New York Mets – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-04-24T18:01:04Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brewers, Mets Showing Initial Interest In Gio Gonzalez]]> 2019-04-23T04:25:11Z 2019-04-23T04:18:45Z Now that he’s back on the open market and up to competitive speed, veteran lefty Gio Gonzalez looks to be a fit for several clubs around baseball. The Brewers are among those with interest, per’s Andy Martino, who has previously linked the Mets to the southpaw. The New York organization is said be “inquiring” on Gonzalez, per Matt Ehalt of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).

Both of those clubs are quite familiar with Gonzalez. He spent the end of the 2018 season in Milwaukee. That followed a lengthy stint with the Nationals, during which time he often faced the Mets.

Gonzalez is obviously past his peak at 33 years of age, but he topped 200 frames with a sub-3.00 ERA as recently as 2017 and is among the game’s most durable hurlers. He was effective in five starts late last year with the Brewers, though his postseason showing did not impress.

Through three starts at Triple-A with the Yankees organization, Gonzalez allowed ten earned runs on 19 hits. At the same time, he compiled a strong 19:6 K/BB ratio. The showing wasn’t sufficient for the Yanks to add him to their roster, but did give other teams a good look.

That these two contenders have interest seems to be a good indication that Gonzalez drew relatively positive scouting reviews. Of course, it’s also a reflection of the states of their pitching staffs. It remains to be seen whether Gonzalez will sign right onto an active roster — and, if so, at what price. His deal with the Yankees included a $3MM base salary and up to $9MM in incentives, making for a rather hefty potential payout for a minors contract.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets Place Justin Wilson On 10-Day IL; MRI Clean For DeGrom]]> 2019-04-22T23:35:15Z 2019-04-22T23:18:07Z The Mets announced today that they’ve placed southpaw reliever Justin Wilson on the 10-day injured list, as Tim Britton of The Athletic was among those to cover (Twitter links). He’s experiencing elbow soreness, but the club indicated it anticipates a brief IL stint after receiving the results of an MRI.

The imaging gods are shining on Queens, it seems. Ace starter Jacob deGrom’s MRI came back negative, so his elbow scare appears to be just that. deGrom was able to throw a pen session earlier today; it seems likely he’ll be ready for activation at or near the 10-day minimum.

A few other roster tweaks are also in the books. The Mets activated third baseman Todd Frazier, as anticipated, and called up infielder Luis Guillorme. (Guillorme boosts the infield depth further with both Robinson Cano and Amed Rosario dealing with minor issues.) To create an additional active roster spot, the Mets optioned down righty Paul Sewald.

Wilson’s absence leaves a notable hole in the New York pen — though the hope is it’s only a temporary one. Wilson has thrown 8 1/3 useful innings to open the year, allowing three earned runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and four walks. There are two other southpaws available in Luis Avilan and Daniel Zamora, but the former has been torched while the latter hasn’t yet pitched in the bigs this season.

George Miller <![CDATA[Injury Notes: deGrom, Cano, Scherzer, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Sanchez]]> 2019-04-22T01:35:37Z 2019-04-22T01:35:37Z Following a recent elbow scareMets ace Jacob deGrom may not be headed for an MRI after all, according to Newsday’s Tim Healey. After being scratched from his most recent start and placed on the 10-day injured list with elbow soreness, deGrom was able to play catch on Saturday, with the pitcher saying that he felt “completely normal.” DeGrom cited his illness, which prevented him from maintaining his usual routine throughout last week, as the primary source of his soreness. Both deGrom and manager Mickey Callaway expressed little concern over the soreness, leading the Mets to reconsider the previous plan to schedule an MRI for Monday. To be sure, that remains on the table, as doctors will continue to monitor the 2018 Cy Young Award winner; however, the organization has expressed confidence that additional imaging will not be necessary, and deGrom has stated that he intends to start on Friday, when he can be activated from the IL.

