Japan -- a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean.
What does Japan produce? Kobe beef, anime, Japanese RPGs, and baseball. Lots of baseball.
Visualization of the Mets' offense last season
Steve Cohen still has a lot of money, but he was unable to screw the rules last season. However, the ghost fork merchant proved promising. The ghost fork screwed all the rules last season. Kodai Senga has led the way for the Mets to open their gates to Japan the same way Matthew Perry (RIP the other Matthew Perry) opened America to Japan in the nineteenth century. So what's the plan for Steve Cohen? To buy as many Japanese players as possible.
Steve Cohen understands that MLB has a vendetta against him. Instead of getting mad, he's getting even. He's going to bring the Japanophiles to Citi Field next season. Think of the marketing opportunities. Think of the anime tie ins. Think of the pressure on MLB. He's assembling a team of Japan's greatest and it's coming to a ballpark near you.
Anyone in MLB who would hate this has no heart
Adam Ottavino (option declined)
May not have a job with the Mets this season, but plenty of time to watch anime!
Acquisition #1: Sony
Sign Shohei Ohtani 10 Years 450 million, with a player opt out after year #2 and #3.
Like the Sony is the top dog of gaming, Shohei Ohtani is the top dog of baseball.
Why sign Shohei Ohtani? Well, he's basically the best baseball player on the planet. Even if he's just a position player, he's a damn good position player. Shohei instantly fixes our DH problem, becomes our top hitter in the lineup, and gives Alonso the protection he needs. For a team aiming to compete next year, Ohtani gives our lineup a genuinely dangerous piece.
On the mound? If he ever gets back there, he's just as excellent as a #3. There are a few big question marks though. He's gone as a starter for 2024, which hurts his value. So I came up with an idea. I think what will sweeten a deal for Ohtani are optouts. Ohtani may want to retest free agency after his arm is healthy again. This also means the Mets will be off the hook for Ohtani if he decides to test free agency again after year #2. He will be a little older then, but a 31 year old Ohtani may still command a king's ransom. The Ohtani contract then becomes really a 2/90 million or a 3/135 million dollar deal. For a team with a short competitive window, that ain't all that bad.
Acquisition #2: Nintendo
Sign Yoshi Yamamoto for 8 years, 210 million, with opt out after year 4.
Yoshi Yamamoto is undoubtedly the best starting pitcher on the market. That means he will be highly sought after. 200 million seems to be the starting point. But most teams will be reluctant to add the eighth year or the 4 year opt out. With the 4 year opt out, I think the Mets can beat the other teams' offers. If Yoshi Yams is Jacob Degrom tier, then you can really pay him the Jacob DeGrom bucks after year 4. If not, then you basically signed Yam to a 4 year/105 million deal. Not bad honestly for a newbie from the NPB. It also rivals the Tanaka money from all those years.
Acquisition #3 Suzuki Motors
Trade Mark Vientos and Landon Marceaux to the Cubs for Seiya Suzuki + Cash
This is actually a slight overpay for the Mets, according to trade evaluator. The Cubbies are in desperate need of a power hitting 1B, and Seiya is getting mighty expensive. Seiya Suzuki's contract is rather curious. He only made about 8 million in his first year, but this year he is set to make 21 million. That's a lot of money for basically a ~3 win player. Starling Marte is making that type of money, but he was a 5.3 WAR player before he signed. Seiya has been as good as advertised with the bat (career 122 wRC+), but his glove leaves.... a lot to be desired.
Seiya Suzuki drops the ball, literally
Still, Seiya gives the Mets a genuine threat with the bat on offense, and the Mets need someone who can kill LHP!
The Cubs also look to have a glut in the OF. If they resign Bellinger (not out of the realm of possibility) that leaves them with Ian Happ, PCA, Bellinger, and Owen Caissie. Suzuki begins to look like odd man out. So both teams fulfill some important needs here.
