New York Mets owner Steve Cohen followed through on his promise to spend whatever it takes to build this team into a contender. The largest payroll in MLB history gives New York a chance to be the best team in MLB, but there is always room for improvement.
The NL East is the best division in baseball. It’s going to be a three-team slugfest in 2023 between the reigning National League champions (Philadelphia Phillies), the 2021 World Series champs (Atlanta Braves) and the Mets’ star-studded roster. While making the MLB playoffs is a near certainty for all three clubs, only one of them could go the distance in October.
Another superstar isn’t coming. While the James McCann trade alleviated some of the record-setting tax Cohen will have to pay, he wants to do more within reason. There is still plenty of time to add to the roster, especially with a quality farm system.
Here are three moves the New York Mets could make to strengthen their World Series odds.
Liam Hendriks traded to New York Mets
New York could certainly be satisfied with its current bullpen. It signed Edwin Diaz to a massive contract, creating a new Bobby Bonilla situation. The Mets also brought back Adam Ottavino and signed David Robertson to bolster their wealth of high-end relievers.
Yet, every October demonstrates a team can never have enough quality pitching for critical situations. The Chicago White Sox have made All-Star closer Liam Hendriks available and he is on the Mets’ radar.
- New York Mets acquire: Ronny Mauricio, Matt Allan
- Chicago White Sox acquire: Liam Hendriks, $5 million
The $5 million cash considerations included would cover approximately 35% of Hendriks’ 2023 salary ($14.33 million). There is a $15 million club option for 2023, but it automatically vests if traded. Even so, Hendriks has proven to be worth his contract.
New York could use the All-Star closer in matchup roles, either deploying him for saves in the 9th inning when Diaz faces the top of the ordering in the 8th or simply using him as a set-up man. The quartet of Robertson-Ottavino-Hendriks-Diaz would provide the Mets with one of the best bullpens in MLB, strengthening their advantages in a postseason series.
Adam Duvall upgrades the bench
While the Mets’ lineup boasts a few perennial All-Stars and impact bats, there is some room for improvement. Daniel Vogelbach and Mark Canha proved fairly effective in their specific roles last season, but added competition and depth would benefit New York.
Adam Duvall is more than just right-handed power off the bench. The 34-year-old is a versatile piece to provide manager Buck Showalter with a variety of lineup options. In 2022, Duvall played 44 games in center field, 35 games in left field and made 11 starts in right field.
Duvall’s track record also includes production in game-deciding moments. He posted his highest batting average (.263) in high-leverage situations last season and posted a .250 average with men on base. Over his career, he boasts a 9.6% HR/AB rate in high-leverage situations. On a one-year deal, Duvall is a great fit.
Jesus Luzardo provides short- and long-term help
Considering New York is open to trading Carlos Carrasco, it might not necessarily make sense to devote top-level assets for a starting pitcher. However, the Mets are relatively thin on young arms who could emerge as front-line starters. More importantly, rotation depth matters with a pitching staff that holds some durability concerns.
The Miami Marlins are actively shopping their collection of starting pitchers, except Sandy Alcantara. While Pablo Lopez is the likeliest arm to be dealt, Jesus Luzardo could be an intriguing option for New York.
- New York Mets trade: Brett Baty
- Miami Marlins trade: Jesus Luzardo
Under team control through 2026, the 25-year-old southpaw posted a 3.32 ERA and 3.12 FIP across 10.1 innings in 2022 for Miami. Once a top pitching prospect for the Oakland Athletics, a change of scenery unlocked his potential and he began to show flashes of becoming a No. 2 starter.
With a 40.7% groundball rate and a 30% Swinging Strike rate, he offers the building blocks for New York’s pitching coaches to build from. He could function as an outstanding No. 4 starter, pushing New York to a six-man rotation that alleviates the workload on Scherzer and Justin Verlander to keep them fresh for October.