So this is it! Our beloved New York Mets have finally reached what probably will prove to be the most important off season in the last 4 or so years. With all this money coming off the books, why not jump right in?
With the $33.550 MM initially committed to the 2014 roster, the folks at Amazin' Avenue were nice enough to give me a maximum payroll of $80 MM. Here are the team's hole heading into the offseason, in my opinion, The corner OF spots, shortstop, and 1B. The first order of business I would like to address is taking care of our own guys.
Daniel Murphy ($5.8 MM): Not only the guy one of the greatest offensive threats at 2B in the National League ranking 5th in 2013 with a .733 OPS, but he's a grinder. He does what it takes to win ballgames, is a fan favorite, seems to improve defensively season by season, and is a LHB that actually hangs in against lefties (.273 BA in 2013 and .283 in 2012). He's not a part of the problem, but actually a part of the solution in my opinion.
Ike Davis ($3.5 MM): Ike's been a bit frustrating to watch over the past couple years. One minute he looks like major power threat in our lineup/ Gold Glove candidate at 1B, the next he looks like... well... this. BUT WAIT, the guy's only going to be 26 and HAS shown prolonged signs of consistency in the past unlike Duda (who seems to get hurt every other day and hit solo homeruns when he's not). I think he could be effective at 1st in a platoon with Satin, after all, he DID hit 24 homeruns against righties in 2012. The potential's there in my mind, and I would hate to see him get moved and turn into Chris Davis elsewhere.
Eric Young Jr ($1.9 MM): Well, he led the NL in steals last season (even with just a .318 OBP) so that has to mean he did something right. He'll fit in well as a 4th outfielder and speed threat off the bench next year.
Dillon Gee ($3.4 MM): Not much to say here, the guy finally figured it out this year and proved to be a CONSISTENT, above average contributor to the club after a rough couple of starts during the beginning of the year. At $3.4 MM, he comes with great value and with Harvey out, we're going to need all the pitching we can get.
Bobby Parnell ($3.2MM): Even if he's going to be coming off a neck injury in 2014 , the past 2 seasons have been stellar for Parnell. ERA's of 2.49 and 2.16 each of the past two years in 50 or more innings can attest to that. On top of that, he FINALLY proved he can handle the closer's role this year which was great to see converting 22 saves in 26 chances. Great bargain at $3.2 MM. If Peyton Manning could recover from neck surgery, so can Parnell! Same person right?
Justin Turner ($800K): While Turner's infield depth at 2B, SS, and 3B off the bench is important to the club, pies and avoiding a very realistic mental breakdown by Terry Collins are the main reasons for this resigning. I mean, he already lost Baxter.
Lucas Duda: He'll actually be traded (more on that later).
Scott Atchison: Doesn't he have grandkids he should be spending time with?
Omar Quintanilla: See Q later (Get it? I'm here all week).
Ruben Tejada: I guess I've just never been a fan of Tejada. The way I see it, he'll end up being a light hitting, backup SS that comes into games late for defensive purposes. His career OPS is an unimpressive .642 and I think he's easily replaceable. Wilfredo Tovar comes to mind when I think of replacing him and he'll be cheaper as well.
Speaking of trades, my second order of business is to bring in hitters who can actually hit... We all know Andres Torres and Colin Cowgill are going into the Mets Hall of Fame one day, but since they're gone now, we're going to need to find somebody else to hit the ball over the fence 40 times a year.
The Blockbuster– Trade RHP Jacob DeGrom, 1B Lucas Duda, RHP Rafael Montero, 2B/3B Wilmer Flores, and RHP Cory Mazzoni to Colorado for OF Carlos Gonzalez: "WOAH I THOUGHT HE WAS OFF THE TABLE!!!" Is my best guess to what you might be thinking. HOWEVER, as we have all learned from past offseasons, GM's/ owners tend to not mean everything they say. This is a move that works very well for both sides.
Why this works for the Rockies: The Rockies, as of right now, are in the midst of two pretty large contracts in their commitments to Tulo and Cargo. Even though they are rumored to be in for a raise in payroll this offseason, I don't think they are going anywhere without a revamp of their rotation. To do this, they are going to have to free up some cash. With the Mets eating ALL of Cargo's contract ($10.5 MM in 2014), this allows the Rockies to free up some money. On top of that, they can trade Tulo to a team like the Cubs for top SS prospect Javier Baez and one of their top OF prospects in Soler or Almora as well to replace Cargo. After all, that wouldn't be the first time Theo Epstein has made a slash in the offseason, just look at Carl Crawford. Lucas Duda fills their need at 1B and has all the potential to hit 30 bombs easily at Coors Field. Flores also provides a lot of pop and, to me, has much more potential than their current 2B DJ Lehmaieu. Montero will be cost effective and under control for 6 years. On top of that he doesn't walk anyone making him a good fit at Coors Field. DeGrom is a sinker baller who will induce groundballs at the homerun haven and is also cost effective and under team control for 6 years as is Cory Mazzoni, who, while he gives up a lot of hits as a starter, has the ability to miss bats (10.1 K/9 at double A this year) and could be effective for the Rockies in their bullpen. Also, while there has been speculation that the Rockies want Dillon gee from the Mets, the Mets' willingness to eat Cargo's whole contract will keep Gee off the table in this deal.
