The Mets made the biggest sensation of the Hot Stove season last Thursday, acquiring shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland. Landing two players of this caliber – especially a star as magnetic as Lindor – is remarkable in any setting. But it was especially huge for the
The Mets made the biggest sensation of the Hot Stove season last Thursday, acquiring shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland.
Landing two players of this caliber – especially a star as magnetic as Lindor – is remarkable in any setting. But it was especially huge for the Mets, given their place in a competitive Eastern National League with the three-time defending division champion Braves. According to FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski, his ZiPS system had the Mets seven games behind Atlanta in the projected standings before the trade. Now the two teams are virtually even, with the Mets’ odds of making the playoffs climbing about 31 percentage points, to 72.4 percent.
In fact, ZiPS shows that at the time of the Lindor trade, the Mets had the most to gain from any team, in terms of playoff odds, by adding five wins to their roster (or roughly l combined impact of Lindor and Carrasco). But there are plenty of other clubs out there that would pull a comparable bump from such a move.
From Szymborski’s calculations, here are five of the teams that could benefit the most from a Mets-sized splash, and one way each could pull off that sort of feat. Note that those suggested moves aren’t necessarily at that five-win level – they’re hard to find – but would still give either team’s hopes a significant boost in October.
It’s a time of opportunity in Anaheim. Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon are superstars in their bounties, and the American League West might be as ripe for the taking as they’ve been in a while. Houston and Oakland are likely to lose several key players, while Seattle and Texas don’t look set to return to the top of the table just yet. New Angels general manager Perry Minasian replaced Andrelton Simmons with José Iglesias on shortstop and added closer Raisel Iglesias, but has yet to land the kind of player who would make the difference that could change the balance of power in the West.
A dazzling movement: Signature of the free agent right-hander
They appear to be in the mix for quite a few impact players this offseason, but so far they haven’t dropped one, with the re-signing of southpaw Robbie Ray their only notable move. However, it seems to be more a question of who and when than if. The Blue Jays went from 95 losses in 2019 to 32-28 in the shortened 20 campaign, making the playoffs behind a young core of positional players and last year’s big acquisition of free agent Hyun Jin Ryu . The club still finished behind the Rays and Yankees in the division, but with Tampa Bay saying goodbye to Blake Snell and Charlie Morton and the Yankees also having a calm winter, there’s an opening here for Toronto.
A dazzling movement: Sign the free agent flyer
Really, this could be one of NL Central’s top four teams. Aside from the Mets, the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers and Reds each ranked in the top five teams with the most to gain from a five-game jump, according to ZiPS. It is because of the closeness of these clubs. However, none has advanced this offseason to try to improve its workforce. (In fact, the division’s most notable moves have been subtractions, headlined by Yu Darvish of Chicago). As for the Cardinals, they’ve managed to sneak into the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, but their roster lacks top talent. Pretty much all St. Louis has done this winter is turn down Kolten Wong’s club option and (for now) not re-signing franchise longtime faces Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. .
A dazzling movement: Trade for the third baseman
While the Hot Stove has for the most part been at a quiet simmer so far, the Nats have been relatively active, addressing a thin team by trading for first baseman Josh Bell and signing left fielder Kyle. Schwarber. Washington has addressed two big needs and now has a bit more noise behind Juan Soto and Trea Turner, but frankly the job shouldn’t be done. The Lindor trade made it clear, with ZiPS now viewing the Nats as a clear third behind the Braves and Mets.
A dazzling movement: Sign free agent receiver
The Lindor trade helped Minnesota, whose post-season probability of ZiPS has reached nearly 75%, with Cleveland falling to a net third in the AL Central. On the other hand, the Twins have watched the division’s other main contender, the White Sox, trade for Lance Lynn and now strike a deal with free agent Liam Hendriks, the sources say. The Twins have been relatively calm, and if they want to keep pace with Chicago and win their third straight division crown, some reinforcements are in order – even beyond the seemingly inevitable return of Nelson Cruz.
A dazzling movement: Trade for
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.