The Mets: Three Moves They Will Make This Offseason
I have achieved a somewhat Zen-like acceptance of the coming quiet offseason for the Mets. I believe that correctly or otherwise, the Front Office envisions the window of opportunity really opening in 2016 with a mainly home-grown 25-man roster. Maybe I spent too much time reading Baseball America during my formative fan years, but I am at peace with that decision.
Meanwhile back on earth, there have already been a plethora of articles predicting the offseason moves the Mets might/could/should make. My sense is that the promulgators of these scenarios are either bored, naïve, or are following the example of a certain Mets Blog, manufacturing rumors or regurgitating manufactured rumors to build traffic.
The Mets will make moves, at least three of them, this offseason. To spare you the suspense, they appear below. And, for the record, I did consider bringing the fences in as one of them, but that’s a little too low, even for me!
- They will move Jeurys Familia to the closer role. This is more of a gut feeling than actual statistical analysis, as both Familia and Jenrry Mejia performed similarly in 2014. Both were revelations last year. Mejia was certainly entertaining, but he strikes me as more of a reliever who closes than a closer. Familia exhibited some shut down stuff during 2014. Mejia gets the eighth inning, which dovetails nicely into this next move…
- Bobby Parnell is moved off the roster. With the closer and setup roles spoken for, that leaves the less defined roles like long man, spot starter and ROOGY. The Mets have Carlos Torres, Rafael Montero and Vic Black for these roles, all of whom are far cheaper than Bobby and shouldn’t be less than twelve full months removed from Tommy John surgery when the 2015 season starts. I envision Parnell being non-tendered, then being offered (and refusing) a minor league deal; ultimately signing an incentive laden contract with another team.
- Curtis Granderson is moved to leftfield. This creates a sham right field scrum between Matt den Dekker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Brandon Nimmo during Spring Training. In actuality the job is den Dekker’s, until/unless his performance indicates that his 2014 AAA numbers were a fluke. Kirk is already slated for a pinch hitting role and Nimmo for Vegas. Long term, I believe the job is Nimmo’s as they also envision him as a Nick Markakis-type of leadoff hitter.
Dillon Gee is moved to the bullpen. After a long winter of trade rumors for any number of obscure back-up shortstops and speedy, light-hitting outfielders, Gee opens the year as the other long/swing man. Knowing the Mets, they will then deal him in April when his trade value has sunk even lower and they rediscover their need for a second lefty out of the bullpen.
Not Going Anywhere:
- Daniel Murphy: He is the opening day second baseman. I don’t think they have any desire to commit to Daniel long-term, but still see him as a valuable piece for at least one more year until Dilson Herrera is fully ready. It wouldn’t surprise me either to see Murph get a Qualifying Offer next winter, which he will turn down. I think the Mets believe the extra draft pick will garner them a higher-ceiling player than they would get in a trade for Murph.
- Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese : While the crown jewels of the organization will hold down the top three spots in the rotation, these two will round it out, providing a veteran presence and the ability to eat innings. Colon may be traded sometime in July, as by then the money still owed him has dwindled and Noah Syndergaard is free from Super Two eligibility.
- Ruben Tejada and Eric Young Jr.: Both have roles that GM Sandy Alderson would have to otherwise scramble to fill. And apparently Sandy doesn’t like to work in the winter.
Sorry folks but it is all about 2016. I will state FWIW, that I don’t necessarily think this inactivity is all bad. I still can’t stand the sight of Jeff and Fred, I find Alderson’s condescending attitude extremely annoying and I think that Terry Collins is a mediocre in-game manager. That said, I have warmed (somewhat) to the direction that the team is going. I also disagree with the common wisdom that the Mets’ farm system lacks any viable position players. For example, I was impressed by the Nimmo-Herrera top of the order combo in Binghamton last year. Barring injury, both are near locks for the 2016 team.
Speaking of which, I’ll wager that Alderson and Co. envision this team in ’16: the four aces in the rotation, the flamethrowers in the pen and a batting order of Nimmo/Herrera/Michael Conforto/Lucas Duda /a Travis d’Arnaud-Kevin Plawecki job share/David Wright/Juan Lagares/Gavin Cecchini. Granted there are many potential potholes along the way to this lineup and I am violating Capwell’s Corollary by projecting onto two players below the Double-A level.
Conforto is the guy to watch. If he zooms through the system and reaches Binghamton next summer, he could conceivably make the squad out of the next Spring Training. If he hits say .220 at St. Lucie in 2015, they likely end up dipping into their prospect pile to get another bat. Meantime they hope for an adjusted outfield wall-aided resurgence from Grandy and a chance to deal him. Wilmer Flores and den Dekker are probably viewed as little more than inexpensive placeholders for Sandy’s “guys.” If either one of them hits it big, it’s like winning the lotto: unexpected, but you’ll take the results.
