Quite a comedown since November 1, huh? Despite the somewhat unseasonal warmth we’ve had here in the northeast, the baseball winter has begun.
Since there are no games being played, baseball-related sites will depend on trade rumors and free agent signing speculation to generate clicks. This will further elevate the expectations for Mets GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpon family to add a few big ticket items this offseason as the team attempts to take the final step.
I think the period from say, July 24 when they traded for Juan Uribe and the August 30 deal for Addison Reed will prove to be the exception and that the Mets will soon return to semi-hibernation as Alderson’s excruciatingly methodical plodding, coupled with the Wilpon’s financial insecurity, will limit the action. That hasn’t stopped every other site on the blogosphere from full-speed speculation. As we have seen in previous winters, this quickly goes over the top and leaves the fan base frustrated and feeling like they somehow have been cheated when nothing happens.
Now, it’s our turn. But in typical Mets Today fashion, we’d rather follow the road less traveled. Below is who we think the Mets won’t be getting. And just remember, the author of this column also correctly predicted the 2015 NL East winner and the outcome of the 2015 World Series!
For obvious reasons, we won’t include a single starting pitcher on this list. Also, there are more than likely going to be even more free agents shortly when the non-tender list is published. But since our millions of readers can’t wait, here we go…
- Yoenis Cespedes: If 2015 turns out to be a blip on the radar and the next few Mets seasons are mediocre again, then Cespedes’ stature as a Met will grow to mythical proportions. If however, they are able to put together a run of sustained post season success, his scorching hot five weeks in 2015 will fade from memory. It was the right move at the right time to get him last July 31. His September 9th homer off Drew Storen finished both Storen’s and the Nationals 2015 season. Then he got hurt and crashed to earth. His last and perhaps most lasting impression will be the crumpled form at home plate in Game Five. I’d like to keep him, but I doubt the Mets do.
- Ben Zobrist and Darren O’Day: The competition for these two is going to be fierce, which will drive the cost to acquire one or both of them into the upper stratosphere. Either would be very useful to the Mets, Zobrist to serve as the caddy for the still-developing Dilson Herrera at second and Michael Conforto in left, while providing great defense and a veteran presence. O’Day is probably the best reliever out on the market right now and would be the perfect bridge to the closer. I suspect as many as a dozen teams will be in on both, including the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox. There is no way the Mets win a bidding war against any of those financial giants.
- Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon: Much like their stubborn (and in retrospect correct) insistence on holding on to their young arms, the Mets aren’t going to move Conforto. Since all three of these guys profile as corner outfielders, you can see the problem. Alderson has attempted to pry Upton from both Arizona and San Diego several times, most recently being last July. Upton and Heyward are on the right side of thirty and would help the Mets, but the presence of a cheaper and potentially just as effective Conforto makes their additions unlikely.
- Dexter Fowler, Denard Span, Geraldo Parra: These are the second tier of outfielder free agents, but their value is somewhat improved because they can play center field and are nominally at least, lead off material. I used to like Fowler, but advanced stats indicate a player in decline. Span’s hip condition worries me, as does Parra’s performance after being traded to Baltimore. I would be interested in either of the latter two on a short-term deal, say a year with an option. I’ll bet each gets much more from some second division team trying to do something to appease their fan base.
- Ian Desmond: I am certain the Mets won’t sign any of the previous nine. I am less certain that they don’t sign Desmond, who had a terrible 2015, including the Opening Day error-fest against the Mets. Another reason for passing on Desmond is that our team already rosters a cheaper version of him in Wilmer Flores. They might view Desmond as a fall back in the event they don’t re-sign Cespedes or fail to land Zobrist or O’Day. If the Mets really want a Washington shortstop, they should try to get Trea Turner. Yeah, right.
I think the master plan is to mirror 2015 as closely as possible: stay close, ride the young guns until the All-Star break and then add a bat at the deadline. This offseason, the plan will be to strengthen the bullpen and the bench. Here’s how they will do it:
- Bartolo Colon: I get it, being a big league baseball player is probably the coolest job on earth. The salary is enough to provide for the next several generations and the other perks are just as fantastic. I don’t blame Bartolo for wanting to continue this ride for as long as he can. Might he be willing to come back in a bullpen role for say a one-year, $10M deal? Alderson’s main task this year will be to build a strong bridge to Jeurys Familia. Resigning Colon and going to arbitration with Reed are part of this process. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them bring back Jerry Blevins as well, although in Blevins’ case, he could quickly get too expensive, plus the Mets liked lefty Josh Smoker enough to add him to the 40-man. They’ve also got Hansel Robles and Eric Goeddel returning and they might get Josh Edgin back by mid-season. Another name to watch is knuckleballer Mickey Jannis, who they rescued from the Long Island Ducks in mid-summer and later sent the AFL for further seasoning. Still too many walks there, but if Jannis can harness the knuckler like another former Met pitcher did…
- Daniel Murphy: You read it here first, Murphy will be a Met in 2016 (and beyond). I get the comparisons to Chase Headley, but Murphy is not Headley and his post-season heroics aside, no GM is going to go big money for Murphy. He doesn’t field well enough for an NL job and his slash line just doesn’t profile for a DH. Then there’s the draft pick impediment. The longer Murph goes unsigned, the more probable a reunion at say, three years $33M becomes. He becomes the poor-man’s version of Zobrist, filling in at first, second and third, where the Mets may be needing help during the long season. Plus he is younger than Zobrist.
Well, at least this offseason will be the shortest on record. Only 112 days between Game Five and 2016 pitchers and catchers!