#MetsCrushMonday: Sam McWilliams

The first thing that jumps out at you when you look at Sam McWilliams is that the right-hander is a big guy, standing tall at 6’7”. The Orlando, Florida native would make his way up to Nashville, Tennessee to play high-school baseball before being drafted by the Phillies in the 8th round of the 2014 draft.

While he’s already played for three organizations during his MiLB career, the Mets signed McWilliams to a Major League deal. This may have come as a surprise to some fans, however when you hear that the right-hander had offers from half of the league, not so much of a surprise.

The first thing that jumps out at you after you have a conversation with Sam McWilliams is “Damn, this dude is smart AF!” In a small interview I had with McWilliams on The Mets Junkies Podcast, he gets into how he improved with the Rays organization due to information and analytics.

McWilliams has started in 94 games throughout his MiLB career and in 2019 in 19 starts, the tall righty pitched to a 4.46 ERA as he owned a 2.83 ERA as a reliever that same campaign. Him being able to start games comes of great value to him and the Mets but I think his bread and butter might end up being him working from the bullpen.

He’ll likely start off in Syracuse as he has three of his options remaining, but I’d imagine that we’ll be seeing a lot of McWilliams in the Majors. He very well could be one of the unsung heroes of 2021, if all work outs accordingly.

Sean Connor Flannery:

In 2019, I had the great pleasure of working with the Montgomery Biscuits the AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays in a data collection role. During that season McWilliams was named to the Southern League All Star game.

McWilliams is nothing flashy but anytime you can poach an arm from the TBR system and player development is usually a good thing. He doesn’t have an “electric” fastball but uses his 6’7/6’8 height to get pretty good extension and it allows the FB to play up. The slider is his best pitch and he’s got a passable change and fringey curve.

I see him being like the 8th SP on the 40 behind guys like Szapucki/Oswalt/Kilome. While he doesn’t have the upside of the first and last guy on that list he’s got the command and full repertoire like Oswalt. He should be solid depth in Syracuse in ‘21.

Photo from ESPN.com

Mets Trade Target: Kevin Kiermaier

In the same respect in which I think the Mets should make a play at Joe Musgrove, Jared Porter and the Mets should look at the Tampa Bay Rays.

With the Tampa Bay Rays just trading away Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres, the Mets could take advantage as their roster could potentially be dismantled. A name to look at would be the teams centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier.

While Kiermaier leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to his offensive numbers, his defensive skill-sets are second to none.

The Steamer projections featured on Rotochamp have Kiermaier hitting .232/.302/.396/.698 with 15 home runs, 55 RBI’s, as well as 16 stolen bases. Again, there’s a lot to be desired in that slash line, but he does have pop as well as the ability to swipe some bags along the way.

During the 2020 season, Kiermaier had a OAA of +5 but in 2019, it was an out of this world and outstanding +17. So while this would give the Mets a bottom of the lineup speedster with some pop, it could also give them the best defensive centerfielder in baseball.

The centerfielder will be 31 in 2021 and will earn a shade over $11M, then $12M in 2022, with a $13M team option for the 2023 campaign.

BaseballTradeValue.com

The Rays would be able to get away from the minimum of $25M that’s owed to Kiermaier (Includes 2023 $2.5M buyout) while taking on Familia’s $10M which expires at the end of the season.

The Rays would also get their hands on Shervyen Newton, the Mets 14th prospect. While the Netherlands native went unselected in the Rule 5 draft, which is somewhat a surprise, he does have a high ceiling as a switch-hitting middle infielder.

If the Rays decide they don’t want to pay for Familia at all, the Mets can either take on another $5M from his contract or add a higher ranked prospect like Junior Santos.

Santos would be ready for the Rays by 2022, potentially even during the 2021 campaign if they decide to rush him out. However either way, the Rays tend to be just as smart as the best of them when it comes to pitcher development, so it would be a great match.

Photo from Tampa Bay Times

A Mets dream killed: Blake Snell

A dream has been killed on December 27th as the Tampa Bay Rays have traded off their ace lefty to the San Diego Padres for a handful of players. The dream of many Mets fans, including Del Alba of Mets Junkies.

Snell had a great tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays however his last start with the team will be forever viewed infamously as he was removed after just 73 pitches and 5.1 innings pitches. This was of course in game six of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Rays will receive Luis Patino, Francisco Mejia, Blake Hunt, and Cole Wilcox.

The deal is still pending due to medical reviews of all players involved, but this kills any hope of Snell joining the new Orange & Blue.

