Mets Pass On Ian Desmond
In case you haven’t already heard, the answer to the Mets’ shortstop problem was nearly solved with Ian Desmond — but the Mets declined.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Mets would have been part of a three-team blockbuster involving the Nationals and Rays that would have sent Desmond to Flushing, Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to DC, and two Mets prospects to Tampa Bay. But, Rosenthal says that the Mets declined when the Rays insisted on Noah Syndergaard and another mystery prospect. After the deal fell through, Zobrist and Escobar were shipped to Oakland in return for John Jaso, minor-league shortstop Daniel Robertson (the Athletics’ No. 1 prospect), minor-league outfielder Boog Powell (who posted a .451 on-base percentage at Class A last season, and is NOT related to the “other” Boog Powell), and $1.5 million.
First off, there’s no discussion about whether Ian Desmond would have been an upgrade at shortstop for the Mets — both in the field and in the lineup. Though, I’m sure there are a few dozen people wearing orange and blue sunglasses who will be happy to tell me that there’s no guarantee Desmond won’t be as good or better than Wilmer Flores — whose legend grows by the hour. The fact that the Mets were interested in acquiring Desmond to supplant Flores is evidence enough that the Flushing front office isn’t as sold on the idea as they have been suggesting since September. But hey, if you’re of the ilk that Flores will post a .800+ OPS and be respectable in the field (which Desmond has become, over the years — he’s no Gold Glover but far from a negative) in 2015, then go ahead and blow off steam in the comments.
Next, it’s possible that the two-prospect package upon which the Rays were insisting was too much; they did fetch a fine pair of youngsters from Oakland, as well as a legit everyday MLBer, from Oakland, so it’s fair to assume they were looking for similar value from the Mets. We don’t know the mystery prospect, so everyone is focusing on Syndergaard, and, of course, a Mets fan will be the first to scream that Ian Desmond is not fair value for Syndergaard. A Mets fan probably would also say that Giancarlo Stanton is not worth trading Syndergaard — unless the Marlins included Jose Fernandez and $250M in the deal, and then, MAYBE it MIGHT be worth it.
Further, there is the argument that sending away Syndergaard for one year of Desmond is downright stupid, especially since the Mets can sign Desmond as a free agent next winter and give up only a draft pick.
Well … hmmm …
Here’s the flaw in that second argument — it’s a farce. The Mets CANNOT sign Ian Desmond as a free agent next winter, because they can’t afford him. If they COULD afford him, then they would have been after Hanley Ramirez this winter. Not to mention, there’s no reason why the Mets couldn’t consider the possibility of extending Desmond — either after acquiring him, or, at the very least, requesting a 48-hour window to discuss an extension with Desmond. Sure, the chance was small the window would’ve been granted, and there were odds against getting Desmond to agree to defer his free agency for another year or two, but there’s no harm in asking — the Mets did something similar with Johan Santana not so long ago. But again, that would’ve incurred many millions of dollars that the Mets either can’t or won’t spend.
Should the Mets have done the deal, even with the risk of losing Desmond after the 2015 season? If you’re a frequent reader here, you know my answer — of course! Why not?
If the Mets are serious about making the postseason in 2015, then yes, absolutely — make the trade and figure out how to keep Desmond beyond ’15 later. Subtracting Desmond from the Nationals, replacing him with Zobrist and Escobar, and adding him to the Mets makes the Mets a serious Wild Card contender and a legitimate threat for the NL East crown if a few things break right in Flushing and a few things break wrong in DC. Desmond is that good all-around, and the Nats will miss him if they succeed in moving him this winter.
Oh, I know, I know — Syndergaard is going to strike out 15 guys a game and throw 10 no-hitters in the next three years, and the Mets would be crazy to give him up for a scab like Desmond. Shortstops who hit 25 HR a year are a dime a dozen, after all. Oh wait, we’re not partying like it’s 1999 any more, are we?
