Each offseason, we lay to rest the hopes and dreams of the previous Mets season, to be replaced by new hopes and dreams, however illusory, of the season to come. In that very spirit, the time has come for you to put on your thinking caps and assemble the best 2014 team you can, given certain resources and an agreed-upon framework for roster construction. We call it the Amazin' Avenue Offseason Plan contest, or AAOP. If you've seen that acronym pop up from time to time in the comments or elsewhere and weren't quite sure what to make of it, now you know.
Here's how it works: All entries must be submitted via FanPost. We will select the five best of the bunch, and then we'll present those finalists to the community for a vote. We will also be periodically bumping some of the best plans to the front page.
I don't think anyone really knows what the Mets' payroll will look like next year, but they have $33.55 million committed exclusive of any contracts handed out this offseason to their arbitration-eligible players. They only have two players—David Wright and Jon Niese—officially under contract for 2014, though lots of pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players will be retained. Let's be generous and put their payroll ceiling at $80 million.
As for the rules and guidelines, they are as follows.
- The title of your FanPost must begin with "AAOP:" (no quotes). You can follow that with whatever title you want, but it must begin with "AAOP:" so we can easily distinguish it from non-contest FanPosts. If you do not follow this rule your entry will be excluded from consideration. It's a very simple rule so try not to screw it up.
- The deadline for FanPost submission is 5pm EDT on Sunday, October 27. No exceptions.
- There is no mandatory length, but you'll want to be as verbose as is necessary to elucidate the genius of your plan.
- Total 2014 payroll can't exceed $80 million, give or take a few bucks. Same goes for 2015 and beyond, so don't try to backload your deals to skirt the 2014 payroll restriction.
- Use these contract values for any arbitration-eligible players you wish to re-sign for 2014.
- Use spell-check and proofread for grammar, punctuation, and usage errors. If you can't be bothered with making your entry readable then we can't be bothered with actually reading it. I'm not saying we'll dock you points for omitting it, but I'm not saying we won't.
- Try to make it look good. Add some images and some tables (feel free to use this grission-y HTML table-maker). MS Paint something. Strong writing, cogency, creativity, and thoughtfulness are of paramount importance, but aesthetics still count. I'm not saying that a straight essay can't win, but I am encouraging you to spice it up a bit.
- Feasibility of plan execution is important. Don't propose a trade of Bobby Parnell and Lucas Duda for Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey. It's not going to happen.
- Whether the Mets might realistically execute your plan doesn't matter as long as the plan itself can be considered realistic given the current free agent and trade markets.
- Free agent salaries should also be realistic. We're not going to quibble over a million dollars here or there (who would?), so if you want to sign Robinson Cano to a contract and set his average annual salary at $20 million or $22 million it doesn't much matter for the purpose of this exercise.
- For 2014 free agents, use this list. For 2014 payroll obligations, use this spreadsheet.
And now the swag:
First place: Carlos Beltran autographed baseball.
Second place: Dwight Gooden autographed baseball.
Third place: Omir Santos autographed baseball.
The Amazin' Avenue Offseason Plan contest begins... NOW!
All entries are subject to the official rules, found here.