Here’s the latest on other injuries from around baseball…

  • DeGrom’s teammate Robinson Cano exited Sunday’s matchup with the Cardinals after he was hit in the hand with an Andrew Miller pitch. X-rays returned negative results, but Healey notes that Cano was wearing a cast after the game and will likely undergo further testing to determine the seriousness of the injury. Off to a slow start with his new club, Cano certainly does not need an injury to complicate an already challenging April.
  • Nationals ace Max Scherzer suffered an unusual injury earlier today when he tweaked his left intercostal while dodging a foul ball that found its way to the Nats’ dugout. Per Byron Kerr of MASN, Scherzer is optimistic that the injury will only keep him out of commission for a couple of days and will not require an IL stint. Scherzer started Saturday’s game in Miami, so such a time frame would not require the righty to miss any scheduled starts.
  • According to Pedro Moura of The Athletic, the Dodgers will activate southpaw Rich Hill and catcher Russell Martin this weekend when the Pirates visit Dodger Stadium. Both veterans are currently on the 10-day IL, with Martin suffering from lower back inflammation and Hill, who has yet to make his 2019 debut, recovering from a left knee sprain. The Dodgers’ rotation has excelled even without Hill, but the club will certainly welcome the 38-year-old back into the fold, further strengthening the pitching staff.
  • Bad news for the Blue Jays’ rotation continues to pile up, with right-hander Aaron Sanchez exiting Sunday’s game due to a broken fingernail on his right middle finger. Notably, Sanchez has a history of finger issues, which have led to IL stints in each of the previous two seasons. However, manager Charlie Montoyo told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link) that he is hopeful the injury will not force Sanchez to miss any starts.
Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets “Keeping A Close Eye On” Gio Gonzalez]]> 2019-04-21T17:22:58Z 2019-04-21T17:22:58Z The Mets again appear to have interest in left-hander Gio Gonzalez, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes.  The Mets are “keeping a close eye on” Gonzalez’s situation, as the southpaw opted out of his minor league contract with the Yankees yesterday, creating a 48-hour window for the Yankees to either add Gonzalez to their 25-man roster or release him.

This isn’t the first time that Gonzalez has been on the Mets’ radar screen, as the Amazins considered signing the veteran hurler in the offseason.  Though the Mets and a few other teams were linked to Gonzalez in rumors, the Yankees were “pretty much” the only team to come through with an actual offer, as Gonzalez said last month.  That offer was a non-guaranteed deal that would have paid the left-hander $3MM if he had reached the Yankees’ 25-man roster.  Despite Luis Severino’s injury, the Yankees seemingly haven’t seen the need to utilize Gonzalez in their pitching staff, and thus it seems as though Gonzalez will hit the open market once more.

As much as the free agent market has been increasingly hostile to veteran players, it was still surprising that Gonzalez wasn’t able to land a Major League contract over the winter.  While his peripheral numbers indicated some decline in 2018, the 33-year-old has still been a durable and effective mid-rotation starter for the last nine seasons.  Since the start of the 2010 campaign, Gonzalez has posted a 3.49 ERA, 2.37 K/BB rate, and 8.6 K/9 over 1681 1/3 innings for the A’s, Nationals, and Brewers.

Now that the season has begun, however, Gonzalez may have a better shot at a guaranteed deal since teams suffering from early-season pitching woes may be more amenable to such a contract.  In the Mets’ case, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday (Twitter link) that New York is more likely to sign Gonzalez than either Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel because Gonzalez’s price tag would still be considerably lower than those other two available hurlers.  Plus, signing Gonzalez wouldn’t cost the Mets a draft pick, unlike the qualifying offer-rejecting Keuchel and Kimbrel.

Mets starting pitchers have combined for a 5.56 ERA this season, sixth-highest of any team in baseball.  Jason Vargas and his 9.58 ERA is the most glaring weak link, though Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard have also struggled, and Steven Matz’s promising early results were stained by a nightmarish outing on Tuesday (six earned runs without a batter retired).

