These three Mets didn't have strong seasons in 2019, but there's reason to believe that the trio could turn things around in 2020 and beyond ...
It was a tale of two seasons for Cano, who is 36 years old, under contract the next four years and due just under $80 million. The problem is, given his 2018 suspension for PEDs, his age and his up-and-down 2019, it's almost impossible to know what to expect of him in 2020.
He started well, hitting .270 with three home runs through the end of April, and then everything fell apart. He looked out of sync at the plate and totally out of gas during May and June. Then came random injuries, issues with Mickey Callaway about running out ground balls and what seemed like a a trip to the injured list caused partially by spite.
After the All-Star break, though, Cano returned to the lineup to hit .289 with six home runs and 14 RBI before again missing a month with a leg injury. To his credit, he remained with the team and often looked like a player coach, talking with young players, pitchers and catcher Wilson Ramos. To end the season, he hit well and played sound, helpful defense at second base, especially in the hole between him and rookie first baseman Pete Alonso
The moral of 2019 is that Cano is aging and can't play every day for months at a time or he'll either end up in a massive slump or on the IL. He's clearly at a point in his career where he must get significant stretches of rest. Thankfully, the Mets have Jeff McNeil and - don't forget - Jed Lowrie to spot him at second. Plus, he has a good relationship with his teammates and will be an asset in leadership to the team's next manager.
In other words, simply being healthy, rested, and consistent will be an improvement.
Brodie Van Wagenen surprised baseball when, at one game below .500, he traded top prospects to Toronto for their ace, Stroman, who had being pursued by most of the league's top postseason contenders.
In 11 starts after being acquired, Stroman was 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA, and the Mets went 8-3 in those outings.
It's possible Van Wagenen could use Stroman in a trade this winter to help add offense where it can't be acquired on the free agent market. Of course, in doing so, he'll need to likely replace two starters, with Zack Wheeler set to hit the open market.
I expect Stroman to be in next year's rotation. He doesn't need to be an ace, but he can be. And while I don't think he's necessarily a weakness, anyone that has watched him pitch knows that he can be better than he was in 2019.
The fact is, his results in 11 starts for the Mets net out to 4.0 WAR if replicated during a full 200 inning season. This would have been good for third-best on the Mets this past season.
However, when Stroman has a strong infield defense, like he did with Toronto in 2016 and 2017, he gets front-line starting pitcher results. And, when he's pitching in front of a weak infield defense, like in 2018 with the Blue Jays, he gets back-of-the-rotation results.
He recently told reporters that if he can better develop his four-seam fastball and changeup, it will help make his already strong sinker-slider combination more effective that it already is. This is why I'm eager to see who Van Wagenen's new manager picks to be the team's pitching coach. The relationship between Stroman and his coach could be huge.
I believe the Mets will be better in the field next season simply by having played together during most of 2019. If that's the case, and if Stroman can be better than he was by turning in more double plays, the Mets will have two aces.
Van Wagenen never flat out said in late September that he isn't trading Diaz, which is how writers and radio hosts translated the statement to fans.
"Diaz is going to be on our team next year," Van Wagenen stated, before adding, "That's our full expectation."
This is standard in-the-moment GM speak that means absolutely nothing until the team starts spring training. In the meantime, Diaz is on the Mets, which is where he should stay.
The markings are in place to believe he will be much better next season. I'm sure other organizations can see this as well, which is why - if Van Wagenen does trade him - it better be for an upgrade at a different spot on the roster.
I know, I know, Diaz blew a bunch of saves, gave up a ton of home runs and has become the scapegoat for 2019.
In his defense, though, opposing hitters had a .387 batting average on balls in play against him, which means he may be right when saying hitters were getting lucky against him. The other good news is that, given his team-best xFIP and how history typically plays out for relievers, not only is it probable that fewer balls will be put in play against him next season but - when they do get hit - less will leave the ballpark.
Diaz doesn't need to switch up his repertoire or change mechanics. Instead, he simply needs to get back on the mound, trust that luck will balance out against him, and work to be more consistent in his delivery and regain command of his fastball and slider. If he can do this, all of which is within reach, he'll give up fewer home runs and more closely resemble the dominant, promising young closer he was in Seattle before the Mets traded for him last winter.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!