April 22, 2024
A comprehensive overview of the upcoming 2022 New York Mets' free agents. The article provides detailed player profiles, salary cap implications, and analysis, highlighting which players are worth resigning or replacing.

Who Are the Mets Free Agents?

The New York Mets had a rollercoaster of a season in 2021, ending their campaign with a 77-85 record and no playoff appearance. As the season comes to a close, the Mets must start planning for the future, and that begins with their current free agents. Understanding the team’s free agency situation is critical in determining the direction the franchise takes this offseason.

News Piece

The Mets have several key players set to hit free agency this offseason. The list includes:

  • Marcus Stroman, RHP
  • Noah Syndergaard, RHP
  • Michael Conforto, OF
  • Javier Baez, SS
  • J.D. Davis, 3B
  • Steven Matz, LHP

Stroman had a tremendous 2021 campaign with a 3.02 ERA in 33 starts, earning himself a place as one of the most viable starting pitchers in free agency. Syndergaard missed the majority of the season due to injury, but his track record as the Mets’ ace makes him a valuable commodity in free agency.

Conforto also had a down year with a .232 batting average and 12 home runs. However, his 2019 season shows he has value when he slashed .257/.363/.494 with 33 home runs and 92 RBIs. Baez was a midseason acquisition for the Mets and had an excellent performance: hitting .292 with nine home runs and an OPS of .818 in 73 games. Davis played in 63 games but missed the latter half of the season due to injury. Matz spent the year on the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster.

The Mets front office is likely to focus on resigning Stroman and Baez, who both seem to have a good fit with the team’s long-term strategy. As for Conforto and Syndergaard, it’s still uncertain what the team’s plan is for them.

Analysis

Each of the Mets free agents brings specific strengths and weaknesses to the table that need further exploration to understand their respective values and potential impact on the franchise.

Marcus Stroman

Stroman’s ability to generate ground balls has been one of his strengths, and he showed that this season by maintaining a top-ten ground-ball rate (GB%) among qualified starters with 55.7%. This year, he also increased his strikeout rate (K%), becoming an even more effective starter. In terms of weaknesses, Stroman needs to work on limiting free passes, giving up 8.5% of walks. In addition, he had one of the lowest Average fastball velocity (Velo) among starters this season, coming in at just 92.6 mph.

Stroman is a significant asset to the Mets and should be their top target this offseason. He’s a durable pitcher who is consistent, delivering an ERA of under 4.00 in each of the last four seasons.

Noah Syndergaard

Syndergaard missed the majority of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020. But when healthy, Syndergaard is one of baseball’s best pitchers, with a career ERA of 3.31.

In terms of strengths, Syndergaard has a fastball capable of reaching 100 mph and a high whiff rate on his slider. However, his mid-season acquisition, Carlos Carrasco, slid nicely into the role of third ace, which raises questions about the team’s plans for Syndergaard. If the Mets choose to let him walk, they will be losing out on a valuable asset.

Michael Conforto

Conforto is a consistent left-handed outfielder who has struggled recently with injuries and performance, leading to a .232 batting average and a .729 OPS. But his 2019 season, when he slashed .257/.363/.494 with 33 home runs and 92 RBIs, shows that he has value and has produced a 126 wRC+ since 2018 – meaning he’s 26% better than an average MLB hitter.

Conforto’s batting is his strength, with a 25% line drive rate (LD%) and a 21.2% HR/FB (home run to fly ball) rate. His weakness is mainly his defense. Conforto’s minus-17 Outs Above Average (OAA) ranks near the bottom in all right fielders in the league.

Javier Baez

Baez brought a lot to the Mets since his mid-season acquisition from the Chicago Cubs. His defensive acumen and power potential always make him a worthwhile addition. This season, he improved his OAA to a plus-6 in shortstop, above average production offensively with a .292 batting average and a .818 OPS. However, he’s known for his less stellar plate discipline, striking out 31% of the times he stepped up to the plate.

Given the substantial amount the Mets gave up to acquire Baez, it’s highly probable they will want to bring him back. However, he may also command a hefty contract that raises questions about the team’s willingness to pay the price tag.

Player Profiles

Marcus Stroman

Born and raised in New York, Stroman attended Duke University and was the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He won a World Series with the Jays in 2016 and was also named the Gold Glove winner in 2017.

Potential suitors for Stroman include the Los Angeles Angels and the Toronto Blue Jays, where he played the first six years of his career. However, he’s noted playing in New York for the Mets has been his dream since childhood.

Noah Syndergaard

Syndergaard was born in Texas and drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays, where he played in the minor leagues, before he was traded to the Mets in 2012. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball in his first few years with the team before an injury derailed his career in 2019.

The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are among the teams interested in Syndergaard’s services in free agency. However, given his long tenure with the Mets, it’s also conceivable that he might opt to stay put for less money than he would fetch on the open market.

Michael Conforto

A New York native, Conforto attended Oregon State University and was drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He has been a consistent contributor to the Mets since his debut in 2015.

Potential suitors for Conforto include the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, and Chicago Cubs.

Javier Baez

Baez was born and raised in Puerto Rico and drafted with the ninth overall pick by the Chicago Cubs in 2011. An excellent defensive shortstop and power hitter, Baez quickly established himself as a vital part of the Cubs’ World Series-winning team in 2016.

Potential suitors for Baez include the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and the Cubs, where he spent seven productive seasons.

Historical Context

Ten years ago, Theo Epstein made a colossal splash when he signed Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to bolster the Boston Red Sox roster before the 2011 season. Instead of making the Red Sox better, their acquisitions proved to be one of the biggest pitfalls in team history, leading to their record-breaking late-season collapse. The series of events has become a pivotal moment demonstrating the hazardous bet of free-agent signings in baseball history.

The free-agent market has evolved over the past decade, with more teams resorting to keep their homegrown talent or sign players to extensions before they can hit free agency. However, top players still find a way to sign huge deals, as exemplified by Bryce Harper’s 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Salary Cap Implications

The Mets have an estimated salary cap of $185.2 million for the 2022 season, with several players already taking up a significant portion of that cap. Conforto and Stroman, if resigned, will command substantial contracts that will eat into that salary cap.

If the Mets opt to resign both players, they will have less money to pursue potential free agents or split for improvements elsewhere in the roster. The team may need to explore alternative strategies to get the most cap space if they want to rebuild through free agency.

Fan Perspective

Possible departure of fan favorites like Conforto could have a significant emotional impact on fans. Conforto has always been a loyal Met, with his many contributions to the team throughout the years. However, due to underperformances, some fans may be ready to let him go.

Syndergaard’s sterling reputation and powerful pitching make it challenging for fans to imagine him in a different uniform. However, many believe his asking price may be too high for what he’s worth, particularly after sitting out for much of the past two seasons with injury.

Conclusion

The New York Mets have some critical players set to hit free agency this offseason, which will inevitably have significant implications for their future. It’s crucial that the team makes prudent and strategic decisions to ensure long-term success. Whether through resigning their free agents, signing top-tier names, or enhancing the farm system, the team has a lot of work ahead in building a competitive roster.

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