AAOP - Papa Cohen's Money


I always look at this contest as a thought experiment. My goal each year is to put together a team that could become a dynasty. That requires putting together a squad that would be positioned to win for multiple years. This year, I have been intrigued by the approach the Mets took at the trade deadline. The Verlander and Scherzer trades seemed to be a very novel avenue to leverage money. There have obviously been other trades in which one team ate money on a contract to increase the value of the return. However, these two trades seemed different. The Mets not only absorbed the above market levels of the contracts in those deals, they went further. The Astros and Rangers were given Verlander and Scherzer at a financial premium. This seems to be a whole new way to leverage Papa Cohen’s purse. Intrigued by the potential, I made the trade market the focus of my plan. Specially, I looked for bad contracts I could target. By eating money, I was able to target valuable players while limiting the cost in terms of talent.


I tried to make my plan as realistic as possible. To aid in the realism, I used the trade calculator at Baseball Trade Values to ensure equity in the trades I put together. I did also put thought to the motivations of the other teams involved. Most of my trades were with teams that will not be looking to compete in 2024. For the most part, they are also clubs that have limited financial resources. For free agency, I consulted the predictions on contracts posted by MLB Trade Rumors and Fangraphs. I picked the larger estimate of the two.


Tendered Contracts

1B Pete Alonzo for $22M

OF DJ Stewart for $740k

OF Tim Locastro for $2.6M

LHP David Peterson for $2M

LHP Joey Lucchesi for $2M

RHP Elieser Hernandez for $1.6M

RHP John Curtiss for $1M

RHP Drew Smith for $2.3M


INF Luis Guillorme

DH Dan Vogelbach

RHP Trevor Gott

RHP Sam Coonrod


The Mets made their decisions on the arbitration eligible players before I finalized my plan. I decided to go ahead and incorporate those decisions. I probably would have tendered Guillorme a contract. However, that was probably based upon sentimental reasons.


New York Mets trade C Kevin Parada and RHP Tylor McGill, and RHP Eric Orze to the Chicago White Sox for RHP Dylan Cease, DH/OF Eloy Jimenez, and 3B Yoan Moncada


Dylan Cease has been rumored to be on the market. When I heard that, I was intrigued. Cease had a subpar 2023, but all of his underlining performance metrics indicate he is the same pitcher that pitched to a 2.20 ERA in 2022. He is a front of the rotation starter with two more years of control. To help bring down the cost, I added Eloy Jimenez, and Yoan Moncada. Both of those players have had similar trajectories. At points in their career they both flashed star potential, received contract extensions, and then proceeded to regress. Jimenez remains a slightly above average offensive player, but gives back whatever value he has defensively. Moncada is still around average defensively, but has dipped to a slightly below average offensive player. In any event, both are overpaid. That said, the guaranteed contracts in both cases end after 2024. Both contracts provide club options should either player recapture their old magic. In return, the White Sox get former 1st round draft pick Kevin Parada, along with Tylor McGill, and Eric Orze. Parada, McGill, and Orze all had hard years in 2023. That said, they have plenty of time to reach their potential, and their ceilings remain very high.

New York Mets trade RHP Jose Butto, RHP Coleman Crow, RHP Peyton Battenfield, and C Omar Navarez for RHP Justin Lawrence, RHP Jake Bird, RHP Daniel Bard, OF Brenton Doyle, and 3B/2B Ryan McMahon


