AAOP: Redeem Team


Greetings, fellow Mets fans. It's me again: your old friend, the Rally Parakeet. It's been over two years now since the wonderful cameramen at SNY caught me observing a fellow connoisseur of neon lime from my perch behind home plate, and clearly, sometime between the epic collapse against Kansas City and the 453rd injury of 2017, my mythical rally-starting powers wore off. Do not despair, however! I still find myself longing for the glory days of two years ago, and if there is not enough magic in my feathers to carry the Orange and Blue to another National League Pennant, perhaps I can help management build a team that doesn't need any magic.

It is with great enthusiasm, therefore, that I present to you my plan for the 2018 Redeem Team: a team that can not only atone for the failures of the 2017 Mets, but for the unfinished business 2015's Dream Team left behind. And most importantly, a team that can bring smiles to the faces of young Mets fans everywhere as they bring down The Most Irrelevant Perennial Playoff Contenders Ever in the NL East.

Let the planning begin!

Sifting through the Rubble- Reviewing the 2017 Season:


When a plane crashes, one of the most important steps in investigating the crash and improving safety measures so as to prevent similar crashes in the future, is to find the "black box" and determine where everything went so horribly wrong. This is also a crucial part of the process when one picks up the pieces after their baseball team busts.

So what happened to turn this team from world-beaters into cellar-dwellers, or as I might say, from pizza into birdseed?

A Lack of Reliable Options in the Bullpen:


(Pictured: Mets Bullpen, circa July 2017)

Aside from a pair of holdovers from the Dream Team in Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed, the Mets bullpen was a garbage truck explosion last year. Terry Collins' jaw-dropping ineptitude did hit this group particularly hard (see: Robles, Hansel) , but mismanagement aside, these relievers simply weren't very good. They finished 26th in baseball with a collective 1.2 fWAR, but noting that Reed and Blevins put up 1.9 fWAR by themselves gives a clearer picture of just how awful our relief corps was. Their xFIP was fourth worst in the National League, at 4.59, and only the Padres gave up more fly balls. 57.6% of all contact against our bullpen came in the form of line drives or fly balls, which is unambiguously bad in the era of the juiced baseball. This unit was set up to fail, given the poor management, lack of depth, and heavy preponderance of fly ball pitchers.


This section of the AAOP has been placed on the 15 day DL retroactive to October 1st and is unavailable for comment.

(I've been instructed to leave the coaching and training staffs alone, so I'll save my Barwis-related complaints for later).

.A Revolving Group of Subpar Infielders:


(Pictured: 2017 Mets Third Baseman, Version 10.3)

Management prioritized VETERAN PRESENTS over potential, and DINGERS over defense, and nowhere was this more evident than the infield (as well as our catchers). Here's hoping Jose Reyes, Rene Rivera, Neil Walker, and Asdrubal Cabrera never play another game for this team.

The 2017 Mets were truly an Amazin' Mess- from a bullpen that took one-run holes and turned them into insurmountable five run deficits, to a team that ranked last in baseball with minus-73 defensive runs saved, there are a lot of gaps to fill and messes to clean up. Now that we know what those problems were, let's get started.

Addition by Subtraction (Offseason Departures):


Asdrubal Cabrera: pay $2 million buyout and decline his option year (yes yes, I know)

Nori Aoki: released

Jose Reyes: free agency (and if they bring him back, I'm going to do whatever birds do when they're trying to scream)

Matt Reynolds: DFA

AJ Ramos: non-tender

Analysis: I realize that the Mets are completely enamored of Asdrubal Cabrera and his veteran presents, and they decided to exercise his option year, but for the purposes of this exercise, where the goal is to win games, not to keep declining players around, his poor health, average bat, and limited range are all out the door. Reyes is gone because shortstop is Amed Rosario's territory now, and now that we're not paying Jose the league minimum, it's no longer financially viable to keep him around. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Aoki was a short term solution who likely has no future here outside of Las Vegas. Thanks for the fun times and the slap-hitting, Nori. Matt Reynolds somehow managed to find his way onto the major league roster several times this season, but he has no future here either, and to keep him around would be wasting space on the 51s roster as well as the Mets' 40 man roster.

As for Ramos, we can find better relievers out there without using $9.2 million worth of payroll space, and there aren't really any trading partners who would take on that salary and send a major league ready prospect our way. Those two months were fun, AJ.

The Big Splash- A TRAID with the Reds:


Mets trade OF Juan Lagares; SP Steven Matz; SP Justin Dunn, and OF Desmond Lindsay to Cincinnati for IF Eugenio Suarez and RP Raisel Iglesias.

