AAOP: Everybody's Fired

I've been thinking of doing this for years, basically every time the Mets are eliminated from championship contention (which, sadly, has been every season I've ever watched). I've always thought "you know what? Just clear the books and start over. They're all bums, anyway." I generally cool off somewhere in October, but watching the Phillies fall bass-ackwards into a pennant kept me from really compartmentalizing all that much, and having nearly a quarter of the 40-man hit free agency made it that much easier. So, we're doing this thing. We're tossing everyone on the 26-man roster overboard and starting from scratch. Steve Cohen does not suffer fools lightly, and these fools have overstayed their welcome. And, thus, they're all fired!

Now, you may wonder how one goes about doing such a thing? Well, it's easy, really. There are only three outfielders on the 40 right now. Only four pitchers from the 26-man Wild Card roster are still in the organization. It can't be that tough to find places for all of them. The starting rotation is Kate Moss-thin, so it won't be tough to find new guys to fill the all-of-them slots we have open (I know, we have two established starters, but that's not winning much by itself). We're going to sign some guys, trade some guys, and run out an entirely new team for 2023. I'm gonna miss Pete, though....


Speaking of, Pete's one of our prime attractions, and is a great jumping-off point for this whole thing. Pete is the kind of thumper that teams crave for the middle of their lineup, and he's still pretty cheap, which is attractive to the Guardians and Rays of the world. Since we have such a good relationship with Cleveland, we're going to send Pete there and bring back Shane Bieber. Cleveland cranks out pitchers, but they could use a guy like Pete to crank out homers. He's cheap and productive, Bieber is going to get way more expensive, so it works out for both. Probably going to have to send Alex Ramirez along with him to make it work, but you do what you have to here.

Speaking of cheap, McNeil's cheap, and he's a batting champion to boot. He's the kind of guy the Rays would drool over. He's the kind of guy you'd send over there to net back Tyler Glasnow (who's expensive and coming off an injury) and Randy Arozarena (because we're not just getting a maybe-still-broken pitcher back for a cheap batting champion). We toss in Parada to make this one happen, mostly because we hate ourselves and want to feel the hurt in a few years when the Rays turn him into the next coming of Johnny Bench.

Who's also cheap? Lots of guys! Ruf is cheap, for example. Having some compromising pictures of Farhan Zaidi, we're sending Ruf back to the Bay, and we're going to bring back old friend Wilmer Flores in the exchange, just so that LRB votes for this one. Don't argue, they're saving money on the deal for their big splash and I've got those pictures. They're lucky I don't take Camilo Doval along with me.


Not all tears are sad, Wilmer. Welcome home.

You know what? I want Doval. The Giants have made a lot of noise about chasing Judge, but they're going to lose out on those sweepstakes. It's going to take so long, though, that all the good FAs will have signed by then. They want, no, need a new Face of the Franchise type with Posey retired, and we've got one right here. Because I'm nice, I'm going to send them Lindor for Doval, Alex Wood, and Adrian Sugasty, which fills the closer and 5th starter roles in one shot as well as replacing Parada in the pipeline. We'll miss Lindor, but he'll be happy there. He's always happy. Just to make it more likely they accept, we'll send along Escobar, who is versatile and cheap, which helps soften the $300mm blow of Lindor's contract (but they were gonna pay Judge $400mm, so they're really making out here).

Speaking of outfielders, we have two of them that need the heave-ho, so we'll ship Marte up to Boston in exchange for Devers. Doesn't sound like a fair trade, but Boston's outfield is a mess, they can't re-sign Devers because they're too cheap (or up against the limit, however you want to phrase it), so they're getting a few years of production at a reasonable price in exchange for 2023 wins and a massive check made out to that Devers fellow. They'll want more than just Marte, so Drew Smith makes sense for them as a BP option, of which they have few. It'll probably cost a few prospects, too, but that's what they're there for, right? So let's say Blade Tidwell and Jett Williams are sent along to make this happen. Minors are getting thin, but flags fly forever.


