In the Alderson offseasons, the Mets have opted to go for a larger amount of smaller contracts (or a smaller number of smaller contracts). This has led to a general lack of talent. The Omar strategy is back with a vengeance. Please don't let that turn you off too much. I'm not handing out vesting options.
Focus on improving the position player core in 2014 while waiting to make a decision on pitching until 2015. The strategy of acquiring elite players is safer than a Red Sox-like strategy due to our lack of a core group of contributors.
1. Sign Shin-Soo Choo to a 5-year, 90-million dollar contract.
|Year||General Manager||Biggest Free Agent Signing||Colossal Bust?|
|2008||Omar Minaya||Oliver Perez||yes|
|2009||Omar Minaya||Jason Bay||yes|
|2010||Sandy Alderson||DJ Carrasco||tried his hardest just didn't get paid enough|
|2011||Sandy Alderson||Frank Francisco||both colossal AND busty|
|2012||Sandy Alderson||Shaun Marcum||yes|
Fig 1.1 represents the success the Mets have had with free agents, as well as the sublime genius of Omar Minaya.
Choo represents the best bat on the market besides Cano, and accordingly, will be paid like the best bat on the market. Choo only needs to average ~3 WAR a year to make this contract a worthwhile investment for the Mets, which is certainly not out of the question Yeah, he can't hit lefties great, and his defense isn't stellar, and he's going to be 36 at the end of the contract. Still, Choo represents the largest and safest possible upgrade for the outfield, with an extremely consistent bat, aging-friendly skillset, and at the price of only cash and a second-rounder. You can't find a potential 4-5 WAR player besides Choo just floating around on the market except for Jacoby Ellsbury, and my feeling is that Jacoby will get somewhere in the neighborhood of 6/110. Besides, the Mets have greater need for a true corner outfielder rather than a true centerfielder with the emergence of Juan Lagares.
|2012||Ruben Tejada||no but he's oka-|
Fig 1.2 represents how good Mets shortstops have been.
Okay, yeah, this is the "surprising one." This deal makes a lot of sense, though. The Rangers would be getting a near-major league ready arm and potential rotation candidate in 2013, a guy who can potentially be a league-average DH in Flores, and a possible platoon partner for the serviceable/mediocre Mitch Moreland, not to mention a free spot for Jurickson Profar. Andrus is in a perfect position for the Mets. He's expensive and under contract for long enough that he's no longer going to be extremely expensive in terms of prospects, but cheap enough so that he's not an albatross. He upgrades one of the most dire needs on the team in shortstop. He's was put on waivers last summer and was the subject of some (unsubstantiated?) trade rumors. Andrus, too, is a "safer" option because his value comes from defense, a presumably slump-proofier skill. He's also only 25 and has piled up .1 less WAR in the past 3 seasons than Carlos Gonzalez by Fangraphs, and 1.2 more by Baseball-Reference. Carlos Gonzalez will cost much more than Elvis Andrus. Andrus' contract doesn't expire until he's 34, but it'll be 2023 then and $14M won't be too much when a marginal win will probably cost like $7M or so. Either way, this is a one-time opportunity to acquire top young talent without having to give up Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler.
If the price seems too small for all of you, Kevin Plawecki is a possible toss-in that the Rangers might like, and if that seems too small, I think trading Jon Niese instead of Montero is an option. Niese is young and cheap, yeah, but his fastball velocity is trending down, his xFIP is trending up, and he's never going to be as valuable a player as Andrus, anyway. If it seems too large, Flores and Ike don't really have spots on the Mets and while losing Montero stings it's not like he's the next coming of Pedro Martinez or anything.
3. Sign David Murphy to a 2-year, 10-million dollar contract.
David Murphy BABIPed .227 last year with pretty much the exact same batted ball data as he had in 2012, when he BABIPed .333. His production won't be as good as it was in 2012 - he's already 32, and that season was out-of-line with career norms - but he's probably going to be better in 2014 than he was last year. Steamer projects him for 1.4 WAR in just 300 at-bats, and he serves as an established option who could platoon with Eric Young in left field to create a potential league-average platoon. Cesar Puello's performance could make Murphy obsolete in a couple of years, but the hope is Murphy creates a bridge to one of Puello or Nimmo. If Murphy completely busts, it's not that big a deal since we're paying him less than Frank Francisco cost.
Also, two D. Murphy's on the same team. Irresistible.
First four are no-brainers, and all will receive varying degrees of playing time. Andrus' presence makes Tejada a bit redundant, but he'll be back as a backup infielder to Murphy and Andrus. Turner gets non-tendered, or at the very least stashed in AAA until someone gets hurt.