Why this makes sense for the Reds:

Initially, the Reds planned to be finishing their four-year rebuild, and beginning to progress toward contention in the NL Central by 2018, and despite being roughly a year behind schedule, all signs point to a "win soon" if not a win-now approach.

To be considered serious contenders in the NL Central, the Reds must address two major weaknesses:

1) A lack of production from their outfield, where Billy Hamilton has been tearing it up on the bases but offering little else, and Scott Schebler bringing a league average bat and poor defense to the table.

2) They have almost no starting pitchers.

In Lagares, they receive a Gold Glove Caliber outfielder and a league average bat with two years of team control and an option year with a relatively small buyout in $500,000. In Lindsay, they receive a high-upside physical specimen who could contribute valuable speed and power as early as the second half of 2019. Finally, in Matz and Dunn, they get a cost-controlled pitcher with mid-rotation potential, and a top pitching prospect who, as a former college player, may be able to move up the organizational ladder very quickly.

They fill major holes in the outfield and starting rotation, and the hole left behind by Suarez' departure can be easily filled, with four top third basemen reaching free agency within the next two years.

Why this makes sense for the Mets:

Suarez is the answer to our problems at third base. He's only 26 years old and entering Year 1 of the arbitration process this year, giving the Mets three years of production at a moderately low cost. He is widely considered to be a rising star, putting up a 0.356 wOBA and 117 wRC+ this year, and he was worth 4.1 fWAR, all significant jumps from previous career bests despite posting a lower BABIP than his career average, and seeing only a small jump in HR/FB rate. Additionally, he brings some positional flexibility to the table, as evidenced by reports that Cincinnati would consider moving him to shortstop after Zack Cozart left via free agency.

At the very least, we decide we want to make a play for Donaldson or Machado, and Suarez becomes a very valuable trade chip in July. At most, he's a player to build around and a valuable threat in the middle of our lineup for the next three years.

Iglesias, meanwhile, fills the hole we created by non-tendering AJ Ramos, only he is a better pitcher and comes at a significantly lower cost. He struck out almost 11 per 9 innings last season, and has an electric fastball (94-98 mph) which is not only a swing-and-miss pitch but also surprisingly effective at generating ground balls. He also brings a slider and changeup to the mix. Iglesias was worth 1.8 fWAR last season, and put up the best numbers of his career, with an FIP of 2.70 and SIERA well under 4. He served as the closer in Cincinnati, but should settle nicely into a setup role here in New York.

It's tough to lose Juan Lagares and two high-upside pitchers, but trading Lagares does open up some payroll space, and the loss of Matz and Dunn is worth the return: filling two major positions of need with viable long term solutions.

Shoring up the Bullpen:

Mets sign RP Addison Reed to a 4 year deal worth $40 million (9,9,11,11):


Now that the Mets have Familia and Iglesias in their bullpen, the late inning relief corps are finally beginning to round into form. Still, one more major acquisition could elevate this group from solid to great, making a lead after six innings extremely safe. Reed fits that bill. Having been with the Mets for two years, he's familiar with the NL East, and familiar with d'Arnaud and Plawecki behind the plate. He was worth 0.9 fWAR last season, posting a solid 3.67 FIP and an even better cFIP of 95. He would fill the 7th or 8th inning role to begin the season, but he also has experience as a closer should Familia falter. Familia/Iglesias/Reed would be among the best trio of late inning relievers in the game, and more importantly, allow Blevins to work primarily as a lefty specialist, filling in for the late innings only when one of the others is unavailable.

Mets trade 1B Dominic Smith and RP Gerson Bautista to Oakland for RP Blake Treinen and IF Max Schrock:

Why this makes sense for the A's:

After coming over from the Nationals at the 2017 Trade Deadline, Treinen became the closer for the rebuilding A's, but he really doesn't factor into their future plans, as he would be entering Year 3 of arbitration when Oakland are finally ready for contention (likely in 2020). Smith, meanwhile, would be an excellent fit for a rebuilding American League team: he is under team control past 2022, they can give him more time to develop as contending is not an immediate priority, and they can play him at first base, or DH him if they think Matt Olson is better defensively.

Bautista is an exciting fringe prospect with an electric fastball that can reach 100 miles per hour on the radar gun. If he can learn to command the slider and change, he could turn out to be much better than Treinen, and bring three more years of team control to the table. Schrock also has potential, but he's far from a sure thing, and his chances of beating out Franklin Barreto and Jorge Mateo for a starting middle infield spot are very low. Oakland can afford to let him go.

