The sun is out, the snow is melting, the birds are chirping, the crisp smell of spring is starting to creep into the air, MLB spring training started last week, and it is officially time for New York Mets baseball. With the help of new owner Steve Cohen, Mets fans have a team to really be proud of. This much excitement hasn't surrounded a Mets team since the start of 2016 spring training, just one winter after the Mets won the National League Pennant.
New ownership brought an exciting, yet unfamiliar aura to Citi Field this year. After so many years of sadness and pessimism, after so many years of being pointed at and laughed at by other fanbases, there is a buzz in Queens this year. Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson and the Mets are out to right the ship and bring a championship to Flushing, and the fans can feel it.
New York Mets trade for star SS Francisco Lindor, SP Carlos Carrasco
The rumors started early this winter - 2020 would be Francisco Lindor's last season with the Cleveland Indians. The four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove, and two-time Silver Slugger award winning shortstop had many possible suitors. The Yankees and Dodgers, (two teams who are rumored to be in on everything and anything at all times) the Angels, the Phillies and the Mets were among multiple teams whom many thought would make a run at Lindor.
After weeks of silence in what has been one of the most boring MLB offseason's in recent memory, the Mets shocked the baseball world when on January 7th, 2021, it was announced that the Cleveland Indians would be shipping not only Francisco Lindor, but starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco to New York for Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez, and two prospects in Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene.
Baseball fans and the media alike took to the internet to discuss the highway robbery that had just occurred in Cleveland. What were the Indians thinking?! A perennial All-Star in Francisco Lindor and a solid starting pitcher in Carlos Carrasco for Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez and two no-name prospects?
Let's be fair to Rosario and Giménez; both guys meant a lot to Mets fans over the last few years, and both guys have tremendous upside under the right mentorship. Rosario was ranked as a top MLB prospect in 2016 and 2017, and when he was called up for his big league debut in August of 2017, Mets fans had something to look forward to. Many heralded him as the next Jose Reyes, a player that at one point and time in the mid-2000's was worshipped in Queens. However, like many things that have surrounded the Mets over the last 30+ years, it just never came to fruition. Rosario wasn't able to developed into the player that we all thought he was going to be.
In his four seasons in New York, Rosario hit for a .268 batting average, .302 on-base percentage, .705 OPS, 32 home runs, 148 runs batted in, and stole 50 bases.
Giménez only played one season as a back up infielder last year, but he was one of few players that gave Mets fans something to watch during an abysmal 2020 season, quickly becoming a fan favorite. Many considered Rosario's job at shortstop to be in jeopardy following Giménez's promising 2020 campaign.
Mets acquire Khalil Lee from the Royals in a three-team trade
The Mets didn't just focus on bolstering their major league roster this winter, they put a little care into their prospect pool too. New York participated in a three-team deal on February 10th with the Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox. New York sent pitching prospect Josh Winckowski to Boston, the Red Sox then sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City, and the Royals shipped their No. 8 prospect (via MLB pipeline) Khalil Lee to New York.
Mets sign catcher James McCann to a four-year, $40.6 million deal
After two seasons in New York, the Mets declined the $10 million option on catcher Wilson Ramos, officially putting New York in the hunt for a new starting catcher. The Mets were linked to arguably the best catcher in baseball, J.T. Realmuto, who was also a free-agent this offseason, but the Mets opted to save money in order to be major players in other areas (I.E. Francisco Lindor trade) Realmuto went on to sign a five-year, $115.5 million contract to return to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Incoming: James McCann.
McCann, who had himself a solid 2020 season as a member of the Chicago White Sox, agreed to a four-year deal with the Mets in December. McCann hit for a .289 average, .360 on-base percentage, .896 OPS, with seven homeruns and 15 RBI's in the truncated 2020 season.
Many suggested that the Mets may have overpaid for McCann, but if he can have himself another season like he did in 2020, I think it'll be looked at as a smart investment in a veteran catcher that garnered plenty of attention from other teams this offseason. If the Mets didn't pay him, someone else would have. Given the current climate of catchers in the league, I'd say it's better to be safe than sorry.
New York shores up the depth
In a 2021 season that is likely to return to a 162-game format, the Mets wanted to make sure that they have enough gas in the tank for the long haul. A slew of solid veteran signings will ensure that the Mets stay as competitive as possible down the stretch in August and September if they find themselves in the midst of a pennant race.
Mets sign outfielder Albert Almora to a one-year, $1.25 million deal
Mets sign infielder Jonathan Villar to a one-year, $3.55 million deal
Mets sign pitcher Taijaun Walker to a two-year, $23 million deal (2023 player option)
Mets sign outfielder Kevin Pillar to a one-year, $3.6 million deal (2022 player & club option)
Stay tuned for part two of our New York Mets season primer, where we will discuss what is to be expected from the already-established Mets' players.
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