First lets take a look at the departures from the 2015 roster:
Free Agents: Yoenis Cespedes, Niel Walker, Kelly Johnson, Bartolo Colon, Alejandro De Aza, James Loney, Jerry Blevins, Fernando Salas, Jon Niese
Non-tendered: Justin Ruggiano, Jim Henderson
More early offseason contract decisions
Lucas Duda: Arb3 $7Mil
Matt Harvey: Arb2 $5Mil
Jeurys Familia: Arb2 $8.5Mil
Addison Reed: Arb4 $10.5Mil
Jacob deGrom: Arb1 $4.5Mil
Travis d'Arnaud: Arb1 $2Mil
Wilmer Flores: Arb1 $2Mil
Zack Wheeler: Arb1 $1Mil
Rene Rivera: Arb3 $2Mil
Josh Edgin: Arb2 $800K
All of those decisions were relatively easy since all these players were productive and are still a bargain compared to their potential productivity.
Now lets look at the current roster before we make any trades or signings.
Catcher - Travis d'Arnaud/Rene Rivera/Kevin Plawecki. They have depth at the Catcher position, just not quality depth. I don't think I'm ready to give up on d'Arnaud though, and I don't think catcher was really the biggest hole on the team last year all things considered. $2M
Also lets not forget just a year ago d'Arnaud was capable of this.
First Base - Lucas Duda is looking for a comeback year. $7M
It'll be nice to have this guy back for a full year.
Second Base - With Niel Walker gone the options are T.J. Rivera, Wilmer Flores, and Gavin Cecchini. $.55M
Third Base - David Wright is a huge question mark at this point. His PR work regarding his injury rehab is not totally inspiring. $20M
While I hope to see more David Wright celebrations I think this video illustrates who we can blame for Wright's bad back.
Shortstop - Asdrubal Cabrera has the position solidified for now. $8.5M
More bat flips please.
He's the best
Right Fielder - Jay Bruce, ugghh. $13M
The Bench - Currently consists of:
C - Rene Rivera $2M
IF - Jose Reyes $.55M
IF - Wilmer Flores $2M
OF - Juan Lagares $4.5M
OF - Brandon Nimmo $.55M
There are not a lot of glaring holes in this lineup, but not very many bright spots either. Most notably, the defense of this unit would be below average at best especially in the outfield, and the only player coming off of a truly great season is Asdrubal Cabrera. Additionally there are a lot of injury concerns including d'Arnaud, Duda, and Wright obviously. The bench is decent.
Rotation - Noah Syndergaard $.55M, Matt Harvey $5M, Jacob deGrom $4.5M, Steven Matz $.55M, and Robert Gsellman $.55M.
Happy trails Fat Man, hope you find what you're looking for in Barves country.
There's really not much you can do to this unit besides hope for better health. You wouldn't want to trade any of the injured guys and be selling low and the others are too good, young, and cheap to sell on this early. The only other way to improve the starting pitching is to add depth that you can keep in AAA in case of more injuries. Also I didn't include Wheeler, but I imagine him and Gsellman would be in competition in Spring Training for the fifth spot. The loser goes to the bullpen, but I like Wheeler better for that role considering his long recovery and his spotty command in the past. Being the swingman will give Wheeler the chance to ramp up slowly and the team can make sure he doesn't get overworked ideally.
The Bullpen -
CL - Familia $8.5M
SU - Reed $10.5M
RHP - Robles $.55M
RHP - Lugo $.55M
LHP - Smoker $.55M
LHP - Edgin $.8M
RHP - Wheeler $1M
With Blevins and the non-tenders gone and Wheeler coming back this doesn't look like a bad bullpen on paper, but Familia will be out for at least some period of time with his suspension and it would be nice to add another quality arm or two. After all that I have the running salary total at around $109.5Mil which doesn't leave that much for free agency unless you discount Wright's insurance money when he misses half the season, or Familia's suspension, neither of which I will account for because they are not certainties.
This team has a high risk of injury that it would be hard to get away from without tearing most of it down. So my goal this offseason is to try to make the team more flexible and deep to better protect against the injuries and hopefully make it more aesthetically pleasing in the process.
Step One: Trade Jay Bruce to someone for something.
Jay Bruce probably doesn't have a lot of trade value, but he has to have some considering he is capable of hitting 30 homers and only costs $13M next year. If the Mets didn't have other options he might have a place on this team. In the real world I'd like to think that the Mets could do even better than what I am going to propose, but for the purposes of realism I am going to trade Bruce to the Orioles for a couple of depth pieces in Parker Bridwell and Christian Walker. The Orioles are looking for a lefty outfielder per MLB Trade Rumors and Bruce fits the bill and should be in the O's price range. Bridwell is a former starting pitcher who the Orioles converted to releif this year and made his major league debut giving up a bunch of dingers in 3.1 innings. Bridwell will be AAA depth, but the hope is that the Mets can work some of their developmental pitching magic and eke out a middle releiver or backup starter. Christian Walker is a first baseman who the Orioles started converting to outfield because he is blocked by Chris Davis and Trey Mancini. Walker has some decent pop, but is somewhat strikeout prone. Regardless he would easily be a better option than James Loney in case of a Duda injury. The Orioles would take all of Bruce's salary clearing $13M from the Mets payroll.
Step 2: Trade Jose Reyes, Seth Lugo, Andrew Church, and John Mora to Padres for Brad Hand and Yangervis Solarte.