Ty Bradley <![CDATA[NL Notes: Kimbrel, Mets, Brewers, Giants, Morrow, Cubs]]> 2019-04-21T07:15:43Z 2019-04-20T20:58:28Z Free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel is “still in touch” with the Mets and Brewers, tweets The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who notes that the Mets would only sign the 30-year-old if he were open to “any role” in the team’s bullpen. Rosenthal reported a week ago that the flamethrower’s price has dropped substantially, though whether or not he’s budged on the desire to pitch only in the ninth inning is still an open question. Both clubs’ pens have been far shakier than anticipated in the early going: indeed, apart from the lights-out performance of offseason acquisition Edwin Diaz, New York’s pen has arguably been the league’s worst. Milwaukee, too, has lost Corey Knebel to Tommy John, was without stalwart Jeremy Jeffress until this week, and has gotten middling-at-best output from all other contributors not named Josh Hader. Still, it’s the sloppy rotation – beset by a thus-far return to normalcy from Jhoulys Chacin and a gopher-ball binge embarked upon by rookies Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta – that seems most in need of the Crew’s attention. Allocating what little resources purportedly remain to anything other than a veteran starter would seem a curious choice indeed.

In other news from around the Senior Circuit…

  • Per Rosenthal, the Giants are already “willing to talk” about some of their veteran relievers, though closer Will Smith doesn’t appear to be among the names on the list. Lefty Tony Watson, who’s seen his average fastball velocity dip to a career-low 91.0 MPH, figures to be at the fore, along with the richly-paid Mark Melancon. Sam Dyson, Trevor Gott, and Nick Vincent, all of whom’ve had strong 2019 debuts, would likely also be in the mix, with the former’s $5MM 2019 salary seemingly the impetus for such an early position on the block. The club would likely jump at the chance to move Melancon, 34, who’s owed approximately $29MM through 2020. The former closer hasn’t allowed a run thus far in ten ’19 IP, but signs of major regression lurk beneath: the righty’s allowed hard contact at a rate of above 40% for the second consecutive season (after a career-high of 27.1% in his first nine MLB campaigns), has seen his swinging strike rate plummet to a career-worst 8.0%, and is again failing to strike batters out at an alarming rate. Any Melancon move would likely need to be offset by either another bad contract or a significant chunk of change heading with him, but the ever-creative Farhan Zaidi may yet have something up his sleeve.
  • Cubs reliever Brandon Morrow, who’s mixed occasional big-league appearances around a litany of DL/IL stints in his 13-year MLB career, has been shut down in his attempted return from a right elbow injury. The 34-year-old was scheduled to miss just the season’s first month, but “did not recover well” from a bullpen session he threw earlier this week, according to’s Jordan Bastian. The club, who’s already shuffled multiple bullpen pieces after a disastrous late-inning start in the early going, was counting heavily on Morrow to stabilize the mishmash crew. No timetable’s been set for the righty’s return, so the club will have to lean primarily on the well-traveled arms of Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, and Brandon Kintzler in close-and-late situations.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Jacob deGrom Headed For Elbow MRI, Injured List]]> 2019-04-19T23:07:03Z 2019-04-19T23:05:11Z 6:01pm: Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen announced to reporters that deGrom is going on the injured list, retroactive to April 16th. (Via Joel Sherman of the New York Post; links to Twitter.) Van Wagenen says that deGrom has been disrupted by an illness, seemingly implying that is as much a factor here as the arm issue. The hurler is said to be dealing only with mild soreness that has already improved, with the imaging being classed a precautionary measure. The expectation at this point, per Van Wagenen, is that deGrom will be activated to start on April 26th.

4:20pm: Mets ace Jacob deGrom is headed to New York to undergo an MRI on his right elbow, manager Mickey Callaway told reporters including Tim Healey of Newsday (Twitter link). That’s less than welcome news for a team that is already dealing with some struggles in its vaunted rotation.

Given that deGrom has yet to undergo a full medical examination, there’s no reason to jump to any conclusions here. It’s plenty possible that there’s no real issue whatsoever. All we know at present is that the club felt it worthwhile to send him in for a checkup after his elbow was “barking” today after he played catch in advance of his scheduled start tomorrow.

deGrom last pitched on the 14th, throwing 114 pitches but lasting just five innings. He didn’t exhibit any velocity issues; to the contrary, he has dialed up the heat over the course of the season. Though his last two outings have not been his best, there hasn’t been any indication of a problem before today’s news.