Vientos, while he wasn't very great last year, showed some potential. In September/October he hit to a 101 wrC+. I think Vientos will be a productive big leaguer if given enough playing time. He still has tremendous raw power, and at 1B I think a lot of his defensive issues can be overlooked. With a potential Pete Alonso extension and Ryan Clifford waiting in the wings, I think Vientos would be better off somewhere else. I also threw in Landon to get some additional cash from the Cubbies (Seiya is mighty expensive!)
Acquisition #4: Konami (Pachinko Machine Extraordinaire)
Trade Brett Baty, David Peterson, and Tyler Stuart to the Blue Jays for Alek Manoah, Yusei Kikuchi, and Orelvis Martinez
What to say about Konami that already hasn't been said? Too many memes about Hideo Kojima. Too many memes about them nuking their gaming franchises so they can make gambling machines. This offseason, Cohen & Stearns make a gamble of their own -- to trade Baty, the Mets former top 5 prospect, to acquire some badly needed pitching depth, infield depth, and a #4-5 starter on the cheap.
One day recently, I, Sage, had a crazy idea to trade Brett Baty for Alek Manoah. I think the idea came from the fact that both are a bit of reclamation projects. Baty was objectively terrible for the Mets this year, and Manoah was objectively terrible for the Blue Jays. With Matt Chapman likely a goner, the Blue Jays will likely go into a sort of rebuilding mode. They've been embarrassed long enough for their playoff performances as is.
Personally, I think Baty has more potential than Orelvis Martinez. Peterson has shown flashes of brilliance (
This was before the injury (cough death cough) to Peterson). This move has the potential to work out for both sides. At best? Alek Manoah is your #3 starter and an excellent one at that. Manoah was worth 6.1 fWAR in his first two seasons and was absolutely dominant in 2022. At worst? He's a depth piece with options.
While Baty doesn't have the numbers in the big leagues yet, he has shown that he has dominated AAA. I think it's only a matter of time. At his best, he could be a 3-5 WAR player. I think the Blue Jays would take a gamble.
While I don't think Orelvis Martinez has a higher ceiling than Brett, I think he has a higher floor. Martinez was a top prospect, expected to dominate every level with his pop. While the power has been there, there are a few concerns regarding his game. His defense game is rather average at 3B, and he hasn't had jaw-dropping numbers last year in the minors. In AAA (one of the most offense heavy leagues) he put up a meager 105 wRC+ with a 26.8 % K rate. Scouts project Martinez as a stereotypical power hitting 3B at best. Still, he's an excellent depth piece for the Mets to have on the infield. He has much more raw power than either Acuna, Gilbert, or Jett Williams, and projects well at 3B.
Yusei Kikuchi is another wild card. Kikuchi is a lefty that the Mets could use in the rotation. I project him as a #5 though. He is maddeningly inconsistent at times, but when he's good, he's quite good. Last year he put up arguably his best season. He was worth 2.6 fWAR, lowered his BB/9 rate to 2.58, and had a nice xFIP of 3.77/xERA 4.26. For a #5 starter on the market, Kikuchi is worth the price tag of $12 million he commands for his walk year. I think you could do a lot worse on the open market than Kikuchi. Plus, he frees up money for the Blue Jays to pursue top starter talent like Nola or Montgomery.
Stuart is an interesting piece to add here as well. He was excellent last year, but I think the Mets are selling high on him. I think the Blue Jays would appreciate having starter/reliever depth, especially after the debacle of the postseason the last few years.
Acquisition #5: Toyota (pre-owned) - Trade Starling Marte, Marco Vargas, Calvin Ziegler, Joey Lucchesi + Cash Considerations to the Padres for Yu Darvish, Ha-Seong Kim and Scott Barlow
Nothing like getting something preowned. This time, it's trading a bad contract for a bad contract. The Padres are
falling apart rebuilding and thus need to offload the Darvish contract. It's an awful contract too. What was Preller thinking extending a 37 year old pitcher 6 years? Besides that, the Mets have a bad contract to in Marte. So swaparoo we go.
