I know this submission is a couple hours late, but if you think it's a wise enough plan, then please consider it in the contest.
For those of you who don’t think they Mets have any chance at a postseason berth in 2014, think again. Within the very money constraints that Sandy Alderson has to work with, I have constructed a realistic roster that many would consider a playoff team.
How this is Possible?
1. The Mets Have Prospects, and lots of them.
My mock GM scenario has the team trading away Wilmer Flores, Gavin Cecchini, Domingo Tapia, Hansel Robles, Miller Diaz, and yes, Zack Wheeler. How else would they get the bats they’re looking for? It’s going to have to be through trades.
2. Some safe, veteran signings to sure up the rotation and bullpen
Step One: The Trade
The Mets need offense, and they need it for cheap. With an 80 million dollar budget, that eliminates signing guys like Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jhonny Peralta. It also ends any talks of mega-trades for Andre Ethier, Troy Tulowitzki or Jose Reyes. All six of those names would be my top targets if the budget was closer to 100 million.
To me, the biggest holes on the current 2014 Mets lie in the outfield and at shortstop. There are very few teams that have elite players at both of those positions and with small salaries. Enter: The Milwaukee Brewers.
If I’m Sandy Alderson, I do everything I can to bring in both Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez. Gomez batted .284 and slugged 24 home runs and is clearly entering the prime of his career. Segura is the most promising young shortstop in baseball, stealing 44 bases and batting .294 in his rookie year. Terry Collins can pencil in, Segura-6, Gomez-8, Wright-5 each and every day, and feel really good about doing so.
Obviously, acquiring Milwaukee’s two young cornerstones would come at a high cost. I tried to convince myself that they would take a deal centered around Rafael Montero, Juan Lagares, Gavin Cecchini and Wilmer Flores, but I don’t think they would. So I decided to keep Montero and Lagares, and offer the big fish, Zack Wheeler.
To me, having seen each of the Big Three pitch in person, Wheeler will be the least successful. He only has two quality offerings and locates them worse than both Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. So as much as I’d like to see the Mets produce their own Hudson-Mulder-Zito or even Glavine-Smoltz-Maddux, I think acquiring offense is more important.
On a side note, I threw in Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada, so Milwaukee would get three-quarters of their infield in one deal (Flores over Rickie Weeks at 2B and Ike over Juan Francisco at 1B). I figured an ace, three-quarters of an infield and two young prospects would get the job done. And we wouldn’t have to keep debating about what to do with Ike and Tejada.
So in the end, here’s the deal:
Mets Get: Brewers Get:
SS Jean Segura SP Zack Wheeler
CF Carlos Gomez INF Wilmer Flores
SS prospect Gavin Cecchini
SS Ruben Tejada
1B Ike Davis
RP prospect Miller Diaz
So with that, the Mets sure up SS and CF. In exchange, they leave a gaping hole in their rotation and will head into the 2014 season without Harvey, Wheeler or Syndergaard on the roster. They NEED an anchor in the rotation. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee isn’t a 1-2 punch. So….
The Mets Sign Tim Hudson to a 2 year, $24 million contract
Hudson has gone seven straight years with an ERA below 4, and has a career mark of 3.44. He’s an excellent No. 2 starter and the Mets can get a bargain for him because he’s coming off a major injury and is 37 years old. 2 years for 12 a season should be enough.
Hudson will help mentor Jenrry Mejia, Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard, all of whom will spend time in the 2014 rotation.
I’m still not satisfied with an outfield of Eric Young, Carlos Gomez and Juan Lagares, so I’d acquire another cheap option via trade. This time, I’m attacking the elite, big market teams who may be looking for pitching depth. Assuming Andre Ethier is too expensive, I’d talk to Boston:
Mets Get: Red Sox:
OF Daniel Nava P prospect Domingo Tapia
P prospect Hansel Robles
One high-level prospect (Tapia) and one mid-level guy (Robles) should get the deal done. Tapia struggled this season, and even though he throws 100, he might never be the closer people make him out to be, so I’m willing to give up on him.
On the other hand, Nava batted .303 in 134 games, driving in 66 runs last year. If the Sox re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury, Nava is extremely expendable, considering they have Victorino and Gomes under contract, and have Jackie Bradley knocking on the Major League door.
So the outfield is looking much better. Last but not least: the Bullpen.
