After one last loss Sunday night, the Mets went their separate ways for the offseason, some of them knowing they will never play with each other again.
This season finale felt different than others from the recent past, J.D. Davis said, because players know change looms. That is true for the front office, where the Mets are trying to hire a new baseball operations boss, and inevitably will be true for the roster.
"This team could look completely different next year," Brandon Nimmo said last weekend. "The future is uncertain. I will enjoy these last few days that I know I get."
Here is a quick overview of which Mets are free agents, who might be and who is under contract/team control.
About to be free agents: Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Javier Baez, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Loup, Rich Hill, Jonathan Villar, Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, Heath Hembree, Dellin Betances.
One of every three Mets players on the season-ending roster is a free agent. That is a big batch, in quantity and quality. Not everyone will return — and it is difficult to predict who, given the uncertainty at the top of the Mets’ baseball operations department. Syndergaard, Loup, Hill and Familia expressed specific desires to return to the Mets.
Syndergaard and Conforto are strong candidates to receive the qualifying offer, which is a one-year deal worth about $20 million. In both cases, accepting that offer — should the Mets issue it — would afford them chances to restore their value after a down season (in Conforto’s case) or a mostly missed season (in Syndergaard’s).
That is what Stroman did over the past 12 months, and it worked out for him. He and Baez probably will land the biggest contracts of the Mets’ free agents, though it is not clear that either will stay in Queens.
Loup, Hill and Familia should sign shorter, cheaper contracts. The Mets should consider all three.
Might be free agents: Kevin Pillar, Robert Gsellman, Jose Peraza, Jose Martinez.
This is a short list, because we’re only including three non-tender candidates: Gsellman, Peraza and Martinez. The Mets have control over them for 2022 — they would be in their last year of salary arbitration, with built-in raises — but can choose to let them go.
Pillar’s situation is a little tricky. He has a player option for $2.9 million, and him exercising that seems like the most likely outcome, especially considering his mediocre season and his Twitter reference Monday to "looking forward to what next year brings" with an apple emoji. If he says no thank you, the Mets can keep him for $6.4 million (highly unlikely) or let him go for a $1.4 million buyout.
Gsellman, 28, did well in 2021, posting a 3.77 ERA, but appeared in only 17 games due to a torn right lat (his second time suffering that specific injury). He has a 4.91 ERA since becoming a regular major-leaguer in 2017.
Martinez, also 28, would be due a raise from his $1 million salary in 2021. That is a fine cost for a bench bat who crushes lefthanded pitchers, but his health is a question mark after missing the entire season due to injuries.
Peraza, 27, had several big moments but his performance overall was weak.
Under contract/team control: Jacob deGrom, Francisco Lindor, Robinson Cano, Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, James McCann, Trevor May, Edwin Diaz, Brandon Nimmo, Seth Lugo, Dominic Smith, Trevor Williams, J.D. Davis, Miguel Castro, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Joey Lucchesi, David Peterson, Luis Guillorme, Tomas Nido, Drew Smith, others.
This group — with lots of good players, even if some of them underperformed and/or were hurt in 2021 — is the top reason the Mets think they can contend for the playoffs in 2022. But, as Nimmo and Davis discussed, it is subject to change.
The greatest uncertainty is a player going nowhere: deGrom, who missed the entire second half due to what team president Sandy Alderson called a slight tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. His health is a question mark going into 2022. He will be able to opt out of his contract after next season.
Amid the Mets’ future moves, don’t forget about Cano. He and his $24 million will return from his second PED suspension next year.
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