Considering the players involved in this trade, I imagine the Mets were at some point involved in discussions with the Rays over Snell. While no details have emerged on this, it’ll be curious to see who the Rays would’ve wanted in return.

Being that I’m a huge fan of Sandy Alderson, I believe that the asking cost was too much for the Mets to pursue the transaction.

Photo: Seth Fleischauer unwittingly became the face of sad Mets fans everywhere on Sept. 30, 2007, when he was photographed at Shea Stadium after the team lost on the final day of the regular season. – WSJ.com PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

MetsJunkies Exclusive Interview: Sam McWilliams

I got stupid lucky when I reached out to Sam McWilliams after being signed by the Mets, of course you listened to the podcast on Spotify and Apple but it’s about time we get it onto MetsJunkies.com

Firstly, I’d like to congratulate the tall right-hander on his deal with the New York Mets. One thing that he wanted to express through word is that he’s very happy to be apart of the new Mets era.

While speaking to him on the phone, I can definitely vouch that the excitement of being apart of a new regime was an exciting factor to the tall right-hander.

One message that he definitely wanted to get across before anything is that he’s very happy to be apart of the new Mets era. While this is something that has been said by players in the past, with a new regime at the helms, it holds more true now than ever.

Photo by Brian Villanueva/Image of Sport/AP

NYM CF Mallex Smith: Candidate for The 2021 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award

Earlier in the offseason, the Mets may have made one of their biggest move in signing 11 minor league free agents that included Jose Peraza, Arodys Vizciano, and 27 year old Centerfielder Mallex Smith! Smith was originally drafted by the Padres in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft out of Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, FL. Before I go into a deeper analysis as to why I think he could be a comeback player of the year, lets look at the history of Smith as he bounces around different ballclubs.

TRADED TO THE BRAVES: On December 19, 2014 the Padres traded 2B Jace Peterson, LHP Max Fried, 3B Dustin Peterson, and CF Mallex Smith to the Braves in exchange for LF Justin Upton and RHP Aason Northcraft.

2016 SEASON – ROOKIE DEBUT: Smith made his MLB debut with the Braves in 2016 where in 72 games and 215 PA, he slashed a .238/.316/.365 with 3 HR and 16 SB in 24 attempts. The then 23 year old, also had a Strike out rate (K%) of 22.3% with a Walk rate (BB%) of 9.3%, Which is not too bad for a Rookie debut.

TRADED TO THE MARINERS AND TO THE RAYS: On January 11, 2017 The Braves traded Mallex smith to the Seattle Mariners with RHP Shae Simmons for RHP Thomas Burrows and LHP Luis Gohara. A few hours after being traded from the Braves, the Mariners trade Smith to the Tampa Bay Rays along with INF Carlos Vargas and LHP Ryan Yarbrough for LHP Drew Smyly.

2017 – 2018 SEASON – THE GOOD: Mallex Smith played two seasons with Tampa, which included a break out year in 2018. During the course of his time at Tampa, Smith played 222 G with 826 Plate Appearances where he slashed a .287/.354/.389. He’s not known for his power so the youngster only hit 4HR but he did steal 56 SB in 73 attempts. His speed was the game changer as he lead the league in triples in 2018 with 10. It is also worth noting that in 2018, he only struck out 98 times (K% of 18%) and walked 47 times (BB% of 8.6%). He finished 10th place on OBP for the year.

TRADED TO THE MARINERS (AGAIN): On November 8, 2018, the Rays traded Smith to the Mariners with OF Jake Fraley for OF Guillermo Heredia (yes, same guy on the Mets in 2020) and C Mike Zunino.

2019 SEASON – THE BAD: Things started to go south for Smith in 2019. In 566 plate appearances, he slashed a horrid .227/.300/.335 with a K% of 24.9 and a BB% of 7.4%. The only good that came out of this season for Smith was that he had an MLB leading 46 SB in 52 attempts. He also hit a career high of 6 HR that season.

2020 SEASON – THE UGLY: In 2020, Smith production went further south. Smith had delayed his debut to the M’s summer camp for undisclosed reasons. He missed out a few weeks to prepare for the already shorten season due to the pandemic. He was able to make the M’s opening day line-up, but only appeared on 14 games before getting optioned back to the alternative site. He made 47 Plate appearances, slashing a pathetic .133/.170/.178 with while only stealing 2 bases striking out 13 times with while drawing only 2 walks. Meanwhile, the Mariners had some great production coming from Kyle Lewis who earn the AL Rookie of the Year award at CF. The Mariner’s have a bright future in their OF prospects that are close to MLB level in Jared Kelenic (ahem, thanks again Brodie) and Julio Rodriguez. Mariners did not tenure Smith and he opted out to Free Agency.

