Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Coming off a 70-92 season in 2017, the Mets signed a slew of second-tier free agents while gearing up for what they hoped would be a third postseason appearance in four seasons.
The results have been almost impossibly bad, with each of their five key free agent signings having arguably the worst season of their career...
Jay Bruce ($39 million for three years)
After trading Bruce to the Indians during the season, the Mets weren't expected to seek a reunion with Bruce. But they stayed in touch all winter and it eventually happened.
The 31-year-old Bruce, who has been out since June 17 and is dealing with a butt/back issue and plantar fasciitis in his foot, is hitting .212/.292/.321 with three HR and 12 doubles in 62 games. He is on pace to finish the season with five home runs -- a year after hitting 36. His .321 slugging percentage is one of the lowest in all of baseball.
He said after being placed on the DL that there was no timetable for his return, and that the injuries may have impacted his play all season.
Bruce's career HR/FB rate is 16.4 percent. It was 19.4 percent in 2016 and 18.5 percent in 2017. This season, it's an almost impossibly low 4.1 percent. And now we likely know why.
Anthony Swarzak ($14 million for two years)
Swarzak had a 2.33 ERA (2.74 FIP) and 1.03 WHIP with 91 strikeouts (a career-high 10.59 K/9) in 77.1 innings (70 games) last season for the White Sox and Brewers, as his stuff ticked up.
The performance in 2017 was a culmination of Swarzak reinventing himself over the course of a few years, and his signing was praised by many. But it hasn't worked out, due to injury and ineffectiveness.
The 32-year-old Swarzak missed roughly two months due to an oblique injury, and has a 7.47 ERA (7.04 FIP) and 1.98 WHIP in 15.2 innings (17 appearances).
Todd Frazier ($17 million for two years)
The 32-year-old Frazier, who had a career-high .344 OBP last season, has a career-low .300 OBP this season and a career-low .385 slugging percentage.
Frazier has also been limited to just 61 games due to hamstring and rib injuries, and is currently on the DL without a timetable for his return.
Jason Vargas ($16 million for two years)
While then-GM Sandy Alderson was saying he was comfortable with the Mets' pitching depth, many (including yours truly) wanted the team to add another starter. And when the team signed Vargas, most (again, including yours truly) applauded the move. Like the above signings and the one about to be discussed below, it hasn't worked out.
Vargas -- who was an All-Star last season -- has only started nine games due to a hand and calf injuries. The 35-year-old has an 8.60 ERA (6.60 FIP) and 1.83 WHIP in 37.2 innings, has had starts skipped, and might not return to the rotation when he returns from the DL shortly after the All-Star break ends.
Jose Reyes ($2 million for one year)
Reyes came with the smallest commitment by far in years and dollars. Like the other four signings, he was actually coming off a good season.
The 35-year-old Reyes hit .246/.315/.413 with 15 homers in 145 games for the Mets in 2017, and was signed to be a bench player who could fill in all over the infield.
Reyes has played (a ton), but he's been one of the worst players in baseball on both sides of the ball, hitting .181/.257/.246 with one homer in 70 games. And he'll likely soon be replaced (or at least have his playing time taken away) by Jeff McNeil, who probably should have been called up a month ago.
What does it mean going forward?
The Mets are not looking to rebuild, instead trying to contend again in 2019, according to John Ricco.
One potential crimp in that plan is that Bruce, Frazier, Swarzak, and Vargas are all expected to be part of the Mets in 2019. And Frazier (third base), Bruce (corner outfield or first base), and Swarzak (setup man) will likely be in prominent roles if they return. Vargas may be a different story entirely, especially if the Mets hang on to Zack Wheeler and keep getting good returns from Corey Oswalt.
Bruce's injuries may be chronic, but the Mets can at least expect and hope that Frazier and Swarzak can be contributors. But they're going to need reinforcements beyond that, which is something Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi, and Omar Minaya are plotting in advance of the July 31 trade deadline -- though the job will likely be finished by a new GM who isn't yet employed by the team.