Top 10 MLB Free Agency Trades for the Mets and Yankees for the 2022-23 Offseason

Top 10 MLB Free Agency Trades for the Mets and Yankees for the 2022-23 Offseason

Cody Bellinger, Mitch Hanegger, and Jose Quintana/USA TODAY Sports/Photo Processing SNY

For the Mets and Yankees, this season’s free agency is primarily about the high price tag of superstars, as they try to re-sign Jacob DeGrum And the Aaron JudgeStraight.

But there is also the potential for some less significant signings this winter, which could be important for both teams, especially if they have to go deeper to keep their teammates.

And so, to celebrate Black Friday, if you will, here are my top 10 must-have deals in this free agent category. Not all of these players will come cheap, but they’re all a way off the deGrom/Judge shopping aisle.

1) Cody Bellinger

If the Mets fail to re-sign Brandon NemoTaking a shot with Bellinger might be worth their time, especially since his agent, Scott Boras, has indicated his preference for signing a one-year deal to rebuild the former NL MVP’s worth.

Bellinger’s offense has decreased significantly since he underwent surgery on his right shoulder after the Dodgers’ 2020 championship season, which resulted in him being no-bid last week. Boras stresses it’s still a matter of rebuilding strength in the shoulder. Bellinger hit 19 HR last season, though he only hit . 210. At the age of 28, he was a very good center fielder and also stole 14 bases.

2) Mitch Haniger

Haniger could be a gamble worth taking for either the Mets or the Yankees, especially if Judge or Nimmo signed elsewhere and needed a rookie outfielder. Haniger struck out 39 times for the Seattle Mariners in 2021, but a back injury (and a bout with Covid) limited him to 57 games in 2022, reducing his value while adding risks to signing him.

And soon at 32, Haniger can get into right field if the Mets need a move Starling Mart to center, or otherwise it can provide a depth outside and some pop in the DH spot, depending on the plans for the beginner Francisco Alvarez. Likewise, he would fit nicely in right field in the Bronx if the judge left.

3) Jose Quintana

Quintana, who started out of the frontier elite in his 20s, had slipped into the forward position in recent years, but then found something in 2021 at the age of 33 and produced a very solid season, pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals.

Perhaps most importantly, the left-hander excelled in pennant baseball for the Cardinals after coming on in a trade, going 3-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts, allowing only one home run. Scouts say his ability to drive four different pitches and use his four-seam fastball in the strike zone more than in years past has been key to his improvement. He might be a good signing as the No. 3-4 starter for either New York team.

4) Brandon’s belt

Just a year earlier, Belt was coming off a solid offensive season that saw him hit 29 home runs in 97 games and put up a 0.975 OPS, a major reason why the San Francisco Giants surprised everyone with a 108-game win. However, a knee injury ruined his 2022 season, as he hit just . 213 before the team shut him down in August for surgery.

Since then, Belt has told San Francisco reporters his knee has been feeling “great” since surgery, and at the age of 34 he could have a bounce back season. He likely signs a one-year deal and could give the Mets some much-needed left power in the DH spot.

5) Michael Conforto

Could the former Met be a “plan B” of sorts for the Yankees if they lose the judge? Or could he reunite with his old team at Queens if they fail to re-sign Nemo and move Marte to midfield?

Both are interesting ideas as Conforto looks to rebuild his value, potentially signing a one-year contract extension after missing the entire 2022 season due to what agent Scott Boras said was a shoulder injury during an offseason workout. As a free agent last winter, Conforto was already looking for a year of recovery after his poor 2021 season with the Mets. But he’s still relatively young, turning 30 in March, and has shown his ability to rack up big numbers when he’s right.

6) Tommy Canley

The former Yankee missed most of the last three seasons due to Tommy John surgery and subsequent complications, yet Canley finally made his return to the mound with the Dodgers this past September and performed well enough to earn important appearances in October during the postseason.

At the age of 33, Kahnle had one of the best turnarounds in baseball, and the Dodgers encouraged him to increase his use, to the point where he accounted for 67.5 percent of his pitches in his 13 appearances. Freddie Freeman to reporters in September, “You can tell it’s coming and they still can’t hit it.” If TJ’s troubles are behind him, Kahnle could be a good important piece for either the Mets or the Yankees.

7) Rose Partition

At 33, Stripling was defined as a rookie until last season when he reached a 3.01 ERA while going 10-4 for the Toronto Blue Jays. The right-hander started the season as a swing man, started and relieved, but eventually worked his way into the rotation and made 24 starts.

With his 91 mph fastball, Stripling was never invincible, but his accuracy allowed him to pitch effectively. The big difference last year was the increase in his changeup, as he threw 27 percent of the time, putting hitters hitting . 201 average. He won’t get a big contract but could be a good fit for any New Yorkers in the back of rotations.

8) Noah Syndergaard

It might be a good time to catch Syndergaard on the rise after grinding through his first full season from Tommy John surgery in 2020. His sprinting speed is down significantly from his best days with the Mets, averaging 94.5 mph on his four seams and a mark down on the sinker.

He wasn’t overpowering, so he remade himself into more of a heavy pitcher/slider type, and did so effectively enough to go through 134 innings with a 3.94 ERA, pitching to the Los Angeles Angels and then the Philadelphia Phillies. If Syndergaard regains some speed after another year of TJ surgery, he could regain some of his old dominance as well.

October 10, 2022;  Atlanta, Georgia, USA;  Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (43) during the team's NLDS practice at Truist Park.

October 10, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (43) during the team’s NLDS practice at Truist Park. / Brett Davis-USA Today Sports

9) Michael Washa

In what has become something of a trend around the majors, Wacha enjoyed his most successful season in four years by relying more on his minors, particularly his changeup, and less on his fastball.

As such, the 31-year-old right-hander went 11-2 with a 3.23 ERA for the Boston Red Sox, dramatically increasing his change-up utilization to 30 percent, bringing opposing batters to 0.168. A sore shoulder sidelined him for several weeks, limiting him to 128 innings, but he could be a lower-priced option as a 4-5 starter.

10) J.D. Martinez

It won’t exactly come cheap, but Martinez is coming off a bit of a down year with the Red Sox, so the Mets, who left trading on his behalf at deadline last summer, will buy in low if they want to add some right-handed pop to their lineup.

Martinez hit only 16 home runs last season, but he hit 43 doubles, more than his 2021 total that led the league. As a result, he was still above the league average overall, posting 116 OPS-plus to go along with a . 274 batting average and a 0.448 slugging percentage. At 35, he will likely sign a two-year deal, which might be worth the gamble based on his solid track record.

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