In today's MLB, spending your money efficiently is the way to build a consistent winner. The Mets are the example of what can go wrong. In 2013, the Mets had approximately a $93 million dollar payroll, which got them to 74 wins and a third place finish. Leading up to this offseason, many thought that this would finally be the time when Sandy Alderson would spend upwards of $50 million and turn this team into a contender. But then Matt Harvey got hurt, Ike Davis fell off the face of the earth and Reuben Tejada forgot how to appreciate being a major league starter. Some think that there is now no way that this team spends, and that we're going to spend another season with bags over our heads.
However, I come to you today with good news: that is not going to happen. Alderson has already come out and said that the payroll (which has only 33.55 million committed) will be around $87-88 million in 2014. Meaning that with arbitration and such, we should have about $35 million to spend. Here's what I feel is a likely utilization of these funds.
The first decision of the offseason is who to tender contracts to. Here's what who I think gets tendered with the amounts (via MLB Trade Rumors):
Lucas Duda (1.8)
Bobby Parnell (3.2)
Dillon Gee (3.4)
Eric Young Jr. (1.9)
Daniel Murphy (5.8)
Rueben Tejada (1)
Justin Turner (800k)
None of these should be a surprise to anyone. With these guys all under contract, the payroll would be approximately at 54.95 mil, meaning that there is still about 33 million left to spend on Free Agency and trades.
Here's what we've all been waiting for since Sandy Alderson took over. We finally have some payroll flexibility to spend on some free agents. The major needs on this team are SS, RF, LF, SP and BP. To fill them, I begin with:
Jhonny Peralta (2 years, $19 million)
To fill our major hole at SS, the Mets sign Jhonny Peralta, formerly of the Detroit Tigers. Peralta was suspended 50 games for PED use in 2013, however, while he had a very solid season, it actually isn't a large jump from what he's done his entire career. For his career, Peralta's average season is 14 HR's, 64 RBI's with a .268 average and an OBP of .330. In 2013, Peralta hit .303 with 11 HR's, 55 RBI's and a .358 OBP, in only 107 games. While these numbers could be boosted by PED's, Peralta has put up great offensive numbers since 2011, and seems to be maturing as a hitter. Even if he regressed to his career averages, Peralta would be a huge upgrade at short, and easily justify his $9.5 Million dollar salary. Couple his offensive production with his underrated defense at short, and Peralta is a no brainer for Alderson and the Mets in 2014.
Marlon Byrd (2 years, $16 million)
For Right Field, Byrd is the word again in 2014. The Mets sign Marlon to a 2 year deal worth $16 million. He slots nicely into the number 4 spot in the lineup, and supplies solid defense along with great leadership in the clubhouse. Marlon told Sandy and Co. that he would like to be back here, even after the trade with the Pirates. I think the Mets take him up on their offer. While he is unlikely to have a repeat of 2013, I think that it's totally possible he can get close to his 2013 HR and RBI numbers of 24 and 88, which is what I'm looking for from him.
Phil Hughes (2 years, $13 million)
Hughes had a tough year in 2013 for the Yanks. He had a 5.18 ERA, and often struggled to pitch deep into games for a team that really needed him to step up. Hughes is an extreme flyball pitcher. He had a 46.2% flyball rate, compared to a 30.8% groundball rate. These numbers lead to him surrendering 24 homers, with many of them coming at home. If he were to pitch in a pitcher friendly ballpark such as Citifield, Hughes numbers should improve tremendously. And as a veteran pitcher (though he's only 28) that has pitched his entire career in New York, he won't need to adjust to the bright lights. Keep him in the city and sign him to be the 4th starter.
Resign LaTroy Hawkins (1 year $2 million)
Hawkins was extremely solid for us in 2013. He 2.93 ERA and notched 13 saves, as well as being a great mentor to our pitchers. He and the Mets have mutual interest in getting a deal done, and I think they give him a slight pay raise to keep him in orange and blue.
Sign Aaron Harang, Tyler Colvin, Matt Guerrier, James McDonald and Yorvit Torrealba to minor league deals
These five players could all fit needs for us, and even thought they're coming off of tough seasons, could end up as solid pickups that really push us to being a competitive team in 2014.
Beginning with Harang, we could always use more rotation depth, as the end of 2013 showed us. Harang can compete with Mejia, Montero and DeGrom for the 5th spot, and provide veteran depth. He had a tough overall 2013, but he pitched decently well on the Mets. Like Hughes, he's a good fit for Citifield and would be a cheap signing and solid add to the rotation and its depth.
After a strong 2012 where he hit 21 homers and batted .290, Colvin was one of the more disappointing players in the MLB in 2013. Overall, he hit .160, with only 3 homers and 10 RBI, though he was limited to a mere 27 games. The Rockies designated and released Colvin at the end of the season. For his career, Colvin had a strong rookie campaign for the Cubs, followed by a similar season to this past one. He was traded to Colorado, and seemed to find his groove in 2012. The Mets should take a chance on a player with some talent that can fill in at all 3 OF spots and even play some 1B. He could be a solid bench piece and if not, would easily be gone without any financial problems.
