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Jacob deGrom Windup

Mets Trade for Leftovers Likely

The free agency season began earlier this week. Along with it came rampant speculation on which free agents the Mets might pursue. Most baseball pundits acknowledge that the Mets franchise-high $155 million payroll is likely to decrease, not increase, next season.

Mets Payroll

General manager Sandy Alderson has already indicated that the Mets payroll will come down. With the player options that have already been picked up and expected arbitration settlements, the payroll will be approximately $110-120 million even before adding anyone new to the roster. That leaves $20 to $30 million to fill quite a few holes after a 70-92 season. Probable needs include a CF, 2B or 3B, a late inning reliever and an innings-eater starting pitcher.

Free Agent Signings

Given the number of positions that the Mets need to upgrade, it’s likely that they focus on smaller FA signings rather than a big one. Sandy Alderson has always shown a dislike for big, ‘second-generation’ contracts anyway. So Lorenzo Caine and Mike Moustakas will almost certainly fall out of the Mets’ price range. Given the financial constraints, signing Eduardo Nunez or Howie Kendrick is more likely than even Todd Frazier.

You can forget Wade Davis, Greg Holland or even Addison Reed back in the Mets bullpen in 2018. Alderson eschews expensive, long-term contracts for relievers after getting burned one too many times. Instead, a possible relief pitching target is durable right-hander Bryan Shaw. He’s familiar to manager Mickey Callaway from their time together in Cleveland where Callaway was his pitching coach the last 5 years. Shaw led the AL in appearances three of the last four years. He would give the Mets a veteran bullpen arm with postseason experience.

The Mets starting pitching is a question mark after Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. They need someone who will give them 25 starts and around 180 innings. Adding a reliable innings-eater like lefty Jason Vargas would not be a surprise. Vargas, a former Met, won 18 games for the Royals this season. New Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland, formerly KC’s pitching coach, could help land Vargas.

Mets Trade for Leftovers

The Mets will likely need to make one or more trades to fill some of their remaining needs. The problem is they don’t have the chips for a big deal, unless they part with deGrom. But they could work smaller deals with a team that needs to free up roster space after signing a big FA or making a blockbuster trade of their own. So the Mets will be looking closely at teams involved in major player transactions. Met players who could be offered in any deal include Seth Lugo, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Rafael Montero, Robert Gsellman and possibly Dom Smith. Sandy Alderson will have to make sure that these ‘leftover deals’ for less costly players pay off for the Mets to have any chance at improving next season.

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