5 bold Mets predictions for 2022-23 MLB offseason
The free agent fun has begun already, with the Mets wasting no time locking up Edwin Diaz to a new pricey five-year deal. So let’s dive in to what looms as a crucial offseason.
For the Mets the clock is ticking on Steve Cohen’s publicly-stated expectation of a championship in “three to five years” from the moment he bought the team. Indeed, 2023 will be Year Three on that timeline.
With that in mind, here are my bold predictions (some more suggestive than others) for the Mets this offseason.
1. Jacob deGrom signs with Texas Rangers for four years, $180 Million
The deGrom-wants-to-leave narrative has shifted a bit lately with comments from Zack Wheeler and Mark Canha saying he wants to come back, but I thought it was more revealing that Wheeler also told the New York Post, “He just wants to get compensated for what he’s done.”
That’s really the issue with deGrom. Apparently he feels he was shortchanged by the five-year, $137.5 million extension he signed in March of 2019, coming off his first Cy Young Award season, in part because it reportedly includes a significant amount of deferred money.
Remember how adamant he was about opting out, when asked in spring training and again after he incurred the scapula injury that sidelined him until August? It’s clear he wants Max Scherzer-type money, and I think the Mets are willing to give it to him on a short-term deal, but I also think his recent history of injuries and his slip from superhuman status in September and October will convince GM Billy Eppler to take a pragmatic stance, with Cohen’s approval, regarding a longer-term deal.
Would the Mets give him a three-year, $130 million deal to match that of Scherzer? Perhaps, but I think the Rangers are so desperate to add elite pitching to their position player haul from last year, and so desperate to win with win-now manager Bruce Bochy, that they’ll go the extra mile for deGrom, and I can’t see him leaving $50 million on the table to stay with the Mets.
2. Mets sign Carlos Rodon
Signing Rodon is a must if the Mets do decide to hold the line on deGrom, as the left-hander gives them another high-level starter to pair with Scherzer at the top of the rotation. Rodon has had arm problems as well, but he’ll pitch next season at age 30, five years younger than deGrom, and he’s coming off a strong season with the San Francisco Giants, as he went 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA over 31 starts and 178 innings.
Assuming the Giants make Rodon the $19.65 million qualifying offer, signing him would cost the Mets their second-round draft pick, something they’d rather not do. But they’ll get an extra pick if they make deGrom a qualifying offer (and lose him), so I don’t think it would be a deal-breaker.
Chances are Rodon will be in enough demand that the Mets would have to give him a five-year deal in the $125 million range.
3. Mets sign Joc Pederson
I don’t think the Mets are signing Aaron Judge, so how do they add power after finishing 15th in the majors in home runs last season? There aren’t any other big-time sluggers on the free-agent market, but Pederson is an intriguing option who would bring left-handed power as an outfielder/DH option and be relatively inexpensive.
Playing for the Giants last season, Pederson hit 23 home runs in 380 at-bats and posted an impressive .521 slugging percentage and .874 OPS.
Pederson is not considered a good outfielder, but the lefty hitter could get plenty of at-bats as DH, depending what the Mets have in mind for rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez. Even with the Mets planning to pick up Daniel Vogelbach’s $1.5 million option, he shouldn’t be their primary lefty DH.
4. Mets Sign David Robertson, Robert Suarez
Re-signing Diaz was an important first step in constructing a better bullpen, and the Mets should try to bring back Adam Ottavino as well, but it’s vital they go outside the organization to add quality arms who can be the primary setup relievers.
I’d start with these two guys. The Mets weren’t willing to give up a blue-chip prospect for Robertson at the trade deadline, but they can get him now. And though he’ll be 38 next season, he’s still good enough that the league hit only .173 against him in 2022. Robertson would also ease the need for a left-hander, as he held lefty hitters to a .168 average, leaning heavily on his curve ball as a neutralizing weapon.
Robertson has said he’d like to return to the Philadelphia Phillies, but here’s where Cohen’s financial muscle should be used to the Mets’ advantage, securing key pieces for what amounts to pocket change for the owner.
Same goes for Suarez. The right-hander could be in demand after a strong first season with the San Diego Padres at age 32 after years of pitching in Japan.
Yes, he gave up that pivotal home run to Bryce Harper in the NLCS, but his presence in that spot was a testament to the trust Suarez had earned by then, pitching to a 2.27 ERA with a 98-mph fastball and a changeup that the league hit .109 against.
5. Mets re-sign Brandon Nimmo, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker
Why not? It all depends how high Cohen is willing to take the payroll, but if deGrom moves on, you’d think the Mets would want to to keep as many of their own free agents as possible, as they’ve already done with Diaz.
Even if they were to sign Rodon, they need to fill out that rotation. Bassitt flopped badly in his two big-stage starts in October, but he was also durable and consistently reliable during his first season in New York, something that shouldn’t be undervalued.
Depending on the cost, I think the Mets would be better off re-signing Walker to a two-year deal than picking up Carlos Carrasco’s $14 million option for 2023. Carrasco was shaky down the stretch and at age 36 next season could be in decline.
As for Nimmo, getting a deal done might not be easy with Scott Boras as the agent, but his improvement defensively in center field as well as what he brings offensively has made him a valuable part of the Mets’ core.