Guerrier had a decent year, and may get a full MLB deal. However, for this plan, lets just say he takes a minor league deal. Guerrier split his season with the Cubs and Dodgers, finishing with a 4.04 ERA. He throws hard, and is a veteran reliever that knows about both leagues. He would be a solid get and could help lead the young pitchers along with Hawkins.
McDonald was awful for the Pirates in 2013. Going into the season, many felt he was a potential break out star after having a solid 2012. McDonald instead was so bad that the Pirates ended up releasing him. McDonald has great stuff and a lot of talent. I'd like the Mets to take a waiver on him and let him work out his problems in Spring Training and the minors. If he does, he could potentially be another great piece to the future rotation.
Remember when he was almost a Met back in 2008? Torrealba had a tough 2013 for Colorado. He only batted .240, and only played in 53 games. However, he could be our back up catcher, as he's still solid defensively and has a knack for the big hit. He knows the league and can help our young pitchers and d'Arnaud grow. Bring him in to compete with Recker and Centeno, though I'd feel a lot better with him paired with Travis.
This is where Sandy really can make our offseason. He'll be talking about the Kemps, Bautistas, and Stantons, but ultimately, I doubt any players of that category gets moved. However there are still solid guys out there.
Mets trade Wilmer Flores and Domingo Tapia to the Dodgers for Andre Ethier (LAD pays half of the contract)
Ethier is our Left Fielder in 2014. I see a lot of people that don't want Ethier and his contract, and to be honest, I don't want anything to do with that. However, at about $8 million per year, I don't know if there's many players who are a better value in the league. Many want Choo and are willing to pay him top dollar for his services. Ethier does many of things that Choo does, but he's a much better defender and is more of a middle of the order bat, which I feel is a more pressing need. Ethier started out 2013 tough, as did the entire Dodgers team. However, he was a major catalyst in turning the season around for LA with a strong July and August, along with Puig and the others. Ethier has played all 3 OF spots, and would have no problem switching over to Left and slotting nicely into our 5th spot in our lineup. Also considered one of the most clutch bats in the MLB, something the Mets haven't had much of.
While it would be tough to see Flores go, he really doesn't have a spot on this team. Wright is entrenched at 3rd, he doesn't have the power for first, and he's too slow for second. The Dodgers will need a Third Baseman going forward, and Wilmer can easily slide into the spot.
Tapia is a solid, but raw prospect. He followed up a nice showing in 2012 with a tough 2013, but the talent is there. The Dodgers will want a package along these lines for Ethier, and the Mets would be smart to jump at the chance and bring the sweet swinging lefty to Queens for the 2014 season and beyond.
Trade Ike Davis to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Mike Montgomery
Ike Davis was supposed to a big part of the core in 2013 and beyond, but a horrible start derailed those plans. He was sent down for a few weeks, and when he returned, he hit much better, albeit without any power. His defense really declined as well. While Ike has a high ceiling, the Mets are a point where they need things to start working out. They can't live with another start from like 2013 and 2012 from Ike. So, they should do Ike a favor, and trade him to a team that knows how to get the most out of its players. The Rays will probably lose Loney, and will be on the lookout for another high upside player for the position. Ike could fit perfectly and could definitely revive his career hitting behing Longoria and Myers. Ike is one of my favorite players and I would be sad to see him go, but I want whats best for the Mets and him, and I feel that this is it.
Who would the Mets get in return? The answer is LHP Mike Montgomery, who was acquired by Tampa in the blockbuster that saw James Shields and Wade Davis go to Kansas City and Wil Myers head to the Rays. Montgomery so far has shown the stuff to be great, but has struggled with his control and mechanics. Here is the scouting report given on MLB.com:
The enigmatic lefty came to the Rays from the Royals in the big James Shields trade. The stuff has, and continues to be there for Montgomery, but the results haven't. He was demoted in 2012 and still struggled in Double-A. Perhaps a change of scenery will help, as Montgomery still has the potential to throw three above-average pitches with his fastball, slider and changeup. His curve gives him a fourth Major League average pitch. More than anything, his issues have been command and delivery-related. If the Rays can get him straightened out, he still has the tools to be one of the better young left-handers in the game.
As you can see, he has talent but has been inconsistent. By adding another high upside starter, we'll get some more help for the rotation and BP going forward, and also have more pieces to trade for stars in the future. A deal like this would benefit both teams, as both players would have a good chance to succeed in their new homes.
The 2014 Mets, with these moves, would be constructed as such:
C- Travis D'Arnaud
1B- Lucas Duda
3B- David Wright
SS- Jhonny Peralta
LF- Andre Ethier
CF- Juan Lagares
RF- Marlon Byrd
Bench: EY, Torrealba, Turner, Satin, Colvin/Brown/den Dekker
Other Possibilities: Leathersich, Walters, Germen, McDonald, Montgomery
Approximate Payroll: $87,325,000
A team like this has a lot of flexibility going forward, as players are signed to short contracts and will provide solid production for the next few years. We should be able to compete for the 2nd wild card, and if things break right, maybe more. Adding Harvey and another big bat to the team in 2015 will make us a contender for the World Series in my eyes, and will bring the excitement to Citifield that was in Shea at times. This new era begins in 2014. The Future is now.