In a glacially slow offseason, the Mets are among the pace setters.
They have signed a catcher (James McCann) and reliever (Trevor May) to fill two prominent needs, as marquee names such as George Springer and Trevor Bauer remain on the board. To date, McCann’s four-year contract worth $40.6 million is the largest any team has given out this winter.
Within the NL East realm, the Braves are the only other team to have added noteworthy players, suggesting a flurry of deals will be forthcoming once the calendar flips to January.
Given the perfect storm of billionaire Steve Cohen’s arrival as owner and the fact many teams are trying to cut payroll, the Mets stand to emerge as the division’s biggest offseason winner provided Sandy Alderson and new general manager Jared Porter can still deliver a significant bat and arm for the rotation.
A look at where the Mets stand heading into the holidays as compared to their NL East foes:
The additions of Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly to Atlanta’s rotation represent the most significant free-agent signings within the division outside the Mets. Morton arrived on a one-year deal worth $15 million. Smyly received one year for $11 million. It has left the three-time defending NL East champions with the most formidable rotation in the division, with Max Fried, Ian Anderson and Mike Soroka (who is returning from a torn Achilles). Two other young starters, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson, provide depth.
A big remaining question might be whether the Braves re-sign Marcell Ozuna, who provided a formidable bat behind Freddie Freeman last season. But until the DH situation in the NL is officially resolved it’s unlikely Ozuna is seriously pursued. The Braves are also searching for a catcher to back up Travis d’Arnaud.
Could J.T. Realmuto be a fit here, placing him with his third NL East team? The Nationals certainly have a need at catcher, but it’s unclear if team ownership has the appetite to take on a significant contract. The Mets passed on Realmuto in part because they expected the market to drag out for the All-Star catcher and didn’t want to risk other options evaporating.
The Nationals have a hole at first base and have been linked to Kyle Schwarber, a non-tender by the Cubs. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has gone on the record as saying the team isn’t pursuing Kris Bryant in a trade. Ryan Zimmerman, who opted out last season, is among the candidates to return as part of the first base mix.
There probably isn’t a team in the division with more question marks.
Dave Dombrowski arrived to oversee a front office in cost-cutting mode, which doesn’t bode well for a team that had a historically bad bullpen and needs to fill spots in the starting rotation behind Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin.
The Phillies also have a hole at shortstop, after not extending a qualifying offer to Didi Gregorius. Among the potential fits are Andrelton Simmons and Marcus Semien. And then there is the question whether Dombrowski has the financial flexibility to potentially re-sign Realmuto, who spent the last two seasons with the Phillies after arriving in a trade with the Marlins.
After declining Brad Kintzler’s $4 million option for next season, the team needs a closer. Another key bullpen piece from last season, Brad Boxberger, became a free agent. The good news for the Marlins is a flooded market for relievers.
Though the Marlins haven’t made a splashy player acquisition, the hiring of Kim Ng was historic, putting a female in the GM role for the first time.