Mets Sign an Outfielder

The Mets’ front office is really cooking with gas now! Hot off the heels of the Casey Fossum pickup, the team has now added Cory Sullivan to their outfield, signing the 29-year-old to a $600,000 contract that includes another $300,000 in incentives.

Obviously I can’t contain my excitement … especially when this signing comes so close after the Fossum deal. The Bisons are starting to look like a real AAA team — one that might actually provide competent support during the year in the event of injuries to players on the big club’s 25-man roster.

It does seem strange, though, that the Mets would scoop up another light-hitting, good fielding, centerfielder who hits from the left side. Endy Chavez was surplus last year, and the Mets already have Angel Pagan and Jeremy Reed signed to guaranteed MLB contracts, not to mention Marlon Anderson. Oh, and there’s Jason Cooper and Rule 5 (minor league phase) pick Carl Loadenthal, and the imminent arrival of Fernando Martinez. Considering that neither Carlos Beltran nor Ryan Church will ever be taken out of games for defensive purposes, all these Endy types are overkill, no? You can only put in one player at a time to play left field, after all.

FYI, Sullivan’s career: 355 games, 927 ABs, 8 HR, 78 RBI, 25 SB, .279 AVG., .330 OBP, .391 SLG. He does have the reputation of being a very good fielder, though the sabermetrics don’t necessarily support it.

The only way this signing makes sense is if it is a small part of something bigger brewing. For example, maybe the Mets are about to ship Ryan Church and Daniel Murphy to Colorado for Aaron Cook or Jeff Francis, and will then sign Adam Dunn and Manny Ramirez to play the corners — both of whom WOULD require late-inning defensive replacements. Pipe dream, I know, but dreams are about all we Mets have left at this point in the Hot Stove season.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. wohjr January 20, 2009 at 4:26 pm
    Yet another dinky move! Hard to contain my excitement on this one….
  2. joe January 20, 2009 at 5:44 pm
    I’m kind of surprised this was leaked out today … with all the hoopla surrounding the inauguration (aka, White House All-Star Weekend), this major move is going to get lost in the headlines ….

    Oh, maybe THAT’s why the Manny signing hasn’t been announced yet …. they’re waiting for a slow news day!

    (yeeeeeah …. probably not)

  3. wohjr January 20, 2009 at 5:53 pm
    On the slightly positive side, 575k for Angel Pagan seems reasonable, ditto 2.8M for Mr. Church.

    What do you think, Joe- Sheets + Garcia + Manny = World Series? One can always dream, right?!

  4. Walnutz15 January 21, 2009 at 10:40 am
    Per Ken Rosenthal:

    One GM found it curious that the Mets signed Cory Sullivan to be an outfield reserve after they already had acquired Jeremy Reed, calling them “the exact same player.”

    Sullivan, 29, and Reed, 27, both are left-handed hitters, and both are out of minor-league options. Their adjusted career on-base/slugging percentages are nearly identical, and they’ve had almost the same number of career plate appearances.

    ^ Going on that piece — there HAS to be something in the works. Otherwise, I’m scratching my head like a flea-ridden gorilla.

    Guaranteed Major-League deals aren’t typically for “competition in ST” — that’s why there are ST invites.

    At $600,000 with the chance to add another $300,000 in incentives — this move seems pretty silly to me with the likes of Pagan, Reed, and others already in tow….tack on another $1.5MM ($925,000 for Reed + $575,000 for Pagan) and you’re more or less committing another $2.5MM on a player who’ll have marginal impact on the Major League roster, if at all — spread out over a handful of redundant guaranteed contracts.

    Why they continue to go light-hitting lefty-crazy, also….is beyond me. It’s almost shocking that they haven’t contemplated another solid right-handed option for almost 2 years now. I’m almost hoping to see the Braves picks up Andruw Jones by throwing $1MM or so his way….to see how stupid these insignificant “near-$1MM-type” pickups look in contrast.

    P.S. — Sullivan’s defensive comparisons to Chavez are severely overblown, by the way. His UZR (which can be tracked on Fangraphs) shows him as a below-average CF — and not even close to Chavez, defensively at the corners….Just because a guy has a good Fielding % doesn’t mean he’s a great outfielder.

