OK, it’s officially time for the Mets to man up and go after a high-end free agent. And when I say “high-end”, I don’t mean washed up veterans. I mean guys like Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole. However, assuming they won’t bother going after those two guys, I’ve compiled a short list of players that would be great fits for this Mets roster. And if they’re lucky, the Wilpons may even be able to stay under the luxury cap!
Assuming that Zack Wheeler will need to be replaced, there is no better option than Gerrit Cole. Last season, Cole put on a show for the Astros by winning nineteen straight decisions. Cole finished the season with a record of 20-5, a 2.50 ERA and striking out 326 batters. His ERA+ was an astounding 185, which is 85 points better than the league average. He also held his WHIP below 1 for the first time in his career. Cole also had the fifth-best WAR among pitchers, just behind Jacob deGrom. Cole would complete an already formidable Mets rotation by replacing Zack Wheeler, who had a strong 2019 season himself. Given Cole’s age, he’s still in his prime, which means that a long-term high money contract would definitely be worth it. Speaking of money, it wouldn’t be crazy to say that Cole could end up yielding a deal north of $300 million. For the Mets, that would be the reason that they’d say no on the spot, because the Wilpons are cheap. Regardless of the cost, Cole is the real deal and is definitely a free agent the Mets should consider if they’re serious about winning.
Anthony Rendon is coming off of an amazing season, finishing with a .319 batting average, 34 home runs, and driving in a career-high 126 RBI’s. Rendon had an equally incredible postseason, hitting three bombs and driving in 15 total runs, 8 in the World Series. Rendon has cemented himself as one of the top hitters in Major League Baseball, and adding his strong defensive abilities on top of that makes him one of the best overall players in the game. He’s going to get paid for sure, though there’s some questioning about whether he may reach Nolan Arenado’s $260 million extension from last year. Regardless, Rendon is going to be a highly coveted player this offseason, with teams such as the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers, interested in his services. The Mets should be on this list as well. While GM Brodie Van Waganen essentially closed the door on any such opportunity, citing the Mets third base deity with J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Jed Lowrie, there are exceptions when players of Rendon’s level hit the market. The Mets should be all over his services, which would kill two birds with one stone; not only by adding a huge bat to a sometimes inconsistent lineup, but also adding a defensive magician. Despite their numerous options at the hot corner, there is no better option than Anthony Rendon, who would cement the Mets as legit playoff contenders. The Mets have their destiny in their own hands, however, it’s up to ownership if they are going to fulfill those options.
The most important area the Mets must improve on is the bullpen. The bullpen is in desperate need of elite caliber arms, especially after a year in which their top two reliever additions, Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia, did not perform as expected. As a group, the bullpen finished with a 4.95 ERA and it wasn’t something new as it was the third straight year the Mets bullpen had finished with an ERA above 4.80. The Mets bullpen has played a key role in dashing the Mets playoff hopes and GM Brodie Van Wagenen must do everything in his power to prevent a similar fate. One name that should be at the top of the list is Dellin Betances, who played in six full seasons with the Yankees. During his tenure on the pinstripes, he made four All-Star appearances (2014-17). Betances is up there with the bullpen elite in baseball and given the Yankees have several other bullpen options aside from Betances, the Mets should and must be able to bring him to Queens. With Betances essentially missing the whole 2019 season due to shoulder injuries and a torn Achilles, he is sure to get a short term contract (possibly a one year, $8-12 million deal with an option for a second year). Even with injuries, there is no question about Betances’ stuff. From 2016-18, he averaged over 98 mph on his fastball, reaching 101 at times. Signing Betances would prove the Mets are serious about improving their bullpen depth outside of Diaz, Familia, Wilson, Gsellman, and Lugo. There should be no excuse why the Mets would not be involved with the best free agent reliever, especially after the Atlanta Braves signed LHP Will Smith. This one should be a no brainer, and if the Mets are serious about contending, there is no doubt they will get it done.
Of course, all these potential scenarios would require the Wilpons to do things they haven’t been accustomed to lately, spending money. While you may be looking at this list and laughing because you don’t believe it’s going to happen, you are probably right. However, it would be boring to create a realistic list of who the Mets would cheap-out on.