Why this works for the Mets: People like to think Cargo has been a Coors Field product, but Zachary Rhymer does a great job here in his article explaining why Cargo can flat out hit just about anywhere. He's seeing more pitches per at bat and as a result, has been able to get the pitch he wants more often and has shown he can drive the ball out of any ball park this year. He actually had a .987 OPS ON THE ROAD this year as to a .930 OPS at Coors. As a LHB, he still hit .310 in 2013 against lefties so he's no easy out for a LOOGY and he'll provide the protection David Wright needs in a lineup to become Captain America again. Taking on Cargo's contract would be the equivalent of a 4 year $63.5 MM deal through his prime years (up to age 32). If I were the Mets I'd take that deal in a heartbeat. Oh yeah, and Cargo is a former Gold Glove award winner as well.
Other Important Trade– Trade RHP Gabriel Yona and OF Brandon Nimmo to Milwaukee for OF Norichika (Nori) Aoki:
Why this works for the Brew Crew: With the emergence of Kris Davis (.949 OPS in 56 games in 2013!!), Carlos Gomez under contract for another couple years, and Ryan Braun coming back, Aoki all of the sudden becomes very available. Kyle Lobner explains in his article for Brewcrewball.com how he believes Aoki is worth one mid-level pitching prospect (Yona). Yona is shown impeccable control (1.1 BB/9 at age 20 at A ball Savannah) at a young age and can prove to be on the fast track to the bigs if he can keep his command. But since he's at the top of his value now, Brewers GM Doug Melvin might want some extra umph in that deal. By adding in Nimmo, whose ETA according to MLB's top prospects list in 2016, the Brewers are able to have a backup plan to replace Carlos Gomez once his contract expires after 2016.
Why this works for the Mets: A very under the radar player playing in a small market in Milwaukee, Aoki has actually proved to be one of the best leadoff hitters since he's gotten to the big leagues in 2012. With a career .355 OPB in two years and 50 SB in that time, he'll fit in perfectly as the Mets leadoff hitter. Free agent Sin Soo Choo's slash line for his contract year in 2013 was .285/.423/.462 and will look to get at least 5-6 years years with a contract approaching $100 MM. Aoki, on the other hand, had a slash line in 2013 of .286/.356/.370. Pretty good right? BUT WAIT, he will only be making $1.5 MM in 2014! Yes, ONLY $1.5 MM. That's huge bang for your buck right there AND he's proven to be extremely durable, even at age 31 (the same age as Choo), playing 151 games in 2012 and 155 games in 2013. Due to his cheap contract, he's also very moveable, which means if Puello can prove his 2013 season was not a fluke, the Mets can move Aoki to make room for the dynamic Puello. BAM! Sustainability right there. He's also a great defender with a fantastic throwing arm. Aoki in LF, Lagares in CF, and Cargo in RF could make for the best defensive outfields, not only in the NL, but maybe in all of MLB as well.
Third order of business would be to sign these guys out of the FA pool.
SS Jonny Peralta–3 yrs. $24 MM (2014: $6.5 MM 2015: $10 MM 2016: $7.5MM 2017: Team Option: $6 MM w/ $1.25 MM buyout): 3 years ought to do it for the slugger surrounded by PED concerns. Remember how quickly Melky jumped on Toronto's 2 year offer? The thing with Peralta is, not only is he great guy in the clubhouse and brings a winning attitude to the team, but he's consistently been a power threat a a position where we have no power... at all...ever. His defense is under rated, he's proven he can hit, and there's a very good chance his PED use was not a fluke (just look at his 2013 postseason numbers 11/33 which is a .333 BA against some of the best pitching in the game). Here, he claims his PED use happened in 2012, and NOT in his career year in 2013. Whether you believe him or not is up to you, but his postseason numbers, career power numbers, and winning attitude, all help his cause. Not to mention he's a RHB, which we seem never to have enough of. On top of this, when his contract expires after 2016, the Mets can choose to either keep him, or let him go for $1.25 MM and let either of their top SS prospects Gavin Cecchini or Ahmed Rosario take over making their success at the SS position sustainable.