Why this makes sense for the Mets:

Smith may be a highly-ranked prospect who was considered the first baseman of the future by most Mets fans. The reality, however, is that we don't really know what we're getting from him until he's played a full season in the Orange and Blue, and worryingly, all the perceived flaws in his game were exposed last August and September. He looked lost at the plate and even worse on defense. He may be a perfectly cromulent starting first baseman a year or two down the road, but it seems better for him to acclimatize to the major leagues and develop as a hitter with a rebuilding team rather than a contending one. Treinen, on the other hand, would fit right in with the Mets in their quest to build the league's most dominant bullpen. He comes relatively cheap, and his ground ball-heavy contact profile not only helps fix the fly ball issue that plagued Mets relievers last year, but makes him an extremely useful asset when we're in need of a double play. He was worth a career-high 1.3 fWAR last year, posting a solid 3.42 FIP and a cFIP of 85, which was even better than Addison Reed's mark. Perhaps most intriguing is Treinen's electric fastball, which he has been able to command somewhat effectively, albeit inconsistently, and that indicates some interesting potential that could be harnessed for better results even at age 29.

Bautista has some intriguing fringe upside, but he almost certainly profiles as a reliever, and his chances of becoming the next Jeurys Familia are very low. We can afford to part with him to maximize our return in this deal. Schrock, meanwhile, is a very interesting mid-tier prospect who seems to have developed a cult following over at Fangraphs. The 23 year old South Carolina product has not stopped hitting ever since he was drafted by the Nationals, and he has made numerous appearances on Carson Cistulli's "Fringe Five", a weekly list that profiles five sleeper prospects and their most recent exploits. Schrock, who is known for his incredibly efficient hitting, hit .321 in AA last year and put up a wRC+ of 129. If you're looking for a somewhat absurd comparison, he brings to mind players like Daniel Murphy and Dustin Pedroia: scrappy middle infielders with marginal speed and not much power, but who can still flat-out rake. With Wilmer Flores being a decent short-term solution at second base, but not a long-term fix, with his league-average tools and a contract that expires after the 2019 season, it is imperative for the Mets to find a replacement sometime within the next year or two, and Schrock just may fit that bill.

Mets trade SP Matt Harvey to Baltimore for RP Brad Brach:


Why this makes sense for the Orioles:

Critics of this deal will be quick to point out Dan Duquette's hesitance to part with Brach last season, but things will be different this year now that Brach only has one year remaining on his contract. The Orioles' starting rotation is an absolute mess, and parting with their third-best reliever behind Britton and Givens to take a high-upside flier on Harvey for one year at a comparable price would be a wise move for them. This may be their last chance to contend before Machado leaves and they blow things up. The back end of their bullpen is certainly a strength, but they're not going anywhere without some starting pitching, and if they can trade a rental for a solid 3 starter without giving up any young talent (like Givens), that's a deal they have to take.

Why this makes sense for the Mets:

Brach is the final piece in our quest to build the most dominant bullpen in the National League, and a very good one at that. He was worth 1.1 fWAR last season, posting a 3.58 FIP and cFIP of 87, and comes relatively cheap for a reliever of his caliber at only $5.2 million. He would slide into the top middle-relief spot (like Neil Ramirez did last year), but could capably fill one of the setup positions in case of an injury.

Harvey, on the other hand, has been nothing but a headache for the Mets ever since the the start of the 2016 season, and while he may have more upside than guys like Lugo or Gsellman, his health problems, off-field issues, and cost make him a much riskier asset to keep. I'd love to see the Dark Knight stay in New York for one more year just as much as the next guy (well, maybe not as much as some of you), but we're probably not re-signing him after 2018, he's a high risk asset, and it's better to get something back from him than to let him walk for nothing.

Solidifying the Rotation:

Mets sign SP Lance Lynn to a 5 year deal worth $78 million (14/14/16/16/18):


(Pictured: The Mets' newly remodeled rotation)

With Matz, Harvey, and Wheeler (see below) leaving via trade, the Mets need another reliable arm to solidify their rotation. Hell, they probably needed one even if those guys all stayed, and with Arrieta and Darvish likely out of our price range, Lance Lynn would be an excellent third starter. In five full seasons with St. Louis, he never posted an ERA over 4.00, and only posted an FIP over 4.00 or cFIP over 100 once: last year, when his HR/FB rate also jumped over 100% from his 2015 numbers, an unusual spike that could be attributed to the juiced ball but is also likely to regress to the norm.

