AAOP (Late Submission): The Mets Solar System

Note: Had a lot of issues uploading this but I wrote it and like it so I’m going to post it!

Big Bang: An Introduction

The first three years of Steve Cohen’s ownership have been like the birth of the universe, immensely exciting and necessarily turbulent. It is, however, time for the Mets to settle down and create stable conditions where long-term success can take root and flourish. David Stearns and Carlos Mendoza are an excellent start. But what matters isn’t the specific names that make up the front office and management but that they; are aligned with Stearns (which is to say they are wizards), not so ridiculously scummy that their private lives cost them their professional careers and are allowed to work their magic for the foreseeable future.

I’m going to set some targets for the offseason before continuing, so that I’m working towards clear goals:

  1. Add pitching that improves the team for 2024 and beyond, we are not punting next season.

  2. Keep the farm system strong.

  3. Extend Pete Alonso or put a succession plan in place.

  4. Reduce payroll to avoid paying a 10 spot draft penalty (for spending over $277 million) by 2026-ish.

So, may I present to you, the Mets 2023/24 offseason solar system.

Our Star is from the Land of the Rising Sun

Every solar system needs a star and while there are many stars in the off-season night sky ours is called Yoshinobu Yamamoto. He is the one piece that all our other moves will revolve around and without him everything changes. Yamamoto is 25 years old, has proven top of the rotation stuff and only costs money. He has deception in the delivery of his 94-95 mph fastball that he uses with his unique curve, unhittable splitter and cutter. Yamamoto has durability, results, control, year on year improvement, you want it, it's there. The guy is special and helps the Mets compete for years to come without the need to ship out young talent. So we get him signed as he’ll create the perfect conditions for others to flourish.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto signs for 8 years and $200 million.

Gravity Sucks

Great one down, one to go!! Who am I taking next, Soto or Ohtani? There’s a hitch here though, mainly that half the teams in baseball are interested in one or all three of Soto, Ohtani and Yamamoto. By getting Yamamoto the Mets prove they are serious players and a desirable destination for talent, which I think they are. Unfortunately, you can’t have everything. So, Ohtani stays west and signs with the Dodgers. Soto is dealt for better young pitching (from the Yankees or Mariners) than the Mets can offer. The Childish Bambino has enjoyed all the offseason attention so much though that he’s resolved to test free agency and the Mets have made a good impression. Soto is very much a lower case ‘l’.

Look at those Pretty Comets Passing Through our Solar System

Comets orbit a star but come and go, they are very much like players available for trade. When it comes to trades I think the Mets are most likely to do business with the White Sox for the following reasons:

  • "I don’t like our team." That’s a direct quote from White Sox GM Chris Getz. Sounds like he might call us before we call him!

  • The White Sox owner, when unveiling Getz, said he wants to compete, so the White Sox need a retooling not rebuilding, a similar situation to the Mets.

  • The White Sox do not spend money and have underperforming players on big contracts.

  • The Mets need pitching. The White Sox need middle infielders and corner outfielders.

So, I want Dylan Cease. I won’t waste the words explaining why the Mets would want to trade for and extend a 27 year-old, former CY Young Award winner with two years of team control. He had an average 2023, but look under the hood and all the numbers suggest bad luck.

Competition will be fierce for Cease so a moderate overpay is necessary. I would open by offering to take Benintendi but I doubt the White Sox will sell so low on him. So we pivot to the equally awful contracts of Moncada (3B/2B) and Bummer (RP), who are owed $30 million between them in 2024 but are free agents afterwards. If 2025 is when the Death Star needs to be fully operational then we can take some small hits in 2024, especially if we hoover up elite talent in the process.

There’s no way the new GM of the White Sox gives away Cease without getting a big name back. Acuna is as big as they come, but not necessarily due to Luisangel’s exploits. We’ll throw in old friend Jose Quintana to anchor the rotation and be a role model along with Minor League catcher Kevin Parada. I'm wearing orange and blue tinted glasses thinking the White Sox will accept this but after denying myself Soto and Ohtani we can let this slide. Cease turns up in Queens wearing his ‘Big Sexy’ t-shirt, declares he has always been a Mets fan and demands Spencer Strider shaves off his inferior moustache (Keith Hernandez helps with this last part). Early in the season Cease signs an extension for 8 years and $220 million (club option for the final year and player option after 5 years) that kicks in for the 2025 season.

The Mets trade Luisangel Acuna, Kevin Parada and Jose Quintana to the White Sox in return for Dylan Cease (who is extended), Juan Moncada and Aaron Bummer.

Jupiter: The Biggest Object in The Mets Batting Line Up

The biggest planet in any solar system provides an important function, it acts as a bodyguard for other planets in the line-up. Pete Alonso is the best Mets power hitter of all time, he is yet to turn 30 and has played pretty much every game since coming up. Are you telling me that you’ll give $130 million to Max Scherzer but want to low ball Pete? Get rid of The Polar Bear, who broke camp with the team and slugged a rookie record number of home runs? Cast out a man who has proven that through thick and thin he can not just hack it in New York but do so with style and grace? No, I’m not having that, Pete gets paid, anchors the line-up for years to come and retires as a legendary Met.

Pete Alonso signs for 8 years and $190 million.

Big and Turbulent

Neptune is the windiest planet with storms that can reach supersonic speeds, which is exactly how quickly Giolito’s ERA moved once he left Chicago. I have no idea what the Angels did to poor Lucas but he gave up 21 home runs and had an ERA of nearly seven in his 12 starts after being traded. The floor here is fine; he's thrown at least 160 innings over the last five full seasons so he’s dependable. At worst (with some home comforts to make him feel welcome and loved) Giolito replaces Quintana, at best we find the 2019-2020 Giolito who finished top 7 in CY Young voting. You won’t get a dependable starting pitcher under the age of 30 on a pillow contract but I buy the bounceback.

