Every year, the AAOP contest is one of the highlights of the offseason (particularly when the Mets don’t do anything fun or good). This year, a group of writers wanted to get in on the action, and put together our own AAOPs. The judgement criteria are the same - and you can read them here - and you, the readers, get to vote on which writer put together the most well executed and entertaining plan. We’ll be publishing four staff AAOPs today, and putting out a poll tomorrow morning.
I would like to be perfectly clear from the outset. I originally constructed a plan that included signing Manny Machado. Because the Mets should sign Manny Machado. But with a $160M cap, it was just too difficult to improve the team enough in other areas. That said, the Mets should absolutely sign Manny Machado.
Roster construction is no easy job though, especially on a limited budget, and Brodie Van Wagenen will have to Figure it Out. And I will make my most solid attempt. Alright folks...
We have some players already under contract and some of those contracts are quite...monstrous indeed.
One monster is not quite like the others thanks to insurance money and an excess of good will, but these are expenses I’ve elected to work around. Meanwhile in committed contracts we also have...
As well as...
Alright, on to the fun part now, shall we?
Extend Jacob deGrom - 6 years, $137 million (15/22/27/27/24/22)
Just pay the man, Brodie. He’s a super hero.
Extend Zack Wheeler - 4 years, $36 million (6/9/11/10)
The Mets can’t make the same mistake with Zack Wheeler as they did with Jacob deGrom. If he has a full season anything like his second half of 2018, his price tag will go up incredibly rapidly. Yes, it was also his first healthy season in years, but that is why he can be extended cheaply right now and the Mets would do well to lock up at least a couple of their young core starters while they still can.
Non-tender Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores
If the Mets can get d’Arnaud to agree to a minor league contract, then I am all for that, but they cannot rely on him next season, especially not at that price tag.
When it comes to Wilmer Flores, this is another situation where if it were up to me, the Mets would hold onto him. And I think they should. But for the purposes of this exercise, I needed the projected $4.7 million owed to Flores to use elsewhere.
Now let’s review the rest of the arbitration eligible players, who I will tender contracts.
I think the man is poised for a monster season.
Don’t trade Syndergaard, Brodie. Pretty please.
I chose The Wild Thornberrys for Steven because with him, it’s always a bit of an adventure. But last season was certainly encouraging, with Matz logging 30 starts.
Kevin Plawtaki needs himself a battery mate, though.
Trade RHP Justin Dunn and OF Desmond Lindsay to the Indians for C Yan Gomes
If the Mets manage to upgrade offensively elsewhere, I think Yan Gomes is an extremely attractive trade target for them. They have the pieces to get it done (I’m not talking about this “including Nimmo to also get a pitcher” nonsense) and the Indians are looking primarily for pitching and outfield depth, which is why I’ve chosen Dunn and Lindsay. Gomes is an upgrade defensively. He consistently ranks well in framing ability and is well regarded as a receiver. Despite the fact that Gomes and Plawecki both hit right-handed, they actually have opposite platoon splits, which also makes Gomes a pretty decent option. Gomes has years of control left, too. He’s making just $7 million next season, which would make him cheaper than either Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos and if he puts forward a mediocre season, the Mets can choose not to exercise his team option for 2020. But if he replicates his 2.2 fWAR 2018, $7 million is certainly a bargain and $9 million and $11 million team options for 2020 and 2021 are perfectly reasonable and give the Mets flexibility.
Trade 1B Dominic Smith to the Diamondbacks for RHP Jimmie Sherfy
Unfortunately, Dominic Smith is the odd man out in this organization, especially with the recent acquisition of Jordan Patterson from the Rockies. In the event that they trade Paul Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks could find themselves in need of a first baseman. Jimmie Sherfy had quick cups of coffee in the major leagues in the past two seasons and was extremely impressive in the PCL in 2018. He represents an improvement over the revolving door of young relievers the Mets had in their bullpen last season and bolsters the back end of the pen.