Kim is the real target for the trade. Kim has low key been an excellent utility infielder. He's basically Guillorme if he could stay on the field and hit. Last year he put up an impressive 5.8 bWAR, rivaling our own Lindor. Kim is on the last year of a contract where he will have a mutual option in 2025. For a year of Kim, you're getting an excellent fill in at 3B, 2B or wherever we need him. This allows McNeil to play more LF, where I think he will do well. Kim may not be Japanese, but he's from best Korea, so we'll count him (besides, they basically animate more anime in Korea than they do in Japan anyways)
Barlow gives the Mets their eight inning guy. He's cheaper than Robertson was, and cheaper than Otto. Darvish may still have something left in the tank for at least a year, so let's hope the Mets aren't stupid enough to be swindled on a bad contract trade ever again.
However, the Mets can't give nothing, so they'll be trading Vargas, Lucchesi, and Ziegler. Vargas has the potential to move quickly, and he's already the Mets #8. Lucchesi reunites with his old club and becomes their #4 or #5 on the cheap. Ziegler was hurt for most of last year, but I don't see a future for him on the big league club. Getting a #8 and #19 prospect for that awful Darvish contract will make Preller feel less stupid for giving away Bob Melvin. Besides, has he been known for sane trades?
Acquisition #6 Sega (hit or miss) - Sign Yariel Rodriguez to a 4 year/ 12 million deal
Sega -- A company that used to be epic. They even had the best mascot. Now, they're hit or miss. They either make god-tier games like Persona 5 (with Atlus) or they make unplayable crap like Sonic 2006. We have no idea what Yariel Rodriguez will be like after missing 2023. He's a completely unique case -- instead of going to MLB from Cuba, he went to the NPB (honorary Japanese in our list). If Yariel is good, he's our 8th inning guy, along with Barlow. If he's crap, well he's not going to cost much. He's got very solid control and does not give up homeruns. In 54 innings in the NPB, he allowed precisely zero HRs. I think he's the perfect gamble a GM/POBO like Stearns takes and molds into his own. For 12 million? That's a steal.
Acquisition #7 Honda - Sign Yuki Matsui to a 3 year/ 21 million deal
I know the name of Matsui haunts the early 00s Mets fan. Yuki Matsui is another reliever from the NPB on the market this season. Yuki is short like our very own Jett -- at 5'8'' he'd definitely be the shortest pitcher on the team. He's projected to not be a closer in MLB -- more like a seventh inning guy, so I don't expect to him to command a crazy amount on the market. He's a lefty, which I always like to have two, just in case. He also has a really nasty split. He doesn't throw tremendously hard, which I think will help mitigate the injury risk. I think he's a welcome addition to our bullpen.
Ronin - Other Moves
Harrison Bader 1 year/ 5 million
I think Harrison Bader will want a pillow contract to reclaim his value. I think he's at his strongest as a 4OF. I don't think he finds a fulltime major league job this season. One thing Bader brings a lot of is defense. He is absurdly good at defense, and with the state of our outfield, we will need it. However, we've got reinforcements coming in Drew Gilbert and Luisangel Acuna. I didn't want to trade those guys because we could actually use some good OF minors depth for a change.
No brainer, you keep the Stewart.
John Curtiss - minor league FA with invite to spring
I am bullish on Curtiss but he needs contract to prove himself.
Noah Syndergaard - minor league FA with invite to spring
You gotta see what's left in his tank.
Brad Hand - minor league FA with invite to spring (incentive if he makes big league roster)
Eduardo Escobar - minor league FA with invite to spring
We all like Eduardo, he can play multiple positions, and he was an excellent teammate. I extend him an offer.
Shintaro Fujinami - minor league FA with invite to spring
Fujinami was not great last season, but he has an electric arm. Plus, Cohen is buying all the other NPB players so why not him?
Phil Bickford, Sam Conrood, Trevor Gott, Brooks Raley
I hope Carlos Mendoza can speak Japanese!
Ghost fork merchant 2: Electric Boogaloo