The Mets look to be in position to contend this year, but if they can’t it might finally be time for a full rebuild.
The window is open again.
After it was slammed shut prematurely in 2017, cracked back open for two weeks in 2018 before being shut again, the Mets are contenders again. Despite the loss of Noah Syndergaard for this season and more, due to Tommy John surgery, the Mets have a roster that can propel them to October for the first time since 2016.
The Mets went 46-26 in the second half last season, and 39-21 in their final 60 games. What looked like a third-consecutive lost season turned out to be a glimmer of hope for what’s to come in 2020 and beyond.
But as we have seen before from the Mets, failing to meet expectations wouldn’t be something new. After a disappointing wild-card game loss in 2016, the Mets followed up with a 70-92 season. After starting the next season 11-1, they finished 77-85, going 5-21 that June.
If the Mets fail to meet expectations by this season’s deadline, whenever that may be, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen must eat his words and sell off.
In 2017, they traded away Addison Reed, AJ Ramos, Lucas Duda and Jay Bruce, all of whom were set to hit free agency that offseason, at the trade deadline. At 2018’s deadline, they traded Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera, both of whom also hit free agency a few months later.
At last year’s deadline, they acquired Marcus Stroman and shipped soon-to-be free agent Jason Vargas. They held on to Zack Wheeler, who left for the Phillies this offseason.
And of course, the Mets have acquired, and held press conferences for, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Jed Lowrie, Wilson Ramos, and Dellin Betances.
Some of their moves have worked out, some have not. But all of their moves show one thing — the Mets want to win now.
Looking back, it is hard to criticize the Mets for not going in total rebuild mode in 2017 and 2018, their win total climbed by 16 in just three seasons and should once again be a postseason contender.
But the rest of the National League East is stacked, as it holds the current defending World Series champion Nationals, the back-to-back division champion Braves, and the Phillies, who have hovered around .500 in each of the last two seasons and have made more moves to get over the hump.
There are two untouchables: Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil. If the Mets stink, everyone else should be on the table.
Yes, that includes Jacob deGrom. Don’t offer him, just listen. When eight other pitchers are getting paid more than the best pitcher on the planet who seems to only be getting better, the return the Mets could get might be unimaginable.
MLB Pipeline ranks the Mets’ farm system at No. 20. Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, and Steven Matz each have two seasons left of control, but all would bring back a huge haul. If the Mets have no hope in 2020, there’s no hope in 2021. It’d be smart to cut loose before it’s too late and you get nothing back. It happened with Wheeler, and it happened with Jose Reyes after 2011.
Ramos and Stroman are both set to hit free agency after this season, but if they repeat their respective 2019 season, a contender will be willing to go hard after them.
Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo have three years of control left. They’d bring back a nice return, too.
Oh, and the Mets are long overdue in trading Dominic Smith. He’s not playing first, and he isn’t a good outfielder. Just cut the bait already.
Contrary to what Mets fans believe — Jeff Wilpon wants to win.
The problem is, Wilpon has hesitated to go full speed ahead in either direction. His “rebuilds” have been careful, and his roster building has held your breath at times. Losing stinks, especially when everyone hates you already.
But if it’s obvious the Mets are not going anywhere, Wilpon and Van Wagenen can’t tip-toe around a rebuild anymore.