With the 2011 season almost in the books, I took some time to look at what looms for the Mets´40-man roster in the upcoming weeks & months. Now, this is not some sort of 2012+ plan. I´m not going to suggest any fantasy trades or external acquisitions. This is just, looking at what´s already here and how & whether it´ll fit on the 40-man roster. Since there´s a direct link between this general question and September callups, I´ll get into those as well.
As of today, this is the Mets 40-man roster (according to the official site and it appears to be pretty accurate to me): http://mlb.mlb.com/team/roster_40man.jsp?c_id=nym
I. September callups.
So, we´re currently at 39 players with J.Santana and C.Young on the 60-day DL to bring the actual player total involved up to 41 though these two don´t count for now. It probably won´t be an issue to shift at least D.Murphy, J.Mejia and T.Buchholz who are certainly out for the rest of 2011 to the 60-day DL as well. That´d make it 36-players with room for at least 3-4 September additions currently not on the 40-man roster.
Likely candidates are RH C.Schwinden, RH M.Batista and IF J.Satin, all currently performing okay to well for AAA Buffalo and figure to fill needs up here as well – maybe as early as next Monday for the DH. So, assuming these 3 get added at some point sooner or later, we´re back at 39. Since a return of J.Santana prior to the end of the 2011 season can´t be ruled out, we keep one spot open for him, just in case he returns on the comeback trail to make a late September cameo appearance.
As for other players already on the 40-man but not on the 25-man roster yet, it appears pretty certain that reliever Dale Thayer will be back up, it´s also been stated that hard-throwing RH Josh Stinson will be up as well.
Mike Nickeas (who probably goes down for a day when Reyes is activated in case Paulino can avoid the DL) will be up again too for sure.
Zach Lutz has been raking and will be up in all likelihood, especially with 1b open for auditions.
So, all in all, I assume we´ll have about up to 32 active players come early September, once the Buffalo / Binghamton seasons are over. If the Mets need a roster spot prior to Sept. 1st, I assume Igarashi gets DFA. .
F-Mart should be up too – but he´s still on DL and I doubt he´ll get PT with Duda likely to play fulltime in RF down the stretch.
Don´t think LH M. O´Connor who has struggled at AAA will or deserves to be back.
I also don´t think IF J.Valdespin – as encouraging as his year has been – is ready, so unless Reyes doesn´t return as expected, don´t see an opening for him.
RH Armando Rodriguez is merely in A-ball and probably will be in the playoffs with St.Lucie but certainly needs to work on keeping the ball in the park before of major league ambitions.
I don´t think we´ll see any other prospects added. Candidates who need to be added after 2011 figure to be rested or possibly head straight to the Arizona Fall League in late September. So, don´t expect to see 2b Reese Havens, RH Jeurys Familia or RH Brad Holt among others up here in Sept. either.
RH John Lujan who has done okay in AAA is already 27 and thus a bubble candidate for inclusion on the 40-man roster. Maybe he gets added as well, especially if Igarashi or O ´Connor is DFA sooner. For now, I don´t think he´ll be up.
II. Post-season 40-man roster outlook
Once the season is over, Santana and – under my plan above – D.Murphy & J.Mejia return to the 40-man roster for sure. Plus T.Buchholz who is not eligible for FA yet, I believe but should be kept, assuming he gets over the depression issues that have kept him out.
With the additions of Satin, Schwinden and Batista earlier, this means, we have 44 spots (including FA RH C.Young who also returns from the 60-day DL to the 40-man roster formally) filled.
Of course, you can scratch off looming free agents Capuano – Isringhausen – Byrdak – Igarashi – C.Young on the staff and free agent bats W.Harris & S.Hairston too. I suppose 40-year-old RH Miguel Batista also is a FA and can drop off right away too. I´m very much hoping Jose Reyes is re-signed within the 15-day period after the WS, so that leaves him on my virtual 40-man.
Doing the math, 44 players minus 8 free agents mean that 36 spots remain occupied. Not nearly enough for all the additions that need to be made and placeholders for free agents the team might want to add. Plus we need to keep at least a minimum of 2 spots open for free agents and / or Rule V picks (i.e. next year´s versions of Capuano, Beato, Paulino, Hairston, etc.).
That makes it 38 spots (36 + 2 free agents to be named) . Keep in mind this already includes Jose Reyes in my plan who shall be re-signed right after the WS during the exclusive negotiating window. At least that´s what I hope and sort of expect as well.
Unfortunately, 6 of the Mets likely top 15 prospects need to be protected as well this winter:
RH J.Familia – 2b R.Havens – OF K.Nieuwenhuis – SS W.Flores – OF C.Puello – OF J.Lagares
I believe hard-throwing LH Robert Carson (22) also is a must-protect with a power arm that´d certainly be snagged up in the Rule V draft by a bunch of teams in spite of his shaky 2011 season. Of course, one could get tricky regarding Flores & Puello who would clearly be overmatched in the majors in 2012. And while both have had underwhelming 2011 seasons too, both are still very young and the Mets farm system doesn´t have many potential impact positions players. Thus, I´m rather safe than sorry on both.
