The 2022 Mets were being named in the same conversation as the 1986 championship squad just weeks ago, and in a flash, their hold on the NL East, and then their season, was over.
A sweep at the hands of the Braves to fall to a Wild Card spot and a season-ending loss to the Padres in a decisive game three of the Wild Card Series in the span of one week was hardly what the 101-win Mets envisioned. Especially after previously enjoying a season in which owner Steve Cohen broke the bank for Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, and others, Pete Alonso smashed 40 home runs, Francisco Lindor put together one of the best seasons of his career, and Edwin Diaz and his trademark trumpet entrance became a spectacle for the best closer in all of baseball.
Now, the team that won 101 games and had Queens dreaming of a World Series return could look a lot different by spring training.
Several cornerstones of New York’s roster are free agents or opt-out candidates this winter, leaving first-year GM Billy Eppler with plenty of work to do to try and put together a team that can replicate the Mets’ regular-season success in 2022. Jacob deGrom, the best pitcher on the planet when healthy, and temporary season savior after his gutsy performance in Saturday’s game two, is likely to opt out, and will command a big payday as the top starting pitcher on the market.
Diaz, after a dominant season in which he struck out 118 batters in 62 innings and posted a 1.31 ERA, is now a free agent, while Chris Bassitt carries a mutual option for 2023, and is coming off a solid season in which he posted a 3.42 ERA over 181.2 innings, which easily led the team. Rotation mate Taijuan Walker has a player option for 2023, and there is a team option for veteran Carlos Carrasco.
In the bullpen beyond Diaz, Trevor May, Seth Lugo, and Adam Ottavino are all free agents.
Brandon Nimmo, fourth on the team in WAR this season, is a free agent as well, which would leave behind a hole in the outfield and at the top of the order.
Of course, Cohen and his wallet will be able to help fill any holes that may be left behind. The team is rumored to be interested in adding Justin Verlander or Shohei Ohtani, and could even be in the running for Aaron Judge. But whatever additions they make, the team that stirred more excitement than any other Mets squad in the past seven years could look very, very different.
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1