The Winter Meetings are in full swing in San Diego, and the Mets still have a lot they need to accomplish if they hope to be one of the top contenders for the NL East title in 2020.
As Brodie Van Wagenen hopes to check off some of the Mets' needs, MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone dipped into his mailbag...
Joyce Kanopka (via e-mail): I don't understand why the Mets aren't trading Edwin Diaz. What evidence is there that he can ever get back to pitching like he did for the Mariners?
It's never wise to trade low on a player when his value is down, especially if the team believes he has the talent and a situation is in place to help him rebound the next season.
As for evidence...
Towards the end of last season, pitching coach Phil Regan tinkered with Diaz's motion, which helped him to stop over-striding. But it didn't stop opposing hitters from crushing his slider. So, Regan then got Diaz to grip the pitch the same way as Jacob deGrom, which helped to get more swings and misses. He can adjust, it's in him to do it.
What's more, the Mets as soon as the season ended sent to him a nutritionist in Puerto Rico, physical therapist, and strength and conditioning instructor, new manager Carlos Beltran told reporters Wednesday, according to the NY post.
Beltran told MLB Network Radio yesterday that Diaz may have also been a bit shocked by going from a smaller market in Seattle to the intense spotlight of New York. And who knows better than Beltran about successfully making a similar move. Beltran knows Diaz personally, he said, from having played with him several times during winter ball.
New pitching coach Jeremy Hefner has also talked with Diaz and bullpen coach Ricky Bones. They've watched video and are developing a plan to get the pitcher back on track.
Rick Rapola (via Twitter): If the Mets are picking from the scrap heap, why not take a flier on Matt Harvey? Do you think the Mets would ever bring him back home?
This is fun to imagine, but it's difficult to see how it comes together...
It was Sandy Alderson that had to deal with Harvey, not Brodie Van Wagenen. And, perhaps Van Wagenen has a different feel for Harvey. In Van Wagenen's front office is advisor Omar Minaya, who was GM in 2010 when Harvey was drafted by the Mets. Fred Wilpon also has a long history of welcoming back players, even those that left on a sour note because he is a genuinely nice guy and firmly believes in second chances.
So, it's possible this current leadership is open to a reunion.
However, it takes two to tango and, while Harvey is not in the position to be picky about where and for what he signs as a free agent, my hunch is he -- more than anyone -- would be hesitant to return to New York. In Spring Training, he would be faced with constant questions and scrutiny and be subject to a continuation of jokes and accusations, all of which he'd need to answer to again if promoted to the big-league club mid-season.
It's true that Harvey, now 30 years old, stabilized himself in 2018 after being traded by the Mets to the Reds. After signing a one-year, $11 million deal with the Angels for 2019, though, he was rocked for 41 runs in 48 innings in 10 starts. He was sent to Triple-A, but returned for two starts in July before again being demoted, after which he never returned to the big leagues.
He'll likely need to sign a minor-league deal this winter, which is incredible to think about given where he was just three and a half years ago, let alone his peak in 2013.
Misha Berkowitz (via Twitter): Any plans to honor (the 20th anniversary of the) 2000 World Series run?
I have not heard whether or not there are plans in the works. It's a strange situation because, as fun as that run was, they also lost and to the Yankees. It's still a bittersweet experience for most fans.
At the same time, I know fans are also very proud of that team, which was widely considered an underdog, so getting a chance to show that appreciation -- despite the loss -- might be nice for everyone involved.
At the very least, if they're not going to do a full roster on-field toast, I can see something like Mike Piazza throwing out the season's first pitch to Al Leiter on Opening Day.
Lisa P (via e-mail): Do you think Jacob deGrom regrets signing his extension last winter given how much money is being handed to Zack Wheeler, Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole?
It's a fun exercise, but first remember deGrom would have been a free agent after this coming season, not this winter. Nevertheless, based on his age and what is happening in the market right now, it seems he could have signed this winter a five- or six-year deal averaging close to $40 million per season. Instead, coming off of his first Cy Young Award and not knowing if he'd be injured, flop or get hurt in 2019, he signed a team-friendly, five-year deal averaging $27 million per season.
In hindsight, it feels like he goofed up. However, had deGrom injured himself or had a terrible 2019, given his age, he'd be seeing three- to four-year offers this winter with fewer dollars per season than he's currently making.
It was a gamble and, regardless of how it plays out, the dude knows he has $97 million coming to him before his 36th birthday, after which he gets another $52 million in deferred money when the contract expires.
Knowing deGrom, he's almost certainly happy for himself and his family, just as he's happy for Wheeler, Strasburg and Cole, and I have no doubt he's thankful for even being in the position to be faced with these sort of decisions.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.