Goal: To set the team up to win in 2012 while putting them in position to win down the line as well. The 2011 payroll may not exceed $110 million, give or take a few million.
I am going to make some major changes to the roster, just letting you know now.
Looking at our current roster, these are our the major areas that we must address:
- Starting pitching
- Relief pitching
Here is a link to the Mets' 40 man roster, which is currently full. I am going to non-tender/release/let walk the following players:
- Miguel Batista
- Chris Capuano
- Jason Isringhausen
- Chris Young
- Ronny Paulino
- Scott Hairston
- Willie Harris
- Jose Reyes
I am going to give the following guys arbitration. My estimated salaries are included:
- Manny Acosta, $1 million
- Angel Pagan, $5 million
- Mike Pelfrey $6 million
- Taylor Buccholz, $1 million
I have 8 spots on the 40 man roster to work with.
These are the commitments the Mets have for next season's payroll:
- Johan Santana, $24 million
- Jason Bay, $18.13 million
- David Wright, $15.25 million
- R.A. Dickey, $4.75 million
- D.J. Carrasco, $1.2 million
- Tim Byrdak, amount is still unknown but let's say $1 million
Also consider that the Mets have 23 guys on the 40 man roster who will be earning $400,000, so that is another $9.2 million.
All in all, the projected Mets 2012 salary so far is about $85.5 million. Since I am trying to have a maximum payroll around $110 million, I have about $24.5 million to work with.
1. Don't resign Jose Reyes
It kills me to say this. I thought long and hard about bringing him back but its very hard to justify 6 years and $120 million to a guy who just can't seem to stay healthy. I wouldn't mind him coming back on a shorter deal, say 4 years with options, but I can't see him agreeing to that, so I'm not gonna break the bank for him.
Why am I trading David Wright? We have a bunch of guys that can play third base, Wright hasn't had a WAR above 4 since 2008, and to me it seems his value is dropping every year that he gets older and doesn't play like a star. To me, the time to trade a player is right before his value drops, and I feel like Wright still has enough value to get a good return, but I feel it is dropping a lot. So to me, trading Wright is a no brainer. Daniel Murphy will play third.
The Rockies need a third baseman, Wright should hit for more power in Coors Field, and a core of Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and David Wright is very hard to resist. We get a top pitching prospect in Pomeranz and a very good one in Matzek. Add them to our group of Jeurys Famila, Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler and Jennry Mejia and we have an amazing group of pitching prospects.
Money left so far: $38.95 million
40 man roster spots left: 8 (Pomeranz must join 40 man roster, Matzek doesn't have to)
I am trading Johan for the same reason I am trading David Wright. While I believe Johan still has a few more good years in him, I am doubtful that he will ever be considered an elite pitcher again. That being said, he is still a great pitcher when healthy, but I don't want to pay potentially another $73 million to him over the next three years. I feel like he still has lots of value, so lets trade him while we still can.
I feel like Toronto is the perfect place to trade Santana. Toronto has a deep farm system so they can afford to deal some prospects. The Blue Jays play in the tough AL East, so if they want to win, they need to pick the best time to make a run at it. I think this is the best time. Obviously, the Yankees are still great, but the Rays are likely going to have to trade two of their biggest stars in B.J. Upton and James Shields, and the Red Sox are coming off a huge collapse and new management. If the Jays make the right moves, they could be a sleeper to win the AL Wild Card. The Blue Jays need an ace. Aside from Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, no pitcher started more than 20 games for them in 2011. With talk that they can pick up payroll and that they will go after Yu Darvish, the Jays obviously are seeking to make a splash with a big name pitcher. Johan Santana would be perfect for them.
As for the prospects, Deck McGuire is very highly regarded, he was drafted the same year as Matt Harvey and is projected to be a front of the rotation starter. John Sickels said in his 2011 Blue Jays top prospects list that McGuire should be a #3 starter at worst. Carlos Perez is a young catcher in the low minors who is a great fielder and has a great arm. He doesn't have a lot of power, but hits for a good average, and he is a very safe bet to be a Yadier Molina type. As for Anthony Gose, he is a Gold Glove caliber centerfielder with amazing speed and a great arm. He isn't the best hitter but he still has room to grow. Think Peter Bourjos.
McGuire would join Pomeranz and Matzek in our new stockpile of minor league stud pitchers. Perez projects to be the future starting catcher, and Gose should be able to join the Mets in the majors around the end of 2012. I believe the Blue Jays would agree to this because they would be getting an ace starting pitcher for about $15 million a year, and they get to keep top prospects like Kyle Drabek, Zach Stewart, Brett Lawrie, and catchers J.P. Arencibia and Travis d'Arnaud.