Following my strategy, I sought to remake the Mets bullpen by taking on some ugly contracts, To start, I targeted the Rockies. Colorado is a penny pinching franchise currently in a bit of a death spiral. After trading Nolan Arenado, they handed over the third base job to Ryan McMahon. While not quite Arenado, McMahon is one of the best defensive third basemen in the game. A couple years ago he flashed some solid offense and was awarded an extension by the Rockies. Unfortunately, the offense has since regressed. The deal has two more guaranteed years and two years with vesting options. The extension looks pretty bad at this point. Like with Moncada and Jimenez, McMahon is still a net positive player; he is just overpaid. To further relieve the Rockies of salary obligations, I added Daniel Bard to the deal. Bard had a great 2023, got a significant two year contract, and then had a pretty poor 2023. At 38 years old, age may have caught up to him. In exchange for taking on the McMahon and Bard contracts, the Mets get Jake Bird and Justin Lawrence. Pitching in the difficult conditions of Colorado, Bird and Lawrence were very effective at inducing ground balls. Both pitchers are durable and capable of pitching multiple innings. The Mets also receive CF Brenton Doyle. By every measure, Doyle was one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game last year. Offensively, he is very raw, but possesses a combination of power and speed that makes dream he can become the next Byron Buxton . In terms of players, Colorado receives Butto, Crow, and Battenfield back in the deal. All three pitchers are of the low ceiling/high floor profile. Colorado also is required to absorb Omar Navarro.

New York Mets trade RHP Drew Smith and RHP Daniel Bard to the Washington Nationals for OF Lane Thomas, RHP Hunter Harvey, LHP Patrick Corbin, and RHP Trevor Williams


Next, I target Patrick Corbin and his terrible salary. Corbin is finally reaching the end of his disastrous contract. I decided to let Washington out from underneath it a year early. Once acquired, I would cut Corbin. He does not belong on my championship caliber team. I added the more modestly overpaid Trevor Williams to the deal to provide more surplus value. Coming back to the Mets, Trevor can return to the swingman role for which is best suited. In exchange for taking on the contracts, the Mets get Hunter Harvey, one of the most unheralded young relievers in the game. Harvey has had back to back stellar years and is just now entering arbitration. I also added to the package Lane Thomas. While not great defensively, Thomas is a very good bat, with very significant pop from the right side. In exchange, I flipped Daniel Bard’s bad contract to the Nationals and added talented, but frustrating, Drew Smith.

New York Mets trade OF Starling Marte and OF Alex Ramirez to San Diego Padres for RHP Yu Darvish and LHP Robby Snelling


The Padres are broke and need to shed payroll. Yu Darvish seems a good place to start. It seemed odd that the Padres would extend a pitcher in his late 30s to a six year deal a year ago. Now that we know of their financial turmoil, that decision seems incredibly misguided. Darvish had an inconsistent 2023, but his peripherals remain pretty good. This indicates he probably will continue to be above average through the first half of the deal. The length of the deal does also bring down the AAV to a more palatable level. That said, the contract will not age well. Taking on the contract, buys me LHP Robby Snelling. Snelling is the 60th best prospect in the game. He provides the Mets a blue chip pitching prospect to go with positional prospects we acquired last year. In return, the Mets offload Marte’s contract and add the toolsy Alex Ramirez as a sweetener.

New York Mets trade 3B Brett Baty, RHP Christian Scott, and OF Matt Rudick to the Kansas City Royals for LHP Cole Ragans and LHP Josh Taylor


This might be the most far-fetched of the deals in this plan. Cole Ragans is exactly the kind of player the Royals are trying to build around. Ragans represented a rare bright spot on their 2023 campaign. When acquired midyear, Regan was a relief pitcher who had recently seen an uptick in velocity. However, he had failed to that point failed to convert that velocity into measurable success. Kansas City converted him to a starter and encouraged him to start throwing a slider to go with his fastball, changeup, and cutter arsenal. The results were incredible. Ragans pitched like an ace for the 12 games he started for the Royals. While a dozen starts are not much of a sample size, Ragans looks legit. He has front-of-the-rotation stuff. Kansas City is understandably excited about his turnaround. With that in mind, I purposely inflated the return going back to try and offer them something too good to pass up. Baty, for all his struggles, is just one year removed from being a top 50 prospect. Christian Scott was the organizational pitcher of year. Like Scott, Matt Rudick is a prospect that saw his stock rise significantly last year. In addition to Ragans, the Mets also receive Josh Taylor. Taylor had a breakout year in 2022, but had a 2023 lost to injuries and poor performance.

