The Winter Meetings have come and gone, and while not a lot of tangible results were made at the Winter Meetings by Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets they did make one move, while laying the groundwork for others.
Last week, I predicted the Mets would be much more active in signing players at the Winter Meetings simply because I thought the free agent market would move much quicker this year as compared to last year. Even in last offseason’s historically slow free agency, the reliever market moved quickly, but that has not been the case this year.
Nonetheless, the Mets were able to ink a familiar face in the waning hours of the Winter Meetings. Jeurys Familia signed a three year 30 million dollar deal with the team that signed him as a teenager and helped develop him into, at one point, one of the best closers in the game. Familia is no longer an elite closer, but he is still a very above-average reliever that will now be setting up games for one of the best closers in baseball.
Some Mets fans were not excited about this signing because they have seen Familia fall off since 2016 and still have a sour taste in their mouths from his poor World Series performance in 2015 when he blew three save opportunities.
For the rest of my life, I will never forget that home run which led to an extra-innings walk-off win for the Royals and changed the complexion of that series. However, Jeurys Familia is perfect for the 8th inning because he has plenty of experience pitching in New York, he will have less pressure in those situations, and if Edwin Diaz, the Mets new closer, needs the night off Jeurys will be more than capable to step into the closer’s role for the night.
Familia was the only Winter Meetings signing for the Mets, but they spent the rest of the week thinking creatively to find a fair trade with the Marlins to acquire star catcher, JT Realmuto. Some of the trade scenarios the team apparently looked into were three team deals with the San Diego Padres and the NEW YORK YANKEES.
Those deals would have likely sent Noah Syndergaard to the third team, Realmuto and a prospect or two to the Mets, and the Marlins would have received a controllable major leaguer and prospects. The Mets also looked into deals solely with the Marlins for players like Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto.
At the end of it, all though Brodie and the Mets decided that the acquisition cost for Realmuto was too much to bear. The Mets ended up signing Wilson Ramos, who is arguably the best offensive catcher in baseball when he is on the field and is rated as an average all-around defender with mixed reviews on that front.
The Ramos deal is for two years and has 19 million guaranteed dollars. There is also a club option for a third season worth 10 million with a 1.5 million dollar buyout.
At the end of the day, this is a great signing because Wilson Ramos, when healthy, is an impact bat that is extremely consistent at the plate with an ability to drive in runs.
The most interesting statistic I found from Wilson Ramos’ career is just how consistent he is. Ramos has a career batting average of .273 and has only hit below .260 in a full season one time and he was plagued by injuries that year. Even more impressive are the fangraph statistics that split his percentages by month each season of his career.
Throughout Ramos’ career, he has averaged .267 or better in each individual month of the season. Listen, it’s not like he is a .300 hitter, but the point is the Mets have a lot of streaky hitters in their lineup like Frazier, Conforto, and Rosario, so Ramos will bring some stability to the lineup.
The biggest flaw of this signing is simply the fact that Wilson Ramos is an injury prone catcher. He has only played more than 115 games two times in his nine seasons and had lingering hamstring issues last season that forced him on the disabled list.
I still think there are more pros than cons with this deal especially since most teams in baseball are leaning toward two platoon catchers rather than one starter and one backup. The Mets still have Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki under contract for next season, although Andy Martino of SNY.tv is reporting the team is open to trading Plawecki and keeping d’Arnaud as a backup.
Regardless of who the Mets may deal, Plawecki and/or d’Arnaud are more than good enough to start 50-60 games to keep Ramos healthy and fresh throughout the season.
Next up on the Mets docket is filling the hole in center field, getting a left-handed reliever, and a utility infielder that can play shortstop.
At the press conference this morning Brodie said the Mets still have “some real money to spend”. Now, to fill those holes, then add depth pieces in minor league signings of veteran players like they did yesterday with Rajai Davis. If the Mets do still have “real money” to use in free agency then they should be going after guys like Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, AJ Pollock, and Marwin Gonzalez, among others. However, reporters are saying the Mets are likely going to stay away from that tier of players unless their price tag falls in the coming weeks.
I’m not saying the Mets need to sign those guys or that they won’t sign them, but if you add Pollock to the Mets lineup they become an above average offensive unit without Peter Alonso living up to his expectations or Cespedes on the active roster. If they sign Miller or Britton then Mickey Callaway would have three proven late-inning inning relievers in his bullpen. Gonzalez can play 6 positions and can add true force to the lineup as well.
I think the Mets will end up trading Plawecki or d’Arnaud (hopefully d’Arnaud) for a solid lefty reliever to a team that needs an average catcher on their roster, which would at least provide the Mets with an established left-handed reliever and would likely cost them no additional money. I expect this to be done next.
For the backup shortstop/utility infielder I don’t know who the Mets will target because that market hasn’t developed to this point. However, Matt Ehalt of northjersey.com reported the Mets were looking at Asdrubal Cabrera for that role and he would be a great fit. Cabrera can’t really play shortstop all that well anymore, but he could easily start there 10-15 times to spell Amed Rosario while also playing at second and third on occasion.
The guy can hit and when he is fresh he is still a borderline all-star. Adding his bat to a bench that already has Jeff McNeil would give the Mets plenty of flexibility on the infield. Ehalt simply listed Cabrera as an option with no contract talks in the fold at this time, but guys like him, Adeiny Hechavarria, Josh Harrison, Tim Beckham, and even Troy Tulowitzki are guys that can be signed to 1-year deals for 5 million or less.
As for the outfield hole I truly hope the Mets sign Pollock or Gonzalez. Neither are perfect fits and neither will come cheap, but they would turn a solid lineup into an above-average one.
Time will tell, but Brodie has shown he does not like to wait long before making a move, so we will see what the GM does next sooner rather than later.