Overall synopsis – It’s time to make some bold decisions in order to establish a young core of both pitchers and position players. 2014 will mostly be an evaluation year, with a chance to really surprise folks if things develop well (not just lip service this time!).
Assuming all the moves below can actually be accomplished in one offseason – what would the Mets get with this plan?
1) A very young, exciting lineup (though it’s largely unproven and might take a year or so to really kick in to high gear).
2) A strong defensive team, especially up the middle.
3) A solid if not strong bullpen with depth in AAA (Germen, Dwyer, Walters, DeGrom, Mazzoni, etc.).
4) A respectable pitching staff with Matsuzaka , Volquez, Mejia, Syndergaard, and Montero in AAA for injuries or mid-season replacements/call-ups. They also have an up-and-coming lefty in AA in Owens.
5) The Mets sacrifice no draft picks with this plan.
Some flaws in the plan:
1) One main flaw in my plan is that I haven’t seen Abreu play baseball, and I’m hoping he comes close to living up to his hype. He’s a young player, and the international market has seen some of the best value buys over the past couple of offseasons…so I’m optimistic that he won’t be a bad signing. We’ll see.
2) Another flaw is that I have a lot of moves for one offseason, but hey, I’ve got free reign and full support of ownership….riiiiiiiiight?
3) I’ve had about 2 days to think this through, AND I’m going with a pretty drastic approach, AND I don’t really know the talent in the American League as well as I should. I’m guessing any GM would have significantly more time to think this through…
TRADES OR TRAIDS!!!!!TRADE 1 – HERE’S THE DEAL:
So the Mets need a big-time middle-of-the-order bat. We all know they want Stanton, and we all know that he’s going to price himself out of the Marlins’ budget after this year. So now’s the time, but it’s going to hurt.
Why would the Mets do this? They need a legitimate young star to go with their young pitching. Stanton is a franchise clean-up hitter type, and I can’t think of another team that would be dumb enough to put one on the open market at age 24. It will sting to lose Zack Wheeler, but the Mets have more young pitching coming in the minors, with Harvey back in 2015 as well. Also, they can find a solid veteran to bridge the gap at catcher and guide the young staff until Plawecki and/or other options emerge.
Why would the Marlins do this? They are getting a legit young top-of-the-rotation starter, an MLB ready catcher, a potential OFer to man RF in the future, and a potential future BP power arm. The most important thing is that they are getting them at the league minimum for the foreseeable future, and again, the Marlins can’t afford Stanton after this year.
TRADE 2 - HERE’S THE DEAL:
Okay, I’m going to get killed on this board or just about any board for mentioning a Wright trade. I was all for the Wright signing, IF the Mets were going to immediately surround him with top talent. They didn’t, and even in year two – during the first of his 20 million dollar seasons – it’s more than possible they might not surround him with any meaningful long-term pieces going forward. The Mets were stuck in between rebuild and retool last year, and I think it’s time to turn the page. The Mets explain to Wright that "the plan" is getting crushed by finances, and the two sides work out a situation in which the Mets get younger talent while Wright gets a real shot at World Series magic.
Why would the Mets do it? David Wright is exiting his prime, and even though his post-prime years stand to be pretty darn good, his value at this point might be the highest it’s going to be under his new contract. If the Mets want to rebuild a solid position player core for their future, including Bogaerts and Bradley Jr. are solid choices. Clay Buccholz has injury issues, but when he’s on, he’s more than just a solid bridge to better young pitching on the horizon. He’s signed through 2015, with two more team options. His fastball velocity has been declining, but he’s still averaging around 92 mph…I’m guessing he’ll do well in the NL when healthy. The Mets also pick up a solid lefty pitching prospect in Owens who may be able to help the team in 2015 when they will look to compete for real.
Why would the Red Sox do it? Because they want to win another championship, and David Wright gives them the best chance over three largely unproven prospects and a solid, but injury-prone pitcher. Plus, the Red Sox have the cash to fill in at SS, LF, and SP. And Wright will mash at Fenway for the next 4-5 years. And oh yeah – the Red Sox can more than afford Wright’s contract.
TRADE 3 – HERE’S THE DEAL:
Why would the Mets do it? The Mets feel that Lucas Duda’s bat can play at a reasonable level, but that NYC isn’t the right place for him. Daniel Murphy’s offense can be nice, but his defense is lacking. He’s also going to be more expensive each year moving forward. The move adds another power arm to the 'pen, a potential future OFer in Bonafacio, and AAA starting depth (but most likely another loogy) in Dwyer.
