It was a busy Super Bowl weekend for the Mets — most of it disappointing. First, they lost out on Trevor Bauer and then they signed Albert Almora, Jr. So with Spring Training set to start in less than two weeks, what can the Mets do to address their outstanding needs?
First, let’s talk about Bauer, who is instantly public enemy number one at Citi Field. I’m not sure how I feel about losing him. First of all, I agree that he is making far too much money for who he is. He will pocket $85 million over the next two seasons, then almost certainly opt out of his third year. The Mets offered a similar deal. Despite the overpay and everything else that comes with Bauer, it would have been nice to see him in the orange and blue. He is still one of the better pitchers in baseball. And for those who cry “payroll flexibility,” the Mets have a billionaire owner and there is no salary cap. The luxury tax is a pittance that should not be a factor.
Now to Almora, who is nothing more than a backup outfielder. He is a good field, no hit center fielder whose only role should be to spell Brandon Nimmo late in games to protect leads. If that is how he is used, then this was a decent signing that really will not make much of a difference. If he starts a lot of games, then this is very, very bad (think Andres Torres).
But enough looking back — let’s look ahead. The Mets would still like to upgrade in center, the rotation and possible third base. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is still out there but he is not really the answer. If the Mets can get him on a cheap, one-year deal, then sure, go for it. But he is not worth the three-year, $45 million he is reportedly seeking. In reality, expect to see Nimmo miscast as a center fielder. George Springer really was the one player the Mets needed, wasn’t he?
I am not excited about the starting pitching options being mentioned. Jake Odorizzi? James Paxton? 74-year-old Rich Hill? They all sound like Rick Porcello/Michael Wacha to me. So don’t expect anything significant there, either.
Now to third base, where there is an exciting option out there. The Cubs are reportedly looking to move Kris Bryant in his final year before free agency. They would also like to shed the nearly $20 million he is owed. I’m not sure what it would take to get him, but this could salvage the Mets off-season (I will have a final analysis of the front office performance when it appears it is done making moves). He could be the missing link that gets the Mets over the hump.
Will it happen? I don’t know. But the Mets need one more deal to head into the season confident they are contenders, not pretenders.