Yes, Desmond’s offensive numbers have been steadily trending down over the past three years (though, they’re still better than nearly every other shortstop in MLB). Yes, he’s getting closer to age 30, when skills begin to fade. Yes, his contact rate is declining and strikeout rate skyrocketing. But let’s go back to that thing I typed in the parentheses: he’s still better than nearly every other shortstop in MLB. He’s likely to be better than nearly every other shortstop in MLB for the next three years, as well — with a little luck, possibly even better than Wilmer Flores. And the next three years is really all the Mets should care about right now, isn’t it? Isn’t the next three years the Mets’ window to succeed? Their big chance to get to the postseason? If they don’t win between now and 2017, they won’t sell enough tickets to generate enough revenue to keep the Harveys, d’Arnauds, Wheelers, etc. for that “sustained success” to which Sandy Alderson keeps referring. The time to win is right now — 2015. The Braves are rebuilding. The Phillies stink. The Nationals have some issues (Jayson Werth‘s shoulder, for one; a hole at 2B, for two; a questionable bullpen) that could knock them down a notch. The Marlins may or may not be primed for a winning season in 2015. Now is the optimum time for the Mets to strike — while the iron is hot.
Instead, they continue to hold back, hoping to get a superstar shortstop at a bargain price in return for Dillon Gee and a random prospect that their fan base hasn’t seen on any published “top ten” list. Good luck with that. Maybe it will happen — certainly, there is still time before Opening Day.
As for Syndergaard, yeah, I know, he’s the Second Coming. But you have to give up something to get something, and every year pitching gets to be more of a surplus for nearly everyone, while bats continue to be more premium. Additionally, prospects remain prospects until they get to MLB, while proven MLBers continue to produce until their t-levels naturally decline. I’m still waiting for Lastings Milledge to win a Triple Crown and for David West to win a Cy Young. Just sayin’. Even if they did, it wouldn’t matter — teams that want to win now make deals to win now, and don’t worry about what prospects do in the future. The more I hear about the Mets refusing to part with Syndergaard, the more I wonder if his value may be at its all-time peak right now. All it takes is one injury to immediately reduce a pitcher’s value to near-zero, and Syndergaard already suffered one that is a precursor to a UCL tear.
Go ahead, scream at me in the comments — let me know how wrong I am.
Given our history of bidding amidst real competition for players testing an open market, what makes anyone feel confident that this ownership and front office would be the highest bidder for his services – AFTER seeing he’s turned down $107MM over 7-years from the Nationals……to the tune of acquiring him for 1-year, losing Noah Syndergaard PLUS another top prospect?
………….I’d expect to hear crickets…………even with the “request a window for negotiation of extension” byline being written into everyone’s opinion pieces.
~30-year old Ian Desmond is going to be the player you go out of your way to trade top prospects for AND fork over a long-term, $100MM+ type contract to?
I want a legit SS just as much as the next guy, but c’mon now.
Granted, I’m NOT AT ALL happy with the way they’ve played their hand so far this winter (presuming there’s not an ace up the sleeve, between now and the time camp breaks)………but I’m not losing any sleep over what didn’t go down here, with Desmond.
That they haven’t been able to put together a package that nets a legit upgrade, amidst an off-season flurry of deals around the league?
……….not gonna lie, it’s a bit concerning to me. I’m not even talking about spending big-time bucks on overpaid FA talent. They have enough in the way of expendable Major League players (guys like Murphy, Niese, Gee, etc.) and attractive younger players/prospects – where something could have been swung. Instead, it’s more hand-wringing and “going in with what we’ve got”.
“Disappointing off-season” would be putting it mild, at best, for me.
“30-year old Ian Desmond is going to be the player you go out of your way to trade top prospects for AND fork over a long-term, $100MM+ type contract to?”
YES — abso-effing-lutely. Without a doubt.
And for the record, he just turned 29, not 30. Minor detail.
If you’re not going to fork over non-MLBers and a long-term, $100M deal for one of the top 3 all-around shortstops in baseball, then for whom do you?
This is the way MLB works — veterans who have proven their value, and are in their peak, but about to begin the downside of their career, get the enormous contracts and big bucks (see: David Wright). Meanwhile, everyone under the age of 30 (minus a few exceptions), is underpaid (in comparison).
The 25-year-old shortstop with the above-average glove, 25-HR power, and rock-solid physical health doesn’t exist (unless Cal Ripken jumped into a hot-tub time machine). If he did, he’d cost — at minimum — Syndergaard PLUS Wheeler PLUS at least one everyday, established, MLB position player.