Adding these 7 alone (plus the 2 free agent placeholders) we´re at 45.
That means we need to cut at least 5 players to get back to 40 and actually need to cut more than that if we want to protect other minor league players too or sign more than just 2 free agents to guaranteed contracts or participate in the Rule V draft.
Looking at the current 40-man roster (see link above), plus counting likely additions Satin & Schwinden too, I see a total of 12 players who would be under consideration for these needed 5 (or more) cuts:
RH M.Alvarez – likely a cut after injury marred 2011 with low-ceiling anyway
RH D.Thayer – nothing special as generic middle reliever and thus my 2nd cut, he gets an
NRI to ST though if he wishes
LH M.O´Connor – obvious cut # 3
RH Arm. Rodriguez – tough call, with a nice K-ratio, I´d try to keep him, though it´s 50-50
RH C.Schwinden – low ceiling but solid production, I believe he sticks and enters 2012 as SP depth sort of like Gee & Misch were prior to 2011.
RH M.Acosta – has looked better lately, way too many HR given up but probably ok as a 6th
inning type low-pressure middle guy & depth heading into ST.
RH DJ Carrasco – somewhat disappointing season but rubber armed and with a guaranteed 2012 contract at modest cost, he probably stays but could also be sneaked through waivers in all likelihood. Thus another bubble guy for me.
C M. Nickeas – not tough to find another 3rd string good-glove no hit guy but also
apparently has value in pitcher development and seems like a good soldier, very much on bubble – probably gets dropped and gets an immediate NRI to ST again and thus is my definite cut # 4
1b/OF N.Evans – the “forgotten” man aka “who” finally gets a chance. Not a big fan of Evans though and I believe Lutz can do the same or better, but If Evans performs, I believe he may stick.
IF J.Satin – he´s up by early September under my scenario and has certainly earned a shot. Can he hit MLB pitching or play adequate enough defense to be of use ? Maybe the call will end up being Satin vs. Evans… for now, I try to retain both and prefer Satin who could play 2b on occasions too.
OF J.Pridie – strictly a backup OF. Don´t see any reason to keep him. Thus cut # 5.
OF M.Baxter – some interesting minor league stats & a nice hometown story plus attachments to DePo & Co., I believe they´ll try to keep him as a possible reserve guy and thus he sticks.
So, by DFAing Alvarez, O´Connor, Thayer, Nickeas and Pridie, the roster is right at 40 with 2 spots open for free agents included.
Now, this also means, there´s no place for other Rule V eligible minor leaguers like RH B.Holt. RH C.McHugh, RH R.Cruz, RH J.Lujan, 3b J.Marte, 1b A.Dykstra and C K.Gronauer who could all potentially attract some interest from other teams in the Rule V draft.
In a perfect world, Holt & McHugh are added to the roster as well – possibly instead Evans if he doesn´t perform in September and / or your choice of Carrasco or Acosta. In a final decision, I decide to protect Holt and his power bullpen arm over Carrasco who probably sticks with a guaranteed 2012 contract anyway, sort of how they did it with Igarashi last fall.
So, heading into the off-season, this is my projected 38-man protected list:
SP: Santana – Dickey – Niese – Pelfrey – Gee – Schwinden (6)
RP: Parnell – Beato – Acosta – Stinson – Holt – Buchholz (6)
C: Thole – Paulino (2)
IF: Davis – Murphy – Turner – Reyes (!) – Tejada – Wright – Evans (7)
OF: Duda – Bay (gulp) – Pagan – Baxter (4)
Prospect P: Mejia – Familia – Arm. Rodriguez – Carson (4)
Prospect H: Lutz – Satin – Valdespin – Havens - Flores – Nieuwenhuis – Puello – FMart – Lagares (9)
= total of 38 with room for two free agents, most likely a LH reliever and an OF, quite possibly just retaining Capuano & Hairston.
In case more than 2 free agents need to be added or additional players are added via trade, I guess Evans, Satin, Arm. Rodriguez, Holt, Baker and Acosta may be the most endangered.
For the first time in years, choosing the right players to keep will be a tricky task for the Mets who have at least produced some significant depth at the upper levels of the minors recently. Maybe one or both MIL prospects we are still due to get for K-Rod shortly will need to be protected here as well, so that could make things even cloudier and difficult.
Beyond these interenal decisions, I am expecting significant changes this winter to the current (and thus my projected 40-man roster) as well. But that´s subject to a different debate and not this projection. Wouldn´t be surprised to see Pelfrey, Pagan & Bay all get traded, possibly even non-tendered or released, maybe someone like F-Mart gets traded as well and I don´t think anybody is truly untouchable at this point anyway…