Why would the Royals do it? After trading away Billy Butler, the offensively-starved Royals replace Butler at DH with Duda and get a clear offensive upgrade at 2B with Murphy, at roughly the same price as Butler’s 2014 salary. They have bullpen arms galore, and with Herrera coming off an okay year and nearing arbitration eligibility, they decide that he is an expendable piece for an upgrade at second. Bonafacio is a nice prospect, but no guarantee to be anything better than what they have now or the offense that Duda can provide. Dwyer has control issues and is probably destined for the ‘pen where again, they are stacked.
TRADE 4: HERE’S THE DEAL:
It’s time for a change with Ike. The Mets find a rich team willing to absorb Ike’s arbitration salary and stash him in AAA or the bench in the hopes that he becomes the next Chris Davis.
Mets trade Ike Davis to a RTTBNL (Rich Team To Be Named Later).
Mets receive a AAA RP pitching prospect (24-25 yrs old, not a big prospect but decent fastball and middle-relief potential). edit: I was asked to complete this trade within the comments, so I chose Ike heading to the Yankees for RP prospect, Jose A. Ramirez
After being beaten to the punch for the past two years on the FA market, the Mets say "hell yeah, let’s get in on this action!"
Mets decide that Abreu has holes in his swing and will need to make adjustments, but feel that the power is there for him to hit many, many homers.
Mets sign 1B Jose Abreu to a 6 yr/68 million dollar deal.
The Mets scouts decide that Tanaka is going to be a very solid pitcher…if not an ace, a solid number 2. However, the Mets can’t scrounge up the cash for the initial bid of 45-50 million…bummer.
With d’Arnaud gone, the Mets need a solid, veteran catcher who can help guide the young starters over the next two years. Carlos Ruiz is one of baseball’s best game managers. The Mets also add a veteran backup catcher at the expense of Jeremy Recker’s roster spot.
Mets sign C Carlos Ruiz to a 2 yr/10 million dollar deal.
Mets sign C John Buck (or John Buck equivalent) to a 2 yr/3 million dollar deal.
SS was Tejada’s job to lose, and he lost it. Right now, he’s an upgrade defensively at second, but he’ll need to work his way back into the mix whenever there is an injury. Peralta’s PED scandal has killed his FA value, and he likes what the Mets are doing this offseason.
Mets sign SS Jhonny Peralta to a 2 yr/15 million dollar deal, convincing him to move to 2B.
The Mets still need pitching depth, especially if Mejia’s health is uncertain. They burn the last of Mejia’s options by keeping him in AAA to start the year, and they sign a couple of back-end starters to 1 year deals, with incentives. They also sign a couple of minor league deals with starters looking to re-establish value.
ROSTER AND BUDGET BREAKDOWN
The total roster budget comes in at 77.8 million, under the proposed 80 million. There is some wiggle room to add pieces should the Mets be in the hunt in July. Arbitration values were determined through MLBTR estimates. 2014 salary values were determined through Baseball Reference.
With minor league signings to guys like Quintanilla, the Mets should have sufficient injury depth to the bullpen, rotation, and roster.
PROPOSED 2014 DAILY LINEUPBogaerts, SS
Bradley Jr, LF
Evaluate Flores, Bogaerts, Bradley Jr. and Lagares over a full year, evaluate Montero, Syndergaard, and Mejia over whatever months they wind up pitching, and hope that Buccholz, Gee, Mejia, Parnell, and Niese all have healthy, solid years so that they can boost their trade value.
If the Mets are close to contending at the All-Star break, they will look to acquire salary dump players who cost little in terms of prospects in order to make a run. If not, they may look to move guys like Kazmir, Harang, Parnell, Gee, etc.
With Stanton already extended, Flores/Bogaerts/Bradley Jr./Lagares completing their evaluation periods, Harvey returning as the ace, and Syndergaard emerging as a top-of-the-line starter, the Mets are in a good position to extend their budget and add real complimentary pieces that will put them over the top and make them a legit contender. If the budget is still incredibly tight, they can look to move guys like Parnell, Buccholz, Gee, or Niese in order to free up space, though they really should be going for it at this point.