In a sign of the times for the Mets these days, one of the first things everyone started to ask after the blockbuster trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco was announced was what could be next.
Did it take them out on George Springer, whom they had been strongly interested in?
What about adding another elite arm to the bullpen?
And what about the starting rotation, which could be bolstered by many still on the market, including Trevor Bauer — a pitcher it didn’t seem was going to be a Met even before Thursday’s deal went down.
Less sexy than the above but still very important is the situation at third base, which is vacant now that both Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario are headed to Cleveland.
During a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Mets president Sandy Alderson and GM Jared Porter touched on a lot of the above.
Let’s analyze how the franchise-altering trade for Lindor and Carrasco will impact the Mets this season and beyond…
What does it mean for Springer and center field?
Alderson and Porter wouldn’t directly address the Springer situation on Thursday, and while Alderson didn’t rule out exceeding the $210 million luxury tax, it may not be likely — at least not this season.
According to SNY’s Andy Martino, while the Mets aren’t out on Springer, they’re less likely to sign him now than they were before the Lindor-Carrasco trade. And that makes sense.
The Mets’ current 40-man payroll, including projections for arbitration raises, sits just above $180 million. That gives them a shade under $30 million to play with before hitting the luxury tax threshold, and all of that would likely be eaten up if they sign Springer.
A deal for Springer would also make it a lot harder to fit potential extensions for Michael Conforto and/or Noah Syndergaard on the books and limit the Mets’ flexibility overall going forward.
The Mets absolutely still need to find a center fielder, though, with Brandon Nimmo ill-equipped to handle the position defensively. That makes a run at Jackie Bradley Jr. something that would make a lot of sense.
Is the starting rotation set?
Before Thursday, the chatter about the Mets and Jake Odorizzi had died down and they were also out on Tomoyuki Sugano (who eventually decided to return to Japan). Now that all makes sense.
With Carrasco joining Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and David Peterson — and with Steven Matz on board and Noah Syndergaard hopefully returning by June — the rotation is in very solid shape.
It can be argued that the Mets still need more depth, though, and they’ve been connected to low-risk, high-reward options Corey Kluber and James Paxton, who could possibly both be had for just one year.
If the Mets are able to add one of them to the above, their already-good rotation would become that much more formidable. And they can afford to make it happen.
What about another big bullpen arm?
The Mets have been linked to Brad Hand and Liam Hendriks, and Martino reported after the Lindor-Carrasco trade that they could still fit in the Mets’ plans.
If the Mets are keeping Seth Lugo in the bullpen (Alderson remained non-committal on Thursday regarding Lugo’s role for 2021), that unit is pretty loaded at the back end with Lugo, Edwin Diaz, and Trevor May.
But if Hendriks or Hand can be had for a deal that isn’t crazy, the Mets might want to add another elite arm to the above trio.
If it comes down to choosing either one more big-name starter or reliever (adding a new center fielder should be a no-brainer), an interesting case can be made for going with either option.
How will things shake out at third base?
With Gimenez and Rosario gone, the Mets’ two options at third base appear to be J.D. Davis and Luis Guillorme.
Speaking on Thursday, Alderson and Porter mentioned them, with Porter praising Davis’ great work ethic.
While it’s true that Davis’ work ethic is terrific — he worked his ass off last year trying to improve at third base — the results at third have been quite bad.
If the Mets think Davis can will himself into becoming even a below average third baseman, his bat would be terrific there. But if you extrapolate his defensive numbers there in 2020 to a full season workload, he would’ve been unplayable at the position.
Guillorme is an intriguing option.
He’s an elite defender whose offense really started to come around in 2020. And with so many big bats in their lineup, the Mets can afford to go defense-first at center field and third base if they so choose.