Mets prepare for future following disappointing 2017 season
It was supposed to be another season of dreams for the New York Mets. After a National League Pennant in 2015 and an appearance in the wild card game last season, 2017 was supposed to be another slugfest between the Mets and Washington Nationals for the National League Eastern Division crown. Led by a rotation of aces and the thunderous bat of Yoenis Cespedes, the Queens team seemed poised to take over New York City like the Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry-led Mets had done nearly 30 years ago.
Mets fans had little to complain about in the offseason as the team successfully inked Cespedes to a four-year $110 million deal, ensuring that the slugger would remain in Queens throughout age 35. Second baseman Neil Walker was also brought back into the fold after he accepted the Mets’ qualifying offer. The Bullpen was also addressed with the re-signings of left-hander Jerry Blevins and right-hander Fernando Salas.
Cracks emerged during spring training when the Mets learned they would be without their closer, Jeurys Familia, for the first 15 games of the season following his suspension for violating the Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.
They suffered another blow when Seth Lugo, who was extremely effective down the stretch last season, partially tore his ulnar collateral ligament while pitching for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Additionally, captain David Wright would again start the season on the shelf as he was diagnosed with a shoulder impingement.
The season started well for the team with a series victories over the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. However, between April 14 and 27, the Mets lost nine of 10 games—all to division rivals. May was even worse for the team, when ace Noah Syndergaard landed on the disabled list with a torn lateral muscle, an injury he aggravated after refusing an MRI to investigate tightness in his arm.
Pitcher Matt Harvey also incited controversy when he was suspended by the team for three games after violating team rules by failing to report to Citi Field for a game on May 6. To make matters worse, Harvey was extremely ineffective upon his return, raising his earned run average to a 5.25. From that point on, the Mets watched their squad fall apart as key contributors like Cespedes, Walker, Familia and Michael Conforto all landed on the disabled list.
On July 27, while sitting on a record of 47-53, the Mets began their rebuilding process by shipping first baseman Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor leaguer Drew Smith. On July 31, reliever Addison Reed was traded to the Boston Red Sox for three minor league players. The same day, the Mets called up Amed Rosario, who was considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball. In the following weeks, the Mets negotiated with the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers to ship off outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, respectively.
The Mets were criticized by sports pundits for the minimal returns on their assets. Bruce and Granderson, considered the two most potent bats on the trade market, were traded for salary relief and cash considerations. The criticism increased when the New York Yankees revealed to reporters that they met the Mets’ demands while attempting to make deals for Bruce and Duda, but the Mets seemingly did not want to trade with them. The Mets were accused of returning to the penny-pinching ways that led to the lean years of 2009 to 2014 when payroll was slashed, as the Wilpon family dealt with the consequences of their involvement in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.
Despite how poorly 2017 has gone for the Mets, there are reasons to be optimistic going forward.
Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith have the month of September to solidify their presence in the lineup going forward, and the Mets’ five-person rotation will presumably be healthy next season. For now, however, the Mets are looking to end their disappointing 2017 campaign strong, and begin preparing for the 2018 campaign.