EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
Get ESPN+

No Bauer or Springer? How the Mets addressed their biggest roster need without a free-agent splash

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

New York Mets fans, riding the wave of new owner Steve Cohen's money and enthusiasm, began the offseason hoping to end up with at least two players -- and dreaming on three -- from the group of Francisco Lindor, Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, George Springer and DJ LeMahieu. The Mets landed only Lindor, via a blockbuster trade with Cleveland, while the four free agents signed elsewhere, leaving some Mets fans disappointed that the winter overhaul wasn't a little more dramatic.

Still, the Mets acquired one of the best all-around players in the game in Lindor and a very good starting pitcher in Carlos Carrasco, and thanks to the signings of 10 major league free agents, they enter the 2021 season with a much better, deeper roster than they've had in recent years. At the outset of the offseason, new team president Sandy Alderson said a key goal was to improve the team's depth -- not just the major league roster but Triple-A as well.

That's what the Mets have accomplished. After they finished under .500 and missed the expanded playoffs in 2020, my colleague Bradford Doolittle sees them as a 90-win team in his projection system. FanGraphs predicts a 93-69 record -- fourth best in the majors behind the Dodgers, Padres and Yankees. The PECOTA system at Baseball Prospectus also forecasts 93 wins. On paper, the Mets look vastly improved.