Hey, everyone! This blog obviously hasn't been touched in nearly 4 years, but I'm back! Let's get caught up as to what has been going on during this 2018 offseason.
Back in October, the Mets hired Mickey Callaway to become the 21st manager in team history. Callaway had been the Indians' pitching coach since 2013 and helped develop a strong pitching staff that led the AL in both ERA and strikeouts last season.
After his hiring, Callaway added some new faces to the Mets coaching staff, including bench coach Gary DiSarcina, first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. (who was formerly the Phillies' general manager), pitching coach Dave Eiland, and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater, with Pat Roessler getting promoted to hitting coach. Third base coach Glenn Sherlock remains on the staff from last season, as does bullpen coach Ricky Bones. The Eiland hiring was met with negative feedback from Mets fans over the dismissal of former pitching coach Dan Warthen. Hopefully, Callaway and his coaches can help the Mets get back to where they were in 2015 and 2016.
Alderson Gets an Extension and Hires a Familiar Face
This is not exactly front page news, but general manager Sandy Alderson received a contract extension earlier this offseason, but the length of the deal was not disclosed.
Alderson also hired former Mets general manager Omar Minaya to be a special assistant. Minaya had been Alderson's predecessor, running the Mets from 2005-2010. This type of move does not happen often, with a current general manager hiring his predecessor as an assistant, which may have some fans thinking the Mets are moving backwards. However, Minaya is still a very good at player development, so hopefully he can become an asset in the front office once again.
Mets Add to the Bullpen
The only notable official Mets signing this offseason has been right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak, who signed a 2-year $14 million deal during the Winter Meetings in December. Swarzak went 6-4 with a 2.32 ERA last season with the White Sox and Brewers. Swarzak has spent most of his career to this point with the Twins, and has also spent time with the Indians and Yankees.
Swarzak should provide an additional right-handed power arm in the late innings to go along with Jerry Blevins, A.J. Ramos and closer Jeurys Familia. The Mets have been clear with their desire to improve the bullpen and in a new era where relievers have bigger roles and more value to a team, it's an area teams will want to have covered throughout the course of a season.
A Reunion is Underway
Just hours ago, a source revealed that the Mets will be bringing Jay Bruce back into the fold. Bruce has yet to pass a physical, but the expected terms are for 3 years and $39 million. Bruce had already been a Met from August 2016 through August of 2017, when he was dealt to the Indians in a waiver trade for pitching prospect Ryder Ryan.
Bruce is coming off a 2017 season that included a career-high 36 homers (29 of which were as a Met), along with 29 doubles, 101 RBI and an .832 OPS. He will provide some much needed power for a Mets lineup that could certainly use more power.
While Bruce will likely get penciled in as the #5 hitter behind Michael Conforto (when he returns to the field) and Yoenis Cespedes, it's his role on the field that has yet to be determined. Bruce is a natural right fielder, but has experience at first base. The Mets lack a true starting center fielder, but also have a young first baseman in Dominic Smith that may need more development in the minor leagues. Depending on whether the Mets sign or trade for a new center fielder, Bruce should find time both in the outfield and at first base.
For the Mets to get back to the postseason this year, they will have to address more needs and of course, stay as healthy as possible.
Second base remains a question mark for the Mets right now. There are in-house candidates such as Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery), plus former 1st round pick Gavin Cecchini, who had 77 at-bats late last season. The Mets could also sign or trade for a third baseman and move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base. Third basemen Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier are both still on the free agent market, while former Mets second baseman Neil Walker is also a free agent. The Mets are likely to wait and hope for one or more of these players to potentially lower their signing demands or see how the rest of the market shakes up.
As for center field, the Mets currently have Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares as their primary center fielders. Both are young and have potential, but neither will stand out within the Mets lineup right now. Lorenzo Cain is the top free agent center fielder and would be a very good fit with the Mets, both offensively and defensively. Cespedes and Conforto will man left and right field, respectively for the foreseeable future, so it's important for the Mets to find themselves a reliable center fielder, which they haven't had since Carlos Beltran from 2005-2010. Beltran spent his final season with the Mets as a right fielder.
On the pitching front, it looks as if the Mets will stick with their young crop of starting pitchers and not add a veteran to the mix. This could mean a projected rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler. The Mets also have Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman as further rotation options and at least one of these two could still make the Opening Day roster within the bullpen. The Mets needed 12 different starting pitchers to get through the 2017 season, so there is no such thing as too much pitching depth. All seven of these pitchers should play key roles this season.
Hopefully, at least one of these holes get filled before Spring Training! But for now, let's all welcome back Jay Bruce to New York!