Note: The Mets would give Toronto $20 million. This would be split in increments of $8 million in 2012, $8 million in 2013, and $4 million in 2014. 2014 is a club option year with a $5.5 million buyout.
Money left so far: $54.95 million
40 man roster spots left: 9 (none of the prospects must join the 40 man roster)
4. Sign Prince Fielder for 6 years, $140 million
Why I am willing to give this to Fielder but not for Reyes? Well first off, Fielder is a year younger, but the main reason is that has been able to stay healthy and Reyes hasn't. In the last six years, Fielder has averaged 159.8 games per season. Quite simply, Fielder is one of the best hitters in the game. In the last three years, he hasn't had an OBP under .401. His career slugging is .540. He is a lock for 550 at bats and 35 home runs, at least. Citi Field is a big park. If I needed someone to hit a home run out of Citi Field or else I would die, and I could pick any hitter, I would probably pick Prince Fielder.
I don't think he is going to get more money than this elsewhere. Every team that can afford him already has a great first baseman. Which leads to my next move....
Note: The salary is spread out like this, per year in millions: $20, $22, $23, $24, $25, $25
Money left so far: $24.95 million
40 man roster spots left: 8
I like Ike Davis, but Prince Fielder is just better and more experienced. With Jose Reyes gone and Prince at first, we don't need Ike, but we do need a shortstop. As for the Dodgers, they are looking for an improvement over James Loney at first, and have Justin Sellers to play shortstop. If the Dodgers want, we can throw in Jordany Valdespin so that he can compete with Sellers for the shortstop job.
Gordon can replace Reyes perfectly. Gordon has elite speed, and he is a great fielder with a great arm. His bat is still raw, but filling out. He is never going to be a power hitter, but is a line drive hitter, which is just perfect for Citi Field. Imagine Gordon at shortstop and Ruben Tejada at second base. Great infield defense up the middle.
Money left so far: $24.95 million
40 man roster spots left: 8
6. Sign Ramon Hernandez for 1 year, $3 million, with club option for $3 million which, if declined, becomes player option for $1.5 million
Josh Thole isn't gonna cut it for me. He was among the worst defensive catchers in MLB all season, letting up 16 passed balls, and only throwing out about 21% of basestealers. He wasn't good offensively either, putting up an OPS of only .690, and a wOBA of only .303.
Carlos Perez and Albert Cordero won't be ready for at least another two years, so Hernandez comes on an affordable but fair contract. He gets a chance to make good money next year as well, and if he has a bad year this year then he still has an option to take one and a half million, which might be more than he would make next offseason if he falters or gets hurt.
Hernandez is easily the top free agent catcher. This year he put up an OPS of .788 and a wOBA of .339. He is also a great defensive catcher, only letting 3 passed balls in 2011 and throwing out 37% of basestealers.
As for Thole, he will be our backup. Hernandez can hopefully mentor him and teach him to play better defense, and maybe Thole will turn back into that .300 hitter we all thought he could be.
Money left so far: $21.95 million
40 man roster spots left: 7
7. Sign Grady Sizemore for 1 year, $4.5 million
Grady Sizemore is the kind of player that can be great. From 2005-2008, he averaged 6.9 WAR per season. In that span, his UZR averaged 7.3, and thats including his outlier .5 UZR in 2007. If you remove 2007, his UZR was 9.6 over that span. He can be a great fielder. During that span, Sizemore averaged 26.75 home runs per season, 116 runs per season, and an OPS of .867. Sizemore played likecrap in 33 games during 2010, and then underwent microfracture surgery for his left knee. He came back to play 71 games in 2011, during which he posted an OBP about 25 points under league average, but a slugging percentage about 25 points over league average. Cleveland is likely to decline his option.
Sizemore has never played the corner outfield positions, just center field, but with his knee problems he may be forced to switch over. Regardless, I want him to learn to play all three outfield positions. My plan is for him to compete with Jason Bay and Angel Pagan in spring training. Ideally, Pagan would start in center and Sizemore would start in left. I could see a situation where the Mets would employ a three man platoon for the two positions.
If nothing else, Sizemore would be a very good backup outfielder with the ability to start, and he has the potential to give us something very special.