Afraid to give up Syndergaard for a one-year rental? OK, then give him up for Tulowitzki, who is locked up through 2021 — and at a bargain rate at that. But the Mets won’t do that, either, for the same reason they won’t outbid anyone for Desmond — they’re broke.
Some how, some way, the Yankees, Angels, Red Sox, Giants, Nationals, Tigers, and other teams bring in big-time players on long-term contracts and survive — and win — when some of those deals go sour. There’s no reason a team based in New York can’t operate similarly. And that’s the point — the current Mets ownership doesn’t belong in NY, and probably doesn’t belong in MLB. They should own the Tampico Stogies.
You’re speaking my language when it comes to Tulowitzki, but I’m not about to become the Major League franchise that forks over “Tulo-type” money for Ian Desmond………and believe me, I have plenty of criticisms about the Front Office, whether it be Alderson himself – or the men he’s repeatedly answering to.
It’s always going to boil down to the Wilpons.
A 1 yr Ian Desmond (with the Mets budget constrictions) ain’t gonna cut it. A team with a more realistic spending plan would strongly consider it. Not our Mets.
This goes back to the belief that the Mets aren’t really serious about building a powerhouse team—simply because it would cost more than they’re willing to spend. So they go along holding out promises of great prospects in order to keep the fans interested.
If they get lucky they might sneak into contention for a WC, thus keeping interest alive and validating their plan. In the MLB world of WCs and playoffs, a so-so team that gets hot at the right time might do well.
It’s catching lightning in a bottle—-that’s the Wilpon-Alderson game plan.
But yeah, everything you said. Exactly.
Does it not say something that not a single major league team was linked to signing him as a SS prior to him signing with the Red Sox to play LF?
But sure, let’s keep proposing Hanley Ramirez over and over on this website as if his defense at this point in his career is better than Wilmer Flores’ defense.
I think it speaks volumes that (1) Hanley practically courted a move off the SS position – seems as if he knew he couldn’t hack it there – and (2) the Dodgers made no attempt to re-sign Ramirez – none at all – and ultimately ended up trading for Jimmy Rollins.
I wouldn’t want Hanley Ramirez to be signed by the Mets to a four year, $88 million dollar contract with a vesting fifth year option for $22 million, which is the deal he received from the Red Sox.
I think Ramirez’s defense in 2015 would have been bad, his defense in 2016 would have been very bad, and in 2017 and 2018 it would have been downright atrocious.
It’s one thing to criticize the Wilpons for (a) not spending money, but (b) altogether another to advocate for foolish spending and then string the Wilpons up for not wanting to sign a guy to the foolish deal that you propose (Damn it, why didn’t the Mets sign Han-Ram at SS for four years plus a vesting fifth year option! Must be b/c the Wilpons are cheap right? Couldn’t possibly be any other reason and definitely must be because the Wilpons are cheap!)
Schoenfield writes here:
As for Ramirez’s defense, he’s never been a Gold Glove candidate. He was credited with minus-9 defensive runs saved in 2014, or minus-12 per 1,200 innings. That’s admittedly near the bottom of the league, but it’s not Derek Jeter-level or Yuniesky Betancourt-level bad.
Not sure why I thought he was so bad, but he’s not.
So I needed to write and own my mistake.
Speaking of caring, why do YOU care what the Mets pay their players? It doesn’t matter whether they pay Flores the minimum or Ramirez $20M a year — your price for a ticket is the same, your price for a Shake Shack burger at Cit Field is the same, and your cable bill is the same. As a fan, you should be furious that the Mets are NOT spending more money, rather than arguing that they should keep more in their pockets.
If you don’t want to play Ramirez at SS (but somehow, Flores is OK?), then, fine, play him in LF. Have him play some 1B, too, if you wish. But don’t pretend that the Mets couldn’t use Han-Ram’s bat.
The Mets never went after Hanley Ramirez because they couldn’t afford him — it had nothing to do with where they planned to place him on the field.
I don’t know what is and isn’t under Sandy’s control, but let’s call “shooting for never” what it is.
