By: Noah Wright
At the beginning of the year, I stated that the 2019 Mets would not be like the 2015 Padres. They had way more talent, much more home grown pieces, and seemed to have made better moves than the Padres did that season. However now that we’re about halfway through July, I’ve been dead wrong about my prediction.
If anything, this Mets team has been more of a reflection to the 2015 Padres, in multiple ways. This includes how they went about the off season, and how most of the regular season went for each team.
Well for starters, let’s look at each of some of their biggest acquisitions throughout the off season. The biggest trade the Padres made over the off season was the swap that gave them Justin Upton. Upton, while he did do solid with a .250/.336/.454 batting line, 26 home runs, and 119 OPS+ in 620 plate appearances, was still underwhelming. Another large trade they made with the Braves was the one in which they acquired closer Craig Kimbrel and the other Upton brother, B.J. B.J. Upton was more thrown into the trade as a salary offsetter for Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quinten, while Matt Wisler was the true centerpiece. Kimbrel had a great year with the Padres, although kind of a down year for his standards. Regardless, the right hander still fired 59 and a third innings of 2.58 ERA, 2.68 FIP, and 1.045 WHIP ball, including a 13.2 K/9 rate, 3.3 BB/9 rate, and .9 HR/9 rate.
The Upton Brothers and Kimbrel were far from the list of trades San Diego made that off season. Matt Kemp, who was coming off a nice 2014 season with the Dodgers (.852 OPS, 140 OPS+, 25 long balls), was sent to the Padres for Yasmani Grandal, Zach Eflin, and Joe Wieland. Kemp was awful in his first season in a Padres uniform. His OPS dropped nearly .100 points to .755, and his defense, while already was horrible, did not improve. He became an overpaid player, and was traded in 2016 to the Braves in a salary dump.
Another move they made was acquiring the 2013 AL rookie of the year, Wil Myers from the Rays in a complicated 3 team trade including the Padres, Rays, and Nationals. In short, here is the trade from baseball reference:
Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Tampa Bay Rays with Jose Castillo, Ryan Hanigan and Gerardo Reyes to the San Diego Padres. The San Diego Padres sent Jake Bauers, Rene Rivera and Burch Smith to the Tampa Bay Rays. The San Diego Padres sent a player to be named later and Joe Ross to the Washington Nationals. The Washington Nationals sent Travis Ott (minors) and Steven Souza Jr. to the Tampa Bay Rays. The San Diego Padres sent Trea Turner (June 14, 2015) to the Washington Nationals to complete the trade.
So yea, the Padres did give up Trea Turner, while Myers performed very underwhelmingly in his first season in San Diego. Not only was he injured on and off in 2015, but his OPS+ of 112 was around league average, and his outfield defense was well below average (-6 DRS).
The team’s biggest free agent get for the off season was former Royals’ and Rays’ ace James Shields. Shields had put up a 3.17 ERA, 3.49 FIP, and 1.155 WHIP in the 4 previous seasons, so there was fair reason to believe the Padres were getting a guy with ace potential. But Shields went on to put up an ERA of 3.91, FIP of 4.45, and WHIP of 1.334. His home run rate soared to 1.5, and his BB/9 rate rose to 3.6. The Padres made 2 other moves that off season to acquire third baseman Will Middlebrooks from the Red Sox and catcher Derek Norris from the A’s as well (neither of whom panned out). Meanwhile, internal pieces such as Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, and other players who were on the Padres beforehand like Andrew Cashner, and Ian Kennedy didn’t do them any favors.
Now clearly, it didn’t work for the Padres to go on a big spending spree, so how does it compare to the 2019 Mets? Well their biggest trade of the off season has been a total flop as well. When the Mets traded Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic to the Mariners, along with Anthony Swarzak and Jay Bruce for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, the Mets thought they were getting a veteran middle infielder with something left in the tank and a lights out, young closer. And why would they not? When Cano wasn’t serving his PED suspension, he still putting up good numbers. In 348 PA’s, the former Yankee star had a .303/.374/.471 batting line, 10 home runs, and 4 DRS at 2B. Diaz had put up a 1.96/1.61 ERA/FIP last season with the M’s at the age of 24. Both have struggled greatly so far this season, and have combined for a -1.2 WAR. Cano has an OPS of just .654, and has had some issues with his work ethic on the field. Meanwhile, Diaz has a 5.35 ERA, and has already given up more home runs now (7) than all of 2018 (5).
The Mets made 3 large signings throughout the off season. The first one I want to go over is catcher Wilson Ramos. Ramos, like Norris, was coming off an all-star season. While Ramos isn’t doing bad offensively (.273/.351/.407, 105 OPS+), his defense has been atrocious with -8 DRS, and having caught just 11% of runners trying to steal on him. Plus, some of the Mets pitching staff isn’t comfortable with Ramos catching them.
Jed Lowrie was considered one of the best infield bats on the market last off season. Afterall, he put up solid numbers the past 2 seasons with a .272/.356/.448 line, and 38 home runs. But Lowire has been injured all season, and hasn’t touched the field yet.
The third large signing the Mets made was signing their former closer, Jeryus Familia. Familia had split 2018 between the Mets and A’s, and it seemed to add another very good arm to solidify one of 2018’s worst bullpens. From 2013 to 2018, he was one of MLB’s most consistent bullpen arms. Between the 6 seasons, Familia had a 2.57 ERA, 2.78 FIP, and 1.174 WHIP. He also put up a healthy K/9 (9.6), BB/9 (3.4), and HR/9 (.4). But this season when Familia hasn’t been hurt, he’s been atrocious. Currently, Familia has a 7.50 ERA, and 1.833 WHIP. His home run rate is sitting at 1.5, while his walk rate has jumped to 6.6. The Mets also haven’t gotten the expected production from Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Ahmed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo (injured), and lefties Luis Avalian, and Justin Wilson (2 other off season signings in an attempt to solidify the pen).
But just like for the Padres, not all hope is lost. San Diego was still able to recuperate after the failure of their 2015 shopping spree. From Kimbrel, they were able to net many top prospects like Logan Allen, Manuel Margot, and Javy Guerra. From James Shields, they were able to acquire Fernando Tatis Jr., who looks like a future all-star. Pedro Avila, the pitcher the Padres got for Derek Norris, is the #30 prospect in the team’s farm, and has shown some promise to be a solid MLB arm. So while the Padres were able to rebuild to build up a young core, the Mets could still do the same, and build around Pete Alonso, and Jeff McNeil. Michael Conforto, and Dom Smith could bring back a solid package. If they decide to send off Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, they could completely restock their farm with more than enough potential to build for a playoff run in the early 2020’s.