After an eventful week full of new arrivals, the New York Mets have potentially said goodbye to three former players. Corey Oswalt, Brad Brach and Ali Sanchez were all designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. While the moves allow the recently acquired Albert Almora, Jonathan Villar and Khalil Lee to be added to the 40-man roster, they may also hint at the team’s future intentions.
Not Gone Yet
An important thing to note is that just because a player is designated for assignment, it doesn’t mean they’re immediately gone. While they are removed from the 40-man and 26-man rosters, their team still has seven days to trade them, place them on outright waivers or release them. If after a week none of that happens, the team can resign them to a new deal.
As of now, only Sanchez is fully removed, having been traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for cash considerations. Meanwhile, Oswalt and Brach are both still awaiting their fate. Both men already provided much needed rotation and bullpen depth. That said, the fact that the two of them were designated likely hints that the Mets believe they can get better alternatives on the open market.
A New Catcher
Since Sanchez was the team’s third-string catcher, the Mets will undoubtedly have to find a replacement. The likely candidate is Patrick Mazeika. The 27-year-old is currently on the 40-man roster and has already built up quite the reputation. With hitting coach Chili Davis working remotely last year, Mazeika unexpectedly stepped up and helped some of the younger Mets get back on track after early season slumps. Jeff McNeil in particular went out of his way to praise Mazeika for talking him through his struggles and ultimately helping him breakout.
While he has struggled in AA after tearing it up in the lower levels of the minor leagues, Mazeika has taken great strides to improve his hitting and defense, making him just good enough to backup James McCann and Tomas Nido behind the plate.
As for Oswalt, he was squeezed out after the Mets spent all winter adding starting pitching depth. New additions Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Sean Reid-Foley, Yennsy Diaz, and Sam McWilliams all bring more upside than Oswalt. Likewise, David Peterson, Franklyn Kilome and Thomas Szapucki were all ahead of him on the depth chart already. With the Mets possibly still in the market for another mid-rotation starter, cutting Oswalt might hint of things to come. Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Hendricks, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker are all in the conversation as of now. Anyone of them would make an immediate impact on the Mets, further bolstering one of the league’s best rotations.
Brach is probably the most unexpected DFA of the three. Earlier this offseason, Brach actually exercised his 2021 option with the Mets, giving the 34-year-old $2.1 million in guaranteed salary. Once a lock in the bullpen, the moves for Trevor May and Aaron Loup, among others, have since decreased his value. This is further amplified by his struggles down the stretch in 2020. Still in need of extra bullpen depth, the Mets could instead turn to better, younger options. This includes resigning Justin Wilson, who sources say is likely to come back to the Mets. Another option is signing someone new like Trevor Rosenthal.
Alternatively, the Mets may forgo adding more pitchers and instead address other needs, namely third base. Regardless, whatever path the Mets take, expect them to make at least one more big splash before the offseason ends.
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