Despite his poor season last year, Spotrac estimates his current market value at $16 million, so it looks like teams will be expecting him to rebound (as they should), and it may actually be a good deal to be paying $14 million for the first two seasons. At worst, he's a nice innings-eater that can consistently get the ball to our dominant relievers with a lead or a hope of coming back. At best, he's the #2 to Syndergaard and deGrom's 1a and 1b.

Mets sign SP Bartolo Colon to a Minor League Deal:




The Biggest and Sexiest offseason signing: because you can never have enough pitching depth, and I'd give anything to see him play one more game in a Mets uniform. Need I really say more?

Adding some Big Bats- Trading for an Outfielder and Signing a First Baseman:

Mets trade SP Zack Wheeler, IF Andres Gimenez, RP Jacob Rhame, and IF Gavin Cecchini to Miami for OF Christian Yelich:


Why this makes sense for the Marlins:

With Derek Jeter taking over in Miami, rumors are swirling that he's looking to clear payroll space; moving players like Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Giancarlo Stanton, and even Christian Yelich. The Marlins are rebuilding (seriously, when are the Marlins NOT rebuilding amirite?); with Yelich set to receive $7 million in 2018 and even more money headed his way in 2019 and beyond, their cash-strapped front office will be looking to move him out for a haul of prospects.

Wheeler is a slight health risk considering it took him two full seasons to come back from Tommy John surgery, and he really does need to stop walking people, but he has the stuff and the contract to be a relatively cheap third starter, which is just what the Marlins need- after the tragic passing of Jose Fernandez, they have no clear, reliable options in their starting rotation, and no money to sign them.

Gimenez burst on the scene in rookie ball last year, and is now the third best prospect in the Mets' system according to (he'll likely find the same spot in Fangraphs' rankings when they're updated to reflect Smith and Rosario no longer being prospects). This February, Eric Longenhagen had this to say about him:

Gimenez is an above-average runner with a plus arm, giving him the necessary physical components to remain at short. At this age, that’s all that really matters. He also has good first-step quickness and instincts for the position, so even if he fills out quite a bit as he matures, he could still remain at short. There are those who think Gimenez, whose frame is more mature than the typical recent J2 signee, might eventually fill out and require a move either to second or third (you could put an Anthony Rendon comp on the body). If that’s the case, though, then he’s probably grown into more power than I currently have projected. The risk/proximity profile here is obviously high but it isn’t as lofty as the usual DSL prospect because of the polish, and the upside is a three-plus-win shortstop.

With no clear long-term middle infield solution, and Jeter's plan to trade Dee Gordon, Gimenez gives the Marlins a very exciting prospect: a really nice shorstop who brings power to the table, and who is ahead of the curve defensively for a teenager. Cecchini gives them a cheap stop-gap at second base to fill the position until the rebuilding process is done and more permanent solutions arrive (He's still a top ten organizational prospect). Finally, Rhame is a nice sleeper prospect: a reliever with a fastball in the upper 90s who needs to refine his secondary pitches. A good piece in the bullpen at a manageable price if he pans out.

Why this makes sense for the Mets:

The Mets would fill two holes by making this trade: they would find a replacement for Juan Lagares, and they would find a big bat to hit at the top of their order. Yelich is only slightly above average defensively, and this outfield configuration would admittedly be a problem if Michael Conforto cannot return by the end of March, as it would force Yelich to play in right field, something he hasn't done before. The long-term prospects of this deal, however, are much brighter. Yelich was worth 4.5 fWAR last season, as he put up a 116 wRC+ and stole 16 bases. He'll only be 26 years old by April 2018. He has the ceiling of a perennial All-Star with the floor of a league average player, and realistically profiles as a very valuable 20/20 player.

Wheeler may have elite stuff, but he can't figure out how to command it, and with his cost rising and his health being a question mark, it's too risky for a contending team to keep him around. Gimenez is without question a valuable prospect, but he's three or four years away from the big leagues, and isn't much use to a team looking to win now. When he does get here, he'll likely be blocked by Rosario, who is under team control through 2023. Cecchini could be a nice guy to have on the bench, but Guillorme and Evans have much more potential down the road, and it's probably best to let them adapt to the major leagues in a limited role before throwing them into the fire. Rhame is a lottery ticket, and may not have a place in our loaded bullpen even if he does figure it out this year.

Yelich is a young star, and this deal is unequivocally worth it.

Mets sign 1B Yonder Alonso to a 2 year deal worth $22 million (10,12):


Alonso had a breakout season with Oakland last year which is mostly attributed to refining his swing to produce better launch angles: he's a perfect example of the "Fly Ball Revolution", and he fills the hole left by Dom Smith, who coincidentally, is headed to Alonso's old stomping grounds in Oakland.

