Remember that wave of nostalgia you felt watching Jose Reyes in the leadoff spot? The thrill of the chase as he danced off first base? The unusual enthusiasm he radiated even from the dugout? The uncanny double-take you must have done seeing him at the hot corner?
Well, let's do that again! Only this time, without the unpleasant and tempering baggage of domestic violence. That is, unfortunately, always going to be part of Reyes' legacy. But there are plenty more ex-Mets ready for their own shot at redemption.
This off-season, Sandy Alderson's Mets will only acquire ex-Mets to bolster the roster, specifically those who wore orange and blue during the miserable collapse-stricken years of 2007-2009. Dust off those old jerseys! The Amazin' young pitching staff is going to get a boost from the wayback machine. Wrongs will be Wrighted, and players who are unfairly remembered for doing sad things like striking out looking to end the NLCS will be given another opportunity to prove themselves "true Mets."
But first...we gotta save some money.
Step One- Hardball Is Back (aka trim the payroll)
Re-catching all that Energy is gonna be expensive. So the Mets are going to have to find some ways to save some money.
The Mets 2017 payroll begins at $105 million, assuming raises for all arbitration-eligible players. That's going to go down when the Mets non-tender Lucas Duda and Rene Rivera*.
Although Duda seemed to be healthy by the end of last year, and has been a formidable presence in the Mets lineup over the past few seasons, he'll be 31 this year and his profile does not age well. He's a fan favorite, but this winter the Mets won't play favorites, unless those favorites are from 2007-2009. Rivera's departure is a bit easier to swallow. Altogether that gives them an extra $9 million to play with.
But that's not all.
In order to save a bit more money, at least for this coming year, the Mets are going to add some intrigue to an unsurprising and anticipated player dump by...re-acquiring a reliever whose Mets' career ERA is 0.00:
|METS-ORIOLES BLOCKBUSTER ▴
This move is redemption for not one, but two General Managers. Although the Mets did make the playoffs, Jay Bruce was terrible and his acquisition was odd. He gave them one too many lefty corner outfielders and in hindsight, but maybe some foresight as well, Michael Conforto could have performed just as sub-adequately as Bruce did in his brief time with the team.
But the return in the deal also continues the career of one ex-Met whose tenure was inexplicably cut short back in 2009; after having taken him in the rule V draft, Darren O'Day was placed back on waivers so the Mets could use Nelson Figueroa in a spot start in early April. O'Day was claimed by Texas and Figueroa was sent back to AAA after one game. This was not Omar Minaya at his best (or his worst I guess :/).
The deal is a win for both teams. In Bruce, the Orioles get a solid RF replacement for Trumbo; his one-dimensional power is a profile Baltimore has done well with recently. They'll also get a potential substitute for O'Day in Erik Goeddel, a non-terrible cheap option to soak up some middle innings.
O'Day took a step back last year, but he gives the Mets a strong bullpen arm, and some insurance if Familia is suspended for any time. Baltimore will provide the Mets with $3 in each of 2018-2019 to even out the deal.
The Mets will save about $6 in 2017 with this move. That brings them all the way down to $90 million, before hard work
Step Two- Replace Neil Walker
Last Minute Update (4:40 pm EST): Neil Walker was fantastic last year...but as he last played on the Mets, he doesn't quite qualify as an ex-Met, per se. And he isn't really in need of any redemption. Instead of risking the $17.3 MM price tag, the Mets will instead forego the QO, and use all those savings on a player who should never have left the Mets to begin with: Justin Turner. Turner was not a Met during the 2007-2009 period but he may as well have been.The Mets will open their offseason by signing Turner to a 5-year, 86 MM deal. The deal will pay him 14 MM in 2017 and 18 MM from 2018-2021. Yes, that's backloading things a bit, but I feel like it is within the bounds of a fair offer. Turner will be deployed in much the same role as Walker would have, provided he and Terry Collins to some meeting of the minds. But as this AAOP is all about redemption, let us assume the Mets management finds it within their hearts to forgive whatever attitude issues Turner may or may not have had.
