With the New York Mets looking frugal thus far at the Winter Meetings, they still have a championship-caliber core.
The New York Mets were never going to be the team to win this offseason. That’s because they were never going to outspend other big market teams on the open market, and surely would not be making long-term commitments or mortgaging their farm for 2018.
Of course, it is disconcerting to see the team’s general manager come out and publicly admit to a lack of resources to spend on acquisitions. Whether those acquisitions would be coming from the free agent market or via trade, the expectations for anything that resembles a game changer should be tempered.
The point to realize about any acquisitions that were rumored for this winter is that they would result in only ancillary pieces. That’s right, the Mets have their core already. Whether you agree with who makes up the core is a different story, but the foundation is alive and well.
Let’s start with the rotation. This Mets era was built with a vision of dominant starting pitching. And although the Mets were in the bottom five of the MLB in rotation ERA last season, the talent is still visible, specifically at the top.
Bleacher Report’s Jacob Shafer put together an article before the 2017 season, ranking the top 10 one-two punches in the MLB. The Mets duo of Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard came in at the sixth spot.
Of course, Syndergaard would go on to spend his 2017 season on the disabled list, but deGrom continued to roll along. Syndergaard pitched well when healthy in April, and made some critical appearances in September to get back on track heading into 2018.
If the duo can stay on the hill in 2018, they will easily be a top five, if not the no. one, one-two punch in the league.
Sticking with the pitching, the third member of the Mets core will make his return in 2018. Jeurys Familia is a foundation piece in the Mets bullpen as the team’s closer.
This is a guy who recorded 94 saves between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. A freak blood clot in his throwing shoulder stunted his 2017, but after surgery and appearances in September, Familia will be ready to rebound next year.
Now to the outfield. This is where we find the last two players in the Mets five-man core. Yoenis Cespedes, like every other player in this core, was injured for most of last season.
Yet, it seems that many do not realize how effective he still was in his limited playing time. In 81 games, exactly half a season, Cespedes slashed .292/.352/.540 with 17 HR and 42 RBI.
Those numbers are no joke. If he had played a full slate of games, Cespedes would have most likely eclipsed the 30 home run mark and drove in 80 RBI with an OPS likely over .850.
So let’s not act like the left fielder is no longer an elite power hitter and a middle-of-the-order bat. He is a legitimate player and partnered with Michael Conforto, creates a nice three-four pairing in any batting order.
Conforto is the fifth and last player in the Mets current core, and what a ride it was following his breakout performance in those first 100 games of 2017. At just 24 years old, his 27 homers and 68 RBI in just 109 games were a sight to see.
With most of the team ailing, Conforto was a legitimate reason to tune in as he was trending towards a five-WAR season and an OPS over .900. All the while doing well to patrol center field for the first time in his career.
After earning his first All-Star selection, Conforto cemented himself as a core member for years to come; A core that has a bright future if health is in their favor.
With the ancillary pieces not present, it is easy to get discouraged about the team’s expectations for the upcoming 2018 season. However, let us not forget that when healthy and on the field, the Mets have a top-five rotation duo, a closer who has produced elite saves numbers, and two outfielders that will combine for 60 home runs in their sleep.