Mets Miss Out On Abreu, Lose Others

Cuban free-agent power-hitting first baseman Jose Abreu has signed with the Chicago White Sox (per Ken Rosenthal) — so scratch him off the list for potential acquisitions for the New York Mets.

Additionally, the Mets lost some property in the past 48 hours.

The Abreu deal is reportedly worth $68M over 6 years, which works out to a little over $11M per year. As we’ve been hearing since 2010, this 2013-2014 offseason is the one in which the Mets finally have “payroll flexibility,” so I would hope that they at least put in a bid for the Cuban defector. Not because I think he’ll be a star in the form of Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes, but because the Mets need to start putting their money where their mouth is.

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t have any idea whether Abreu is worth $68M over 6 years. Many reports are saying he’s a one-dimensional player. In fact, it sounds like he could well be as good as Ike Davis‘ best year, or as bad as Ike Davis’ worst year. And I’m not saying the Mets should have bid as high as $68M. All I’m saying is that I hope they were at least in the conversation, and hope they made some kind of competitive bid.

Why? Because they have a huge hole at 1B, they desperately need players with homerun power, and there aren’t many free-agent candidates to choose from who fit those characteristics. Further, the Mets apparently passed on Puig and Cespedes in previous years because of financial reasons; this year, finances are supposedly not an excuse.

Hey, if the Mets acquire Adrian Gonzalez, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo, or a similarly power-hitting first baseman this winter, and that’s their plan, then fine. But if not, and they didn’t make a play for Abreu … well, I’m not sure that’s satisfactory. Even if Mets scouts don’t project Abreu to be a star, he clearly has some talent, and was worth making some kind of bid. And really, in today’s market, $11M per year for a potential 30-HR guy is the going rate. Sometimes you have to take a gamble.

In other news, former Met Nolan Ryan has resigned as CEO of the Rangers. I don’t see him leaving Texas, but, it’s nice to dream of him returning to the Mets and re-establishing the pitching factory the Mets were back in the 1960s and 1980s — and Ryan seems to have a good idea on how to re-create that.

While the Mets lost out on Abreu, they also lost Mike Baxter to the Dodgers and Robert Carson to the Angels — both as a result of waivers. The Mets had to waive both men to cut down their 40-man roster. They also dropped Greg Burke and Sean Henn, but both seem to have passed through waivers.

So, what do you think about all this? Should the Mets have gone all-in for Abreu? Should they have at least made a bid? Any thoughts on Ryan? Are you heartbroken to see Baxter and/or Carson leave? Answer in the comments.

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. Dudabides October 17, 2013 at 10:41 pm
    My wife used to yell “Baxter!” In her Ron Burgundy trapped in a box of emotion voice.
    That I will miss
  2. blastingzone October 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm
    I read several blogs that said the mets were not even going to put in a bid? 11 million dollars a year for a guy that could hit 25-30 hrs and drive in 80-100 rbis at first
    and the mets don’t even try to sign him, what are you
    kidding me? Why should they sign him when you have
    Davis and Duda to compete for the job at a much cheaper price! Even if they spend money and sign an outfielder there are not that many choices so why not go after a power hitting first baseman who will be 27 when the season starts!! Cheap, Cheap, Cheap!! I have very
    little faith that Sandy and the Wilpons will really spend
    enough money in the off season to make the mets a lot
    better and be able to compete for a wild card!
  3. TexasGusCC October 18, 2013 at 12:37 am
    I’m glad a rebuilding team like the White Sox had the money to take a chance on this player. I will root for him to team up with Viciedo and be awesome. If only a certain New York team had the economic ability to invest in this opportunity, however, since we are rebuilding we pass. Hence, a team with a WORSE record than us, that is further away than the Mets, is interested in taking a chance on a player that may either explode for them, or be another wasted signing like more expensive players have turned out to be.

    I feel like Dan Ackroyd in Trading Places. When he is left on the street homeless and he walks by the fancy restaurant he used to eat at, and is just looking through the window at the people eating, knowing he was once one of them. Now they are appalled at his appearance.

    That is the New York Mets fan now. We are looking through the window at players being scooped up left and right, and we keep wondering what happened. We used to be like these other clubs once, too.