Free Agency

Mets Sign RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a nine year $225M contract


After the trades outlined above, I’ve given the Mets a strong five man rotation. This means, I don’t have to go after pitching in free agency. WRONG! I cannot pass up on Yamamoto. He seems to have generational talent. Initially, I contemplated trading away a starter to make room. However, after thinking it over, I decided this rotation truly should be a six man unit. To keep them healthy, it makes sense to keep Senga and Yamamoto on a once a week pitching schedule. The extra day will probably help an aging Darvish and Quintana as well. The extra starter reduces the size of the bullpen, but this rotation should produce tons of quality starts, keeping the bullpen from overuse. A eight man bullpen shouldn’t be necessary.

Mets Sign OF Jung-Hoo Lee to a four year $60M contract


Projecting Korean league players is challenging. This makes this signing inherently risky. That said, Lee appears to be a special talent. All indications are that he is a superb centerfielder that should provide stellar defensive value. He also has unworldly bat-to-ball ability. The risk is that he does not generate enough power to be a quality bat in a major league offense. However, he has the ceiling of a Korean Ichiro. At 25 years old, that is too good to pass up. A team with the resources of the Mets has the ability to take on this kind of risk.

Starting Lineup

LF Brandon Nimmo $20M

CF Jung-Hoo Lee $15M

SS Francisco Lindor $33.8M

1B Pete Alonzo $22M

3B Yoan Moncada $14M

DH Eloy Jimenez $7.2M

RF Lane Thomas $7M

2B Jeff McNeil $10.25M

C Francisco Alvarez $740K


3B/2B Ryan McMahon $11.7M

CF Brenton Doyle $740K

C Tomas Nido $2.1M

INF Ronny Mauricio $740k

Starting Rotation

RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto $25M

RHP Kodai Senga $15M

RHP Yu Darvish $18M

RHP Dylan Cease $8.8M

LHP Jose Quintana $13M

LHP Cole Ragans $740k


RHP Edwin Diaz $18.6M

LHP Brooks Raley $6.5M

RHP Jake Bird $740k

RHP Justin Lawrence $740K

RHP Hunter Harvey $2.2M

RHP Trevor Williams $6.5M

LHP Josh Taylor $1.1M

AAA Express

LHP David Peterson $2M

LHP Joey Luchessi $2M

RHP Elieser Hernandez for $1.6M

RHP John Curtiss for $1M

DH/INF Mark Vientos $740k

OF D.J, Stewart $740k

OF Tim Locastro for $2.6M

RHP Sean Reid-Foley $740k

RHP Denny Reyes $740

RHP Bryce Montes de Oca $740k

LHP Josh Walker $740k

Dead Money Obligations

Max Scherzer $20.8M

Justin Verlander $20.8M

James McCann $8M

Patrick Corbin $23.3M

Total Payroll: $348.73M


This represents one of more interesting plans I’ve put together. The rotation should be incredible. Yamamoto, Senga, Cease, and Ragans all have ace potential. Darvish and Quintana should both provide quality innings. With Peterson and Luchessi in the minors and Trevor Williams back in the fold, there should be plenty of depth in case of injury. Fronting the rotation with three Japanese legends, should also give the marketing department plenty of material to drive up ticket sales.

While it doesn’t necessarily have well known names, the bullpen should also be fantastic. Getting Diaz back was always going to be a big lift for the bullpen. Bird, Lawrence, and Hunter were three of the more valuable relievers in baseball last year. This should be a very strong unit.

The offense should also be very good. While their luster has faded a bit, Jimenez and Moncada still represent upgrades from what the Mets had last year. Lane Thomas can flat out hit. On top of that, I’ve added two exceptional defensive players on the bench. The wild card is Lee. He should minimally act as an upgrade defensively (Nimmo’s defense in left should also play up). If Lee’s offensive skills translate to Amerian baseball, the Mets offense could be a juggernaut.

I did deal away some notable talent. Baty, Parada, Scott, and Ramirez in particular all have high upside. However, I did also add a blue chip prospect in Robby Snelling. Ragans, Yamamoto, and Lee are all three young and controllable for years, so this team is positioned well for the future. I did push payroll to the upper limits. However, for all the bad contracts I took on, none of them should be debilitating over the long run.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process.