The hope, clearly, is that the reigning National League Cy Young winner is just experiencing a minor issue. He’ll surely be handled with care regardless, as the Mets can ill afford to allow a small problem to become a larger one. deGrom, who inked a four-year extension just before the start of the season, has previously undergone Tommy John surgery but has been quite durable since.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets Remain Interested In Minor, But No Recent Talks]]> 2019-04-18T16:53:09Z 2019-04-18T16:53:09Z The Rangers received offseason trade interest in lefty Mike Minor but opted to hang onto him to help anchor a thin rotation in 2019. And while USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted recently that both the Mets and Phillies are showing “strong” interest in Minor, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News cites three sources in reporting that the Texas organization hasn’t had any recent trade talks regarding the left-hander. It’s likely that the Phillies and Mets have each scouted Minor’s early outings, but other clubs have surely done the same, just as Philadelphia and New York have quite likely scouted numerous other starting pitchers.

For the Rangers, it’s difficult to envision trading Minor to the Mets, Phillies or any other team so early in the year — particularly given their own thin rotation. Minor, earning $9.5MM in both 2019 and 2020, will likely be an oft-discussed trade candidate later this summer, when a greater number of motivated buyers is willing to make an offer (and when additional replacement options have potentially emerged within the organization). At present, however, a trade of that magnitude seems unlikely.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Van Wagenen: Mets Sticking With Vargas]]> 2019-04-15T14:48:17Z 2019-04-15T14:48:17Z The Mets plan to stick with Jason Vargas in the rotation despite his struggles, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Sunday (link via’s Anthony DiComo). “We’re not going to be making drastic changes to our club after one bad inning of a start where he had a schedule that was derailed from the start of the season,” said Van Wagenen of Vargas, who recorded just one out against the Braves on Saturday. Of course, a move to yank Vargas from the rotation would be based on more than just his most recent outing; the 36-year-old has yielded 10 runs on 14 hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 6 1/3 frames this season. And while he did enjoy a solid second half in 2018, his overall results last year were dismal. As DiComo notes, however, the Mets are lacking in terms of internal depth alternatives, and a run at free-agent Dallas Keuchel still does not appear to be in the cards.

TC Zencka <![CDATA[NL East Injury Notes: Frazier, Foltynewicz]]> 2019-04-15T03:29:40Z 2019-04-15T02:57:36Z Let’s grab an update on a couple of players who might returning to NL East action…

  • Todd Frazier has a good chance of making his season debut later this week, per’s Anthony DiComo (via Twitter). The Mets third baseman missed the first couple weeks of the 2019 season with a left oblique injury, but he’s on the return trail and could join the team in Philadelphia. J.D. Davis has had his share of moments while playing third in Frazier’s stead, batting .242/.375/.485, including a home run on April 6th – with an exit velocity of 114.6 mph – that was the fourth hardest-hit HR by a Mets player since Statcast started tracking the data in 2015. Both of his home runs this season came in that April 6th contest against the Nationals until he hit his third tonight against the Braves. Given the way Pete Alonso has played at first base, the Mets will face a roster crunch when Frazier does return. Dominic Smith, Luis Guillorme and Davis all have options remaining, making them notably vulnerable.
  • Braves righty Mike Foltynewicz will make his final scheduled rehab start this week before likely joining the Braves rotation for his 2019 debut, per The Athletic’s David O’Brien (via Twitter). Folty enjoyed a breakout 4.2 rWAR 2018, going 13-10 with a 2.85 ERA over a career high 31 starts. The stellar results were driven by year-over-year improvements in strikeouts per nine innings (from 8.4 K/9 to 9.9 K/9) and home runs allowed per nine (from 1.2 HR/9 to 0.8 HR/9). Both his fastball and sinker gained a full mph or more from 2017 to 2018, while he also relied more heavily on his slider, which excelled as a wipe out pitch (36.8 Whiff%, 42.4 K%). Sean Newcomb’s recent demotion opens up a spot in the rotation, as Monday’s day off will allow a four-man rotation until Folty is likely to return.
Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mets Notes: Vargas, Keuchel]]> 2019-04-15T19:03:18Z 2019-04-14T13:28:41Z Jason Vargas’ miserable Mets tenure took another sour turn Saturday in Atlanta, where the southpaw was unable to survive the first inning against the division-rival Braves. Vargas retired just one of the six batters he faced, the others reaching on two singles and three walks, and allowed four earned runs. After the game, an 11-7 loss for the Mets, manager Mickey Callaway brought up the possibility of skipping Vargas’ next start, per Anthony DiComo of

“He’s just not getting outs at this point,” Callaway said. “That’s really all I can say.”