METS SIGNED MALLEX SMITH TO MINOR LEAGUE DEAL: As mentioned earlier, the Mets quickly signed 11 players into minor league deals on November 4th. They took the opportunity to add much needed depth at CF before other teams could sink their teeth into Smith.

DEFENSIVE UPGRADE:

In 2019, Smith ranked 8th in Outs Above Average (OOA) for any OF Position with 10 while logging in 9 Runs Prevented. In 2020, he did not play enough games to be eligible, but also see below on how horrid the Mets defensive numbers were. Spoiler alert, it sucked.

2019 OOA Rankings Baseball Savant
2019 Mets OOA Baseball Savant
Mets 2020 OOA Baseball Savant

THE OFFENSE: I took a look into Smith’s number to see if I can see any evidence of what exactly changed from his 2019 to 2020 season. Granted 2020 was a much smaller sample size, and in my opinion, Smith did not get enough time to prepare with the team as his sessions at the summer camp were delayed due to undisclosed reasons. That aside, the number one thing that popped out to me during his 2020 season was his BABIP. His BABIP was well below the league average of .300. In short, when he was putting the ball in play, he was a victim of either very bad luck or amazing defensive on the field. His BABIP was .188. This may be me speculating a bit, but I think he may have made attempts to over compensate by attempting to be more aggressive in the strike zone, and trying to sell out for power, a tool in which he lacks. The Speedster, appeared lost, while his counterpart, Lewis was scorching hot.

Fangraphs.com

The 2020 MLB season was a season where every single game was much more significant than ever. Not that a normal season is okay to lose, but in a shorten 60 game season meant that if a team lost, they had more grounds to cover in a shorter period of times. In a regular 162 game season, the club can be more patient as a player works through a slump. You also have the option to send a player down to the minors as long as they have enough available (Smith has 1 option remaining on his contract) to improve and figure out what the issues were. In a 60 game season were the playoffs were expanded, clubs were treating every game as a playoff game and if a player was slumping, there was much smaller tolerance to see if they could figure it out.

THE PROJECTIONS: Most projections have Smith seeing 200 or less AB. This make sense due to the abundance of left handed hitting OFers the Mets currently have, and how the Mets are linked towards the FA acquisition of George Springer. One thing that most of the projections indicate is that Smith will see regression on his OBP which would go back up north of .318. The most compelling projection that I seen is the one on Baseball reference where they are projecting him to see a decent amount of time in the OF and producing the following numbers.

Baseball Reference

Smith is also a left-handed hitter so the need for his bat may be limited. I expect the Mets to make some moves this winter that would shift the team around to work out the current log-jam of having too many poor defensive performers at LF and 3B. I also expect Mallex Smith having the potential to breakout of the 2021 Spring Training which will push the (much more analytical) Mets to include his bat and speed in the line up.

IN CONCLUSION: The Mets signing Mallex Smith to a minor league deal was one of the smartest things they have done in the offseason. They are taking a very low risk on giving Mallex Smith a chance. The pay off could be so significant that it could be the missing piece to the Mets defensive woes in the position and give them a push for a playoff slot or more. It is no secret that the Mets have a great offensive team. They also have a decent pitching rotation in which they are more than likely to further improve. Their bullpen, is top notch! However, if the defenders can not keep the opposing teams from scoring as they have, all that great pitching performance just goes to waste. This pitching staff needs to have the confidence to step up on the mound without questioning their teammates defensive abilities. If they need to throw a sinker to induce that double play ball, then so be it. They should also not have to worry about how much defensive ground their OF would be able to cover. If Mallex Smith gets the opportunity to play every day, he has the upside to be an impactful player that pitchers can trust to make the necessary outs.

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Free Agent Target: Chris Archer

Recently on The Mets Junkies Podcast, we messed around with $50M of Uncle Steve’s money and acquired a few Free Agents on the behalf of brand new GM Jared Porter. While Archer didn’t make the cut, I wonder if I made a mistake in leaving him out.

The eight-year veteran owns a 60-80 lifetime record with both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In that eight years, the right hander has posted a completely respectable 3.86 ERA, however, since 2016 he’s consistently put up an ERA above four.

Also read: Free Agent Target: Garrett Richards

Archer did not pitch in 2020 due to a very familiar thoracic outlet syndrome. While many pitchers like Matt Harvey have not been able to return to previous form, Archer will come at a cheap price and his upside is high.

