My plan does involve the Mets taking a lot of risks, mostly relying on rookies and limited starting pitching depth. But given the resources I think this is a plan that provides the Mets with a potential contender in 2014, as well as improving the team beyond 2014.
Daniel Murphy $5.8 mil *Easy decision, Murphy is a solid player, this leaves one less position to worry about.
Ike Davis $3.5 mil *I chose to retain both Davis and Duda. Duda is pretty cheap, either one could have a bounce back year and I would rather allocate the money elsewhere rather than spend on a position where there are 4 potential players (Flores, Davis, Duda, Satin).
Dillon Gee $3.4 mil *Easy decision, Gee is a solid back of the rotation pitcher for cheap.
Bobby Parnell $3.2 mil *Easy decision, shown to be a bullpen ace when healthy (just hope he's healthy).
Eric Young $1.9 mil *Cheap enough where it's definitely worth it keeping him around as a bench piece who can play 2B and OF.
Lucas Duda $1.8 mil *(see Ike Davis).
Ruben Tejada $1 mil *Cheap enough to serve as a backup, could rebound and be a trade chip or a starter. (Upside due to youth makes him to valuable too let go).
Turner $.8 mil *Usable backup, barely makes over league minimum, can play 4 positions (5 if you believe he can play outfield)
Sub Total $17.9 mil
+ 33.55 mil * Wright + Niese + Santana buyout
Total Payroll: $51.45 mil
Remaining Cash $28.55 mil
I think that with the limited amount of resources available, it would be wiser to make bigger acquisitions via trade, and get the best player you can in free agency rather than spread out the money evenly. Obviously there is a need to fill lesser position and those will be addressed as well.
Shin Soo Choo: 5 years for $80 million AAV ~ $16 mil
The contract number was from fangraphs contract crowd-sourcing series, it seems reasonable, and leaves the Mets with about ten million dollars to spend. Choo can play an average right field nad provides above average production. Choo put up 5.2 fWar last year even with the negative value from playing center field. I think its realistic to assume he provides similar overall value in 2014 and then start to decline after that (although I predict it will be a slower than normal decline due to most of his value coming from his on base ability, a skill that usually remains in older players).
Total Payroll: $67.45 mil
Remaining Cash: 12.55
LaTroy Hawkins: 1 year for $2.55 million
This number comes from no where, except that it rounds off my remaining cash and seems plausible. Hawkins had a solid year in 2013, and although he probably won't be quite as good, it wouldn't be the first time he has defied his age. He's a veteran in the bullpen and that means one less body to worry about.
Total Payroll: $70 mil
Remaining Cash: $10 mil
Phil Hughes: 2 Years for $16 million AAV ~ $8 mil
I know, i Know but hear me out. I'm bringing in Hughes to be the fifth starter, he has been awful, however his numbers will almost definitely improve by moving out of Yankee stadium. He has been relatively durable and cheap. I see an upside of a mid rotation starter and a downside of a pretty cheap fifth starter whose homer prone and has an ERA in the mid 4's. He's only going to be 28 and could prove to be one of the better signings if he lives up to his potential outside of the Bronx. Also the number came from fangraphs crowd sourcing once again.
Total Payroll: $78 mil
Remaining Cash: $2 mil
Roberto Hernandez: 1 year for 2$ million
**Substitute any bargain bin starter for depth here.
Total Payroll: $80 mil
Remaining Cash: $0
Here is where things get interesting. I have two trades that involve would-be rookies coming from other teams. It is risky putting faith in rookies because there is no telling what they'll be, but it is cheaper than trading for Tulo and cargo. The parameters of these deals are a bit up in the air whether the Mets receive a little bit more or give a little bit more, but I'm just going to lay the groundwork. Let's get to 'em.
Trade Jake DeGrom along with [Edit] Cory Mazzoni? (This player is up for debate, the comments didn't like this trade, suggest a player who gets this deal done) to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Shortstop Chris Owings.
Why this makes sense for the Mets: The Mets need a SS, Owings is a SS. Degrom is a good prospect but the Mets really need position players.
Why this makes sense for the Diamondbacks: Owings is blocked at short by Didi Gregorious, at second by Aaron Hill, or Marin Prado, and Third by Matt Davidson or Martin Prado. The D-Backs have had trouble getting a hold of pitching. They have Patrick Corbin, but already gave up on two people who were supposed to be long term solutions in Bauer and Kennedy.
Chris Owings is a SS who just won PCL MVP as a 21 year old. Here's the basics: He is a potentially above average defender with solid hands, average to above average range, and a plus arm.He struggles a little bit with plate discipline (22/99 k/bb rates in 2013) but is improving. He posted a 330/359/482 line in hitter friendly Reno of the PCL. He has good power(very good for a shortstop) and a good hit tool. BA seems to really like him and has continually rated him as a future first division regular with above average speed, power, and arm strength. Keith Law also seems to like him for the tools he brings but is concerned about the plate discipline. Overall he could be a well above average major league shortstop.
Why this makes sense for the Mets: Joc Pederson is a very good outfield prospect, the Mets could use some good outfield prospects. The package is pretty big, but could be adjusted.
Why this makes sense for the Dodgers: The Dodgers are in win now mode and a power relief arm and middle of the rotation starter are things that help you win now. Their outfield is crowded with Puig, Ethier, Crawford and Kemp.
If you're wondering, the answer is yes, this does involve jumping Pederson straight to the big leagues. Pederson has improved his prospect status this year by improving his hit tool, showing he can probably handle CF and continuing his already fine plate discipline while hitting for power at the upper levels. The plan here is to play him everyday in LF, if a platoon weakness is exploited to the point where it is unbearable, EY could potentially play against lefties. Keith Law and BA both seem to like him and if you're a subscriber go check what they have to say, but it generally consists of [He is an athletic player who could probably play CF but would be better in a corner, he can hit and hit for power and get on base, he profiles well in a corner and has an average arm]. Whether he is major league ready is a question, but he Played very well at AA as a 21 year old, so take that for what it's worth.
Starting Rotation (In no particular order) :
Noah Syndergaard half way through if he shows he's ready in Vegas.
Lineup (Just a potential TC lineup, not a lot of thought into this):
1. Shin Soo Choo RF
2. Daniel Murphy 2B
3. David Wright 3B
4. Travis D'Arnaud C
5. Ike Davis 1B
6. Joc Pederson LF
7. Chris Owings SS
8. Juan Lagares CF
Bench (This can be adjusted with any of the guys the Mets have, you can through in Lutz, Satin, Brown, etc):
Justin Turner (1B, 3B, OF)
Ruben Tejada (2B, SS)
Eric Young (2B, OF)
Matt DenDekker (OF)
Lucas Duda (1B)
Lack of starting pitching depth -- Obviously when the drop off between 5th and 6th starter is so great, it's not a good thing, especially when multiple guys in the rotation have histories of health problems. Hope for the best.
Reliance on Rookies -- There will be 3 rookies in the lineup, and at key positions, that's always dangerous. Once again, hope for the best.
Bullpen -- it is basically the same bullpen from last year which wasn't good, an it basically relies on improvement from young players (some can be expected, how much is the question). One more time, hope for the best.
I believe that if this team has a couple of breaks go their way, then they could definitely contend for a wild card spot. If not, i think they are well suited for the future, with the additions of several prospects, (hopefully) some more payroll flexibility and the re-addition of Harvey.
Let me know what you think.