But let’s bring in some Rocket Power to really improve that bullpen, shall we?
Free agent acquisitions
Sign Adam Ottavino to a 3-year, $30 million contract (9/11/11) and Andrew Miller to a 3-year, $27 million contract (9/9/9)
Andrew Miller’s recent injury history is certainly a concern, but if he is healthy, he is a bargain at this price. Plus unless we want to see Jerry Blevins 2: Electric Boogaloo, the left-handed options available are limited and the Mets desperately need a lefty in the pen. Adam Ottavino has extremely impressive numbers for someone that calls Coors Field home, especially in the home run department. He struck out 36% of the batters he faced last year. Plus the dude wears number 0. That’s cool as hell. He’s my favorite reliever on the market this offseason and I think switching from Coors to Citi Field could only do good things for his numbers.
Sign Jed Lowrie to a 3-year, $30 million contract
The Mets desperately need a bat—preferably a right-handed one that plays the infield. Again, that sounds familiar. Almost Manny Machado-esque. But if we can’t get Manny Machado, to me the next best thing in the mid-tier of free agents is Jed Lowrie. He’s posted a combined 8.5 fWAR over the past two seasons and was the fourth best offensive second baseman in the majors over that span. He saw a significant uptick in his power last season, knocking 23 home runs for the A’s. His hard-hit rate has been on the rise for the past few years, as has his exit velocity. At 35 years old, age is obviously the biggest concern here, but I believe he represents a bargain that will improve the Mets offense for relatively minimal cost. He’s a switch hitter that can play multiple positions on the infield. While he’s predominantly a second baseman, he’s logged innings at both third base and shortstop in recent years. Think Asdrubal Cabrera, but with much better defense and functional knees.
Sign Curtis Granderson to a 1-year, $3 million contract
Bring Grandy home. The Mets need another outfielder to come off the bench, especially with the length of Yoenis Cespedes’ absence unclear. Given that the bench as I’ve constructed it is overwhelmingly right-handed due to the fact that most of the Mets’ best hitters are lefties, a lefty pinch hitting option off the bench would be useful. Plus with David Wright gone, it can’t hurt to have a Team Leader™ around.
I’m very excited for the new crop of young Rugrats the Mets will have playing prominent roles on this team, with the ever-optimistic, always smiling Brandon Nimmo leading the way.
I think Jeff McNeil has more than earned a starting role and given the positional flexibility of McNeil, Lowrie, and—to a certain extent—Frazier, there will be plenty of at-bats to be had by all three. I also believe that Peter Alonso deserves a real shot to be the first baseman next year. But if he falters at the big league level, Jay Bruce can fill that role with Curtis Granderson and Juan Lagares getting more at-bats in the outfield until Yoenis Cespedes returns.
TL;DR or if my paintz have made your eyes bleed at this point, here is a nice summation of my plan. I made this in Excel to keep track of things before I had this wonderful theme and didn’t feel like crafting additional tables, so here is a screen shot.
Brandon Nimmo - CF
Jeff McNeil - 3B
Michael Conforto - LF
Jed Lowrie - 2B
Jay Bruce - RF
Peter Alonso - 1B
Amed Rosario - SS
Yan Gomes - C
Todd Frazier - 3B/1B
Juan Lagares - OF
Curtis Granderson - OF
Kevin Plawecki - C
T.J. Rivera - INF
Jacob deGrom - RHP
Noah Syndergaard - RHP
Zack Wheeler - RHP
Steven Matz - LHP
Jason Vargas - LHP
Adam Ottavino - RHP
Andrew Miller - LHP
Seth Lugo - RHP
Robert Gsellman - RHP
Anthony Swarzak - RHP
Jimmie Sherfy - RHP
Daniel Zamora/Drew Smith/Tyler Bashlor (Let these three among others duke it out for the final spot)
David Wright </3
Alright, Mets fans. Let’s play ball!