At his best, Archer pitched to a 3.23 ERA in 34 starts during the 2015 campaign. He put in 212 innings and averaged 10.7 strikeouts per nine, racking up 252 K’s that year. So while he only had a 12-13 record, he did have a solid 2.90 FIP alongside nasty stuff that was clearly missing a ton of bats.

Also read: Hello, is it me (NL CY Young finalist) you’re looking for?

Fangraphs has Archer bouncing back in 2021 with a 7-7 record while accumulating 147 strikeouts in 130 innings pitched. While he’s also projected to have a 4.22 ERA, that’s not bad for an end of the rotation type arm. However, ideally he’d eat a minimum of 20-30 more innings but for $4M, I’ll take it.

Photo from Cincinnati.com

What it would take to get Bauer… and Snell

Ok, ok, okaaayyyyyy… yes, the word is that the Tampa Bay Rays might be interested in trading their lefty ace Blake Snell. That puts Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson in a unique position to both trade for and sign two of these top line starters.

As far as a Bauer is a concerned, Alderson and the Mets would need to touch base with the right-hander and his agent, Rachel Luba. Writer Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com predicts that Bauer will get a four year deal worth $128M with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Also read: Free Agent Target: Garrett Richards

So what would it take to land the righty? I’m guessing either a longer commitment or more money. I mean, it can’t be much more than that, right? While Steve Cohen won’t be out here spending money like a “drunken sailor”, maybe he could cough up some extra change to guarantee his arrival to Queens.

Now as far as the other named mentioned, the Mets and the Tampa Bay Rays would need to come together to get their terms in order for the Mets to get their grips on the Cy Young Award winning lefty Blake Snell.

While writer Corné Hogeveen was able to acquire Snell alongside with 30 year old centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier on BaseballTradeValues.com, I’ll propose a couple of more proposals with only the left handed pitcher.

Also read: Hello, is it me (Blake Snell) you’re looking for?

The Mets do have a decent problem at hand and it’s not with the lack of getting on base or power from in the batters box. The team has a surplus of corner outfielders and that’ll leave players like J.D. Davis and Brandon Nimmo more vulnerable to a trade.

They also have a surplus coming from the six-spot on the diamond… the shortstop position.

While it’s probably good to work out of where the Mets have an access of, naturally, I wouldn’t want to mess with the depth coming from the position. That could be the second most important player on the field, second to the pitcher. However, if you’re going to, you better try and get a player like Snell in return.

Via BaseballTradeValues.com

In the first proposal, the Mets are able to acquire Snell for On-base machine Brandon Nimmo and the defense wiz Andres Gimenez. This might not be the ideal place to start off for Mets fans, however, the Rays might be more inclined to look at this as they would receive two difference makers that would be immediately ready for their lineup.

Also read: Mets Trade Target: Carlos Correa

But what if maybe the Mets don’t want to deal this particular pair of players in this particular deal, and maybe the Rays don’t mind planning further ahead.

Via BaseballTradeValues.com

If that’s the case, the Mets then can package together a few prospects for the future along with JD Davis as an immediate power bat that would be a difference maker in the middle of that Rays lineup. This would also give the Rays a middle/end of rotation left handed starter in Szapucki.

Also read: Reaction: Duquette’s Potential Trade (Kris Bryant)

I would honestly hate to trade the youngsters in Matthew Allan and Brett Baty, so I probably wouldn’t pull the trigger on this particular deal however I do like the fact that it doesn’t include any of the shortstops. This would also leave the Mets better off defensively as this would all but guarantee Nimmo’s residency in left field.

So while the Mets may not be the front-runners to landing either player, the resources in terms of finances and talent to acquire both of these top line starters are there.

Photo from Michael Wyke/Associated Press

Hello, is it me (Blake Snell) you’re looking for?

The Rays are open to trading their ace lefty Blake Snell. The former CY Young award winner is coming off a good season, with a controversial last start in the world series. Snell was pitching well, but got pulled in the sixth, something the lefty didn’t like, but is part of the Rays success. It didn’t work out in the last World Series game tho.

It’s obvious the Mets are looking for starting pitching, so it should be obvious the Mets are interested. However, getting Snell would be very costly in terms of prospects, which might indicate the price will be to steep for the Mets. Also, the Rays have a good history for trading their starters for a haul of talent.

Blake Snell’s 2020 was a terrific season on the field. He pitched to a 3.24 ERA (also his career mark) in over 50 innings. Over those 50 frames he collected a 11.3 strikeouts per nine and a 1.20 WHIP. All very solid numbers from the 27 year old. Over his career, Snell has a 130 ERA+, so he has been well above average. No indication that will decrease anytime soon.