Lucas Giolito signs for 4 years and $60 million.

You can’t really see this Ice Giant

Uranus was the first planet found with a telescope and I can’t see who the Mets fifth pitcher will be with my naked eye either. Throw Megill, Peterson (who is unfortunately injured), Butto, Lucchesi, Vasil, Scott, Jarvis, Hamel and Stuart into the Stearns pitching lab. Then watch on in awe as they rotate backwards, on their sides, stink up the joint or do any other number of things! You have to go through plenty of Dillon Gee’s to find a Jacob deGrom, 2024 represents an opportunity to do that.

Many players start in the Mets rotation.

We Need More JUICE

I know, the Mets are short a power bat. I can hear you screeching ‘We needs it’ in your best Gollum voice. I have the money left to bring one in, but I’m not necessarily going to. Why? Well I don’t mind using those at bats to find out what the young Mets hitters can do.

There is another reason to leave some cash burning a hole in Uncle Stevie’s pocket. Each year a mid-tier free agent is left out in the cold. Admittedly this is passive but I want the financial flexibility to be able to bring that lost soul who overplayed their market in on a one year deal. We have space for a starter, relief pitcher or any kind of hitter. I used a random number generator and it picked Jorge Soler as the unfortunate free agent (between the 4-25 spot on Fangraphs free agent rankings) who is neglected.

For now, Michael A. Taylor fills the role of positionally flexible outfielder while being an excellent example to those around him. The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) won’t actually get to Jupiter until 2031. Be patient and be grateful the hitter you crave will be with the Mets by the end of next year’s off season, who knows maybe he’s already here. Or yell at me …………. your choice.

Michael A. Taylor signs for 1 year and $9 million.

Jorge Soler (or someone else) signs for 1 year and $16 million.

Sound the Trumpets and Summon the God of War

I understand Diaz isn’t a new signing but after a brutal 2023 we, as fans, need as many reasons as possible to be optimistic going into 2024. Diaz brought so much unabated joy to so many of us in 2022 that his return will feel like a new signing. I bet all the players are looking forward to the fan reaction when he enters from the bullpen for the first time next year. Whether his ending is more Infinity Wars or End Game remains to be seen but I can’t wait to find out.

Get out your air trumpets, Edwin Diaz is back!!!!!

Everybody has a Venus this is Mine

When I first started watching baseball in 2011, me and a friend made several small wagers to keep us interested in the postseason proceedings. The magic eight ball I used told me to pick Matt Moore to be World Series MVP. From there Moore’s two hit, 7-inning gem against the Rangers made me a fan of his for life. Nowadays, Moore is a bullpen arm capable of getting both lefties and righties out while going multiple innings. He’s the kind of versatile reliever the Mets sorely missed last year. Venus is visible from Earth for around 70% of the year and having Moore available for 70% of Mets games will sure give me the warm fuzzies.

Matt Moore signs for 2 years and $14 million.

Remember the Titans (Saturn’s largest moon)

Relief pitching doesn’t get you to the play-offs, they are satellites that go around the starting pitcher planets. That said, they can still be incredibly cool (life on Europa anyone?). I fully expect Stearns to make use of all the new toys the Mets can afford to hit on 1, possibly 2, bullpen arms. But we need some stability and we need some gas! Ryne Stanek threw his secondary pitchers harder last year but lost his command of them, this led to an ERA over 4 last year. He looks like a good value reliever if he gets back to 2022 (1.15 ERA) form. Luis Guillorme is out of options so we can trade him for a hard throwing reliever with options if we hurry. I’m on the White Sox roster page and Garett Crochet looks perfect, the Sox can have any other of the players I cut below as well if they want.

Ryne Stanek signs for 2 years and $16 million.

Trade Luis Guillorme and $900,000 to the White Sox for Garett Crochet.

David Stearns pulls a rabbit from his hat.

The Kuiper Belt

This is where we sort out other bits and pieces.

  • Two of Lucchesi, Megill and Butto start the year in the minors. Injuries may allow one of them to stay with the big league team as a long reliever.

  • Mark Vientos starts the year in the minors.

  • Phil Bickford and Drew Smith make the team (I know!).

  • Non-tender: Vogelbach, Sam Coonrod and Trevor Gott/Sean Reid-Foley/Tomas Nido then invite them all to Spring Training.

  • Add Jeremiah Jackson, Justin Jarvis and Brandon Mcilwain to the 40-man roster to protect them from the rule five draft.

  • They are joined by David Peterson.

  • Reed Garret, Bryce Montes de Orca, Josh Walker and Grant Hartwig go to Triple A.

Conclusion: No Supernovas

This isn’t the most exciting proposal you’ll read but it’s a necessary step back. Ultimately this team can win 85 games and, more importantly, it can be way better in 2025. The Mets will have nearly $52 million in dead money gone and will lose a further $37 million from deadweight players (Moncada, Bummer, Narvaez). While my Dylon Cease extension kicks in I would still expect the Mets to be able to make a serious run at Juan Soto and one other superstar free agent, while minor league players add depth to the roster as they come up.

With the money I’m saving the Mets on payroll I’m sure Mr. Cohen can be convinced to retire David Wright’s number and add statues of Nohan Santana, 9/11 home run hero Mike Piazza and Knight and Carter celebrating like it’s 1986.

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