Meanwhile, Joe, please don’t tell me the Wilpons are making billions in real estate while paying less attention to the on-field team than the Brooklyn Cyclones. If that is the case, I hope CitiBank Field is boarded up by 2019. Why do we put up with this: stay home, cancel your cable, go find a good double or triple A team to root for.
Sounds like a plan!
I agree with Joe that Desmond is a valuable player and a big upgrade, but I think we can aim higher than a 1-year rental of a guy who whiffed 183 times last year. Once you trade Syndergaard, you no longer have Syndergaard to trade for Goldschmidt, or Tulo, or someone else’s who’s young or can afford to decline or is set for more than one year.
Hanley Ramirez has major downsides, but I’d rather pay him and trade our chips for someone elite, than trade for Desmond and spend Hanley money on… uh… who’s left? Shields?
(And yes, it sucks that the Mets aren’t ACTUALLY doing ANY of this.)
My 2 cents –
The Mets baseball operations are not broke, in fact far from it. This is a multi-billion dollar asset that is leveraged less than 50%, with big time guaranteed revenue streams before they even sell a ticket. Yes they had some cash flow problems and operating losses in recent years, but make no mistake, this is a money printing operation in waiting. The hard cap on the payroll for 2015 is a choice of ownership, not a necessity.
Desmond is most certainly a huge upgrade at SS, and we all would love to see that, but I would not deal Syndergaard and another of the top prospect for only one year of control. I agree with the camp that says you go for him as a FA and give up a pick next winter. Monetarily, he will cost the same next winter whether he plays for the Mets or the Nats or anyone else in 2015.
I have no problem dealing top prospects, but it has to be for a high quality player with multiple years of control. A healthy Tulo clearly falls under that definition, and even a Tulo with a bad hammy falls under that definition. A Tulo off hip labrum surgery is too risky, even if the cost is low at this time. I’d give up more in order to see his health first hand.
I basically feel like Walnutz, very disappointed that to date Alderson hasn’t been able to upgrade the team more this winter, be it at SS, LH bullpen arm, or getting creative and upgrading elsewhere. Unless he finds more “wins” before opening day, they still can’t be taken all that seriously in 2015. Puncher’s chance, sure, but true contender, nope.
Here’s my problem:
1. The Mets likely would NOT — from everything we hear — trade for Tulowitzki right now because of concerns for his hip injury. But if not for the injury, would they make the deal? If so, then they would be taking on 6 years / $116M.
2. After getting Desmond for 2015, if they want to keep him, it’ll likely cost a contract of 5 years / $100-$120M.
Is there much difference between the two financial commitments for two very similar players? One of whom — Desmond — has proven to be much more durable?
Something doesn’t add up.
Not that it’s an unreasonable demand from the Nats —– but more why the Mets need to, for 1-year of his service?
We all know they would have some kind of hesitance, and if Desmond performed at anything less than All-Star production – everyone associated with it would have hell to pay. Let’s remind ourselves that he hit .255 last year, and got on base at a .313 clip.
The Mets could do better with their limited allocation of funds, IMO. And surely with the perceived value of the prospects in their system….which are seemingly being clung to by the front office with kung-fu grips.
Really hard to imagine that the Mets haven’t executed 1 trade this winter; excuse me — they did — Gonzalez Germen for $$$.
The demand for Thor + Plawecki or Nimmo was not from the Nats, it was from the Rays. In that proposed deal, the Nats would have received Escobar (controllable for 2 years) plus Zobrist (controllable for one year) and in the world of projected WAR wound up ahead of having their current combo of Desmond + Espinosa. If this “rumor” was in fact true, and in the world of Zips an Steamers WAR projections, of course.
Again, I simply cannot agree that just because Alderson did not make this deal, the team is broke. On many fronts, I am very critical and disappointed with Alderson, and by extension the clowns that own this team. However, I believe they can sign a $200 million player if that had the you-know-whats. I agree more with DanB in that, if they can have an 82-85 win team and meaningful games in Sept that push attendance and TV ratings north on a $95-$100 million payroll, they don’t have the you-know-whats to gamble another $30 million or so to shoot for a 90 win division contending team. If that was 2012 or 2013, I’d agree, but for 2015 it’s lame. They should not have to mortgage the future on one year controllable player(s) to have a shot at the division in 2015. But, this bogus payroll ceiling is extremely limiting, and that is lame.