5. Whoops, we're completely out of cash.
Let's sign some minor-league free agents! The new Roberto Hernandez is a possibility, and John Lannan always seems to be bouncing around despite some major league success. Daisuke was starting to look OK before the season was over, and even Aaron Harang turned in some quality innings. The fifth starter to begin the year will be whichever of this collection of has-beens looks the best in Spring Training. Some relievers could audition and replace the Familia/Germen/Rice slots, but either way you're probably getting a cool 0 WAR for 500000 bucks no matter how you slice it.
|Position||vs. RHP||vs. LHP||backup||WAR|
This lineup is probably around 6-7 wins better than the one in 2013. Used Steamer projections for WAR values, except I bumped Lucas Duda's value up a bit based on the fact that he will no longer be permitted to "play" left field. Andrus represents the biggest upgrade, while full seasons from Lagares, Wright, and D'Arnaud should help a lot. The problem with this lineup, and this team, really, is that it's not very deep. An injury to one star won't cripple the lineup as much as it did last year when Wright went down, but a bench consisting of Eric Young, Josh Satin, Ruben Tejada, Matt den Dekker, and Juan Centeno is pretty pathetic. Only Satin and Young provide even close to average production at the plate, and den Dekker, Centeno, and Tejada could all easily be Mendoza liners. This bench definitely emphasizes defense over offense, as does the lineup in general outside of Choo and Murphy, but the fact remains that aside from left field, each position is covered by a plausibly above-average player.
|Guaranteed imploder||Jeurys Familia||0.006|
|Middle relief||Gonzalez Germen||-0.003|
|Not-quite LOOGY||Josh Edgin||0.02|
Well, the pitching was going to be worse without Harvey anyway, but I bet my AAOP Mets have got significantly worse pitching than most of yours do, especially considering Rafael Montero has been jettisoned. Honestly, this rotation is not very deep, but there's a good reason not to invest in it. Well, actually, two - firstly, pitching is risky, as everyone who follows the Mets know. Secondly - and I know you can never have too much pitching (you can never have too much hitting, either, but pitching's the one with the saying for a good reason) - the Mets can at least dream on an above-average starting rotation in 2015 with Harvey/Wheeler/Niese/Gee/Mejia/Syndergaard. The same cannot be said about the hitting without significant moves. The idea of signing Bronson Arroyo's been floated around, but I have a hard time giving ~$9M to a guy who's only projected for .4 more WAR in 2013 than Dice-K (in 60 more innings). Anyway, if Syndergaard and Wheeler collapse, the long-term contention plan is screwed anyway - it's not like Bronson Arroyo is going to provide a significant amount of victories in 2015. These kind of deals make more sense for a team filling holes, not a team that desperately needs a core around to contend.
I don't think this group will be that much worse than 2012's though - improvement from Wheeler and a full season from Mejia would be probably too much to ask for, but still, last year's group compiled 10.9 mostly-Harvey wins and this group could probably compile 9 in total.
This leaves the Mets with an ~80-82 win team, but that is a conservative estimate and realistically, with Harvey out, this team should be positioning itself for 2015. In 2015, D'Arnaud, Andrus, Harvey, and Lagares will be 26, Wheeler will be 25, and Wright and Choo should still be valuable offensive players. Even if 2014 is a total bust wrecked by injuries, we should still be in pretty good shape for 2015 with a number of valuable assets who could be projected to roughly the same amount of wins as in 2014. This is important as the addition of Harvey to an 82 win team makes that team a potential playoff contender. Should the starting rotation, bench, and bullpen need to be shored up with reinforcements in 2015, I certainly hope that the Wilpons have some cash, because without additional free agents, this team will need to rely heavily on the farm system for a talent influx.
Elvis jokes, train jokes, the return of a second infectious smile to the left side of the New York infield, the double D. Murphy, the righty-killing potential, good defense, no Ike Davis, vastly improved offense, can't say we did nothing this offseason. Team is primed to make a serious run in 2015 given health.
Lack of starting pitching depth, shaky bullpen, eh lineup against left-handed pitching, large portions of money tied up in 3 players, slight lack of grission, Wilpons, Wilpons, Wilpons, Wilpons, Wilpons. Matt den Dekker with a major league roster spot. New core for Lou from Staten Island to want to trade.
I'd really have liked an additional 10 million bucks to play with as the bench and pen wouldn't look quite as bad. Hopefully Sandy gets that additional 10 billion bucks. Sorry for the lack of MSPaintz. Hopefully the tables were just as entertaining.
|Player||Salary (in millions)|
|Eric Young Jr.||1.8|
|Matt den Dekker||.5|