Really need to add some more years to this thing, it's getting embarrassing...

Canha is the last OF standing at this point, and the other Sox are also in the market for an OF. Word is they're thinking of moving Lucas Giolito, who is in his last arb year and wasn't all that great in 2022. Having him in Queens mowing down Nationals would be a fun time, so that sounds like a reasonable swap. It wouldn't have a year ago, mind you, but Canha was worth 2.5 wins to Giolito's .5 (and, hell, 10 career wins), so if we cover half of Canha's salary so the White Sox can go big game hunting for a true ace, it could very well happen. They're cutting bait on a guy they think is on the downswing, we're grabbing a guy we hope will rebound.

We're eventually going to have to get some cheap players in here, so we're going to start by sending Nido and Vientos to the DBacks for Jake McCarthy and Joe Mantiply because they've fallen out of love with McCarthy for some reason (they just traded for another OF!) and love Vientos enough to part with Mantiply. If they need a flier from our bottom 15-20 prospects, that's fine, too, but they want a backup catcher and Nido fits the bill.

You still might think this deal isn't going to work, so we're going to make it better. We're going to take back Dalton Varsho and MadBum and send along Guillorme and Baty. It gets them a lot cheaper (which they like, because they're cheap), adds another righty INF that they're lacking, and further clears their glut of OF. Varsho is exactly who we hope Alvarez can turn into, a guy who can catch a bunch of games and be a bat in the OF or at DH the rest of the time. They won't love using him to clear MadBum's salary, but you take the good with the bad. They're in a forever rebuild, they're not likely to compete with the Dodgers or Padres until Varsho is long gone, so better to get some young, controllable guys for the Next Good Diamondbacks Team(tm). This may be my most unrealistic trade, but bad, cheap teams do dumb things to clear payroll. This is one of them. Maybe we pay all of Carrascos salary instead of cutting him and send him along to give them a free starter? If so, feel free to add that to the dead money pile, which is substantial (I already clipped that puppy out, and I'm working on a deadline here, so just roll with it). Again, choose your own reason this happens, but it's happening. Zaidi gave me some dirt on Mike Hazen to try to get those pictures back, but all he got was an envelope with a dead parrot in it. He knows what it means.

Now, Alvarez. If they'd held out another friggin' week, he'd be my starting catcher come April. Instead, he was on the 26 when the season ended, be it the regular season or post, so he's got to go. Blech. But the Pirates are as cheap as they come, and would be the type of team to swap Alvarez for Reynolds. Because I want to start a war in the comments, we're going to toss in Vogelbach and they're going to toss in Holderman. You like apples?


Of course, we're almost out of catchers. We have *checks notes* yeeesh. Okay, McCann and Scherzer are being packaged together, and we're eating some cash to make it happen. Toronto is going to be left out of the ace race, and looking for someone to be what they wanted Berrios or Gausman to be for them. Danny Jansen is a fine starting catcher, and there's no room for him in that org. They may cut McCann, they may keep him as a backup let Gabriel Moreno go back to AAA and steal some more service time from him, but we're getting McCann out of here either way, getting a starting catcher in the deal, and they'll throw in a relief arm like Anthony Bass to even out the numbers. We're giving them Scherzer at half price (and covering half of McCann's salary, too), it's only fair they kick in more than a catcher they don't need.