RHP Phil Hughes– 1yr. $3 MM ( $3MM is guaranteed but deal can reach up to $6MM with incentives: $1MM for 200 IP, $1MM for sub 4.00 ERA, $1MM for 30 starts made): This deal helps provide depth at starting pitching for the Mets. Hughes will likely be looking to rebuild his value on the FA market and will probably be looking for a 1 year deal to do so. He's pitched in New York before and knows what to expect from the media, is a World Series champion, and will greatly benefit from playing his home games in a bigger park such as Citi Field. Harvey can slip right back into Hughes's rotation spot when the season ends providing the Mets with an easy transition from pitcher to pitcher. On top of this, his deal is very moveable, and when Thor is ready, the Mets could trade Hughes at the deadline to fill any other needs they have, or simply help replace the minor league depth they lost this offseason .
RHP LaTroy Hawkings– 2yrs. $3.25 MM (2014: $1.75MM 2015: $1.5 MM): Hawkings, at age 40, should jump at the idea of a 2 year offer. Not only did he pitch to a sub 3.00 ERA in 2013, but also, and probably more importantly, provided leadership for Mets' young pitching staff. He'll be used as a mentor for the young Black, Wheeler, Familia, Syndergaard, and Mejia. Not to mention he still throws hard, has maintained his stuff throughout the years, and can pitch in the late innings effectively (expect when he gets hit by a comebacker in the balls) .
RHP Aaron Harang– 1 yr. $1.2 MM (Minor League contract w/ invite to spring training): Whether he takes this deal, or finds a better one on the FA market is beyond me. This deal seems a little impractical, but, given the parameters of my budget, it would have been tough to offer Harang much more. He's an innings eater who can come up for a spot start, provide long relief, and is a major league veteran. At age 35, after posting a combined 5.40 ERA between the Seattle and the Mets, it's obvious his stuff his beginning to diminish, which is going to hurt his value on this year's FA market. He's proven to be durable could provide great "Harvey insurance" for the Mets in 2014.
In conclusion, our 2014 starting lineup would be much improved and look something like this:
1. LHB LF Nori Aoki (.286/.356/.370 in 2013)
2. LHB 2B Daniel Murphy (.286/.319/.415 in 2013)
3. RHB 3B David Wright (.307/.390/.514 in 2013)
4. LHB RF Carlos Gonzalez (.302/.367/.591 in 2013)
5. RHB SS Jonny Peralta (.303/.358/.457 in 2013)
6. LHB 1B Ike Davis (Platoon w/ RHB Josh Satin) (.222/.356/.371 against RHP in 2013)
7. RHB C Travis d'Arnaud (.202/.286/.263 in 99 AB and 112 PA in 2013 at MLB)
8. RHB CF Juan Lagares (.242/.281/.352 in 2013)
Our bench would look something like this (throughout the season is it expected the Mets will add one spot to the bench and take one spot away from the bullpen depending on needs throughout the season or vice versa):
Util: Josh Satin (Platoon with Davis) ( .317/.404/.476 against LHP in 2013)
INF: Justin Turner (.280/.319/.385 in 2013)
OF: Eric Young Jr. (.251/.318/.329 and 38 SB in 2013)
C: Anthony Recker (.215/.280/.400 in 2013)
Our bullpen would look something like this:
CP RHP: Bobby Parnell (.211 BAA in 2013)
SU RHP: Victor Black (.254 BAA in 2013)
SU RHP: Jeurys Familia (.293 BAA in 10.2 IP in 2013)
LOOGY: Josh Edgin (.250 BAA against LHB in 2013)
LOOGY: Scott Rice (.174 BAA against LHB in 2013)
MR RHP: LaTroy Hawkings (.264 BAA in 2013)
MR RHP: Gonzalez German (.241 BAA in 2013)
LR RHP: Carlos Torres (.242 BAA in 2013)
Depth: LHP Jack Leathersich, RHP Jeff Walters, Aaron Harang
And our rotation would look something like this:
1. LHP Jonathan Niese (3.71 ERA in 2013)
2. RHP Zack Wheeler (3.42 ERA in 2013)
3. RHP Dillon Gee (3.62 ERA in 2013)
4. RHP Phil Hughes (3.88 ERA on the ROAD in 2013)
5. RHP Jenrry Mejia (2.30 ERA in 2013)
Depth: RHP Noah Syndergaard, RHP Aaron Harang, RHP Carlos Torres
TOTAL AMOUNT SPENT THIS OFFSEASON: $46.05 MM
TOTAL 2014 PAYROLL: $79.6 MM