The Winter Meetings began on Sunday, and the New York Mets have a ton to get done and a limited budget to do it.
The New York Mets have a ton of work to do. They’ve been operating at a slow pace this offseason, while the rest of their division has been aggressive. The Atlanta Braves have added five major pieces already, and the Philadelphia Phillies signed Zack Wheeler.
The Mets, on the other hand, have only added two players on major league deals. One of them was re-signing Brad Brach and the other was trading for Jake Marisnick. Both of those moves are were more for depth than anything else.
Brach isn’t going to be more than a middle reliever at this point in his career. While Marisnick is a defensive specialist who’ll likely be a platoon player.
That leaves the Mets’ with a long list of needs, most specifically, with pitching. The issue is the team only has $13 million before the luxury tax remains desperate to stay below the tax threshold.
That means that Brodie Van Wagenen will likely have to get creative to fill his needs. With that in mind here’s a realistic wish list for the New York Mets as the Winter Meetings continue.
Blake Treinen: Treinen would be a huge get for the Mets. He’ll likely be cheap after the Oakland A’s non-tendered him, and looking for a one-year prove-it deal. However, there’s no relief pitcher on the market who’s upside is higher.
Treinen was elite in 2018, one of the best in baseball. The issue is that, like Edwin Diaz, Treinen had an awful 2019. With the new ball, Treinen’s slider didn’t get the same break it had in 2018. That led to fewer swings and misses and more home runs given up.
If Treinen can rediscover his form from 2018, he’ll be one of the steals of this free agency class. Considering the price, the Mets’ have to be in on him. The pros outweigh the cons here for a cash strapped contender like the Mets.
Dellin Betances: Betances is another gamble for the Mets. He was once one of the elite relief pitchers in baseball, but that might not be the case anymore. Betances’s 2019 season was plagued by injury. It cost him nearly his entire season.
That’s good news for the Mets because it’ll likely bring Betances price down into a range they can afford. However, it makes him much riskier. Betances will be 32 next season and players don’t tend to get less injury-prone in their 30s.
If he’s healthy, Betances could return to being a dominant reliever. However, that’s a huge if. Considering the price and upside, though, it’s a risk the Mets should be willing to take. Their bullpen is too desperate for arms to turn down a pitcher with this much upside because of injuries.
Josh Hader: The Mets have already been connected to a Josh Hader trade. However, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them or the Brewers. Hader is exactly what the Mets are looking for from a talent and price standpoint. There’s no denying that.
However, his price in a trade and the Brewers’ willingness to trade him make a deal unlikely. The Milwaukee Brewers reported asking price is sky high, with SNY reporting it could be in the Michael Conforto or Amed Rosario plus range.
That’s simply too much capital for the Mets to give up and it speaks volumes about the Brewers’ willingness to complete a trade. If the Brewers’ price comes down and the Mets can get a deal done centered around J.D. Davis or Dom Smith, this is a different conversation.
That doesn’t seem likely at this point, though. So, Hader is the Mets’ pie-in-the-sky hope for the Winter Meetings. The kind of move you wish for, but know isn’t likely to happen.
Rick Porcello: Multiple reputable sources have already connected the Mets and Porcello. A deal would make sense from the Mets standpoint. Porcello is a durable pitcher who if nothing else will eat innings. He’ll also likely sign a cheap one-year deal.
The issue is that Porcello just isn’t good. He had the worst ERA in MLB for a qualified pitcher. His FIP wasn’t much better and that says a lot. The Mets’ hope would be that Porcello returns to his 2016 Cy Young form with analytically-minded coaches like Jeremy Hefner and Jeremy Accardo on the staff leading him.
Porcello’s stuff is still good. The spin rate on his fastball is elite and his curveball’s spin rate is above-average. His velocity is also the same as it was in 2016. The big problem is Procello’s propensity to allow home runs.
He’s a fly ball pitcher in a league where home runs are becoming more and more prevalent with every passing year. The hope would be that pitching in a pitchers park like Citi Field would help mitigate the home runs allowed, but it can only do so much.
The Mets’ should be aiming higher than Porcello. However, price constraints and the need for an innings eater have limited their search. In those regards, it’ll be hard to do better than Porcello considering his upside, however unlikely he is to reach it.
Wade Miley: Miley has been one of the best buys in free agency for two years in a row. His stuff isn’t very good, but he just knows how to pitch. He has become a saber-metric darling for his ability to pitch to soft contact and avoid home runs.
Miley would be a smart cheap buy for the Mets. They wouldn’t need him to get better or bounce back. They would just need him to continue beating hitters with his below-average stuff.
It’s a gamble on a pitcher continuing his hot streak against all odds. If the Mets trust their new analytically driven pitching coach staff, Miley is the way to go. He’s thrived with the help of analytics in Houston and Milwaukee.
If the Mets can figure out how to properly use Miley he would be a solid addition who could go some way to replacing the production of Zack Wheeler.
Matt Boyd: Boyd would be a home run swing. The Tigers are an awful baseball team and should be sellers. They tried to trade Boyd at the deadline, but couldn’t get a deal done. It’s possible they go back to those conversations at the Winter Meetings.
The Mets need to be involved if they do. Boyd is going to be cheap in 2020 and arbitration-eligible for two more years after 2020. He would be the best possible outcome for them, within reason.
Boyd isn’t an elite pitcher. His numbers were awful in the second half of last season. However, his stuff is amazing and he has the potential to be a dominant pitcher. He’s similar to Zack Wheeler in that way.
In each of the last two seasons, Boyd’s thrown at least 170 innings. His strikeouts ticked up in a huge way in 2019. Boyd’s just starting to figure out how to harness his amazing stuff. If he can reign in the home run ball he could be an elite pitcher in baseball.
The Mets should be doing everything they can to make a move for a player like Boyd. He’s the kind of player the New York Mets’ should be wishing on a star for.