Money left so far: $17.55 million
40 man roster spots left: 6
This is a risky trade for the Mets. I like Mike Pelfrey because he is durable and consistently gives them 200 innings a season. However, they are usually pretty mediocre innings. While Pelfrey is consistent on a season to season basis, he is incredibly inconsistent on a game to game basis. I don't think a starter like Pelfrey belongs on a playoff team. The Reds have been rumored to want to acquire starting pitching, and although Pelfrey isn't going to be the ace of the staff for them, he is going to be a much better alternative to Bronson Arroyo (who although he pitches 200 innings every year, he also leads the league in home runs allowed, and posted a -1.3 WAR this season which was worst in the majors).
Edinson Volquez, on the other hand, is not a sure thing at all. He is very wild and posted a BB/9 rate of 5.38 this year. However, he has the potential to be an elite starting pitcher. His career K/9 rate is 8.67. Volquez has great stuff. And after playing in Texas and Cincinnati his whole career, a move to Citi Field should help lower his home run totals.
In 2008, Volquez had his career year, posting a 4.2 WAR, a 3.60 FIP, a .228 BAA, and 206 strikeouts in 196 innings. At only 28 years old, there is no reason why he can't revive his career and become a great starting pitcher again.
Note: I expect Volquez to earn around $2 million in 2012.
Money left so far: $21.55 million
40 man roster spots left: 6
9. Sign Roy Oswalt for 2 years, $18 million ($9 million each season) with a vesting option for $11 million if he pitches a combined 375 innings in 2012-2013
Oswalt is 34 years old, but he can still pitch well. He still has great control, only walking about 2 batters per nine innings this year. His FIP was 3.44 against a league average of 3.94, and he gave up only .65 HR/9 pitching in Philadelphia. He is no longer an elite pitcher, but Oswalt is a safe bet for 180 IP and much better quality of pitching than Mike Pelfrey was.
Money left so far: $12.55 million
40 man roster spots left: 5
10. Sign Joe Nathan for 1 year, $1 million
Nathan hasn't pitched well since 2009, but when healthy he is one of the top relievers in baseball. His career numbers include a 9.39 K/9 rate, a HR/9 rate less than 1, an ERA of 2.87, a BAA of .199, and a WHIP of 1.11. Simply put, Nathan can be an elite closer. However, he is coming off a major injury and is looking to have a renaissance season. At just a million dollars, Nathan is low risk, high reward.
Money left so far: $11.55 million
40 man roster spots left: 4
11. Sign Takashi Saito for 1 year, $1 million
Since joining the majors in 2006, Saito has been one of the best and most consistent relievers in MLB. In 2011, he pitched only 26.2 innings because of an injury. However, he has always posted great WHIPs, ERAs, BAA, FIPS, and K/9 rates. Saito is another player who is a low risk, high reward reliever.
Money left so far: $10.55 million
40 man roster spots left: 3
12. Sign Nick Punto for 1 year, $1 million
Punto is the ideal backup infielder. He's always been known as a good fielder, and he is also a good hitter. In 166 plate appearances in 2011, Punto had an OBP of .388 and a slugging percentage of .421, as well as a wOBA of .350. Punto has the experience and ability to step in and start if an injury occurs, and he provides a veteran presence to an otherwise young infield.
Money left so far: $9.55 million
40 man roster spots left: 2
13. Minor League signings/Spring training non-roster invitees
- Jason Kendall
- Jorge Cantu
- Mark DeRosa
- Fred Lewis
- Nate McLouth
- Brandon Webb
- Dontrelle Willis
- Chris Young
- Joel Zumaya
Final Payroll: $100.45 million
1. Dee Gordon, SS
2. Angel Pagan, CF
3. Daniel Murphy, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Lucas Duda, RF
6. Ramon Hernandez, C
7. Grady Sizemore, LF
8. Ruben Tejada, 2B
Josh Thole, C
Nick Punto, IF
Jason Bay, OF
Jason Pridie, OF
1. Roy Oswalt
2. Jon Niese
3. R.A. Dickey
4. Edinson Volquez
Key Pitching Prospects: Jennry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Matzek, Deck McGuire, Michael Fulmer, Juan Urbina
Key Hitting Prospects: Carlos Perez, Anthony Gose, Reese Havens, Jordany Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt den Dekker, Cory Vaughn, Fernando Martinez, Zach Lutz, Wilmer Flores, Cesar Puello, Brandon Nimmo, Aderlin Rodriguez, Juan Lagares
As you can see, this is a very young team that is carried by veteran leadership. I feel like this team can win this year, and if not, it is definitely built to win in a few years. I think we would now have one of the deepest farm systems in the league, and even if we can't win the World Series in 2012, I think that this team can compete now and be one of the best teams in the Majors in a few years.