Well that was brutal, if not entirely unexpected. The Mets made a great push toward the playoffs this year, but in the end, there was a bit too much to overcome. Now the real work begins. While the MLB’s other top teams wear themselves out this postseason the Mets can take advantage of the time to engage in some much needed rest, rehabilitation and reorganization. Here are a few players to keep an eye on in the offseason:
Matz had surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow, along with a platelet plasma injection in his shoulder, at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery last Tuesday. He is expected to be ready for spring training. Matz went 9-8 with an ERA of 3.40 before he was sent to the DL this August.
Speaking of bone spurs, ESPN’s Rubin reported yesterday that the spur in Syndergaard’s elbow would not require surgery. The Mets seem to be taking an “if it ain’t broke” approach to Syndergaard, and given the no-hitter he pitched until the sixth in the Wild Card game, he is decidedly not broken. Syndergaard had a 2.60 ERA with 218 strikeouts over 31 games this season.
On the topic of aces, deGrom appeared last week at a P.S. 89 in Queens looking healthy and saying he, too, would be in throwing shape in time for spring training. DeGrom had surgery in September to reposition the ulnar nerve in his throwing elbow. He was 7-8 with a 3.06 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 2016.
DeGrom, who refused to sign his 2016 contract as a measure of protest, will enter arbitration early and is likely to receive a big pay raise in 2017.
I won’t lie—watching Harvey melt down this season was unpleasant, but not quite as unpleasant as his surgery sounded. I mean, they took out his rib. But, since going under the knife for Thoractic Outlet Syndrome in July, Harvey seems optimistic about a 2017 return. He posted a photo of himself throwing at Citi Field and counting down the days until spring training on Instagram this weekend. In 2016 Harvey went…well, let’s just forget about those stats, shall we?
The ghost of Zack Wheeler haunted my fantasy baseball team all year. There he was, on the DL, recovering from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in 2015, looking so goddamn promising. And yet, setback after setback, my day of vindication never arrived. Projected to have returned this July, Wheeler was officially declared out for his second full season at the start of September. Here’s hoping we see him on the mound in 2017.
Dry those eyes, everybody. Wilmer Flores is going to be just fine.* After injuring his wrist in a collision at home plate, Flores had surgery at the start of October to remove part of the hamate bone in his wrist. He also took to Instagram to post news of a successful surgery, and will be ready for spring training. Flores hit .267/.319/.469 this season.
(* – Editor’s Note: While I’m extremely fond of Sara’s relentless positivity, hamate injuries are no bueno. While it’s possible that Flores will come back no worse for the wear, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that these injuries sap power–a key component of Wilmer’s game–for up to a year. Stuart Wallace–formerly of Beyond the Box Score and currently with the Pittsburgh Pirates–detailed this back in 2014.)
Good news! Cabrera doesn’t need knee surgery! Cabrera and the Mets announced Monday that offseason rest was all he needed to get back into fighting shape for 2017. Cabrera slashed .280/.336/.474 in 2016, and was National League player of the week in August.
Oh, captain. Wright, who missed most of the season after having neck fusion surgery earlier this year, announced last week that he is so far on track to play in 2017. He’ll have a checkup in December, after which he plans to begin his baseball workouts. Wright, who also has a chronic back condition, is fighting an uphill prognosis, but if ever I was rooting for a comeback, it’s for this guy—model baseball player and citizen. If the Mets could wring some playing time out of the remaining $67 million they owe him, too—well, that wouldn’t hurt.
Walker’s season was cut short by paternity leave and surgery on a herniated disk this September, but recovery is not the only concern for Mets fans hoping to see him at second in 2017—he’s now a free agent, and with a strong performance in 2016 despite his injury, I’m willing to bet it’ll be a competitive market. Rumors suggest the Mets will make a qualifying offer on Walker, but it looks like we’ll be in “wait and see mode” for a while on this front. Walker batted .287 with 23 HR this season.
Of course the free agent on everyone’s minds is undoubtedly Cespedes, who again has the option to opt-out of his contract. There is a lot of speculation about whether the Mets can afford the slugger, (and whether Bruce was brought on as Ce$pede$-lite), but Cespedes has proven himself invaluable in these two consecutive pushes toward the postseason, so it’d be hard to argue against making him a big offer. For his part, Cespedes is on record saying he likes being a Met and in New York City, so even if the team can’t offer him the most money, hopefully they can get close enough to be competitive and let the Big Apple allure do the rest. Cespedes slashed .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs in 2016.
Has a solution for the great Collins/Conforto schism finally materialized!? In an interview last week, the outfielder suggested he might learn to play first base in spring training. This depends on whether Cespedes stays, and potentially raises the question of what to do with a healthy Duda. But a little more Conforto and a little less Loney/Campbell would certainly be alright with me. Conforto spent most of the 2016 season on a plane between Las Vegas (.422/.483/.727) and Queens (.220/.310/.414).
If the Mets can get and keep even half of these guys healthy, I feel pretty good about the team’s 2017 prospects. For now, though, I hope everybody is taking a nice, long nap.
Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports