The Mets, who are already viewed as serious World Series contenders after announcing their presence on the free agent market with authority in November, will almost certainly make more impactful moves when the MLB lockout ends.
With that in mind, I would love to not have to preface so many articles with a mention of when the lockout ends, and I’m sure every baseball fan on the planet would love to stop worrying about when the lockout will end.
But there has been movement — albeit incremental — lately, and the frequency with which MLB and the MLBPA have been meeting provides a glimmer of hope that they’re not crazy enough to let something that began on Dec. 2 impact the scheduled March 31 start of the regular season.
And when the lockout ends (sorry, last time), the Mets — whose payroll is already around $270 million and will be well past whatever the luxury tax threshold turns out to be when the new CBA is agreed to — really have no reason to stop spending.
Whether they focus on the free agent market, the trade market, or both, New York still has needs to fill in the starting rotation and the bullpen, and could also add an infielder, outfielder, and/or designated hitter.
Here are 10 players the Mets could pursue to fill out what they hope will be a championship roster…
RHP Luis Castillo
The Mets’ biggest need is for a starting pitcher who can be a No. 2 and be relied on to toss 180 or so innings. That kind of pitcher isn’t on the free agent market, so the Mets would have to swing a trade to acquire someone who fills that need. Enter Castillo?
Castillo, 29, would be a perfect fit, but it’s unclear what he will cost via trade or if the Cincinnati Reds will make him available. He has two years remaining of team control, so he’ll almost certainly require one of the Mets’ top prospects not named Francisco Alvarez or Brett Baty, and more. Even if the Reds dangle Castillo, it’s fair to wonder if the Reds and Mets match up well on a potential deal.
LHP Sean Manaea
The Oakland Athletics are entering another rebuild, but their rebuilds are never full teardowns. So it’s plausible the Mets would be able to get Manaea (who is projected to earn $10.2 million this season before hitting free agency after the year) for a package led by a relatively inexpensive major league player with several years of team control left.