Step Three- We Believe in Comebacks!!!!!!
Your season has come! And not a decade too soon.
First, the obvious: The Mets need to replace Yoenis Cespedes' bat in the lineup. Ultimately, the Mets will not be able to compete with the Yankees garbage offer. So the two New York teams will effectively agree to swap marquis sluggers, as the Mets shock the baseball world and sign CARLOS BELTRAN to a two-year, 25 MM deal. Apparently they are actually still paying him deferred money from the last contract. In any event, he'll agree to play 100 or so games on the field and in return the Mets will finally have Beltran, Wright and Reyes back in the same uniform, if not on the field all at the same time.
Beltran by himself is not quite enough to make up for the loss of Cespedes. But because he does come cheaper, the Mets can now afford to return another ex-Met whose homecoming has been long in the making: Carlos Gomez. Gomez' resurgence with Texas at the end of the year makes him expensive, but not too expensive. In this AAOP the Mets will offer him a contract identical to Beltran's, except with an opt-out clause at the end of the year. That way, if he really is healthy next year, he can go back on the market for a bigger payday. And if he isn't...well, flags fly forever and the Mets will be fine-
-because they're going to sign a great insurance policy in Angel Pagan, who was one of the few bright spots on the Mets in 2009, and then spent two solid years as a starting CF before being traded in one of Alderson's worst moves as a Mets GM. Pagan is no longer a full-time player, having lost a step in CF, but he should be good for .280 off the bench and some pinch-running, corner defense duties. Together Pagan and (not Juan Lagares, he'll be traded down below) make for a great 4/5 OF.
Pagan will get a contract identical to the now-departed Alejandro de Aza: 1 year, 5.75 MM.
With the remaining $$ to get up to $140 million, the Mets will sign another arm for the bull-pen: the newly ringed Joe Smith. Smith gives the Mets another side-arming righty whose redundancy will confuse hitters just enough to make a two-year, $10.5 million pact worthwhile.
Just to be super-safe, the Mets will offer Spring Training invites to a handful of old-timers: Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese, Josh Thole, Nelson Figueroa, hey, Pedro Feliciano is probably around somewhere. They won't make the team but they WILL make for some very fun scavenger-hunt hat-signing/photo ops in Spring Training. And that will generate good vibes for the season to come. Intangibles.
|2017 Salary (MM)
|2017 Moment of Redemption
|4-HR game off Adam Wainwright
|Pinch-runs for Flores, Pinch-hits for Wheeler
|Not being a Putz
|Brings Home a Ring for Not-SF
|ERA < 11.45
|Reminds us of RA Dickey
Step Four- Fitting Together All the Puzzle Pieces
All these signings leave the Mets with too many outfielders. To make this work, Michael Conforto is going to get a first baseman's mitt. Justin Turner plays at second. Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores back up the infield. Josh Thole's presence in March sufficiently motivates Kevin Plawecki to be not-terrible and get his OBP or SLG over .300.
The Mets rotation is vulnerable without Colon but there's a last minute fix for that. There is a 2008 Mets draftee who would fit in nicely at the back-end of a rotation full of flamethrowers. He is also set to make the same exact amount as Juan Lagares. The Mets OF was already over-crowded anyway; the following trade is an attempt at a course-correction.
|An OF named Preston
The opening day roster is also now super-old and super-gimpy, which is also very good, because it provides fodder for the narrative: the Nimmos and Cecchinis and Rosarios and maybe even Dominic Smiths will be around by the end of the year, providing enough depth to get the Mets to around 90-95 wins.
The opening day lineup, then looks like this:
LETS DO IT AGAIN!!!!Okay here's some proof I'm not completely FOS, from FanGraphs Projections:
*Fun Fact: Rene Rivera was actually on the Mets in 2009. In a rather insane twist, Rivera, then 25, spent that year with AAA Buffalo, hitting a very Rene Rivera .234-.272-.406 in 258 PA.