    • Walnutz15 October 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm
      This post is approved as “Awesome”, by Walnutz15.
      • TexasGusCC October 19, 2013 at 12:41 am
        Thank you Walnutz. That’s nice of you. Last night, I felt so hopeless; today I’m ready to move on!
  4. DanB October 18, 2013 at 8:30 am
    Great post, Gus. The Mets are so paranoid about making a mistake, they acquire nobody. It’s as if they won’t aquire anyone who is not a perfect player AND making no money. Ugh.
  5. DaveSchneck October 18, 2013 at 8:35 am
    Joe,
    Agreed that the Mets need to get in the game, and they need to show people they are in the game, especially paying customers and potential FA recruits. I am not as disappointed in the lack of aggression on Abreu. I wish him the best, but I think the Mets will be better off investing that $68 million elsewhere with more proven quantities. Every signing is a risk, but I think there are better risks. The key is that they need to invest signficantly in multiple upgrades. I will reserve my disappointment until next spring. If they are trying to peddle an $80 million club with hole and middling talent, Jeffy can say hasta la vista to my dinero.
  6. DanB October 18, 2013 at 9:46 am
    Hey Dave, Jeffy has trouble with the English language. You expect him to Spanish, too?
  7. crozier October 18, 2013 at 10:02 am
    “Re-establishing the pitching factory the Mets were back in the 1960s and 1980s”?

    So the view of the organization here is so poor that Harvey-Wheeler-Niese-Parnell-Syndergaard-Mejia-Montero-Gee isn’t a pitching factory? Find a reputable baseball analyst out there who thinks the Mets aren’t excelling at developing and (more important) acquiring good arms and get back to me. Then recall the pitching factory of the ’80s was, overwhelmingly, acquired: Darling, Fernandez, Lynch, Terrell, Cone, Viola, Ojeda, Orosco. That includes 3/5 of the ’86 rotation, 4/5 of the ’88 one.

    As to Alderson not bidding, how does he win this one? If he spends $70 and Abreu is a bust, it’s another dumb move. And the notion that he should have bid just to show he’s willing to spend has been widely derided here in the past. The inevitable reaction? “He made a bid to satisfy the fan base, but he had no intention of actually spending.” To which I say, rather exhausted by all this, “whatever.”

  8. DanB October 18, 2013 at 10:47 am
    I agree with Crozier, a low bid is as meaningless as the Met’s meaningless bid for Bourne last offseason. But Met fans are so cynical, they now see the negative in everything. The Mets for years gave us reasons for not adding better players that we don’t believe anything. Mets created this negativity.
    • DaveSchneck October 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm
      Dan,
      I think Jeff would be able go get the message, even in my poor Spanish. I do agree with you and Crozier – Alderson screwed up big time not extending Jose at least an offer, but that was a one-off. Token offers to other FAs are useless and counterproductive. None of us will believe anything until the resume spending on quality players, not leftovers. Prospect-wise, yes, they are deep in pitching prospects, but they can’t be called a “factory” until enough of these guys make it and excel in the bigs.
      • crozier October 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm
        The pitching factory of the ’60s produced Seaver, Koosman, Ryan, Matlack, Capra, and Gentry. Pretty good batch of arms, but it’s a crapshoot that they turned out as well as they did. And they didn’t even turn out that great – arm problems did in Capra, Gentry and Matlack, and derailed the HOF career Koosman’s first two years promised.

        This is a great crop of arms they have now, and it has the potential to rival the great rotations of the past. But you never know how a pitcher’s arm will fare in the long run. The bottom line is the organization has done its job in building a pitching staff for the future. It doesn’t need Nolan Ryan.

  9. Chung October 18, 2013 at 10:56 am
    I think there are better players to be spending the money (if the Wilpons allow) than signing an unproven talent paying over $11 million a season. There are plenty of other players, proven talent, that would be a better investment.

    The Mets have many holes to fill to make this a competitive team which means it’s better to spend the money on proven players. They will have a number of players that are eligible for arbitration, Murphy, Ike, Duda, Eric Young Jr, Parnell which will eat into the funds available.

    The major positions based in order of need are a power hitting RF, Relief pitchers to get the ball to Parnell, a starting SS (not someone who will compete with Tejada), 1 or 2 veteran starting pitchers and a power hitting 1B.

    The last could be filled by either Davis or Duda, but, to just release them now, the Mets lose out on the possibility of getting something back for them.

