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Staff AAOP: Pokémon Go to the World Series

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Gotta catch ‘em all.

I wanna be the very best
Like no one ever was
To pay them is my real test
To win with them is my cause

I will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Teach the Mets to understand
To invest in their guys

New York Mets! Gotta win it all!
It’s Beltrán and me
I know it’s our destiny
New York Mets! Oh, contracts to extend
In a league we must defend

New York Mets! Gotta win it all!
A team so true
Our courage will pull us through
You teach me and I’ll teach you
New York Mets! (Gotta win it all!) Gotta win it all!

A Pokémon AAOP, you say?

You better believe it.

As usual, my plan is safe, realistic, and not too out of the box. But, as always, I make up for it with a fun theme that I am disproportionately committed to. Speaking of committed, let’s start with the players the Mets are committed to in 2020.

Committed Contracts

Let’s start with the players already under contract for 2020.

Yoenis Cespedes - $29.5M

Yoenis Cespedes would be a huge boon to the Mets if he managed to make it back to the field healthy, but if they count on him in 2020, they’re bound to get burned.

Jed Lowrie - $11.5M

He ghosted.

Robinson Cano - $24M

Misdreavus is also ghost-type Pokémon so it is known to disappear sometimes, but it is pretty useful when around and known for practical jokes and general mischief, like Cano with his fun demeanor.

Wilson Ramos - $9.25M

There’s a buffalo Pokémon. How convenient. Ramos may not be the ideal starting catcher, but with a more competant backup (more on that to come), the Mets can get more out of the catching position.

Jeurys Familia - $11.67M

If he can manage to break out, he could really help the team, but absent that Metapod is a pretty useless Pokémon. Likes to make things harder on himself.

Justin Wilson - $5M

Has one job and does it well. Delivers in big spots. After an injury riddled 2019, simply happy to be here.

Jacob deGrom - $25.5M

In my not-so-humble opinion, Vaporeon is the best of the Eevee evolutions. It can walk on water AND learn hyper beam and really, those are the only credentials that can come close to matching our two-time Cy Young Award winner. I hope you enjoy this Pokégrom (I’m sorry).

And now for the fun part...

Sign Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto to five-year, $80M extensions ($7.5M/$14.5M/$20M/$20M/$18M)

Long overdue for both players, if you ask me. The Mets need to further solidify their core to keep that window of contention open for longer.

Noah Syndergaard - $7.5M

Obviously Syndergaard had to be an electric type because of the whole Thor’s hammer/lightning thing. Plus the hair matches.

Michael Conforto - $7.5M

I was working on this, trying to come up with a good Pokémon for Conforto, when my father chimed in: “Hoothoot because Scoot Scoot.” Ten minutes later, when I was done laughing, I typed this sentence.

Arbitration-eligible players

Brandon Nimmo - $1.7M

The happiest man in baseball needed a happy Pokémon to match. According to Bulbapedia, the most trusted resource on all things Pokémon, “A small, pink pouch on [Blissey’s] belly holds a single egg, which brings feelings of happiness and makes a person pleasant and caring if ingested.” Seems fitting, even if it’s a little bit weird.

Edwin Diaz - $7M

Diaz feels like a fish out of water right now and Magikarp is about as useless of a Pokémon that exists. But, when it evolves, it becomes something much more powerful. We know what Diaz is capable of and hopefully he can unleash his inner Gyarados in 2020.

Robert Gsellman - $1.2M

Stoic. Rarely seen in the wild because it takes some serious work to evolve into this form. Excellent hair.

Seth Lugo - $1.9M

As its name implies, Hitmontop can spin really fast on its head like a top. Seems fitting for the king of spin rate.

Marcus Stroman - $11.8M

Of the members of the starting rotation, Stroman is definitely the most fiery, so it’s only fitting that he should be the fire type. You could even say he carries himself with flare, am I right? (Sorry again.)

Steven Matz - $5.3M

Being the psychic type, Espeon is the most mysterious of the Eevee evolutions and I would say Steven Matz is the most mysterious member of the Mets’ rotation. A man of few words, Matz can show flashes of brilliance, but have his fair share of clunkers too. It all evens out to a perfectly good back of the rotation starter, but you still always feel like there might be something greater lurking underneath.

Sign Dallas Keuchel to a three-year, $36M deal ($11.5M/$12.5M/$12M)

Keuchel should not have to wait until midseason to get a contract this time around. I knew I could not sign one of the top tier starting pitchers without doing some serious gymnastics to stay under budget, but I did not want to settle for the likes of Ivan Nova, or worse, Walker Lockett. Keuchel seemed like a good middle ground. He pitched to a 3.75 ERA in 2019 with a 121 ERA+ and a 4.25 DRA—exactly the type of performance you would expect out of your third or fourth starter.

Between the long, dark beard and the tattoos, Dallas Keuchel exudes some big time Umbreon energy.

Now our fearsome rotation is complete.

Please clap.

The Young Guys

Pete Alonso - $575K

Luckily, there is a polar bear Pokémon. This is the first I’d seen of it (Who can keep up with them all at this point?), but I’m very glad it exists for the purposes of this exercise.

Jeff McNeil - $575K

Similarly, did you know that there is a flying squirrel Pokémon? Now you do.

Amed Rosario - $575K

Lightning quick, once held the #1 spot, but is later overshadowed by others. Nonetheless, still a crucial member of the team. Rosario evolved from Pichu in 2019 and now we’re hoping he can evolve one step further into Raichu.

