After back-to-back losing seasons, the New York Mets are officially at a crossroads as they enter their most important offseason yet.
The team took a big, but risky first step in the offseason by hiring former agent Brodie Van Wagenen as their new general manager. At his introductory press conference, the extremely confident Van Wagenen made it known that he intends to have the Mets contend next season, and will be aggressive to build a winning roster.
While many are skeptical that the Mets can actually contend next season, a rebuild is certainly not in the cards at this time. With that being said, here’s what New York should do if they want a shot at the playoffs in 2019.
Acquire J.T. Realmuto
Okay, Brodie. You want to be aggressive? This is as aggressive as it gets.
Not since the days of Mike Piazza and Paul Lo Duca have the Mets had a legitimate catcher behind home plate. It’s time for them to finally find one. Look no further than J.T. Realmuto, who is arguably the best catcher in baseball, and will reportedly be on the trade market this offseason.
NEWS: Jeff Berry, agent with @CAA_Baseball, on @MLBNetworkRadio just now regarding client J.T. Realmuto: “I think he will definitely be wearing a different uniform by the start of spring training.” Berry made clear that Realmuto won’t sign an extension with #Marlins. @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 30, 2018
While Realmuto would be a home run acquisition for the Mets, his price tag is likely to be steep. The Marlins will likely ask for a package of at least two top prospects, and although the Mets don’t have a great farm system, they should be able to put together a solid package for Realmuto.
Fans are not enthused by the idea of depleting the farm system to acquire a player, but in Realmuto, the Mets would finally have a legitimate solution behind the plate. Wilson Ramos and Yasmani Grandal are also viable options, but the former has injury concerns and the latter is terrible in the playoffs. Realmuto is the way to go.
Sign Marwin Gonzalez
Let’s be realistic here, Mets fans. This team is not signing Manny Machado. Accept it and move on.
Marwin Gonzalez is one of the most underrated and underappreciated players in baseball. For starters, he can do stuff like this.
In addition to being clutch in the playoffs, the soon-to-be former Astro is a super-utility player who can play every position, which is ideal for the Mets. He can open the season as New York’s starting left fielder and subsequently move to third base once Yoenis Cespedes is healthy.
Signing Gonzalez would seem like a typical “Mets being cheap” move, but his bat would be an excellent addition to this lineup and he would be a clear upgrade over Todd Frazier at third base.
Fix the Damn Bullpen
This is another area that Sandy Alderson neglected during his tenure. The Mets bullpen has been an Achilles heel for years, and if they want to be a playoff team next season, they’ll need to upgrade it. Luckily, this year’s free agent market is loaded with relievers.
With names such as Craig Kimbrel, Adam Ottavino, Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, Brad Brach, David Robertson, Cody Allen, and many more, the Mets will have plenty of options. They would be wise to sign two relievers, with one having experience as a closer. Look out for Allen and Miller, who both have closing experience and previously pitched under Mets manager Mickey Callaway in Cleveland.
Extend Jacob deGrom
This one is a no-brainer. The Mets need to lock the future NL Cy Young Award winner after one of the most dominating seasons in modern MLB history.
1000 career strikeouts for Jacob deGrom pic.twitter.com/DhjJ5W7LUH
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) September 27, 2018
Thankfully, it sounds like everyone is on the same page with this one. A few weeks ago, Jeff Wilpon indicated that he wanted to make deGrom the new face of the franchise after David Wright’s retirement. Van Wagenen, deGrom’s now-former agent, has also expressed his desire to keep the ace in New York. Given that Brodie knows Jake better than anyone, this should be an easy deal to get done.
It’s far from perfect, but these are reasonable, realistic moves that can right the ship in Flushing and make the Mets competitive again. The best part is they won’t break the bank. Quick, someone show this article to the Wilpons so we can start planning the parade next October.
Photo: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke