The Mets have been playing solid baseball since the All Star break. This has obviously been a welcomed sight by Met fans. There has been lots of talk about the possibility of the Mets finishing in second place in the division, which would look great, but a second place finish in the NL East could actually hurt the Mets in the long run.
The Mets are currently sitting in third place in the NL East and only one game out of second place in the division. They trail the Atlanta Braves by 16.5 games in the division and they trail the Cincinnati Reds by 10 games in the Wild Card with 49 games left to play. According to ESPN, the Mets have a 1.7% chance of making the playoffs. Clearly the Mets have a severe uphill climb to have a shot of making the playoffs, but second place in the division is within reach.
The consequence of finishing in a distant second place would be that the Mets would most likely have to forfeit their first round draft pick in 2014. The MLB draft order is determined based on the win/loss record of the previous year. The teams that finish with the 10 worst records in the previous year have protected picks, which means that they will not lose their pick if they sign a free agent who has received a qualifying offer. Teams that finish outside of the bottom 10 will be forced to forfeit their first round pick if they sign a free agent who has received a qualifying offer.
Currently, there are 11 MLB teams with worse records than the Mets. If the Mets finish outside of the bottom 10 in 2013 then the Mets will be forced to give up a draft pick in 2014 if they sign a free agent who has received a qualifying offer This exact situation was a hot topic of debate in the winter of 2012-2013 when the Mets considered signing Michael Bourn. It was a polarizing topic among Met fans because some did not want to give up the draft pick to get Bourn. The Mets wound up making an offer to Bourn, but Bourn received a better offer from the Indians and signed with them instead. The Mets took Dominic Smith, a seventeen year-old first baseman, with their first round pick in 2013. Scouts give rave reviews about Smith, who is believed to be a solid fielder and a pure hitter with raw power.
The Mets will enter the 2014 season with a lot of money to spend along with expectations that the Mets will sign a high profile free agent outfielder, such as Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo. If the Mets finish in second place in the division in 2013 then that should put them outside of the bottom 10 win/loss records in the Major Leagues, thus resulting in the Mets forfeiture of a first round draft pick in 2014 if they wound up signing Ellsbury or Choo because they will most likely receive qualifying offers.
This creates a very interesting situation for the Mets. Obviously, Met fans want the team to finish strong and do well the rest of the season. Sure, a second place finish in the NL East would feel good, but it would still not result in a playoff appearance. The Mets have so many holes to fill in the 2014 offseason and the front office was hesitant to sign free agents if it cost them a first round pick in the past. The Mets need some premier players to give them a chance to be competitive in 2014 and beyond. So which of these scenarios would Met fans prefer?
- A strong finish resulting in a distant second place finish in 2013 with no playoff appearance and the forfeiture of a first round draft pick in 2014 if they sign a free agent who has received a qualifying offer
- A sub-.500 finish resulting in a distant third or fourth place finish in 2013 with no playoff appearance and a top 10 first round draft pick in 2014 plus the ability to keep that pick if they sign a free agent who has received a qualifying offer
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