J.D. Davis - $575K

We know that at some point in the season, J.D. Davis also earned himself a bear moniker: the Sun Bear. Sun bears are indeed real animals. They’re super weird, too. If you haven’t yet taken the time, I urge you to stop reading this silliness immediately and Google sun bears. At any rate, Ursaring looks kind of like a sun bear, even down to the unusual markings on its front side.

Dominic Smith - $575K

In the first draft of this plan, I traded Dominic Smith for a reliever, as I’m sure many other people did (I did not read others’ plans prior to crafting this, as to not bias myself). But I found it difficult to pull off a realistic trade for two reasons: 1. There simply aren’t that many teams looking for a player like Dominic Smith. With the Mariners having extended their young first base prospect who has yet to play a game in the major leagues, that eliminated one of the only viable trading partners. 2. Given #1, I find it hard to believe the return would be all that satisfying. Given the budgetary restrains we are given in this exercise, I felt that Smith can provide more value with his bat off the bench and depth at first base (and corner outfield in emergencies) making major league minimum than he can in trade.

Dom Smith’s enthusiastic cheering of his teammates from the bench evokes images of Loudred.

Bullpen additions

Sign Drew Pomeranz (two years - $6M/$8M) and Joe Smith (two years - $2M/$2M)

Pomeranz failed as a starter, but is garnering considerable (and much-deserved) buzz as a reliever. Given the Mets’ recent success with converting starting pitchers into elite relievers, Queens seems like a good place for Pomeranz to continue his transformation. Plus, having another lefty to supplement Wilson would certainly be useful. Meanwhile, I would also like to bring our old friend Joe Smith back, who seems constantly criminally underrated, but as a result could probably be had relatively cheaply.

Name a more iconic Doduo. I’ll wait.

Sign Brad Brach to a one-year, $1.5M deal

Bringing Brach back (say that five times fast) may not be the sexiest move, but he had a bounce back second half for the Mets in 2019 after making some tweaks to his delivery and that is certainly worth a flyer. He is not too far removed from being a first division setup man and is certainly a better option than the Quadruple-A choices the Mets have internally. Plus he loves the Mets, so I love him back.

It may seem Farfetch’d that Brad Brach can repeat his second-half 2019 performance, but it’s worth a shot. (I also felt the need to depict Brach as a bird Pokémon since he rose to acclaim in baseball in Birdland.)

You really want to do the best you can to avoid one of the many Voltorbs the Mets have employed in their bullpen the past few years and keep things from blowing up on you...

Fill out the bench

The Mets need both a backup catcher and a fourth outfielder to fill the Juan Lagares-shaped void on the roster.

Sign Austin Romine to a one-year, $1.5M deal

It was obvious to anyone who was watching the Mets last season that Tomas Nido was not an adequate major league catcher, but given that Grandal is off the the table, the Mets don’t need to break the bank. They simply need a catcher who can play defense cromulently (Romine is a solidly average pitch framer) and hit a little bit (Romine posted a 95 wRC+ last season).

Romine makes me think of romaine lettuce. So he gets a nice leafy Pokémon. That’s the best I’ve got.

Sign Cameron Maybin to a one-year, 2M deal

I may be in the minority here, but I was not concerned with searching for a “true center fielder” for the Mets. I think it is more important for them to have a fourth outfielder who can provide a solid bat off the bench, which Lagares did not provide. Maybin is no slouch in the field and was a center fielder for most of his career, but is better suited to a corner at this stage. He had a renaissance season with the bat for the Yankees last year and is absolutely worth taking a flyer on for that reason.

I Herd U Liek Maybins.

Alright, let’s take a look at the roster and hope the Mets aren’t total Garbodor in 2020.

Position players

Pitchers

Total 2020 Payroll: $188.27M

This roster has 27 players on it in total in order to take into account the fact that Cespedes is likely to start the season on the injured list. Meanwhile, I’ve filled the 26th spot on the roster with Luis Guillorme, who will reprise his role as a utility infielder, which is especially important, given that what Jed Lowrie can provide in 2020 is a complete unknown at this stage.

Is this the sexiest offseason plan? No, it most certainly is not. But does it make the team better within our budget constraints? I think it does. I’ve addressed the three glaring holes in the roster: starting pitcher, bullpen help, and backup catcher. Rather than going after one high end reliever, I opted to spread that money around a little more due to the Mets’ lack of pitching depth. Starting pitching depth remains a huge problem for this team, who cannot hope to have the same number of starts they’ve enjoyed from their rotation the past couple of seasons. Brodie Van Wagenen attempted to bolster that depth last offseason by signing some pitchers to minor league deals and trading for others, but his efforts in that realm ended mostly in failure. He will need to be smarter about his minor league signings this offseason. He has already claimed one pitcher off waivers and signed another to a minor league contract. The Mets need to continue to be active in that market (Jose Leclerc is a name that comes to mind here, among others), in addition to making the bigger moves.

Thanks for reading, everyone! As always, I had fun flexing my creative muscle with the theme and I hope you enjoyed it.

Poll

What do you trainers think of this AAOP?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    You’re a Pokémon master!
    (40 votes)
  • 25%
    Eh, it’s okay. Defeat one gym leader and get back to me.
    (21 votes)
  • 6%
    Get thee to a Pokémon Center and fix this plan immediately.
    (5 votes)
  • 19%
    Pizza!
    (16 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now