    On another note, I will miss both Baxter and Carson. Baxter because he grew up in the city where I live and because of the no-hitter saving catch on June 1, 2012 (my birthday). With Carson, I think the Mets may have misused him in relief. He came up through the minors as a starter and then they switched him to a LH relief specialist in 2012. I think he will succeed as a SP more so than a LH relief specialist.

  10. BklynCowpoke October 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm
    If I was going to replace Ike/Duda at first, I would rather spend the money on a proven commodity like the Reds Choo. Besides, those Cuban players all seem to come with a showboat mentality that I am not particularly fond of.
  11. izzy October 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm
    Did anyone, anywhere really think Alderson would go after a guy somebody else wanted???? Don’t think so. You all should be more concerned about his trimming the 40 man roster. Its always tough but his first cut is Carson, a kid who has sucked but still throws hard and can be taught maybe. Gee wiz, what was Parnell like at that age. Hmm, well, he really sucked too. Meanwhile absolute minor league talent like Omar Q, Brown, Recker, Lutz, are saved for another day! Why retain Valdespin? so they can make a spectacle of him so more?
  12. jerseymet October 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm
    First base will be handled internally. We have lots of guys with limited defensive skills. Time to sink or swim.
  13. Jujo October 19, 2013 at 6:08 pm
    It would have been nice to get Abreu, time to move on. It appears the approach will be to buy from the bargain baskets still.
  14. mic October 20, 2013 at 1:37 am
    Izzy’s comments are spot on!!
    -Valdespin still retained…why? I am no big fan on Carson…but Carson was always in a trade scenario especially when he was an A/AA arm.

    personally…If all the hype were serious, Omar Q, Tejada, Lutz posibly Recker would be out. There ARE too many AAAA players clogging up the roster.

  15. argonbunnies October 21, 2013 at 12:44 am
    The Mets are not a successful team who just needs to do the obvious and acquire known commodities at the going rate. Doing that while others do likewise will simply maintain the status quo. If there’s ever a time to gamble, it’s when you need a few miracles just to get back in the game, and this is exactly where the Mets find themselves. Accordingly, paying for players who might be elite is a shot worth taking.

    That said, I did not like the scouting reports on Abreu at all. The price tag also seems steep. Cespedes and Puig for $40 or $45 mil a year or two ago were the gambles the Mets needed to make.

    I think Puig signed sometime after the Wilpons found out they wouldn’t owe Picard $1 billion. If that’s true, and if “we don’t have room in the 2013 budget” caused them to pass on multiple years of a young talent, then this isn’t simply a temporarily bad team, but a bad business. (To be fair, the same could also be said of the Cubs passing on Puig. Many of the other desperate teams have excuses, but I don’t see one in Chicago.)

    I won’t miss Carson, Burke, or Henn. Baxter probably deserves an MLB roster spot as a lefty pinch-hitter/pinch-runner/defensive sub, but protecting such a player shouldn’t be a priority for a rebuilding club. As long as we don’t replace him with a player with even less upside, I don’t mind the loss.

    • TexasGusCC October 21, 2013 at 2:26 am
      Argon,
      Your opinion on Abreu is noted, but wouldn’t the same apparent risk be taken on Puig or Cespades, two players that there was even less information than Abreu?

      The players you mention are roster fodder and role players. The Mets have enough of them, but I would have waited on Carson and released other players like Atchinson, whom isn’t expected back next year. If someone can teach Carson a “Frank Viola changeup”, it might do wonders for him.

      • argonbunnies October 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm
        Nope. Abreu has one avenue for success — his power hitting. Cespedes and Puig, as stellar athletes, had several — hitting, power hitting, speed, defense. Did all their tools pan out? No. Cespedes hit .240 this year. But by paying $9mil/yr for a player who can play a good outfield and hit HRs, the A’s still improved their team. That’s where that upside gamble comes in. Abreu simply has a lower upside than Puig and Cespedes, because he can’t be a force on both sides of the ball + basepaths.

        I’d be interested anyway if the reports on his bat were “next McGwire”, but apparently the guy can’t catch up to good heat. Even if he thrives as a mistake and offspeed hitter, I think that further limits his ceiling.

        As for Carson, any change that could make him MLB-caliber could probably turn the next guy into a superstar. Teach the change-up to someone who isn’t currently a pinata.