OK, here's my plan:
- Trade Carlos Beltran to the New York Yankees for Brett Gardner
- Trade Brad Holt and Jeurys Familia to the Marlins for Dan Uggla
- Trade John Maine for Kelly Shoppach
- Trade Louis Castillo and $5M to the Cubs for Aaron Heilman
- Trade Bobby Parnell and Brian Stokes to the Reds for Aaron Harang
- Trade Dan Murphy to the Orioles for Felix Pie
- Sign free agents Matt Holliday, Nick Johnson, Jason Marquis, Rafael Betancourt, and Juan Uribe
Lineup: Reyes, Pie, Wright, Holliday, Johnson, Uggla, Pagan, Shoppach
Bench: Francoeur, Gardner, Cora, Carter, Santos, Uribe
Rotation: Santana, Harang, Marquis, Pelfrey, Perez
Pen: K-Rod, Betancourt, Heliman, Feliciano, Misch, Nieve
Beltran for Gardner
This move makes sense to both teams for me. I don't trust Beltran's knees much at this point in CF, even when healthy he's probably not a better than average defender anymore. And I'd just rather spend that $18M elsewhere, on a younger player like Matt Holliday. Beltran has a no trade clause, and wants to stay in NY, but would likely accept a deal to the Yankees. This also likely would keep the Yankees out of the bidding for Holliday. Gardner is a solid young CF who plays good defense, and I can use him along with Pagan, Martinez, and another trade aquisition (Felix Pie) as an option to cover CF for me.
Holt and Familia for Uggla
Uggla is about a +3 to +4 WAR player who will only make maybe $7M. The Marlins are looking for young pitching in return. Plenty of other teams are interested as well, but this might be as good a fit as the Marlins are likely to find. Some other teams are looking to move Uggla off 2B, which would hurt his value. For the Mets, he could solidify the 2B spot for several years to come. Uggla seems to get a somewhat undeserved bad rap on the defensive end, where he's a bit below average, but not enough to even think of moving for me considering the value of his bat. UZR has him -2.9 runs per 150 games and Total Zone has him -5.5 runs per 1200 innings. But he'll be about +15 runs offensively for the position in the same time. I also think his bat has not yet peaked; there are improvements there in plate discipline over the last 2 years which will pay future dividends. He had a career low BABIP in 2009.
Maine for Shoppach
Both of these guys have been mentioned as potential non-tenders, but that seems very unlikely for both, as both are too valuable for that. Shoppach was a bit of a letdown in 2009, but he's still a young catcher with a career .776 OPS in over 1000 PA. Maine was a disappointment last year as well, but should be healthy in 2010, and has some pretty good career numbers himself for a young pitcher. Cleveland has some depth in catching prospects and considers Shoppach expendable. And they are another team looking for low cost young starting pitching. This looks like a good match to me for both teams.
Castillo for Heilman
The Mets would certainly pick up some salary to move Castillo, and the Cubs seem very interested, as they are looking for more OBP near the top of their lineup. Heilman is another guy who has been mentioned as a potential non-tender, so I think it might be possible to get him included in return for picking up some of that salary. Heilman got off to a rough start last season, but over the second half was beginning to look more like his old effective self, allowing only a .243 BA, a .727 OPS, and a 1.1 WHIP after the all-star break.
Parnell and Stokes for Harang
With Harang owed $12.5M/yr for the next two, and the Reds needing to shed salary, his trade value may be reasonable. On the other hand, Ollie Perez's similar contract makes Harang look like a steal at that price. Harang is coming off two seemingly middling years in wins and runs allowed, but he's a guy who throws strikes, and gets a good number of swings and misses. Really he's a solid #3 SP who could pitch up even to a #2 type SP numbers in Citifield. I don't really know if this will be enough to persuade Cincinnati, but I don't want to give up too much here, as there are too many other options at this price.
Murphy for Pie
The Orioles have some outfield depth with Jones, Markakis, and Reimold, confinig Pie to 4th OF status. So they might be willing to deal him. Pie is a solid defensive CF with good tools and a quick bat. He only has a .688 OPS for his young career so far, but broke out in the second half last season with an .842 OPS in the second half. In the long run, I believe in this kid's bat, and think he'll be a solid starter. Maybe I'm being unrealistic in trying to get him for Murphy, but the Orioles are in need of a 3B, and I do think that might be Murphy's most natural fit.
Holliday will likely get more years than he's worth, but as long as the final bill is under 6/110M I think he's probably worth it. I really need a middle order bat here, especially if I'm dealing Beltran, and I'm much more comfortable relying on Holliday to be healthy and continue to produce for that money. The Mets have some money to spend and this is the best guy available this offseason. He gives you solid defense in LF while adding another David Wright level bat to the lineup.
If I'm parting ways with Delgado, and making Holliday and Uggla my top offensive additions, I'm really going to need one real professional left handed bat in the middle of that lineup to add some balance, and Johnson is the best available. The Mets have some promising young lefties coming along, but Johnson is a guy you can drop in the middle of a lineup that includes Wright, Holliday, and Uggla, and pretty well guarantee yourself some monster run production. He has had some trouble staying healthy, but when on the field he's been a lock for a .400+ OBP, with decent pop. I'm not too worried about the missed time, as I've got Chris Carter as a LF/1B guy, in addition to Fernando Martinez and Ike Davis waiting in the wings for opportunities to get at bats. Down the road, I'll be hoping for Davis to take over the 1B spot, allowing me to save the money I'm spending on Johnson, but for now Johnson could hold down the spot well for the next 2 years.
Marquis is a solid reliable mid-rotation SP who was born on Long Island and happens to actually want to be a Met. He's been a steady average SP over the last 23 years. Statcorner.com, using tRA, has him at +1.8,+1.5, and +2.2 WAR for the past 3 seasons. Fangraphs, using FIP, has +1.7, +1.8, and +3.8. He's probably not really as good as last years numbers, but a solid average +2.0 WAR might be a reasonable expectation. That's worth $8M-$9M a year for a couple of seasons.
I really didn't want to be spending money on relief pitching here, but I ended up needing to use a lot of young pitching as trade chips, and don't really have enough in the pipeline yet to expect to fill those holes. If I'm spending the money though, I'm going for quality and getting a reliable set up man. It is not yet clear whether Betancourt will be available. The Rockies have a $5M option, which they should really just pick up, but they are trying to save money by negotiating a 2-year deal at a lower rate. I generally don't like spending money on older relievers, but Betancourt has plus stuff across the board per pitchFX, and never seems to have had a problem throwing strikes. And with all the other FA moves I'm making, I won't lose too much in the way of a draft pick this year even if the Rockies offer arbitration.
It's possible someone else will offer a starting spot somewhere, but if Uribe has to settle for a bench role, I would hope there's a chance of luring him here. I'm certainly briging back Alex Cora as well, for another $2M deal, but a few million more on Uribe would be money well spent, and would really help solidify a productive bench.