Callaway already passed over a Vargas start earlier this season, but he’s hesitant to pull him from the rotation entirely because of a lack of alternatives, DiComo relays. Outside of the Mets’ rotation, Triple-A left-hander Hector Santiago is the most experienced starter in the organization. The offseason minor league signing’s not on the Mets’ 40-man roster and hasn’t been an effective major leaguer over the past few years, however. Meanwhile, Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen, Walker Lockett and Drew Gagnon are occupying 40-man spots, though no one from that group has enjoyed any big league success in limited action. Relievers Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have dabbled as starters, and Callaway did mention them as potential Vargas replacements (via Mike Puma of the New York Post), but moving either to the rotation would weaken the bullpen.

The Mets’ best bet may be to sign free-agent lefty Dallas Keuchel, who’s somehow still without a job in mid-April despite an excellent track record in the bigs. The former Astro’s asking price has dropped in recent weeks, which could make him more appealing to the Mets, yet there’s “much skepticism” they’ll add Keuchel, Puma reports. The two sides have been in contact dating back to at least last month, though, and if things don’t improve at the back end of their rotation soon, perhaps the Mets will earnestly pursue Keuchel. Even if the Mets were to ink Keuchel right now, it’s unclear when the 31-year-old would be ready to step into their rotation, given that he hasn’t pitched in a game (meaningful or exhibition) since last October. He’d likely need time to ramp up, which would still leave the Mets with a less-than-ideal situation for a little while.

The club signed Vargas to a two-year, $16MM deal prior to last season with the expectation he’d serve as an acceptable back-end complement to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz. Instead, the 36-year-old has pitched to a valueless 6.32 ERA/5.22 FIP in 98 1/3 innings and averaged fewer than five frames per start since receiving his contract. Vargas has no doubt been a liability in New York, and whether the team can continue to rely on him as it vies for a title in the uber-competitive NL East is very much in question.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mets Activate Travis d’Arnaud, Option Tomas Nido]]> 2019-04-07T13:34:57Z 2019-04-07T13:17:31Z The Mets have activated catcher Travis d’Arnaud from the 10-day injured list and optioned fellow backstop Tomas Nido to Triple-A Syracuse, the team announced.

The oft-injured d’Arnaud is in line for his first action in nearly a year, having undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last April. D’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki were the Mets’ most prominent catchers at the time, but there has been quite a bit of upheaval behind the plate since then. New York signed current starter Wilson Ramos to a two-year, $19MM contract and traded Plawecki to the Indians during the winter. The Mets, led by rookie general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, elected to retain d’Arnaud for $3.15MM even though he looked like a non-tender candidate.

D’Arnaud, a former star prospect who joined the Mets in a 2012 blockbuster with the Blue Jays, has been a mixed bag when healthy enough to take the field. His lifetime .245/.306/.406 line in 1,469 plate appearances is respectable for a catcher, and he has earned solid marks from Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average metric. However, thanks in part to injuries, the 30-year-old’s impact has dipped since he combined for 6.1 fWAR from 2014-15. Dating back to 2016, he’s a .244/.297/.393 hitter in 668 PA. D’Arnaud, who’s scheduled for free agency after the season, will now take a backseat to Ramos in his long-awaited return.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets Still Keeping Tabs On Dallas Keuchel]]> 2019-04-05T13:54:10Z 2019-04-05T13:54:10Z
  • The Mets have continued to keep tabs on Dallas Keuchel’s market, SNY’s Andy Martino writes, though at this point it’s still more due diligence than anything else. Fifth starter Jason Vargas still has supporters within the organization, and any move to add a starter would require pushing him out of the rotation and possibly off the roster in the second season of a two-year, $16MM deal. Vargas posted a 4.50 ERA with a more solid 15-to-6 K/BB ratio in 18 spring innings. He allowed a pair of runs on eight hits and a walk with just two strikeouts across five innings in his season debut earlier this week.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets Checking In On Keuchel, Kimbrel]]> 2019-03-31T23:24:36Z 2019-03-31T23:24:36Z There isn’t much indication that Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel are closing in on new contracts, though that hasn’t stopped teams from keeping in touch with the two free agents.  Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin of The Athletic (subscription required) list the Mets and Brewers as two of the clubs checking in on both pitchers, though Milwaukee is more focused on Kimbrel as a potential add.  The Rays are also still maintaining contact with Kimbrel, after reports during Spring Training suggested Tampa Bay was at least considering signing the closer.  Rosenthal and Lin described the Mets’ interest in Keuchel and Kimbrel “as a matter of due diligence,” with’s Anthony DiComo and Newsday’s Tim Healey (both Twitter links) adding that it doesn’t seem likely that either pitcher will end up in a Mets uniform.

