Entering into the 2012 season, the Mets find themselves in a very similar position to the one they were in 2011; they have large financial commitments to only a handful players, and they are coming off of a thoroughly mediocre year. The most prudent course for most teams in this position is to unload payroll and trade prime assets for young commodities. However, the large contracts on the Mets are largely unmovable, and their most tradable players are either coming off of down years or are the type of players the Mets need to be building around. So, what to do? A complete overhaul is not an option, so there seems to be little course but to make strategic moves that maximize next year’s team, without jeopardizing the rebuilding process.
Both Pagan and Pelfrey had nightmare years, but they both project to out earn their arbitration numbers. I’m pretty high on Pagan bouncing back. His defensive decline was extremely stark. He seemed to lose his lateral movement in the field and went from having a pretty good arm to throwing like Juan Pierre. I have a sneaking suspicion that he was playing hurt. He missed time with an oblique injury, and I wonder if it bothered him throughout the year. He seems like the type that would hide an injury.
Sign Jose Reyes to a guaranteed 4 years, 72 mil., with two option years contingent on playing 145+ games in the final year of contract.
This is as much a move for the future as it is a move for the present. Shortstops like Reyes don’t come around often (it took the Mets forty years to find one).
The move solves two of the Mets most significant needs: catcher and closer. Both Soto and Marmol are above average, with the potential to be elite. The Cubs are in even more dire straits than the Mets. They will not be competing in 2012 nor 2013. Soto and Marmol have value, but neither are players to build around. Soto will be 29 next year and is coming off a down year. After a great 2010, Marmol had an erratic year that saw him on the cusp of losing his closer job. When you factor in the fact that Marmol is due for a significant raise, and it becomes clear that the Cubs need to move him. Campana has no power, does not walk, but has tremendous speed. Scott Maine has good velocity for a lefty and can compete for a spot in the pen.
In return, the Cubs get three above average cost controlled players and two solid prospects. Duda proved two things last year; he can hit, and he probably doesn’t belong in RF. With Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, and Daniel Murphy, the Mets have three players that ideally should be playing 1B. It’s an area of surplus that the Mets can use to fill a couple of needs. The Cubs will likely not pick up Carlos Pena’s option and do not have many internal options 1b. Duda makes a lot of sense.
In Beato, the Cubs get a live arm that flashes potential. Not too sexy, but the Cubs desperately need low cost arms. Thole gives them a young replacement for Soto. He might not be a long-term solution, but he could be a stopgap. Marte is having a great Arizona Fall League and made the Futures Game. A solid mid-level prospect. Carson is perhaps a step below that, but still has legitimate value.
Colorado has some young arms on the way, but could really use an innings eater entering into 2012. Seth Smith does a lot of things well, nothing great. He could be a good stopgap type player. Jason Hammel was a breakout candidate last year that took a major step backwards. He never has been an innings eater and saw his strikeout rate plummet in 2011. Still, his velocity is still there, so perhaps a change in scenery can help. He’s also not cheap, being owed $4.75 mil. next year. Consequently, this is a cost lateral move for the Rockies.
Sign Todd Coffey to a one year $1.75 mil. deal.
Sign Kelly Shoppach to a one year $1.75 mil. deal
Sign Chris Young to a minor league deal
Sign Dontrelle Willis to minor league deal
Todd Coffey is not a high profile guy, but he is solid and durable. He should bring some stability to the pen.
Kelly Shoppach is not ancient (compared to the other FA catchers) and has some pop.
Young and Willis provide some minor league depth so we do not have to rush Harvey or Familia.
SS Jose Reyes, Salary $18, Projected WAR 5.
CF Angel Pagan, Salary $4.5, Projected WAR 2
3B David Wright, Salary $15 mil., Projected WAR 3.5
1B Ike Davis, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 4
C Geovany Soto, Salary $4.5 mil., WAR 2.5
RF Seth Smith, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 1.7
LF Jason Bay, Salary $16, Projected WAR 2
2B Rueben Tejada, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 1.8
C Kelly Shoppach, Salary 1.75, Projected WAR 0.7
2B/3B/1B Daniel Murphy, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 2.3
1B/3B/OF: Nick Evans, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 0.7
OF Tony Campana, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 1.0
2B/3B/SS: Justin Turner, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 0.4
LHP Johan Santana, Salary $24, Projected WAR 2
RHP RA Dickey, Salary $4.25, Projected WAR 2.5
LHP Jonathan Niese, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 3
RHP Dillon Gee, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 1.0
RHP Jason Hamel, Salary $4.75, Projected WAR 1.5
RHP Carlos Marmol, Salary $7, Projected WAR 1.5
RHP Bobby Parnell, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 0.7
RHP Manny Acosta, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 0.3
RHP Todd Coffey, Salary $1.75 mil., Projected WAR 0.5
RHP D.J. Carrasco, Salary $1.2 mil., Projected WAR 0
LHP Tim Byrdak, Salary $0.9, Projected WAR 0.4
LHP Danny Herrera/Scott Maine, Salary $0.4, Projected WAR 0.0
Team Payroll: 108 mil.
Projected Wins based upon WAR: 83 Wins
This plan allows the Mets to obtain some players that will substantially improve the team fielded in 2012 while staying within payroll. Furthermore, the plan allows for this improvement without significantly impacting the farm system. Indeed, under this plan, the Mets retain their top pitching prospects (Wheeler, Harvey, Familia, and Mejia) as well as their top position prospects (Flores, Havens, Nieuwenhuis, Puello, Valdespin). Using a conservative forecast, the team does not appear to be a playoff team. However, with a few breaks (its conceivable that Santana, Wright, Soto, Marmol, or Bay could bounce back better than expected), the team could contend.