Biggest con on Snell is his inability to pitch deep into games. However, his performance in the middle innings is still very solid. In his career, he has a 3.82 ERA in the 4th thru 6th innings, slightly higher than his career ERA mark. In 108 career starts, Snell has pitched 556 innings, showing he pitches less than 6 per start on average. Something to mention, with the Mets not having a bullpen like the Rays.

Still, there is a shot to get Snell to the Mets. However, I wouldn’t do it for just Snell and add a bad contract in Kiermaier. Snell is owned 40.8 million for three years. Not much for a pitcher of his caliber, meaning he will cost a ton on it’s own. To be able to give up slighlty less, you can add Kiermaier and his 23 million (plus 13m team option) for two years.

Kiermaier hasn’t been good with the bat (OPS under .700 in the last three years), but he is still a terrific defender and a game changer in CF, a spot the Mets could desperately need to improve their defense. The Rays should be happy to include Kiermaier and his contract. A trade proposal could look like this:

Baseballtradevalues

Still a steep price to pay, but something to consider. You get a top of the rotation arm with three years of control and add a terrific defensive center fielder. The price to pay is worth it for me personally, but there are other options to consider.

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

8-10 teams have shown interest in Morton

According to MLB.com, 8 to 10 teams have expressed interest in free agent starter Charlie Morton. The Mets should be one of the teams who have interrest in the 37 year old righty. Morton is a great fit as a veteran guy, who has been very solid late in his career.

Morton did struggle to a 4.74 ERA over 9 starts, however after his IL stint, he pitched to a respectable 4.03 ERA. MLB Network’s own Al Leiter mentioned lowering his arm slot as a big help in his succes after his IL stint. In the regular season, but even more in the playoffs.

Also read: Mets Trade Target: Zach Plesac

Still, Morton has solid expected numbers in 2020 (.239/.293/.382) in 2020. I would definitely take that. It shows in his expected ERA, which was almost a run lower (3.89).

Morton numbers indicate that he is still a very valuable mid rotation starter and I would love the Mets to sign him on an one year 8-12 mil dollar deal! He still has it.

Also read: Fuzzy mentioned trade option for Lindor

Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Mets Trade Target: Tyler Glasnow

Tampa Bay has three top pitching prospects ready to step up in 2021; The screwball throwing Brent Honeywell, two-way player Brendan McKay, and Shane McClanahan who has the upside of a # 3 starter or better.

Blake Snell, is the team’s ace and is a fixture on top of their rotation. The Rays also have an unorthodox approach with they way they handle their team’s pitching staff. Sometimes they only let their starters go until they reach the third time of the batting order. Other times they will use their bullpen as openers and bring their model starting pitcher later in the game. They heavily rely on analytics and follow what the numbers say which can be frustrating for fans watching, but has been effective for them. I believe that they have yet to tap into the full potential of Tyler Glasnow.

Also read: Hello, is it me (Nolan Arenado) you’re looking for?

The 27 year old 6’8 hard throwing righty has an overpowering fastball that averages 97 MPH and a nasty curveball with great movement. The negative thing about Glasnow is that hitters know that he only throws these two pitches and so can flip a coin in their heads as to which one is coming next. He misses a lot of bats, but when hitters make contact, they can do some major damage.

Baseball Savant

Also read: Free Agent Target: Jackie Bradley Jr

In 2019, Glasnow only threw a changeup 4.7% of the time but he was still able to produce a whopping 14.3 strike out per 9 innings and a 14% swinging strike rate. Maybe he does not have too much confidence with his change up, but if he was able to mix this pitch into his arsenal to at least 15% of the time, and/or throw a slider he could arguably be one of the top aces of the game.

What would the Mets have to pay? Tampa have one of the richest farm systems in baseball and with Wander Franco ready to debut at SS, they probably would not be interested in a either Gimenez or Rosario. They heavily rely on prospects and young inexpensive options that they can control for multiple years or develop and unlock their inner Randy Arozarena. They have a solid core of position players with the exception of C, 3B, and probably 1B (the jury is still out on Nate Lowe).

Also read: Three Mets that could be dealt away

The foundation of a deal would probably look something like Tyler Glasnow for Dominic Smith, JD Davis, and Catching Prospect Francisco Alvarez. I know this price would probably be too high for some people but I think it would be a buy low option for the Mets if they are able to get Glasnow to start throwing changeups and sliders in his repertoire. I believe that making this change could turn him into a future CY Young candidate. Just image what the rotation would look like with deGrom, Thor, and an upgraded Glasnow.

Photo: CBS Sports