The Mets have made some smart, unexpected moves to open the offseason -- buying a new Triple A affiliate, going with an out-of-the-box manager choice -- but the moves that will determine the future of the 2018 season are yet to come. What we've seen so far is that the team is willing to take risks, and that may be the most promising sign of all.
Under GM Sandy Alderson, perhaps the Mets' biggest flaw has been risk aversion. Right after Alderson's hiring, the team made the most uninspired manager hiring possible, who in turn managed almost pathologically to the book at every opportunity. In player acquisition, they eschewed big contracts, even after payroll began to expand, instead focusing on lower-risk, lower-return smaller deals. Even the trades, which generally involve taking chances on unproven prospects, were relatively low-risk for the Mets as the players being traded offered little value to the rebuilding team.
The Mets are in a tough spot now, with a surging Nationals team, a Braves team teeming with young talent, and more roster holes than you can shake a stick at. But despite the rotation looking as bad as it's ever been, the window isn't quite closed yet.
The team has two legitimate aces, two stars in the outfield, and another in the making at shortstop. They also have a lot of money coming off the books to work with. This is the time to make a big push to field a truly great team, but what all truly great teams do is exactly what the Mets have usually shied away from -- taking risks.
We've seen it before, though, when Alderson traded away prized pitching prospect Michael Fulmer for slugger Yoenis Cespedes, and again just recently when they took a chance on an unproven manager with a fantastic mind for the game. And now going into perhaps the most important offseason of his Mets career, it's time for Alderson to take another leap.
A big contract to a pitcher is always a risk, but it's just the kind of move that would change the conversation around the Mets for a long time, not to mention putting them in a position to be serious contenders. Gambling on a potential breakout in someone like Mike Moustakas could also be their key to turning around a team on the brink. Where the free agent market is weak, the team could bank on a trade for an underperforming player on a big contract to turn it around.
Those are the types of moves that could turn out disastrous, but that's part of taking risks. There are few sure things in baseball, and a team with a potentially limited window to contend as currently structured doesn't have the luxury of waiting for one of them to come along. If they bust, they'll bust big and have plenty of valuable assets to rebuild with, but there's a solid chance they'll put together something great. And isn't being great what it's all about?
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring