NEW YORK -- It’s time for one of the most intriguing offseasons in Mets history to resume.
Prior to Major League Baseball’s lockout, the Mets ranked among baseball’s most active teams as they endeavored to transform a solid roster into one which is playoff-bound. Key to that mission was signing starter Max Scherzer to a three-year, $130 million contract to shift the balance of power in the NL East, but the Mets did plenty else to supplement that move. And there’s likely a good bit more to come.
Here’s a look at where the Mets stand heading into what should be a frenetic restart of the baseball calendar:
What deals have the Mets already made?
In November, the Mets were among baseball’s busiest clubs, signing:
• Scherzer to a three-year, $130 million contract
• Outfielder Starling Marte to a four-year, $78 million contract
• Outfielder Mark Canha to a two-year, $26.5 million contract
• Infielder Eduardo Escobar to a two-year, $20 million contract
What are the Mets’ biggest remaining needs, and whom might they target to fill those holes?
The team needs a left-handed reliever to replace departed free agent Aaron Loup. Mets officials spoke to Brad Hand about a reunion back in November, according to a source, and could continue to pursue Hand -- long a favorite of Mets president Sandy Alderson -- now that the lockout has ended. Fellow southpaw Andrew Chafin is likewise a prime candidate to fill that role.
Which of New York’s free agents have already signed elsewhere?
Two prominent ones, Noah Syndergaard and Loup, signed with the Angels back in November. A third, Marcus Stroman, inked a three-year, $71 million contract with the Cubs. A fourth, Javier Báez, agreed to a six-year, $140 million deal with the Tigers. After the lockout, reliever Jeurys Familia reportedly reached an agreement to join the Phillies.
Might there be a reunion with any of the Mets’ remaining free agents?
Possibly, though probably not a headline-grabbing one. The Mets’ most prominent remaining free agent, Michael Conforto, is a long shot to return to Flushing mainly because the Mets no longer have room for him in their outfield. The most likely free agent to return is Hand.
Are the Mets looking to trade any players in particular?
With Spring Training imminent, the Mets probably aren’t going to go out of their way to swing a trade. But there is some potential here given New York’s crowded infield, which could make Jeff McNeil or J.D. Davis expendable. McNeil is coming off a down season, with a .251/.319/.360 slash line over 120 games (which team officials largely believe was due to a run of rotten luck). Davis remains a strong offensive player without an obvious defensive home; he’s been a trade candidate almost since the day he arrived in Flushing.
Then there is first baseman Dominic Smith, whose trade value fell precipitously during a disappointing 2021 season. Smith remains blocked by Pete Alonso at first base and perhaps always will be, even though the arrival of the universal designated hitter can change that equation.
What outstanding arbitration cases are on the docket?
The Mets still must negotiate new deals with all 13 of their arbitration-eligible players: Alonso, McNeil, Davis, Miguel Castro, Edwin Díaz, Luis Guillorme, Joey Lucchesi, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, Tomás Nido, Dominic Smith, Drew Smith and Trevor Williams. Last year, they went to a hearing with only one player, Davis, who lost his case.