    George Miller <![CDATA[East Notes: Hot Seat Managers, Orioles, Bundy, Pedroia]]> 2019-03-31T18:52:24Z 2019-03-31T18:45:59Z Following an offseason that featured an arms race between several of the NL East’s contenders, expectations are higher than ever for the Braves, Mets, Nationals, and Phillies. For that reason, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post, there will be no excuses for managers Gabe Kapler, Dave Martinez, and Mickey Callaway this time around. The trio of rookie managers all endured disappointing 2018 seasons, but with their ballclubs making significant additions in the winter, the new year comes with heightened pressure to deliver and win now. It bears mentioning that first-year Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was not part of the front office that hired Callaway prior to last season. Though it’s still early to speculate about managerial turnover, the developing bloodbath in the NL East will be a story to watch throughout the season and into the winter.

    Here are some other notes from the East…

    • Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy, once an uber-prospect with tantalizing potential, has undergone well-documented struggles in recent years, culminating in his surrendering 41 home runs last season. Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun details new pitching coach Doug Brocail’s plan to implement changes that will help Bundy return to the form that brought him success earlier in his career, including his career-best 2016 season.
    • Also in Baltimore, new skipper Brandon Hyde has thus far refrained from anointing a closer and does not intend to do so anytime soon, writes Meoli. Though Mychal Givens, who finished the 2018 season in the closer role after the midseason trades of Zack Britton and Brad Brach, appeared the best candidate to close, Hyde’s Orioles are comfortable sticking to a committee approach for the foreseeable future.
    • Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who has been dealing with left knee inflammation and began the season on the IL, will begin a rehab assignment on Thursday with the Class-A Greenville Drive, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Pedroia has been receiving at-bats in extended spring training; the timetable for his return to MLB action is yet unknown.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Offseason In Review: New York Mets]]> 2019-03-31T15:04:41Z 2019-03-31T14:58:07Z This is the latest post of MLBTR’s annual Offseason in Review series, in which we take stock of every team’s winter dealings.

    Audacious general manager Brodie Van Wagenen hit the ground running in his first offseason atop the Mets. Now, after two straight down years, the revamped club has a realistic chance to compete for a playoff berth.

    Major League Signings

    Trades And Claims


    Notable Minor League Signings

    Notable Losses

    [New York Mets depth chart | New York Mets payroll outlook]

    Needs Addressed

    Formerly one of baseball’s most accomplished agents, Van Wagenen took the reins in Queens with no prior front office experience. It was a controversial choice by the Mets to hand Van Wagenen the keys to their baseball department, though he never lacked for confidence upon landing the job.

    “We will win now. We will win in the future. We will deliver a team this fanbase and this city can be proud of,” Van Wagenen declared at his introductory press conference on Oct. 30.

    While there was plenty of skepticism over Van Wagenen five months ago, it’s hard to say he’s in over his head one winter into his pressure-packed new role. Van Wagenen reworked the Mets’ roster in impressive fashion over the past few months, turning a team that didn’t have enough support around core stars Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto into a formidable unit.

