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AAOP: Finally Hiring a Manager (Oh yeah, some roster moves too)

It's year 2 of the Uncle Stevie regime, and the Mets are in need of some drastic changes. We need to hire a manager, improve the lineup, improve the rotation, and replace some of our depth pieces who were on expiring contracts. So essentially - there isn't a single area of the organization that will be left untouched. Thankfully, our rich uncle is willing to spend to win and we're operating in an unimaginably high budget ($250M max) for Mets fans, who have been conditioned to search in the bargain bin by the family that shall remain nameless.

Assumptions/Disclaimers:
1) I assumed that the National League will have a Designated Hitter beginning this upcoming season
2) I used MLB Trade Rumors & baseballtradevalues.com to roughly gauge contract and trade values, respectively

Let's begin with hiring a Manager:

Enough of these first timers, I'm looking for a baseball lifer who has been successful as a manager in the past. Enter Ron Washington, former Rangers manager & current Braves coach. I think he is the perfect man for the job, but I'd also be more than happy with someone like Bruce Bochy, Buck Showalter, John Farrell, or even the return of Willie Randolph (it's a travesty that he never got another managerial gig). And you know what, if he's willing, let's hire Carlos Beltran to be the team's Bench Coach. If Hinch & Cora were forgiven, Beltran deserves a second chance too. I think he'll be a very good manager one day & it would be a great opportunity to have him learn from an elder statesman Manager for 2-3 years.

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Now onto the roster...

Procedural moves:

Qualifying Offers: Michael Conforto & Noah Syndergaard (BOTH DECLINE)

Decline Team Option on Kevin Pillar

Non-Tenders/DFAs: Robert Gsellman, Jose Martinez, Jose Peraza, Trevor Williams, Corey Oswalt, Stephen Nogosek

Will Not Re-Sign: Rich Hill, Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, Jonathan Villar, Albert Almora, Robert Stock, Brandon Drury, Jerad Eickhoff, Chance Sisco, Cameron Maybin, Roel Ramirez

Free Agency:

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Re-Sign Marcus Stroman to a 5-year, $100M deal
Re-Sign Javier Baez to a 5-year, $125M deal
Re-Sign Aaron Loup to a 2-year, $16M deal

I'll talk about all of these guys together, since (in my eyes at least) these are our three big free agents that the Mets must absolutely, without question bring back next season. Stroman is a really good pitcher, he's durable, low-risk - with Thor declining the QO, we'll need to acquire two quality SPs. Let's not re-invent the wheel here, Stroman should be one of those 2 guys. Re-signing Baez gives us two marquee middle-infielders who will form our double play duo for the next 5 seasons. He and Lindor have a great rapport already, and Javy played downright awesome down the stretch last season. And Loup just had one of the best seasons for a Mets reliever that I can remember. I'm not counting on him to replicate that performance, but he should still be very good in relief.

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Sign Eduardo Escobar (3B) to a 2-year, $20M deal
Sign Eddie Rosario (LF) to a 2-year, $15M deal

These are two guys who have proven to be capable starters & are coming off of strong seasons in 2021. Rosario played a huge role for the Braves in their WS run, in large part due to his ability to slug for a high percentage - which is one of the main reasons I want him in Flushing. He can hold down LF, allowing Nimmo to cover CF & limiting Dom's outfield playing time. Escobar is another veteran who hits for a high SLG, having just made his first All-Star appearance in 2021. He'll round out our lineup by primarily playing 3B, but he provides some defensive versatility as he has also spent some time at 1B, 2B, SS, and LF.

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Sign Brad Miller to a 1-year, $2.5M deal
Sign Odubel Herrera to a 1-year, $4M deal
Sign Ryan Tepera to a 1-year, $7M deal

These are depth signings to round out the 26-man roster & replace the likes of Villar/Pillar/Familia on the bench and in the bullpen. In Miller we get a lefty who can hit for power & play multiple positions. Herrera, known early in his career for his defense, hit pretty well last season (1.7 OWAR). He'll give us a backup CF to spell Nimmo & provide some speed off the bench. And Tepera is a good reliever with very high K-rates who has pitched well for both Chicago teams over the last two seasons.

Trade:

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Trade J.D. Davis, Joey Lucchesi, and Jaylen Palmer to the Oakland Athletics for Chris Bassitt

Bassitt had his second consecutive great season for Oakland in 2021, but he'll be 33 before next season starts & will be entering free agency a year from now, so I expect the always-cash-strapped A's to shop him around. JD is a really good offensive player who is still cheap (anticipated $2.7M next season) & under contract until 2025. The A's could play him in several different spots (3B, LF, 1B, or DH) if need be (PS: they may also end up trading Matt Chapman, which would leave a glaring hole in the hot corner). Lucchesi is a solid depth pitcher who is also under contract for three more seasons. Jaylen Palmer is the 15th rated prospect in the Mets system, a player with a lot of raw power & athleticism who has experience at a few different positions in the field. I think this package should be enough to get a deal done for Bassitt, who they'd probably rather trade than Montas or Manaea.

Let's bring in 4 familiar faces on Minor League deals:

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Juan Lagares for the outfield, Jed Lowrie (I know, I know) for the infield, Matt Harvey for the rotation, and AJ Ramos for the bullpen. These guys all played last season like they might have a little bit more left in the tank, but they probably didn't show enough to get a major league deal.

Final Roster

See below for our projected Opening Day Active Roster, which ended up well within our salary cap at $241.6M.

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Additionally, here are some of our notable minor league depth pieces, who will undoubtedly play a role in the event of disappointments and injuries:

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