While the Philadelphia Phillies hope to win the National League East crown in 2019, the improved New York Mets seem to like their chances.
In an interview with SNY’s Steve Gelbs, new New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen made a bold statement, saying “internally, we would argue that we’re the favorites in the division right now,” adding there’s still plenty of time to get creative.
The Mets have been incredibly active so far into the offseason, acquiring eight-time All-Star second basemen Robinson Cano and star closer Edwin Diaz (who the Phillies were also pursuing) from the Seattle Mariners, as well as signing reliever Jeurys Familia (who the Mets are very “familia” with, as he played there for seven years before being traded to the Oakland Athletics in July).
The Mets also signed catcher Wilson Ramos, who played with the Phillies in August and September after being acquired in a July trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Ramos signing seemingly puts the Mets out of the sweepstakes for Miami Marlins All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos. That’s good news for the Phillies, who would presumably like to see Realmuto out of the division rather than going from one National League East team to another (unless the National League East team he’s heading to is the Phillies, of course, but that isn’t especially likely according to NBC Sports Philadelphia‘s Jim Salisbury).
Beyond those signings, do the Mets have enough in place to content? It remains to be seen. The starting rotation is the clear strength of their team, with National League Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom leading the way, followed by Noah Syndergaard, Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz. Of course, whether they can stay healthy is a different matter, as the Mets rotation has had some difficulty with injuries in the past.
On the field, New York will be hoping for young outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, who they apparently were hesitant to move in a possible Realmuto trade, to lead the way. Beyond that, it’s a bit of a mystery as to what Mets players step up. Cano is coming off a year in which he was suspended for PED use, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is coming off an injury-laden season, first basemen Domonic Smith is still unproven and while Ramos is a solid player, he’s struggled to stay healthy.
Van Wagenen’s quotes do point something important out – almost regardless of what the Phillies do this offseason, the rest of the National League East, maybe save for the Marlins, will improve in 2019. While the Mets have added to their roster, the Nationals could lose Bryce Harper in free-agency, but they also will get a full year of phenom Juan Soto. When you consider that they finished 82-80 in 2018 – eight games worse than the Pythagorean theorem says they should have, they’ll likely be a better team in 2019 than 2018. And the defending National League East champion Braves will have a full year of National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr., in addition to the club signing veterans Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann.
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