Hello from the most active offseason since Omar Minaya reeled in Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez.
You are no doubt in receipt of reports today that the Mets have reached a massive 3-year deal with free agent pitcher Max Scherzer after making successful bids late last week for veterans Starling Marte, Mark Cahna and Eduardo Escobar. And with trades, relief-pitching, depth deals and a new manager still ahead, that’s a mighty heavy workload for newly arrived GM, Billy Eppler.
Scherzer has worn 31 in Washington and in LA, but with Mike Piazza having taken that out of the Mets’ rotation, we’re tentatively anticipating he’ll take it up a notch the 32. That figure belonged most recently to Aaron Loup, who departed to Anaheim on a free-agent deal following Noah Syndergaard, who made the very same move.
Syndergaard’s departure marks the final end to a durable, multipronged trade chain dating back to Tim Bogar, who debuted with the Mets in 1993, was traded to Houston for Luis Lopez, who went to Milwaukee for Bill Pulsipher, who went to Arizona for Lenny Harris, who went to Milwaukee for Jeromy Burnitz, whose trade to Los Angeles yielded Victor Diaz, who was traded to Texas for catcher Mike Nickeas, who was sent to Toronto in the Syndergaard trade.
Noah departs as the Mets’ all-time leader in winning-percentage and strikeouts among Guys Who Wore 34. He was three wins short of Mike Pelfrey for the victory title.
Marte is a sports-car enthusiast (true story: I met his car-dealer at a convention in Las Vegas) who looks to take over center field duties as Brandon Nimmo slides over to left field and Canha takes over in right. Marte has worn No. 6 with Pittsburgh and Miami and No. 2 with Oakland and Arizona. One or both could be available depending on whether change-ofscenery trade candidates Dom Smith and Jeff McNeil survive Eppler’s dealmaking in the weeks ahead. Cahna has worn 20 with Oakland and will need a new issue. Escobar, a switch-hitting infielder who looks likely to take a role similar to Jonathan Villar last season, has worn 5 most often in his career and so encounters a retired number in New York. Scientists project he could wind up in 7 here.
More to come!!
He’s no George Springer. But look out, Guillermo Heredia.
The Mets this morning have signed erstwhile Cubs flychaser Albert Almora Jr., presumably to shore up the defense in center field and provide a right-handed bat reserve bat.
Almora wore No. 5 with the Cubs so will need to shop for a new uni with the Mets. In the meantime all the stuff I speculated on below with respect to adding another Cub or two to the mix seems even more likely.
The signing comes as Juan Lagares, whose brief return to the Mets last season included a stint in the ridiculous No. 87, has found a new home in Anaheim. Also spotted on the developing Mets roster: New lefty reliever Aaron Loup assigned 62, with current issuee Drew Smith numberless.
After six seasons of occasionally brilliant and frequently frustrating work on the mound and the disabled list the Mets finally cut ties with Steven Matz, sending the Long Island lefty to Toronto for three prospects.
The move addresses what looks to be temporary crowding among would-be starting pitchers for the 2021 club but also presumably frees some roster space and cash should the Mets still wish to add another, like the still-available Trevor Bauer who could be different kind of headache.
Nothing against Steve personally here. It was always a lofty order to expect a lefty wearing 32 to perform with Matlackian precision–Matz falls about halfway to all of Matlack’s team records as a pitcher. But after a while it seemed that his local heritage–and ties to the first Omar Minaya regime that drafted him way back in 2009–provided him more opportunity than another guy with his spotty health and track record might get (like Zack Wheeler), and I suspect I wasn’t the only one scratching my head that this deal wasn’t considered any sooner. Matz was about the worst pitcher in the league last season. At any rate we get back three starting pitcher prospects, none of whom seem to have a lot of upside from what I’ve absorbed, but all presumably capable of one day inheriting the mop-up role that Matz appeared to pitched himself into, and they have minor-league options remaining: So Meet Sean Reid-Foley, Yennsy Diaz and Josh Winckowski, Zack Scott’s first gets as “acting” general manager.
Reid-Foley has made a handful of appearances in Toronto wearing 54; Diaz has worked two-thirds off an MLB inning 2 seasons ago (walking 4, wearing no 59); and Winckowski has yet to appear above A ball.
I’d look for 32 to be assigned to incoming lefty Joey Lucchesi.
Meantime, after swinging and missing on more bullpen help and trading an ill-fitted lefty option in Matz, the Mets scooped up journeyman southpaw Aaron Loup. The 33-year-old Loup has pitched for Toronto, Philadelphia, San Diego and last season, Tampa, fairly effectively in the dying age of lefty specialists. Loup, from what I read a laconic Louisiana Cajun, wore 15 last year, 38 in San Diego, 47 with the Phils and 62 with the Jays. Let’s slot him in at, uh, 16 or 18. Why not?