BALTIMORE — Todd Frazier, Robinson Chirinos and Miguel Castro alone won’t be enough to resurrect this Mets season — that will take a team effort — but the trade-deadline additions of the three veterans sent a message through the clubhouse that there is still hope for 2020.
And with just 3 ½ weeks remaining in the regular season, and the Mets beginning Tuesday’s play with a four-game losing streak, five games below .500, hope is a commodity.
“We’re always trying to get better,” Jeff McNeil said at Camden Yards before the Mets opened a two-game series with the Orioles. “We have got three new guys coming in, we have got Todd Frazier back, who is fantastic in the clubhouse and gets along great with all the guys, so I know we’re extremely happy to have him coming back, along with the other two. We have just got to start playing good baseball again and I hope we get on a roll here and get a playoff spot.”
The expanded postseason structure, in which eight teams from each league will qualify, still leaves October baseball as a possibility for the Mets, provided they can improve. They began play 2 ¹/₂ games behind the Marlins and Phillies for second place in the NL East. That fact is significant in that second-place teams will qualify for the postseason, along with the division winners and two wild cards from the remaining teams.
Frazier, Chirinos and Castro are expected to report to the team on Wednesday. The trio was acquired in separate deals Monday with the Rangers and Orioles, with the hope of filling needs for a right-handed bat, backup catcher and reliever.
Frazier, who played for the Mets in 2018-19, is the most familiar name of the group and will be valued for his leadership as much as his offensive potential. But the Mets also needed an experienced option behind Wilson Ramos at catcher with Tomas Nido on the injured list for undisclosed reasons, and were desperate for bullpen help after moving Seth Lugo into the starting rotation.
“Any new additions, especially with the energy that is already within the team, any new additions guys are going to see like it’s new family members coming in,” manager Luis Rojas said. “Especially an old family member like Frazier will come in and I know the guys will have good old fun with him.”
Frazier was part of a group last season that rebounded from a dreadful first half to play meaningful games after the All-Star break. But the dream of securing a National League wild-card berth faded in late September, with a bullpen that was among the worst in baseball.
The Mets have again reached September with a chance, albeit one abetted by the number of playoff teams.
“We got hot the end of last year, we were in the race and we just couldn’t finish it off,” McNeil said. “But we have just got to remember that. Plenty of opportunity for us to play well and get one of those last few spots. Just have got to be consistent this last month and hopefully get some wins.
“Last year we had all the fans and every game was fun at Citi Field, it was super exciting. but this year we have got to kind of bring our own energy, and it’s going to be great having Frazier back, too, he is going to bring that energy every single day.”