The Mets most adversely affected by a shortened season
The Major League Baseball season has been delayed, and nobody knows when it will start.
That stinks for everyone involved — from players and team employees to stadium workers and area businesses to fans — but it might have a particularly significant negative effect on certain players based on contract, health or other circumstances.
A look at those Mets most adversely impacted by a shortened spring training and regular season, especially if a missed week turns into a missed month or more:
Here is a A look at the those Mets most adversely impacted by a shortened season, especially if a missed week turns into a missed month or more:
RHP Jacob deGrom: The significance of deGrom missing yet another chunk of season has layers.
First, in the near-term, money matters: Because he has an opt-out clause in his contract for after this season, deGrom might be a free agent come November. Considering 1) the way Max Scherzer and Trevor Bauer have raised the ceiling for pitchers’ pay in recent years, 2) how team-friendly deGrom’s extension has proved to be and 3) his extended excellence, he might want to cash in again. Can’t blame him.
But before he decides to hit the open market for the first time, he’ll want to prove he is healthy and durable by pitching a (mostly?) full season. Those red flags from last year, when he missed the entire second half because of a series of arm injuries, won't just disappear.
Second, in a bigger-picture way, legacy implications: What about his eventual Hall of Fame case? DeGrom already has missed so much of his early 30s — his 2020-21 combine for less than one full season — that his potential Hall of Fame track has taken a hit. Because he was a late bloomer, deGrom will need a heck of a back half of his career to make it to Cooperstown. Being forced to miss more time because of the lockout doesn’t help his overall body of work.
OF Brandon Nimmo: A free agent next offseason, Nimmo could be in line for a nine-figure contract — but he needs to show he can stay on the field first. And staying on the field is difficult if nobody is allowed on the field.
Nimmo has played more than 100 games only once in the majors, during his breakout 2018. His seasons were cut short by a neck injury in 2019 (the correct diagnosis of which initially eluded Mets doctors), the pandemic in 2020 and a finger injury in 2021 (the correct diagnosis of which initially eluded Mets doctors again).
Among the Mets’ other 2022-23 free agents are Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo.
1B Pete Alonso: Remember when then-general manager Brodie Van Wagenen did the right thing by putting Alonso on the Opening Day roster in 2019, ensuring that his service time was not manipulated and that he would be a free agent after six seasons instead of seven? That might’ve been for nothing.
If another nine days of season — 16 total — are canceled, Alonso would be at risk of having his free agency delayed a year until after the 2025 season.
That’s because come April 16, there would be only 171 days left on the baseball calendar. A player needs 172 days (of 187) to have a full "year" of service time. In that case, by the end of 2024, Alonso would have just shy of the needed six years in the majors to become a free agent.
MLB is playing hardball on matters of player pay and service time for missed games, but those are negotiable issues — and the Players Association already has said it will go to bat for full pay. The same surely will be true for service time. In 2020, for example, players were credited with a full, normal year if they were in the majors for the entire 60-game, pandemic-shortened season. It would make sense for that to be the case for 2022, but it’ll probably require the union to trade, so to speak, something that MLB wants.
Alonso is far from alone in this category. The service-time issue affects hundreds of players on matters regarding arbitration, free agency and pension.
RHP Carlos Carrasco: This is the last guaranteed year on Carrasco’s contract, but he has a vesting option for 2023. If he throws 170 innings in ‘22 and is expected to be healthy entering ‘23, he’ll be due $14 million that year.
Already, 170 innings will be a tough milestone to reach. His health and the pandemic have held him well under that total in each of the past three seasons. Reaching that in a full, healthy season is no guarantee for Carrasco, and being robbed of one start and counting makes it more unlikely.
Like service time, this issue could be negotiated. In 2020, similar thresholds and incentives were prorated based on the 60-game season. It is not a certainty that that will be the case again this year.
2B Robinson Cano: When you are away from the majors for 18 months, maybe stretching it to 19 months or 20 months doesn’t make a difference.
But Cano, who was suspended last year because he tested positive for a steroid, has been gone for a long time that is only getting longer. And his remaining ability at the plate and in the field is a major question. A shortened spring training — the usual six or seven weeks will be cut in half — won’t help his reacclimation. His mediocre performance in the Dominican Winter League didn’t inspire confidence, either.
3B/LF Mark Vientos and SS Ronny Mauricio: These are two of the Mets’ top four prospects, but they were added to the 40-man roster in November to protect them from the Rule 5 draft — which might not even happen now that the labor dispute has dragged on for so long.
Because they are on the 40-man roster, they are not allowed to attend minor-league spring training, which is happening as scheduled, or play in minor-league games, which will begin in early April, until the lockout is over. That means crucial missed development time for the second time in three years after the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor-league season.
It hurts especially for Vientos, a powerful hitter who played in Triple-A late last year and could reach the majors this year. Third-base prospect Brett Baty, his primary competitor on the organizational depth chart, is in camp and will play in games in a few weeks.
Other Mets who fall into this bucket include pitchers Adam Oller, Jose Butto and Thomas Szapucki, outfielders Khalil Lee and Nick Plummer, and infielder Travis Blankenhorn.