    “Arguably the Rockies’ best defensive CF in the organization’s history” means very little to me, and the idea that he doesn’t hit — makes him worth even less in my eyes.

    I hope there’s some sort of trade brewing behind the scenes, and that some of our excess is being prepared to throw into a package — this may seem like overreaction, but I’m getting very impatient.

  5. joe January 21, 2009 at 2:17 pm
    After you add up all the nickels and dimes wasted on trash like Cora, Sullivan, etc., you might just have enough dough to sign one legit contributor to a one-year deal. Hmm …. maybe that should be the next post ….
  6. Walnutz15 January 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm
    My sentiments exactly, per’fesser.
  7. Schmidtxc January 22, 2009 at 10:01 am
    Both reed and sullivan have minor league options remaining…I cant see any harm with signing more depth. At one point last season, we had nobody in AAA to call up, at least we’ll have some players stocked in AAA.
  8. joe January 22, 2009 at 11:04 am
    hmmm … actually I was under the impression that both Sullivan and Reed were OUT of options. I’m probably wrong about that. In any case, I find it hard to believe that either would have trouble passing through waivers.

    If anyone can find info one way or the other, please post a referencing link. Thanks!

  9. isuzudude January 22, 2009 at 12:19 pm
    I can’t find any concrete information, but both Angel Pagan and Jeremy Reed are arbitration eligible this offseason (with Reed already coming to terms). Doesn’t that mean that they are both out of minor league options and would have to pass through waivers for the Mets to demote them? Sullivan was last sent to the minors in August by Colorado, and regardless of his “major league” contract, if he still has options, which I believe he does, then the Mets can safely stash him away in AAA.

    If the bench right now is comprised of Castro, Murphy, Cora, and Anderson, that leaves one spot open for Pagan, Reed, and Sullivan. I’m thinking the Mets know that they cannot carry both Pagan and Reed at the major league level, and will be vulnerable to losing one or the other when ST is over. And since Sullivan is the only one of the 3 who has options left, regardless of his performance during ST, either Pagan or Reed will win the last bench spot and the loser with be waived or traded. That’s why I think Omar gave Sullivan the major league deal, because he knew he needed the insurance in the future when it comes down to choosing between Pagan and Reed.

  10. Walnutz15 January 22, 2009 at 2:01 pm
    Originally, it had been reported that both Reed and Sullivan were out of options — Rosenthal reported it, and then corrected himself either last night or this morning.

    “Correction to an item that appeared in my previous notes column: Both Jeremy Reed and Cory Sullivan have minor-league options remaining, meaning that the Mets can demote either or both to Class AAA without risk of losing them on waivers. Reed and Sullivan are similar players, reserve outfielders who bat from the left side. The Mets signed Sullivan after trading for Reed with the goal of adding more depth … ”

    It makes a little more sense at that rate. In the beginning, it more or less defined “redundant”.

  11. joe January 22, 2009 at 2:19 pm
    ‘nutz, thanks for the info. Assuming Rosenthal has his facts straight, I agree it is good to have some OF depth in AAA that is not named Ricky Ledee. One of these days, though, I wish the Mets would pick up a AAAA guy who can hit the ball out of the infield, like a Nelson Cruz. I know the Mets had Val Pascucci last year, but no one ever considered him anything other than a career minor leaguer. Cruz, Jason Botts, Dallas McPherson, Dan Johnson, and several others are still not too far removed from “prospect” status to think that they might still “figure it out” — kind of how late-bloomer guys like David Ortiz, Jack Cust, Carlos Pena, Jorge Cantu, Travis Hafner took some time and a few organizational changes to break out (interesting, for most of these guys it’s around age 27/28).
  12. sincekindergarten January 24, 2009 at 6:50 am
    The Mets signed OF Rob Mackowiak to a $600,000 minor-league contract, according to the Post, via MetsBlog. He’s played every position on the field except P and C, so this is a “Super Joe McEwing”-type of pickup.