Your turn…what do you think will happen this offseason?
I don’t think a non-tender of Parnell is coming but I do think one of Eric Young, Jr. is pretty much set in stone. Ruben Tejada is on the bubble, but removing Terry Collins’ temptation by filling the backup MI role with 40-man-roster resident Wilfredo Tovar would help ensure Wilmer Flores gets the real shot he deserves.
With David Wright coming off of injury, I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see them keep Murphy, but the PR machine is in full swing regarding Matt Reynolds. He could play SS with Flores sliding to 2B, still allowing Herrera a full year in AAA and making Murphy’s projected $8 million arbitration salary someone else’s burden. How else are you going to get any money to pay for a real hitter for RF?
Either Reynolds or Tovar will play shortstop and Flores will play 2B.
Granderson to LF, den Dekker to RF. (should have happened in 2014)
Flores will surprise a lot of people in 2015.
Flores ( I can dream right?)
That said, I don’t think Familia will become the closer on Opening Day, unless Meija is injured or he is absolutely terrible in ST. Also, I’m not sure the Mets non-tender Parnell — however, if there is any doubt about his health, then there’s a greater possibility of that … I think Sandy likes the value of a strong bullpen that can keep you in games and the hopes of fans up. How much is he slated to make in arbitration anyway? I think Curtis going to LF is a foregone conclusion, especially if they end up with den Dekker as a starting corner OF, where his value is greater in RF. As for Gee going to the pen, I just don’t see that happening … for what he is expected to make, that is a very expensive long man. Absent injury to / trades of the other current five starters or one of the right-handed relievers, Gee will be traded before Opening Day for less than what he is worth simply b/c of the glut of starters.
As for “Not Going Anywhere” … I think there is a greater likelihood that you are right about Murphy than on Colon and Niese. As for keeping Tejada AND EY, Jr., I actually like Tejada as a back-up, but apparently he may be too expensive for that purpose. I just don’t think there are a lot of better and at the same time cheaper alternatives … maybe Reynolds, but that’s a bit of a risk as well. I think losing EY, Jr. may be easier to absorb, so SA may actually let him go, assuming they keep Kirk and Campbell (who are cheaper) as the bench LHH and RHH OFs.
Assuming the Mets will essentially remain status quo and only lose EY, Jr., then who would that last bench player be? And, who would fill out the bullpen? It sounds like your best guess is Montero and Gee, but I say they keep Parnell if he is deemed healthy and agree that they try Montero out of the pen simply because there is no other spot for him in the rotation absent a trade of two of the starters or health issues among that rotation through ST.
Lastly, I think your 2016 lineup is very optimistic. I don’t think Nimmo and Cecchini will be ready, and a “platoon” of d’Arnaud and Plawecki makes no sense since they are both right-handed hitters. It will be interesting to see if Conforto and Herrera are ready as quickly as you (and I) project.
Nevertheless, I think something along the lines of your expected moves will be what the fans get in this 2014-15 hot stove season. Gotta hate them Wilpons!
I think your plan is a bit too pessimistic. Yes, like you, I have been very opposed to the annual punting approach that the team has employed, in an effort to reduce financial risk. And, like you, I am warmed to the approach, only because they have achieved the goal of more system depth, albeit at the expense of 4 seasons. That said, there is a good chance that they will make some good moves this winter. However, predicting who stays and who goes at this time is quite impossible, even for Alderson, as I think market conditions will dictate more than the Met agenda will. Sometimes, unexpected players become available, and that changes the plans totally. Alderson will need to be fluid and able to change gears on the fly if he is to succeed in improving the team enough to be a legit contender without depleting key prospects. We know they won’t overcommit monetarily, but I do think that is necessary this offseason.
I don’t agree with your bullpen take. Familia clearly has the close stuff, but he clearly does not have the close mindset. To me, Mejia demonstrated the mindset. Familia is also an incredibly weak fielder, which must improve for him to be considered for the 9th inning. Mejia needs to improve that as well but is nt as bad as Mejia. I just don’t see them losing Parnell for nothing. He will cost $4 million max, and barring a setback will still have good trade value at the deadline should the others step up and block him of any significant role when he is ready to return. Smart money keeps Parnell in the fold as insurance and/or trade bait. I can definitely see them solving SS from within with a mix of Flores-Reynolds plus a veteran backup. Tejada likely won’t be worth his raise, but he could sneak in there if the SS FA market is too pricey. Alderson will find an OF bat, more likely RH, and preferably a RF to move Grandy to LF as you suggest. I can’t see Young finding a spot, unless Den Dekker, Kirk, or both are dealt. I love Young’s hustle but he is just too weak a hitter and doesn’t have a tool besides speed, while MDD and Kirk can offer a few tools in the backup role. Lastly, I can’t see Gee in the pen. He is the most likely to be dealt, and there will be a market for him as he is a solid backend big league, and at $5 million or thereabouts, someone will have interest. Couple him with a second level young arm like Mazzoni or Verrett and a position prospect and they can find that RH OF bat, or couple him with just the young arm and they can find a SS to compete with Flores or allow them to move Flores to 2B and dealt Murph.
