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Are the Mets in Rebuilding Mode Once Again?

The Mets are the talk of the town…for all the wrong reasons. They currently sit at a 31-41 record and are 12 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East, which as of now seems to be theirs for the taking. The Mets boast one of the worst bullpens in the majors and have been plagued by injuries as well as underperformance from the bulk of their lineup. With the results of this season, many are beginning to wonder if it’s time to turn the page on this current pack of Mets players, many of whom were on the 2015 team that lost to the feisty Kansas City Royals in the World Series. I will attempt to go group by group in an effort to determine whether or not the Mets should begin a new rebuilding process, the most dreaded phrase in sports.

Starting with the outfield, Yoenis Cespedes is locked in for three more years in his current contract. It’s understandable why the Mets were looking to sign him in the offseason based on his performance in 2015 and 2016. However, injuries and poor performance have contributed to the current record that the Mets have. Cespedes still won’t lose his spot in left. Curtis Granderson, due to his age, will most likely not be re-signed, as well as Jay Bruce who, if he is not traded before the deadline, will most certainly test free agency. Juan Lagares has been injury-prone the last couple years but the one piece of good news is that Michael Conforto has seen a resurgence since coming back from Triple-A Las Vegas. Also, one of their top prospects, Brandon Nimmo, should receive regular playing time in the outfield, if not this season, then definitely in 2018.

Next, we have the infield, which has been decimated by injuries. Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera have struggled through injuries (and who knows if/when David Wright will ever step on a baseball field again). Jose Reyes and Lucas Duda have mightily underperformed. The good news for the Mets is that Cabrera, Walker, and Reyes will be gone after the season, which means that the infield can get much younger. Top prospects Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario will be September call-ups and, if all goes well, can be regulars in the lineup next year. T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores have proven to be reliable pieces in the lineup. Despite some injuries from Flores, he has made up for it with his versatility in both the field and in the lineup, giving manager Terry Collins options to choose from. While Flores and Rivera may not be long-term solutions, they are the best options that the Mets have at the moment. As far as catching is concerned, Travis d’Arnaud is probably the Mets’ best option right now, although he has severely underperformed since being traded to them. The Mets should try to get another catcher in free agency.

Finally, the best pitching staff is a huge question mark, but also a big concern among scouts. Matt Harvey clearly no longer has any interest in remaining with the team and Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz are just injuries waiting to happen. Even Jacob deGrom, who has been I believe the best starter this season, has a history of arm injuries that makes Mets front-office personnel nervous. Even Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are recovering from injuries sustained during this season. The bullpen has been just as bad. The bullpen so far has logged 257 innings to the tune of a 4.97 ERA. Not to mention they have not had a reliable closer since Jeurys Familia has been both suspended and injured this season, and the rest of the bullpen outside of Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins has been downright horrendous.

Overall, the Mets need to begin the next phase of the rebuilding process. With aging veterans and current players underperforming, it’s clear that the time for a championship has come and gone for this group. The Mets need to get younger and it starts with the old addition-by-subtraction technique. By dumping aging veterans with big contracts, the Mets will be able to allocate their resources and maybe pick up some pieces in free agency while simultaneously giving their top prospects playing time and allowing them to develop. As the great Cosmo Kramer once said on Seinfeld, “I think it’s time that we shut down and re-tool.”