Reyes should have some pretty decent value now that he is being paid the league minimum, he had a good half year, and the domestic violence is fading in everyone's minds. If Reyes had played a full year at that level of production he would have been a 3 WAR player. Unfortunately for him though wth Familia's own domestic violence problems the Mets may feel like it would not look so good to carry a bunch of these guys at a time. The Padres also really need a shortstop and pitching. Lugo and Church give them pieces for now and the future and Reyes is a potential trade deadline chip if they are terrible again next year. Mora is just a low level throw in because it felt a little light on the Mets side. The Mets get a cheap, dominant lefty reliever with three more years of control and another switch hitting infielder who has played everywhere but shortstop to replace Neil Walker. This might be my third year in a row banging the Solarte drum. I swear I'm not his biggest fan, I just think he's a really good fit for the team. He also comes with three years of control and should be able to bounce between second and third depending on whether or not Wright is in the lineup. The hope is that Wright stays on the feild and productive long enough for Amed Rosario to get a few months in AAA. Once he is ready to come up Solarte and Cabrera can take over at second with Solarte manning third full time.
Plus moar bat flipz!
Step 3: Sign Yoenis Cespedes 4 years $100Mil, 5th year mutual option $25Mil with $10Mil buyout and bonus incentives ($1Mil for each Gold Glove or MVP award, $.25 for each Silver Slugger or All-Star appearance) Total Value $125Mil with $12.5Mil in incentives $110 guaranteed.
Sure there's a chance he gets more guaranteed money elsewhere, but there's also the small chance he really does like playing for the Mets and with them opening up the wallet and guaranteeing him left field he does come back. The buyout gives the Mets just a little protection, and the bonuses give Cespedes something to keep playing hard for.
Did I say MOOOAAAR BAT FLIPZ!!!!
Step 4: Trade Michael Conforto to Oakland A's for Frankie Montas, Skye Bolt, and Jared Lyons
This might be an unpopular move, but with Cespedes back and Granderson still around I don't want to see another year of Conforto getting jerked around for playing time, and I also don't want to see him play center. I also still believe Nimmo can be a solid regular once Granderson leaves (probably not as good a hitter as Conforto, but maybe close and with better secondary tools). The A's however really need position players and should have plenty of room in their outfield. The Mets get back Montas who has the stuff to be a dominant closer (read 100 MPH fastball) and decent secondaries and once he learns the Warthen slider he will be nasty. Skye Bolt is worth having around for his name alone, but he supposedly has above average tools and could be a switch hitting major league center fielder down the road. Jared Lyons is a lefty college reliever who has posted some great strikeout rates in A ball and could move quickly to give the Mets more bullpen depth.
Step 5: Sign Carlos Gomez 1 year $10Mil with a mutual option of $8Mil
Carlos Gomez has the potential to be an all-start center fielder if healthy who can platoon with Juan Lagares. Although Gomez hits from the right side as does Lagares he has relatively even splits for his career and in the past two years has been better against righties. He has been pretty horrible for the past year and a half, which is why he'll be so cheap, but should still be able to provide average center field defense and if Kevin Long can get him to start pulling the ball hard again maybe he gets back to the 20+ homer threat that he was in Milwaukee. The big question is health. If I was the real Mets GM hopefully I would be able to compare physical results with whatever stopped the trade for him in 2015. If health is still questionable I would take basically the same value contract and just give it to Jon Jay who hits lefty and has less upside, but also less risk.
Plus, not exactly a bat flip, but there is this.
Step 6: Sign Greg Holland 2 years $12Mil with some incentives based on IP and games finished.
With Colon being off the market I still had a little money to spend so it might as well go to a moderate risk high reward player for the bullpen. I have no idea how he would be valued, but considering his value pre-injury, normal recovery, and interest from other teams I would think he'll get more than the Ryan Madson $250K the Royals gave out. If Holland returns to anywhere close to his previous form he gives the Mets a potentially bonkers bullpen with Reed, Hand, Wheeler, Montas, Smoker, and Robles. The Mets would have minor league depth in Gabriel Ynoa, Paul Sewald, Kevin McGowan, Parker Bridwell, plus some other NRIs I would bring in.
Step 7: Sign Kelly Johnson 1 year $3Mil
Kelly Johnson comes back and gets a small raise on the $2 million he made last year. I don't really see any other team besides maybe the Braves offering more. Signing him gives the Mets some balance and flexibility on the bench while ensuring that the Mets don't have to trade away any more low level pitching prospects to get him a third year in a row.
Step 8: Minor League contracts and NRIs for Bud Norris, RHP; Brett Oberholtzer, LHP; and Nick Buss, OF.
These guys protect against spring training injuries and have some upside. They round out the AAA depth, assuming they don't opt out, with Rosario, Ty Kelly, Christian Walker, Dom Smith, Cecchini, etc.
Step 9: What to do with Familia
Familia poses a problem for the team. On the one hand he's a really great player. On the other hand he's got the domestic violence black mark, he's due to get paid a lot of money (and even more in 2018 his last arb year), and there's going to be a lot of fans who will not want to see him in the spotlight closing games for the Mets. I think however long he is suspended for gives the Mets some time to sort out the bullpen. My plan would be to keep Familia through his suspension and let him come back and pitch for a month. Hopefully this would be in time for the trade deadline and Familia could show he is still a great pitcher. I would keep Reed in the closer's role and hopefully Holland, Hand, Wheeler, and Montas give the team plenty of reason to trade Familia either for a team need (perhaps a catcher) or for just prospects. For that reason my AAOP cost table below does not include Famila. He would maybe get paid a couple million by the Mets, but for the most part his salary will be forfeited through suspension or traded.
I think that leaves us with a team of a similar talent level to last year. The payroll is at $136Mil so there's room to deal with Familia's salary if he's not traded. The Mets won 87 games and got a wild card berth in 2016 with some better health and possibly a boost from the quality AAA depth as opposed to last years injury replacements I could definitely see the Mets winning 90+ games with this team and competing against the Nationals for the NL East Division.
|2017 New York Mets