I also agree with your take on the bullpen situation, but I also agree that the SS situation will depend on what they do with Murphy, if anything. If Murph is not traded, I actually don’t think they will get a new SS from the outside — unless Sandy is present with a “can’t reject” offer from another team, like the Cubs or D-backs.
The one area that I am most skeptical about is that Sandy can find that clutch RH corner OF bat via a trade. Cespedes makes the most sense, but he’s only for 1 year — but if they can get him w/o giving up much more … e.g., trade Murphy and Colon (both of whom also have 1 year left) for him, that’s not a bad deal b/c I don’t think the Mets would be worse off and it’s not a terrible trade (albeit not a great one either) for the Red Sox.
And, it will interesting to see where Gee (or Colon or Niese) end up, since I just don’t see the Mets parting with any of the other big four pitchers except in a blockbuster trade.
However, if an opportunity to get a long term piece presents itself, I would trade any combo of Murphy, Gee, Niese, Colon, Mejia, Plawecki and Montero to add that piece, ie CarGo, Kemp, or Bautista. I would probably get rid of Granderson before the kids, as we all know Granderson may be better than last year, but we aren’t expecting an all-star anyway and the kids are in their uptrend.
I too have proposed a similar package for Bautista, but apparently his name brand in Toronto is highly valued — he’s their D. Wright equivalent. For example, a trade of Murphy, Niese and Colon for JB was soundly rejected, which I thought was fair since the Blue Jays need a 2B and pitching. For 2 years of JB, I thought 6 total guaranteed years of Murphy (1), Niese (4) and Colon (1) would be reasonable, especially since the exchange of salaries was not unreasonable. But, my guess is that the Jays’ GM will want some of the young kids IN ADDITION to at least Murphy and Niese. CarGo will cost a lot more b/c of his upside after a down year. I think Kemp is just too costly both in terms of $$$ and expected players in return coupled with his penchant for getting injured too.
Lastly, Granderson is not going anywhere with his contract, unless he has a monster season in 2015.
-Non-tendering or even trading Parnell right now.
I think Parnell is a valuable chip if he can prove that he is healthy.
I would not trade him and I definitely would not release him now. I would bring him to spring training and if he can prove that he is healthy and capable of closing again then I might shop him.
But I might also keep him….
One thing we saw from the Royals in the playoffs is how valuable it is to have three closer types at the back of the bullpen in Herrera, Davis, and Holland (HDH).
Wouldn’t it be great if our 7th, 8th, and 9th inning guys were some combination of Familia, Parnell, Black, and Mejia, all of whom are hard throwers like HDH?
Cecchini has not played very well in the lower minors and is widely regarded by prospect gurus as a bust.
I think it is in doubt at this juncture that he even makes the major leagues – with any team, in any role – let alone is the Mets starting shortstop in 2016.
The good news about Cecchini is he turns 21 next month so he will play all of the 2015 season at age 21 and that means he might still figure some things out and get better.
But again in reading a lot of reports – too many, in fact – from Baseball America, John Sickels, Keith Law, and Kylie McDaniel – no one is very high on Cecchini at the moment.
Anyway, let’s something clicks for Cecchini next year.
Ok, riddle is over. Ya, this would be Scott Van Slyke who with those kind of numbers would find his way onto about 90% of Major league rosters as a starter. But instead is blocked by the likes of Kemp- Puig – Crawford (add Ethier and a guy named Joc Pedersen if you like). Dodgers need relief pitching and could always do with another back end starter as well.
Somehow, someway there is a price we can pay to get him here. The question is how much it would take. But this is still a guy making league minimum. He could either be an everyday player or one who coud platoon with Kirk who everyone overlooks for some reason as if an .855 OPS vs RHP was irrelevant. Granted sample sizes for him are small but with regular time still was showing signs of promise. The idea is that you’re buying in on the potential either guy blossoms into someone who pushes Granderson to put up major league numbers instead of his troubling .714/.723 OPS from the last two years.
Dodgers won’t give him away for nothing. But that depth in the outfield is going to make him expendable if it means they can shore up a crucial area and that is their bullpen. This is who we should be making a priority play on and disregard the oft injured Carlos Gonzalez who is a product of Coors field and the Rockies will want to gut our farm system for.
