So, Where To Next?
Avenues galore, that’s where..
With the historic free agent class assembled so far in Flushing via Steve Cohen, Billy Eppler, and company, the New York Mets’ 2023 roster has been constructed with precise framing and ample support for the upcoming campaign.
However, there is still some significant work for Eppler and the front office staff to do to guide themselves through the rest of the offseason and put a bow on next year’s squad.
There are many avenues that can be traveled down to complete the 26-man team, with some standout names in positions of need for the Amazins.
With the addition of former Yankee David Robertson on a one-year, $10 million deal last week and the trade with Tampa Bay to acquire the left-handed arm Brooks Raley, the group waiting for their name to be called out there behind the right-center field fence is starting to line up.
With Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, Mychel Givens, and Trevor May all still unsigned, and Joely Rodriguez shipping himself up to Boston, there are still some meaningful spots to be filled.
Edwin Diaz, Drew Smith, Robertson, and Raley are locks for the ‘pen, and with guys like Tylor Megill, David Peterson, and Joey Luchessi competing for a potential spot on the Opening Day roster, there is a spot or two that can bridge the fluctuating gap between that night’s starter and Trumpet Time.
Andrew Chafin: Disclaimer: I am biased toward having multiple left-handed relievers in the bullpen. However, Chafin is one of the best relievers left on the market. The southpaw spent the 2022 season with the lowly Detroit Tigers, pitching to a 2.83 ERA with a 3.06 FIP in 57.1 innings pitched.
Similar to the newly-acquired Raley, Chafin can get both right-handed and left-handed hitters out, with right-handers hitting .214 and left-handers earning a .233 average last year. Paying full price for Chafin instead of bargain bin shopping for a guy like Aroldis Chapman is the best bet.
Michael Fulmer: Just trade Yoenis Cespedes back for him….
Kidding. A name that has come up pretty consistently at the last two trade deadlines for the Metsies, and could be signed without giving up any assets.
A former top prospect for the Mets, the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year has had a roller coaster of a career, recreating himself from starter to reliever after a plethora of injuries.
Fulmer started 2022 in the back end of the Tigers bullpen with Chafin, before being dealt to Minnesota. Between the two teams, the right-hander had a better start than finish to the season but put together a solid campaign nonetheless. He pitched to a 3.39 ERA (3.57 FIP) over 63.2 innings pitched. He almost averaged a strikeout per inning, finishing with 61.
He also DOMINATES against right-handed hitters, holding right-handed hitting opponents to an impressive .188 batting average. If he can get his walks down a bit (28 in 2022) Fulmer could be a nice complement as a bullpen swingman in Queens.
Image credit: Chris Simon
If you can point to one of, if not the biggest shortfalls in the 2022 season, it was the production from the designated hitter position.
The additions of Darin Ruf, Tyler Naquin, and Dan Vogelbach as a unit were sub-par, to say the least, but there is a way to put a cap on that.
Justin Turner - Another former Met in which both sides could benefit from a reunion, the red-bearded man finds himself without a job after spending the last nine seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Turner is one of the more consistent bats left in the free-agent pool. The two-time all-star is a career .289 hitter, batting an identical .278 the last two seasons. Although he dealt with injuries a bit in 2022, Turner did manage to drive in 81 runs in 128 games played.
The most important and impressive part of his game is his ability to limit strikeouts. The right-handed-hitting Turner has stuck out less than 100 times over the last six seasons.
He gets on base, and he drives runners in. Even if the power numbers aren’t what they used to be, Turner could be the guy to drive runners home in 2023 that others couldn’t last year.
Image credit: Roberto Carlo
Although this seems to be more of a cluster as of printing, names such as Ruf, James McCann, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar all have been thrown out as potential trade candidates to clear some roster space, although it seems McCann and Ruf would seem the most likely.
Moving McCann makes room for Francisco Álvarez to start in the big leagues from the jump, and adding another offensive-minded outfielder would benefit the Mets greatly.
Michael Conforto - This isn’t a “Former Mets Who Should Come Home” piece, I promise.
The slugging lefty has fallen off the face of the Earth in a sense. After declining a contract extension from the Mets during spring training in 2021, Conforto struggled with injuries and consistency that season, ultimately injuring his shoulder during the lockout prior to the 2022 season.
With Conforto’s market seemingly heating up, a return with the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2014 draft would help out both sides immensely. The last full season he played—2021—was riddled with injuries and a “start and stop” type summer. All offensive numbers were down, putting agent Scott Boras and Conforto behind the eight-ball.
After taking 2022 off to rehab his shoulder injury, Conforto is entering his age-30 season with plenty to prove. He can benefit from DH at-bats, especially if fellow lefty Daniel Vogelbach struggles at the position, or he can compete for everyday reps in the outfield, mainly against Mark Canha.
We don’t need to produce numbers for you Mets fans. Everyone who watches the orange-and-blue knows what Conforto can do. If he is willing, and the dialogue Billy Eppler and agent Scott Boras have had all winter continues to fruition, it could provide the Mets with a bit more spark.
The Mets’ offseason has been exciting as can get and it is not even Christmas, which is what it’s felt like as Steve Cohen and staff have with the continuous string of signings so far.
These additions, and possibly more, could not only put a bow on the roster but launch them into the realm of favorites for the National League pennant.
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