Snell and Charlie Morton and the Yankees also having a quiet winter, there’s an opening here for Toronto.
One splashy move: Signing free-agent outfielder
Really, this could be any of the top four teams in the NL Central. Setting the Mets aside, the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers and Reds each ranked among the five teams with the most to gain from a five-win jump, according to ZiPS. That’s because of how tightly packed together those clubs are. Yet none has stepped forward this offseason to try to improve its roster. (In fact, the division’s most notable moves have been subtractions, headlined by Chicago’s Yu Darvish). As for the Cardinals, they have managed to squeeze into the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, but their roster is lacking in high-ceiling talent. About all St. Louis has done this winter is decline Kolten Wong’s club option and (as of yet) fail to re-sign longtime faces of the franchise Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright.
One splashy move: Trade for third baseman
While the Hot Stove has mostly been at a quiet simmer thus far, the Nats have been relatively active, addressing a thin lineup by trading for first baseman Josh Bell and signing left fielder Kyle Schwarber. Washington addressed two major areas of need and now has quite a bit more thump behind Juan Soto and Trea Turner, but frankly, the work should not be done. The Lindor trade made that clear, with ZiPS now seeing the Nats as a clear third behind the Braves and Mets.
One splashy move: Signing free-agent catcher
The Lindor trade helped Minnesota, whose ZiPS postseason probability ticked up to nearly 75%, with Cleveland receding to a clear third in the AL Central. On the other hand, the Twins have watched the division’s other prime contender, the White Sox, trade for Lance Lynn and now reach a deal with free agent Liam Hendriks, per sources. The Twins have been comparatively quiet, and if they are going to keep pace with Chicago and capture their third straight division crown, some reinforcements are in order — even beyond the seemingly inevitable return of Nelson Cruz.
One splashy move: Trade for