In 2014 he spent the whole year as an MLB sub, crushing lefties and getting on base well against righties. The ridiculous K rate — 1 per 3 ABs, worse by far than anyone on the Mets — is alarming, and he won’t approach his .394 BABIP again unless he’s secretly Tony Gwynn.
So here we have a guy who’s already peaked (he turns 29 next July) coming off a flukey year. If 90% of teams would use him as a starter, 90% of teams would be taking a big gamble.
Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to add him to the Mets roster. But I wouldn’t pay for anything more than a solid sub / platoon guy.
With the Mets and their shoestring small market budget, we don’t have the luxury to cherry pick over Free Agents. Even if we could, what exactly did Shin-Soo Choo put up last year that was worth 7 years at $130 million? A 98 OPS+. Or you could go with the aging vet (Beltran at $15 mil x 3) for a 94 OPS+. Those aren’t risky moves?
What we’re seeking is a bridge toward the youth movement of Nimmo/Conforto/Puello that won’t break the bank but can maximize the utility of what is currently in our roster’s inventory (Kirk/Den Dekker) and still have some wiggle room left in the event that suddenly balls hit in play don’t fall in. I’ve never been a proponent of punishing a guy by diminishing his stats because he was able to hit the ball where guys weren’t. That’s part of the object. There’s some luck involved but it’s all relative when it’s centered around making solid contact.
The reason SVS is a sub guy at the moment is obvious. There’s a mash-up of overpaid vets and an All-star Cuban in the mix over in Dodgerland. As for peaking or not… show me 1 season with 450+ AB’s and we’ll determine that. Until then it’s all speculation.
Hitting the ball where guys aren’t is a skill, for sure, but doing it at a .394 clip would make the hitter Tony Gwynn. No one thinks Van Slyke is Tony Gwynn. Even if Scott posts another excellent BABIP in 2015, we’re still talking a huge drop, most likely. Basically, guys with his K rate rarely hit much over .200, so even if he’s an exception, .250+ still seems unlikely. Jim Thome is the only guy in baseball history to whiff close to that much while sustaining an average that high.
You might be right that Van Slyke would have gotten more of a shot on another team, but I don’t think his minors stats make that a foregone conclusion.
I do agree that he would fit very nicely on the Mets! But would I deal away what it generally takes to get an everyday player with 4 years of team control remaining? Probably not.
What would you offer for him?
The way I view Van Slyke is that you can still strip .100 points of OPS off of his numbers from both sides of the plate and still have a valuable player. I still like complimenting that with Kirk’s numbers vs RHP last season and find that far more appetizing than leveraging the risk plus prospects plus potential albatross salary of a Carlos Gonzalez. Combine this with the fact we may only need to bridge a year of time before Nimmo et al are ready.
There’s a lot of movement happening with the Dodgers FO so I’m sure this is hardly a priority at the moment… but it’s fun to look at nonetheless.
A Van Slyke platoon with any of den Dekker / Nieuwenhuis / Granderson would automatically make that spot more productive, if only Collins could be persuaded to commit (that nonsense about Duda facing more lefties makes me nervous).
I hope Sandy’s on the phone about this now! It may not be LA’s first priority, but it wouldn’t shock me if they’d like to clear some headaches off the desk, and a crowded OF is one of them.
I’d also check in on Kemp. I don’t love the guy, but he’s probably the biggest bat the Mets have any kind of shot at getting.
Of course, our current team already has a ton of home-grown players.
Whether the 2016 edition wins more games is hard to guess. I imagine that d’Arnaud will be better, Granderson will be worse, and we’ll have new faces filling the “getting used to the majors” roles of Flores, den Dekker and Familia. Niese will get hurt, Murph will leave, Wright will continue to age. Harvey had better come back strong, and Nimmo and Herrera had better be stars!
I am super excited that Lagares won the Gold Glove. In years past it would have gone to someone more famous, a better hitter, or whoever won in 2013. Kudos to Rawlings for factoring in stats rather than just coach voting. I honestly thought Hamilton would win it just because most people vote for the players they actually get to see for more than 6 games, that is, the players in their own division — Span and Lagares could have split some East votes. But the right guy won, and that’s awesome.
A lot of outfielders have their defensive peak around 24 or so, so we’ll see if Lagares can keep it up as he moves into his late 20s. Hopefully he doesn’t add mass in workouts; hopefully he finds a way to stay on the field a little better.
Meanwhile, nearly 2 months after being pulled from the lineup, David Wright’s shoulder is still in doubt. It’s better than it was, but it’s still a ways away from hitting shape, and surgery hasn’t been entirely ruled out. I hope someone forces David to take things slow. He should talk to Jason Heyward about what playing through a shoulder injury can do to your career. Heyward’s rookie year was his best; after Chipper pressured him into playing hurt the following year, his swing hasn’t been the same.