    Much of Van Wagenen’s focus was on the Mets’ infield and bullpen, two areas he addressed in his first noteworthy move – a stunning, headline-stealing trade with the Mariners. Not only did the swap net the Mets Robinson Cano, one of the best second basemen in recent memory, but they also hauled in arguably baseball’s premier reliever in closer Edwin Diaz. The cost? Three capable prospects – including top 100 outfielder Jarred Kelenic (No. 56 at and right-hander Justin Dunn (No. 90) – a pair of expendable veterans (outfielder Jay Bruce and reliever Anthony Swarzak, both of whom struggled as Mets) and a willingness to take on $100MM of Cano’s remaining $120MM. Cano’s raking in that money thanks in part to his former agent, Van Wagenen, who scored the ex-Yankee a $240MM payday from the M’s in 2013.

    There is an especially high amount of risk in welcoming the present-day version of Cano, as he’s a pricey 36-year-old coming off a season in which he sat 80 games because of a performance-enhancing drug suspension. At the same time, though, he stayed an excellent contributor in the 80 games he took the field, and the Mets are banking on the eight-time All-Star continuing to turn in Hall of Fame-caliber production for at least a bit longer. Whether that’s sensible on their part is debatable, but regardless, he’s slated to be on their books for the next half-decade. Meanwhile, they’re set to get four affordable years of Diaz (including one pre-arb campaign). The 25-year-old flamethrower was the less famous name in the return, but he could be the bigger prize for the Mets. Diaz has been nothing short of incredible since debuting in 2016, and should go a long way toward fixing what was an awful New York bullpen in 2018.

    Diaz will have some imposing late-game company this year and beyond, in part because the Mets reunited with old friend Jeurys Familia and added Justin Wilson in free agency. Familia, whom the Mets traded to Oakland last July after a long initial run with the New York organization, went down as their most expensive free-agent signing at $30MM over three years. Committing large amounts of money to relievers is often risky, but the 29-year-old Familia’s contract looks fair when considering the numbers he has logged throughout his career. Likewise, the $10MM going to Wilson is hardly a crazy figure. Based on his output to date, he should give the Mets something the now-gone Jerry Blevins couldn’t provide last year: an effective left-handed reliever. With Diaz, Familia, Wilson and minor league signing Luis Avilan – who has been a solid lefty as well – joining holdovers Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, it’s easy to see the Mets’ relief corps transforming from weakness to strength.

    Similarly, the Mets’ position player contingent has the makings of an above-average group. Along with Nimmo, Conforto and Cano, the Mets’ main offensive threats look to be top first base prospect Pete Alonso – who, in an era of rampant service-time manipulation, cracked their season-opening roster – as well as infielders Jed Lowrie and Jeff McNeil and catcher Wilson Ramos. Both Lowrie and Ramos came aboard via free agency on the heels of terrific seasons. Lowrie was among the majors’ most productive second basemen in Oakland from 2017-18, but Cano’s presence should push him to the hot corner in New York. Health and age (35 in April) are the primary concerns with Lowrie, who has missed substantial time in the past and, thanks to a sprained left knee, may be a ways from making his Mets debut.

    Ramos has battled his own knee troubles, including two right ACL tears, though the 31-year-old has typically been an adept backstop when healthy. Still, if the Mets had their druthers, Ramos probably wouldn’t be on the roster. Not only did the Mets reportedly pursue trades for then-Indian Yan Gomes and then-Marlin J.T. Realmuto, both of whom ended up with division rivals, but they chased Yasmani Grandal in free agency. Realmuto and Grandal are superior to Ramos, but New York reportedly balked at giving up Nimmo, Conforto or shortstop Amed Rosario for Realmuto, and the team pivoted away from Grandal when the now-Brewer turned down its sizable offer. That left New York to fork over a reasonable sum for Ramos, who’s a far better player than 2018 Mets catchers Kevin Plawecki, Travis d’Arnaud, Devin Mesoraco, Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton. Plawecki’s now off the Mets, having been traded to the Indians, as is Lobaton. D’Arnaud is occupying his usual spot on the injured list, leaving the No. 2 job to Nido, and Mesoraco could retire instead of playing for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

    Questions Remaining

    While the Mets’ infielders appear to be a promising bunch, there’s room for some wariness. Lowrie’s health is worth monitoring, and the same applies to Todd Frazier. Although Frazier was quite durable with the Reds, White Sox and Yankees earlier in his career, he missed 47 games last year – his first as a Met – and began this season on the IL with a strained oblique. If healthy, though, the 33-year-old Frazier has the credentials to serve as a valuable corner infield reserve.