Every championship team has a good bullpen, and the Mets don’t have one. So that’s where I put the bulk of my free agent spending. I contemplated signing a Raul Ibanez, Stephen Drew or Coco Crisp with the remaining 12 million dollars, but thought the team would benefit more with three legitimate bullpen arms.
So, the best three arms I could get with 12 million are:
RHP Grant Balfour (3 years, $14 million)
RHP Joe Smith (2 years, $9 million)
LHP Scott Downs (1 year, $3 million)
Smith has a career ERA of 2.97, including a 2.29 mark in 2013. Downs would be the lefty-specialist Terry Collins loves, and would take the load off Josh Edgin. Balfour would compete with Bobby Parnell for the closer’s role.
All three guys have different styles of pitching and could provide leadership to what will be a pretty young staff. Balfour’s intensity and psychotic tendencies are exactly what this team needs, and Smith and Downs will combine for one-batter, seventh inning assignments. There, the Mets bullpen goes from below-average to elite, just like that.
One last thing, I don’t know if I can live with another year of Anthony Recker or Juan Centeno as the backup to Travis d’Arnaud, so i decided to bring in the low-risk, somewhat-high-reward bat of Ramon Hernandez on a 1-year, $1 million contract.
So here’s the offseason in a nutshell:
SS Jean Segura (via trade)
CF Carlos Gomez (via trade)
LF Daniel Nava (via trade)
C Ramon Hernandez (1 year, $1 million contract)
SP Tim Hudson (2 year, $24 million contract)
RP Grant Balfour (3 year, $14 million contract)
RP Joe Smith (2 year, $19 million contract)
RP Scott Downs (1 year, $3 million contract)
SP Zack Wheeler (traded to Milwaukee)
RP Scott Atchison (non-tendered)
SS Omar Quintanilla (non-tendered)
INF Wilmer Flores (traded to Milwaukee)
SS Ruben Tejada (traded to Milwaukee)
1B Ike Davis (traded to Milwaukee)
RP LaTroy Hawkins (Free Agent)
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka (Free Agent)
SP Aaron Harang (Free Agent)
RP Frank Francisco (Free Agent)
So after all that, here she is. Your new and improved New York Mets:
OPENING DAY ROSTER 2014 (with salaries)
SS Jean Segura ($500 K)
CF Carlos Gomez ($8 MILL)
3B David Wright ($20 MILL)
C Travis d’Arnaud ($500 K)
2B Daniel Murphy ($6 MILL)
LF Daniel Nava ($500 K)
1B Lucas Duda ($500 K)
RF Juan Lagares ($500 K)
C Ramon Hernandez ($1 MILL)
INF Justin Turner ($800 K)
INF Josh Satin ($500 K)
OF Eric Young ($500 K)
OF Matt den Dekker ($500 K)
Tim Hudson ($12 MILL)
Jon Niese ($5 MILL)
Dillon Gee ($4 MILL)
Jenrry Mejia ($500 K)
Rafael Montero ($500 K)
or Carlos Torres ($500 K)
Grant Balfour ($4 MILL)
Bobby Parnell ($3 MILL)
Joe Smith ($4 MILL)
Scott Downs ($3 MILL)
Josh Edgin ($500 K)
Jeurys Familia ($500 K)
Vic Black ($500 K)
PAYROLL: $78 MILLION
This is a playoff team in my opinion. The shape of the New York Mets has changed. Instead of leaning on a strong rotation, they are a team with a shut-down bullpen and a speedy, high-octane offense. Their five outfielders (Gomez, Lagares, Nava, Young and den Dekker) would be the fastest and best defensive outfield in the Majors, and that’s something that can’t be overstated.
A lot will depend on how Travis d’Arnaud develops and whether Lucas Duda can hit. I’d expect Josh Satin to get some action at first.
Noah Syndergaard will enter the rotation in June or July, replacing whoever is doing the worst between Carlos Torres, Jenrry Mejia or Rafael Montero. I'm confident that Mejia will have a good year after how he pitched in his four starts in 2013. He looked like an impact Major League pitcher, and I think his stuff will allow him to sustain success as the team's fourth starter.
If d’Arnaud, Duda and Syndergaard can provide a lift in the second half, this could be a championship team that has Matt Harvey returning the following year.