You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Mets.
Why aren’t the Mets going after Joc Pederson? They could reconfigure their entire team around such an acquisition, needing only a top catcher. — D. Kirsch
The lefty-swinging Pederson would address the center field question and give the Mets a better chance to win in 2020, if there is a season, but he’s also entering his walk year. Adding Pederson would probably mean trading Brandon Nimmo or Dominic Smith, both of whom are under club control for additional seasons, so in that context the deal for the Mets would be an “all-in” attempt to win now. The Mets would also likely have to trade another salary to take on Pederson’s pro-rated $7.75 million. In summary, it seems like a difficult match. The Mets are much more likely to stay with their plan of using Nimmo and Jake Marisnick in center and utilizing Smith’s bat off the bench.
Why don’t the Mets move Jeff McNeil to second base and J.D. Davis to third and use Robinson Cano as a utility player? — Nick
Another reader asked, in a variation of the question, whether Pete Alonso could be shifted to third base, allowing Smith to play first with McNeil at second. But Alonso hasn’t played third base since college, and it probably doesn’t make sense to mess with a guy who just hit 53 home runs and is committed to improving at first base.
All this is essentially moot because Cano’s big contract (he was due another $96 million over four years before MLB’s shutdown) guarantees he will remain in the starting lineup unless he becomes an albatross. In the second half of last season, Cano was among the team’s better performers, posting an .880 OPS.
Cano, 37, was explicit in spring training that he still wants to play every day. He will likely get that opportunity as long as he can stay healthy and avoids reverting to form from last year’s first half, when he was among the easiest outs in baseball. If the Mets recognized what they had in McNeil from the start, it’s likely the trade with the Mariners for Cano would have never materialized — and stud prospect Jarred Kelenic might still be in the organization.
Which player has the shortest shelf life during this stoppage? — @ametsfan54
When the shutdown began it seemed like a boon for Yoenis Cespedes, who still hadn’t appeared in an exhibition game, leaving it murky whether he would be ready to begin the season. But as this layoff extends, you start to wonder how much Cespedes’ baseball skills might be eroding as he moves closer to the two-year anniversary of his last major league appearance. Others who can’t be enjoying this down time are hitters such as Alonso, McNeil and Davis, all of whom carried momentum into the spring after big seasons last year. One theory is many pitchers will benefit from the layoff because of the reduced wear and tear on their arms.
Submit your Mets questions here to be answered in an upcoming Post mailbag
Will the Mets guarantee that ticket prices for 2021 will not increase, thereby not reducing the value of the 20 percent bonus credit? — George Maloney
From a business standpoint, I don’t see how the Mets (or any sector of the sports and entertainment industry) can guarantee much of anything at this point. But as we sit here in early-May, it’s hard to envision prices increasing for tickets, as teams will be desperate to lure fans back into the ballpark, especially if this season is played in empty stadiums. The economy as a whole will have a significant say: Will fans have the disposable income to consider buying tickets at greater prices than previously?
Could Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard be dealt during this year’s trade deadline if there is one? — Joseph De Simo
If Cespedes returns to the lineup and produces, there could be a market for his services, especially given that the guaranteed portion of his contract will be a pro-rated $6 million. But Cespedes, in the final year of his contract, would also be a rental. The Mets would have to weigh the potential return in a trade against keeping him. Syndergaard isn’t going to pitch until June 2021 at the earliest, as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Teams generally don’t trade for rehabbing players because of the risk involved.
If they decide to play games at Citi Field without fans, are the Mets still going to play that stupid music every time they score a run or the “clap music” when deGrom has two strikes on the hitter? — @TommyS9767
I like the idea of using Zoom to put cheering fans on the giant screen. But the players can do without all the other bells and whistles of gameday that are more directed at the fan experience. A decreased decibel level probably isn’t a bad thing.
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