Alonso did experience a brief hiccup after being traded to the Mariners last July, and this signing could turn into a bit of a letdown if MLB goes back to the 2014 baseballs, but he is confident that his problems in Seattle were related to a timing issue with this swing, and that he should have it worked out by the beginning of the 2018 season (see Fangraphs for more). He can replace the power in the middle of our lineup that Lucas Duda left behind in July, and given their respective 2017 seasons, he's a better bet to produce than Duda.

Other Minor League Depth Signings that are neither as Big nor as Sexy as the Bartolo Colon Signing:

  • Jose Lobaton (C)
  • Darwin Barney (2B)
  • Kevin Siegrist (RP)
  • Jacob Turner (SP)
  • Josh Collmenter (SP/RP)

Lobaton provides VETERAN PRESENTS and a backup plan at catcher, where both d'Arnaud and Plawecki are young players who may not contribute enough to get this team to the playoffs. Barney does the same at second base, and brings some much-needed defense to the middle infield. Collmenter and Turner are pitching depth who could both act as the long reliever in case of an injury. Siegrist is an extra lefty we could use in the bullpen.

2018 Roster and Payroll Obligations:

(Apologies for the lack of a table here, and the poor quality of my MS Paintz... I'm just a bird who knows more about baseball than he does about how to use the internet).


1) Christian Yelich, CF: $7.0 million

2) Michael Conforto, RF: $0.5 million

3) Eugenio Suarez, 3B: $4.4 million

4) Yoenis Cespedes, LF: $29 million

5) Yonder Alonso, 1B: $10 million

6) Wilmer Flores, 2B: $3.7 million

7) Travis d'Arnaud, C: $3.7 million


9) Amed Rosario, SS: $0.5 million


Kevin Plawecki, C: $0.5 million

Phillip Evans, IF: $0.5 million

TJ Rivera, IF: $0.5 million

Luis Guillorme, IF: $0.5 million

Brandon Nimmo, OF: $0.5 million

David Wright, 3B: $20 million and all the sad faces

Starting Rotation:

1) Noah Syndergaard, $1.2 million

2) Jacob deGrom, $9.2 million

3) Lance Lynn, $14 million

4) Seth Lugo, $0.5 million

5) Robert Gazelle-Man, $0.5 million


Closer: Jeurys Familia, $7.4 million

8th Inning: Raisel Iglesias, $4.5 million

7th Inning: Addison Reed, $9.0 million

LOOGY: Jerry Blevins, $7.0 million

RP and Designated Ground Ball Specialist: Blake Treinen, $3.5 million

Rock of the Middle Relievers: Brad Brach, $5.2 million

Long Man: Rafael Montero, $0.5 million

Total 2018 Payroll: $144.5 million



It's happening! An NL East Division Title is happening! This team could really go far- their bullpen could be good for at least 8.0 fWAR, estimating from 2017 numbers, which would put them behind only the Yankees and Indians, with the best bullpen in the National League. The lineup and the bench have been largely redone, with young players getting the nod over veteran presents (see ya, Strudel), and the top five in the order: Yelich; Conforto; Cespedes; Suarez, and Alonso are downright terrifying. The only real question mark in the field is d'Arnaud at catcher, a position where many teams struggle to find the right answer, and where the 2018 FA class was absolute hot garbage, so I held off on upgrading there. Montero sticks around because he was worth 1.3 fWAR last year, better than guys like Harvey or Wheeler. Also, he's out of options, so if we want to keep him for pitching depth, he has to make the big league roster.

Admittedly, the trades I made completely depleted our farm system, but I compensated by getting a ton of players back who have multiple years remaining on their contract. That allows us to rebuild the farm system through the draft without sacrificing wins in the short term.

This team reminds me a lot of the 2017 Yankees: an absolutely terrifying bullpen, a lineup full of power threats, and maybe a few question marks at the back of the rotation, but when they take a lead into the 7th inning, it's over. Only this team has two ace-caliber pitchers in their rotation, not one. Their infield is better than the 2017 Yankees, and Lugo and Gsellman have more upside than Montgomery and Cessa. This is a team that should be scaring the rest of the NL East, all for $500,000 under the payroll cap of $145 million.

Of course, this is the Mets we're talking about, so none of this is going to happen at all. Cabrera is coming back, they won't spend anything on the bullpen, and Jose Reyes will be the starting second baseman in 2018. But a bird can dream. And Sandy, if you're reading this, then come visit me in my nest. Let's talk about making the Mets a winner.

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