Mets Offseason Focus Should Include Lineup Upgrades
As the New York Mets prioritize their pitching this offseason, it’s crucial not to overlook the need for improvements in their lineup. While the team boasts talented players like Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and Francisco Alvarez, their offensive production fell short last season, ranking 20th in runs scored in Major League Baseball.
The Mets face uncertainties at the designated hitter (DH) position and in the outfield. While president of baseball operations David Stearns has expressed confidence in prospects Brett Baty and Ronny Mauricio at third base, it may be wise to explore alternative options. Relying solely on Baty or Mauricio to claim the position is risky, and the return of Starling Marte, who provided a significant boost to the lineup in 2022, is far from guaranteed.
The DH spot presents a dilemma, with Daniel Vogelbach’s presence on the roster potentially alienating the fan base. Sandy Alderson, in his first season as Mets general manager, made a wise move by releasing Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez before they played another game for the team. Stearns now has a similar opportunity with Vogelbach, as the non-tender deadline approaches next Friday.
Last offseason, the Mets focused primarily on pitching, leaving their lineup as an afterthought. This approach backfired when they missed out on Carlos Correa due to physical concerns. As the team heads to the winter meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, this offseason, it’s crucial to be proactive in addressing the lineup.
Here are some names the Mets should consider:
1. Shohei Ohtani: The Mets, despite looking to reduce expenditures, should seriously consider pursuing the best player on the planet. Ohtani’s impressive 1.066 OPS from last season makes him an undeniable asset. Mets owner Steve Cohen’s appreciation for Japanese culture and food should extend to Japanese ballplayers, especially after the success of rookie Kodai Senga. Ohtani could initially serve as a DH until his right elbow fully recovers from surgery.
2. Justin Turner: The idea of former Mets infielder Justin Turner returning to Queens in a versatile role is intriguing. Turner could provide insurance at third base, play second, and serve as a DH. Although he recently declined his player option with the Red Sox, Turner’s .800 OPS last season and strong clubhouse presence make him an attractive option.
3. Teoscar Hernandez: Similar to the Mets’ signing of Tommy Pham last offseason, Hernandez is a proven veteran with power who can contribute in both the outfield and DH positions. Known for his defensive prowess, Hernandez could provide valuable protection in the outfield, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding Starling Marte.
4. Jeimer Candelario: After a rebound season with the Tigers, Candelario could offer the Mets a switch-hitting option at third base. He demonstrated strong defensive skills for the Nationals after arriving from the Cubs. Ultimately, the Mets’ faith in Baty and Mauricio will determine their pursuit of Candelario.
5. Kevin Kiermaier: While Stearns expressed contentment with Nimmo in center field, he remains open to moving him to a corner spot if it improves the team. Kiermaier, a four-time Gold Glove winner in center field, brings a respectable .265/.322/.419 slash line to the lineup and could be a valuable addition.
As the Mets strategize for the upcoming season, it’s crucial to address the lineup alongside their pitching needs. By making the right moves, the team can bolster their offensive production and field a competitive major league team.