The 2021-22 MLB offseason is a few weeks old and we're still waiting for the first major move to happen. That's not unusual -- like the MLB season itself, the offseason is a marathon rather than a sprint -- although the impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement greatly complicates how the hot stove season proceeds. That said, it's still the offseason, and we're going to examine each prospective buyer's winter wish list over the next few days. Now it's the New York Mets' turn. Let's get to it.
Now that the Mets appear to be on the verge of finally settling their front office situation -- former Angels GM Billy Eppler appears to be the choice to lead baseball operations after a tortuous and somewhat ham-fisted process -- the focus can shift to the actual roster (ignoring, for the moment, that the Mets also still need a manager for 2022). Speaking of which …
The Mets had very likely been hoping that Noah Syndergaard would accept the qualifying offer, but now it appears he's going to be a member of the Los Angeles Angels. At present, the Mets' rotation is Jacob deGrom, Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, and, presumably, David Peterson and Tylor Megill. For as otherworldly as deGrom is these days, he remains a substantial injury risk. The same goes for Carrasco, and at the back end Peterson and Megill provide no guarantees that they'll prevent runs at an adequate level. The Mets need help here.
Wish list: Marcus Stroman was the rotation linchpin in 2021, as he put up a 3.02 ERA and was the only Mets pitcher to log a qualifying number of innings. For his career, Stroman owns an ERA+ of 116, and since the start of the 2019 season that ERA+ figure is an even more impressive 133. Stroman's increased willingness to pitch inside plus his new splitter raise hopes that he can be of ace quality moving forward. He's what the Mets need, and they should do what it takes to get Stroman back in Queens.
You can of course argue that, in light of the Syndergaard departure, the Mets need more than "just" Stroman, but bringing him back in the fold is an excellent start toward a contention-worthy rotation.
The Mets could use some certainty at the hot corner and another middle-of-the-order bat.
Wish list: Jose Ramirez is that and more. The Cleveland Guardians have already exercised Ramirez's low-cost $12 million option for 2022. That price point plus his similarly cheap $13 million option for 2023 make him a coveted name on the trade market. Given that the derelict Cleveland ownership has shown no interest in investing in the on-field product in recent seasons, they're surely willing to part with him, and the Mets can offer a competitive bulk package of prospects. Ramirez would give them a defensive upgrade at the position, big power in the lineup, and speed on the bases.
Failing that, making a run at Kris Bryant on the free agent market also makes sense for the Queenslanders. The A's appear poised to strip-mine their roster, so Matt Chapman might also be an option at the position via trade.
Even with the possible free agent loss of Michael Conforto, the Mets have a solid enough outfield situation. However, Brandon Nimmo's durability remains in question, and Jeff McNeil might be needed at second base if Robinson Canó proves to be in his deep decline phase and Javier Báez inks elsewhere. As well, the current outfield alignment of Nimmo, McNeil, and Dominic Smith is left-handed one and all. As such, they could use a righty bat in the mix at all three positions.
Wish list: Chris Taylor is indeed a right-handed bat and a productive one at that. For his career, he boasts an OPS+ of 109, and he's been better than that since finding his footing with the Dodgers. Taylor runs the bases well, and there's also his vaunted positional flexibility. Over the last three seasons, he's spent significant time at five different positions -- center, left, second base, shortstop, and third base. In addition to giving the Mets a quality outfield bat that matches up well with what's already in place, Taylor would also give them additional depth at multiple infield positions. That's a valuable piece to have.