Before you get too attached to the Mets’ biggest position-player pickup of the offseason, you may want to brace yourself for the possibility that Andres Torres is non-tendered.
This wouldn’t be the first time the Mets made a trade for a player with the express purpose of non-tendering him; remember when the Mets traded Guillermo Mota to the Brewers for Johnny Estrada, then non-tendered Estrada a few weeks later? It was a stopgap insurance move to buy time while the Mets signed, then didn’t sign, Yorvit Torrealba (for ten good reasons), before eventually trading superstar prospect Lastings Milledge for Brian Schneider (and Ryan Church).
Could a similar strategy be in play here?
Think about it: Angel Pagan is in line for a raise via arbitration that will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4.5 – $5M, and that’s WAY too much for Pagan in the grand scheme of the dead-broke Wilpon ownership (and considering Pagan’s frequent brain farts and regression in 2011, he’s likely not going to be worth that kind of salary). In return the Mets received a fairly inexpensive middling reliever (Ramon Ramirez) and a centerfielder who is similar to Pagan in that he likely will not be worth the salary he’s likely to be awarded via arbitration — which should be around $2.5M.
That doesn’t sound like a lot of money for most teams, but when you look at where the Mets are right now, financially, it’s a gaped, open-mouth price to pay for someone who is at best a fourth outfielder even on a last-place club. Think about what the Mets could do with an extra $2M or so (consider that that’s double what they’re paying Tim Byrdak in 2012, for example). Why in the world would the Mets pay $2.5M for a 34-year-old one-hit-wonder when they can pay the MLB minimum for someone like Kirk Nieuwenhuis to get similar (or possibly better) performance? Heck, even I would rather take my chances with Fernando Martinez in centerfield and hope for the best, rather than waste over $2M for Torres. No offense against Torres, but seriously — what do the Mets gain by putting a 34-year-old out there instead of trying out youngsters, in a season that is guaranteed to avoid the postseason? Especially when you consider the fact that most Mets fans will be more excited to see some kid from the farm patrolling the outfield pasture in Flushing rather than some nameless, never-was mercenary brought in from the Left Coast?
What do you think? Will the Mets offer Andres Torres arbitration? Should they? What would YOU do? Answer in the comments.
About the Author
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.