^ Good point.
And whether or not the Mets actually do make some kind of significant deal between now and the time camp breaks, Ian Desmond’s on the books for $11MM in 2015.
I have absolutely no clue what the Met financial situation implies, or what the willingness to improve truly is……….but judging by the stories about “shedding salaries” (persistent talk of trading Gee, wanting to move Colon, dumping Germen for a couple of dollars to put toward the Wilpon kid’s next car?, etc.) — I’m not seeing where they’re going to add a major name into the mix.
Let’s face it, you’ll have some people attempt to tell you…..”LOOK, THE METS WENT OUT AND GOT AGGRESSIVE ON CUDDYER, DUE TO FANS SAYING THEY NEVER DO ANYTHING!!”
…………….no – they brought him in because it was easy for them to do, considering his friendship w/David Wright — AND, that he’s only on the Met books for $8.5MM in 2015.
We’re again, in familiar position as Met fans, seeing the Wilpons go “X”-amount —- and never a dollar or cent more to legitimately improve.
I understand the arguments that favor moving a top prospect for a proven ballplayer (basically: prospects can fail; for every prospect xx% dont pan out)
I also get the arguments against moving prospects for a one year rental. Its pretty obvious.
But how about arguments in favor of keeping the prospects.
Why not keep Noah and wait for him to seize a spot along Harvey, Wheeler and De Grom, all while Colon, Neese, Gee and who ever else make the Mets staff pretty respectable.
The only problem with this is that they might not get enough offense. The position players arent that good. Really? Flores and Murphy up the middle might be a problem, but plug in Tejada and the defense will survive. Are their position players that bad? What is the worse that can happen? That they cant hit and that their defense is so bad that it affects the pitching.
Hitting can always go either way, and at the least, our lineup has a nice share of positive expectations (Duda and TDA another step forward, Wright and Granderson comebacks, Cuddyer and Murphy doing their thing, Lagares progresion, Flores audition).
Defense might be a real weakness but plug in Tejada, Kirk and MDD and we’re not that bad.
Plus, and this is probably the most important point of all: must we go all in for 2015 or for 2016?
I think 2015 is still a year of gaining experience, of learning how to win, in starting to really believe. For 2016, if they take a step forward, then theyll be at a stage to go all in for the right player, and hopefully theyll still have the resources to make the move.
The demand for Thor + Plawecki or Nimmo was not from the Nats, it was from the Rays. In that proposed deal, the Nats would have received Escobar (controllable for 2 years) plus Zobrist (controllable for one year) and in the world of projected WAR wound up ahead of having their current combo of Desmond + Espinosa. If this “rumor” was in fact true, and in the world of Zips an Steamers WAR projections, of course.”
That’s my bad for leaving out the Rays – inadvertent omission on my part.
However – all I can really deduce from any of this is that Tampa and Washington were the big boys at the table, talking turkey.
Washington was probably offering Tampa Ian Desmond – but Tampa is probably even less interested in acquiring a 1-year rental than the Mets are, at this point in time.
………..I could see the perceived rumor being a case of Tampa attempting to loop the Mets in, to get Syndergaard+ ——- which is where everything fell apart, considering we’re holding out for planets to align to make a deal involving any of our prospects.
“Well, what if the Mets offered second baseman Daniel Murphy, a player whom the Nats tried to acquire last July? And what if they sweetened their proposal with one prospect and took a second, lesser player back, considering that Desmond is more valuable than Murphy?
The Mets would not suffer much financially in ’15 if they exchanged Murphy’s projected $8.3 million salary in arbitration for Desmond’s $11 million guarantee. They also are trying to trade right-hander Dillon Gee, who is projected to earn $5.1 million — and such a trade could even put them ahead financially short-term.
Beyond ’15? That’s the issue, but it shouldn’t be for a New York team. And if it is, incoming commissioner Rob Manfred should get involved, no matter how close Mets owner Fred Wilpon is with commissioner Bud Selig.”
……………..if that pipe-dream were to transpire, then sign me right up! *wink*
I do like Ian Desmond – in a vacuum, anyway.