MLB Preview: The Mets Are Better After A Busy Offseason. But Is It Enough?
The Mets were one of the busiest teams in the offseason.
In December, they signed a pair of free agents, catcher James McCann and reliever Trevor May, to fortify weak areas of the roster.
In January, they traded shortstops Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, plus two low-level, high-ceiling prospects, to the Indians for 27-year-old superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and righthander Carlos Carrasco.
In February, they signed complementary players such as righthander Taijuan Walker, middle infielder Jonathan Villar and outfielders Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora Jr.
RELATED: See our 2021 MLB Season preview, complete with predictions, here.
It’s possible that none of the above happens without a transaction that occurred in November.
That’s when Steve Cohen was approved as the Mets’ new owner after an on-again, off-again effort to purchase the club from the Wilpon family.
Cohen is a hedge fund billionaire whose estimated net worth far exceeds every other Major League Baseball owner. In his short time at the helm, he hiked the Mets’ payroll to third in MLB, behind only the Dodgers and Yankees.
The Mets needed the help. The 2020 club finished three games out of the eight-team National League playoff field, one so easy to crack that the 29-31 Brewers qualified. New York’s offense was strong, but its pitching and defense were lacking.
“If I don’t win a World Series in the next three to five years—I would like to make it sooner—then obviously I would consider that slightly disappointing,” Cohen said at his introductory press conference. “I’m not in this to be mediocre. I want something great.”
Various statistical models project the Mets to finish first in the rugged NL East, but we asked baseball executives and scouts if those projections pass the eye test.
“Lindor makes anyone a contender, so they will contend,” one NL senior advisor said. “How far is the big question. I think their farm system isn’t very good. That makes the plan harder. They will have to make astute trades and spend on free agency.”
One scout questioned the Mets’ chemistry.
“I think with ownership money, they’re playing a little bit of Rotisserie baseball,” the scout said. “Take this from column A, this from column B. But baseball is more than that. Culture doesn’t grow overnight. I’ll give you the five-year (contention window), but if they (win it all) this year, it’s gonna be a freak (occurrence). I don’t see it.”
The Mets’ offseason moves focused on the pitching-and-defense side of the equation. McCann brings improved pitch-framing, especially low in the zone, compared with Wilson Ramos. Lindor is a steadying defensive presence at shortstop. Pillar gives the club a plus defensive center fielder. The rotation benefits from the additions of Carrasco and Walker to back ace Jacob deGrom, plus the re-signing of Marcus Stroman and the return of Noah Syndergaard from Tommy John surgery.
“They’ve got a good-looking club,” one NL scout said. “Landing Lindor and being able to sign him long-term is the key. I’d say they’ll tie him up and be aggressive. They’ve got a good club. I don’t know their chemistry—for me that’s a key—but I like what they’re doing."