We could use another catcher, though, because Varsho isn't a true backup, I'd prefer he start most days in the OF or at DH. I'd like to see these new Mets be one of those teams with deep catching, so we're going for either Campusano from San Diego or Murphy from Oakland. David Peterson should be enough to get that done either way, so whoever agrees to those terms first gets him. Straight-up should be enough, but if we have to toss in a prospect in the 10-20 region to do it, fine. That goes for most of these trades, of course. Only guys who are untouchable are *checks notes* well, seems I've dealt all those guys. Whoops! Mauricio, turn the lights out on your way to Oakland, and watch out for rats. [Okay, no, Murphy and Pederson aren't even in the same galaxy where value is concerned, but the A's are so committed to running out a negative-payroll team that they could do something stupid if enough prospects are thrown in, which we'll pretend they are. I mean, their entire team is per-arb or arb eligible. There's not even a bad contract to take back to even things out. They're an embarrassment.] I'm saying Murphy here because I have a friend and fellow Mets fan with the same name, and he'd get a kick out of it (plus Oakland's top prospect is a catcher, so they'll be happy to get him up making less money so they have a few more bucks to give Roto-Rooter to keep the sewage out of the dugouts). A Murphy-Jansen tandem with a Varsho kicker would be a hell of a rotation behind the plate, methinks. Rummage through what's left of the farm and throw in what you think makes sense, toss in IF money if you have to, whatever. As the man says, make it work. Campusano would work too, if Sand Diego tossed a prospect or two in there, but Murphy's it for me.


An "artist's" rendering

Last man standing here is Tyler Megill, and we're going to trade a maybe-starter with health issues for a good reliever with none. The Tigers have never had any luck putting together a rotation since they let Scherzer go, and they love them some probably-injured starters (Skuball et. al. say hi), so we're going to ship Megill and all his promise off for Soto. The Tigers need a good closer like a Braves fan needs a dictionary (its utility is wasted on both), so they have no real use for him, and because Megill is pretty valuable, we're going to demand Wilmer Flores as part of the package. Yes, Wilmer Flores squared up in here. LRB, I hope you're near your fainting couch.

Now that we've cleared the decks and filled a bunch of holes, we're gonna sign some guys, and we'll have plenty of money to do it. Need a SS and 2B? We've got tons of cash left over, let's sign Xander Bogaerts and Trea Turner and watch the runs score (even if it costs us some picks and IFA money, which will suck out loud). They'll hash out who plays where in the squared circle with Tony Bernazard as ref. Looking at pitchers, Andrew Heaney has had trouble staying healthy as a starter, but he's gonna be a hell of a reliever at $14mm per. We'll need two more arms, and I think Kenley Jansen ($13mm) and Carlos Esteves ($7mm) will fill out the BP nicely.

Our remaining slots all go to backups, one IF and two OF. Stephen Drury ($9mm) is pretty versatile and cheap, so he can have one slot. Justin Turner will be less cheap and less versatile, but he's still good for mashing and will make the bench that much deeper, if he'll accept a bench job (which we're assuming he will, because having two Turners is two Turners more than any other team - we'll lead the league in Turners, if nothing else). He can always duke it out with Flores the Elder for the starting 1B job and Saddest Ex-Met Story, if it comes to that. If he can't find a starting job elsewhere, Kevin Kiermaier would make an ideal backup OF, and we'll say $10mm is enough to entice him to our bench.

So, there's an entirely new team for less than $300mm, and I'm told you can put together a pretty good team for $300mm. Fangraphs says that's a 57-WAR team right there, and while that's not super accurate (Heaney wouldn't get enough innings as a reliever to hit his number, nor would Murphy, Turner, and the other bench bats get enough PAs), you're still looking at a probably playoff team there. As the Phillies taught us last year, you don't need to be a juggernaut, you just need to get there and get hot. This team can do that.

Now, do you want to squabble over some of those trades? I'm sure you do. There are plenty of untouched prospects that can be thrown in if you think this trade or that wasn't going to work, and since this whole team costs just a shade over $280mm (using Sportrac's luxury tax estimates), we still have tons of room before we get to $325mm if you feel like you need to send more money along in one deal or another to make it happen (cover all of Scherzer and McCann's contracts and we're still under the limit by millions, throw money at the DBacks to make that trade work, whatever makes you happy). But this is an entirely new team, without the stench of failure that so many Mets teams have evinced in the past. Well, Flores and Turner have, like, a bit of residual stench, but we've got plenty of air fresheners in the clubhouse. Cohen can afford them. This team, it's gonna win the whole damn thing. And if not? Guess what, guys?



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