Mets Moves Evaluated
Mets trade OF Angel Pagan to San Francisco for OF Andres Torres and RP Ramon Ramirez: The Mets got the upper hand of this deal, period. It’s not blatantly obvious, mind you; for all I know, Pagan will be worth 6 WAR season next year, while Kirk Nieuwenhuis will displace Torres as the starting center fielder by Memorial Day, and the Mets will trade Tores for cash considerations in August.
But on paper, this looks like a good deal. Swapping Pagan for Torres is more-or-less a lateral move, and on top of that, the Mets get a very good reliever in Ramon Ramirez.
Here’s some more extensive analysis on the deal:
Pagan: After posting an excellent 5.5 WAR season in 2010, Pagan hit just .262/.322/.372 and was worth just 0.9 WAR in 2011. His OPS. fell by over 70 points from 2010 to 2011 (.765 to to .694). His defensive decline, however, was even more precipitous, at least according to UZR. After supposedly saving 15.4 runs while splitting time between left, right, and center in 2010, Pagan cost the Mets -14.3 runs as their everyday center fielder in 2011. He also missed over a month’s worth of time in June with a stress fracture in his rib, and has quite a lengthy injury history.
Torres: Torres had an even better 2010 than Pagan. He was worth 6.8 WAR, tying for the 8th highest total in baseball with a guy named Jose Bautista. Like Pagan, he played every outfield position in 2010, saving 22 runs on defense, while providing excellent value at the plate (.268/.343/.479).
Torres was more valuable in 2011 than Pagan, totaling 2.1 WAR despite playing in 11 less games. While Torres offense steeply declined in 2011 (.221/.312/.330), he maintained his value defensively as the Giants everyday center fielder, saving 9.4 WAR. The injury bug also bit Torres in 2011, as he missed over 40 games with lower leg problems.
Ramirez: The 30 year-old Ramirez has bounced between Colorado, Kansas City, Boston, and San Fran the past four seasons, but he’s been solid everywhere he’s been, and 2011 was his best season yet: he posted a 2.62 ERA, with a 8.65 K/9, 3.41 BB/9, while also keeping the ball in the park (0.39 HR/9), with a 50% GB rate. While unspectacular, Ramirez does everything well; he misses bats, keeps the ball on the ground, and keeps his free passes in line.
Mets sign RP Jon Rauch to one year deal for $3.5 million, with a $3.75 mil. club option and $250,000 buyout:
Out of the three moves, I’m most skeptical about the Rauch signing. Rauch’s strikeout rate has declined the past two seasons, he’s a flyball-happy pitcher (which may be a problem at Citi Field next year given the altered dimensions), and his velocity was also down a bit in 2011. He posted a 4.85 ERA and a 5.26 FIP with the Blue Jays last season. My guess is that Alderson and co. are banking on Rauch’s numbers improving by getting out of the AL East. He was very reliable for the Twins in 2010. At $3.5 million, this signing might work out fine for the Mets, although I wonder if there were cheaper alternatives available.
Mets sign Frank Francisco for 2 years, $12 million: Francisco’s probably the front runner for the closing job next season. He throws hard, racks up the Ks, and like Rauch, does tend to allow his fair share of homers. I think the Mets get fair value out of Francisco.
Between Francisco, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, Ramirez, Rauch, and Tim Byrdak, the Mets have the makings of a pretty solid bullpen. Perhaps they’ll dangle Bobby Parnell this winter? If anything, I’m assuming they’ll be less interested in relievers in this year’s rule five draft.
While I generally scoff at the notion of long-term, expensive contracts for relievers, I can’t help but wonder: Given the softening closer’s market, instead of signing Francisco and Rauch for a combined $10 million dollars next season, wouldn’t the Mets have been better off simply signing Ryan Madson for three years, $30 million to close?