    It’s questionable, on the other hand, how effective Alonso, McNeil, Rosario and Dominic Smith will be this year. Alonso was outstanding as a minor leaguer, but there’s no guarantee it will carry over. If it doesn’t, the Mets may turn to Smith, who, like Alonso, garnered top 100 hype as a prospect. Smith has been valueless as a major leaguer since he first came up in 2017, and he wasn’t any better in the minors last year. McNeil was a revelation in his 248-plate appearance debut last season, but he showed minimal power and an inflated .359 BABIP helped beget a .329 batting average. Rosario hasn’t hit since breaking into the bigs in 2017, nor has he fared well in the field, leaving one to wonder why the deep-pocketed Mets didn’t pursue Manny Machado in free agency.

    For the most part, the Mets’ outfield is nicely equipped with Nimmo and Conforto occupying two everyday spots. Ideally, they’ll start in the corners, though Nimmo held down center in the team’s second game of the season on Saturday, giving left to McNeil and third to newcomer J.D. Davis. Nimmo wouldn’t need to play center if the Mets had a more surefire option there than Keon Broxton, whom they acquired in a January trade with the Brewers, or Juan Lagares. Broxton and Lagares are proven defenders, but offensive mediocrity abounds in both cases. That’s hardly the case for A.J. Pollock, a rumored offseason target of the Mets who ended up securing an appreciable raise to go from the Diamondbacks to the Dodgers. It didn’t seem as if the Mets fervently pursued Pollock before he came off the market, however, and they’re now down to Nimmo, Broxton, Lagares and a horde of center field minor league signings as a result.

    Should Broxton and Lagares falter, we may see Nimmo take center on a regular basis if fellow corner outfielder Yoenis Cespedes returns from his heel surgeries during the season. It’s probably not worth holding your breath for that, though, considering the 33-year-old Cespedes endured back-to-back injury-ruined seasons prior to this one. For now, Cespedes looks like the franchise’s successor to David Wright – a once-fabulous player who turns into a forgotten man because of injuries.

    Meantime, the pitching staff is no doubt among the Mets’ greatest strengths. DeGrom’s the reigning NL Cy Young winner, perhaps the game’s supreme ace, and the ex-Van Wagenen client will be with the franchise for a while longer after inking an extension last week. Syndergaaard, whom Van Wagenen also used to represent, is similarly imposing when healthy. However, whether the Mets can bank on his health is up in the air. Injuries held Syndergaard to 30 1/3 innings in 2017 and 154 1/3 last season, after which reports indicated they at least mulled trading the 26-year-old. Unlike deGrom, Syndergaard has not been an extension target for New York to this point. With that in mind, Syndergaard may continue to frequent trade rumors should no agreement come together between him and the team during his final three years of arbitration control.

    Behind the enviable deGrom and Syndergaard duo, righty Zack Wheeler figures to further bolster the cause if his tremendous 2018 is any indication. Whether he can continue to stay healthy after missing nearly all of 2015-17 is in question, though. Injuries have also tormented southpaw Steven Matz, who did put forth an encouraging 2018 after a subpar 2017. Fellow lefty Jason Vargas was horrible last season, which gave the Mets room to upgrade their rotation over the winter. To that end, the club reportedly showed interest in Mike Minor, Gio Gonzalez, Martin Perez, Derek Holland, Josh Tomlin and even venerable Indians ace Corey Kluber. However, minor league pickup Hector Santiago is the sole battle-tested starter the Mets have reeled in since last season concluded.

    2019 Season Outlook

    This is not a team without concerns, but it would still be sane to expect the Mets to return to relevance in 2019. Van Wagenen, in his debut offseason at the controls, did a fine job enhancing the roster around the high-end talent that was already in place. The problem is that the NL East rival Phillies and Nationals also made their share of offseason splashes – and that’s to say nothing of a quality Braves team that reigned over the division last year. It wouldn’t be a surprise this season to see any of those clubs, including the Mets, win a wide-open division or miss the playoffs altogether.

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    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.