The New York Mets have been active from beginning to end this winter, but what does their collection of signings garner in terms of a grade?
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) February 16, 2018
Not only will Vargas add an All-Star to an already incredibly talented group of New York Mets starters, but Jason Vargas’ 179.1 innings pitched in 2017 will be a welcomed addition to what is a fragile staff.
Vargas’ signing followed the addition of Todd Frazier last week, who was brought in to provide defense and pop at the hot corner.
Even though his slash line last season was .213/.344/.428, his leadership is invaluable and he hasn’t hit less than 27 home runs since 2013.
Beyond Frazier, the Mets added two other veterans to the infield in the form of Jose Reyes and Adrian Gonzalez. Reyes will retain his utility role across the infield, filling in anywhere from second base, shortstop, and third base to possibly even the corner outfield.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, will be competing for the starting job at first base against the up and coming Dominic Smith throughout March.
Who's on first? Probably Adrian Gonzalez, but the new manager wants a battle: https://t.co/q2vH9S9XgA
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) February 14, 2018
After signing for the league minimum, the 35-year-old Gonzalez will look to turn back the clock and simultaneously bring power to the middle of the Mets order.
The Mets didn’t stop at just infield additions and a veteran starter either, as the team brought back a familiar face in Jay Bruce. Bruce was the Mets most consistent bat in the heart of the order during 2017 prior to being traded to the Cleveland Indians, and the team hopes he can provide another 30 home run season in tandem with Yoenis Cespedes.
Bruce was the team’s largest offseason investment when he signed his three-year, $39 million contract in January. The move brings back an effective bat but will push Michael Conforto to play center field full-time whenever he returns from his recovery from shoulder surgery.
Last but not least, the team inked reliever Anthony Swarzak to a two-year, $14 million deal. Swarzak is a right-hander who posted a 6-4 record with a 2.33 ERA in 2017 and has the ability to throw in high leverage late game situations.
So, overall how did the Mets do? Heading into the winter, the Mets had holes across most of the infield, and on the pitching staff. The team was in desperate need of a full-time replacement for the unreliable David Wright. They filled that hole with Frazier on a short-term, low money deal.
Next, Dom Smith left a big question mark at first base when he disappointed in his debut, and the Mets did an admiral job bringing in a veteran who could handle the position full-time, but also not completely block Smith from taking the position back on an everyday basis.
This roster also lacked depth and reliability, which the team addressed with Reyes and Vargas at their respective position groups.
The most important move of the offseason, however, was Swarzak. The Mets bullpen was in desperate need of a pitcher who could handle the later innings reliably.
In terms of a grade, I believe the organization did an admirable job at filling all their available holes, while not handing out long-term deals. The team deserves a B grade for the work they’ve done thus far.
This is a team that can legitimately compete for a wild-card berth in 2018, which is something they couldn’t have said three months ago.