Will Holliday or Bay Affect Francoeur?

francoeur-nohatThe Matt Holliday / Jason Bay buzz is heating up, with the latest news that the Red Sox will not attempt to re-sign Bay but may go after Adrian Gonzalez instead. Further, word from San Francisco is that the Giants don’t have the ducats to pursue either of the free-agent outfielders — which if true narrows the market. Add in the fact that Jon Heyman tweeted that the Mets will pursue a “big-ticket LF” and it would seem that Omar Minaya and co. will be part of the bidding for one or both of Jason Bay and Matt Holliday.

But how will such pursuit affect Jeff Francoeur?

We’ve mentioned a few times here that Jeff Francoeur’s return to Flushing in 2010 is not a guarantee — though his red-hot finish in August and September cemented his popularity among the fans still paying attention to the team — and we know the Mets’ front office likes to appease the public. But would the Mets consider passing on Francoeur’s arbitration if they go for the big fix?

Francoeur’s salary in 2009 was $3.375M. Through the arbitration process he almost surely will get a raise to $3.5M or possibly as high as $4M. Will the Mets be willing to pay that much for a righthanded-hitting corner outfielder after shelling out $100M+ for Holliday or Bay? I would hope so, but you never know what the Mets are thinking.

For example, couldn’t you just see them taking the approach that having both Holliday/Bay and Francoeur creates a lineup that is “too heavy with righthanded hitters” ? And in turn non-tender Francoeur, and make the right field job a competition in spring training among Angel Pagan, Fernando Martinez, and any cheap free agents that may arise (Chad Tracy? Jermaine Dye? Eric Hinske?).

The Mets would of course heavily spin the “gritty” personality, hustling, and leadership skills of Bay/Holliday to offset the loss of Francoeur’s similar traits.

Personally, I enjoy watching Francoeur play and hope he returns. But I’m not sure the Mets believe there’s enough room in their budget the outfield for both Jeff Francoeur and a “big-ticket leftfielder”.

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. isuzudude October 26, 2009 at 2:03 pm
    I think the key terminology being used here is that the Mets will PURSUE a big ticket LF, not SIGN. Because, as we’ve discussed, in the end the Mets are going to have to overpay for Bay or Holliday, and neither are worth giving Mark Teixeira-esqe contracts too – even with the dearth of LF options the Mets currently possess. Not to mention, even if the Mets match an opposing team’s offer for Bay or Holliday, what player in their right mind will want to play their home games in a ballpark that, accurately or not, has been labeled a bad ballpark for hitters, as well as for a team now infamous for choking, misdiagnosing/mishandling injuries, in-house turmoil, and poor fundamentals? I’m willing to wager that, though there will be plenty of rumors and conjecture tied to the Mets and one of the big ticket LFs, neither one will play in Queens in 2010.

    The Bronx is a different story, though…

    And if $4-mil is really too much to pay for a guy that brings as much to the team as Francoeur does, then I’m finally sold on the notion that the Wilpons are purposely sabotaging the Mets because they are closet Phillie fans. No other explanation.

  2. Andy October 26, 2009 at 2:37 pm
    I don’t think Francoeur would get much elsewhere, given the market and his shaky history. The Mets can probably offer him 3 years for $9 million total and no one would out-bid.
  3. Kyle October 26, 2009 at 6:01 pm
    There is a 0% chance the Mets get rid of Jeff Francoeur.
  4. Brian October 27, 2009 at 3:16 am
    Logically, there is no reason to get rid of Frenchy because of how he played and his team first mentality that he can hopefully spread. That is why we are probably going to tender him or trade him for someone that won’t ever make the team; or as part of a trade for Bradley to play RF and then sign Bay for LF and wonder why Beltran is so tired and our pitchers giving up so many more hits and xbh.
    But seriously, we need to improve defense at 2B and I really think signing Molina for one year is a perfect fit for C, it would help the defense and pitchers for next year, and Thole for every year of his career. Plus, he isn’t a slouch at the plate, we should’ve signed him last chance.
  5. WT Economist October 27, 2009 at 10:01 am
    I agree that Holliday/Bay could impact Francouer. The Mets may want to leave one spot open for a less expensive in-house alternative, rather than foreclose outfield options for young players in their system for the next few years.

    Francour was better for the Mets than the Braves because he left the expectation that he would be a great player behind in Atlanta, and was content with being a good one. But could Fmart/Pagan be a good player also?

    Looking forward, it may also be necessary to move Beltran to a corner spot as he gets older.

    One option — Francouer gets a one-year deal, leaving F-mart to start in AAA and Pagan as a fourth outfielder, but not locking up the spot long term.

  6. Harry Chiti October 27, 2009 at 11:23 am
    Frncouer is not owed any long term deal and Francouer has not earned one. Half a season for a team out fo the race does not a star create. Mets own him for two years, offer him arbitration, and if by some miracle the Mets sign a star for left field and if by a second miracle Martinez does ever stay healthy and make it then the Mets can do something that seems unknown to Minaya and that would be trade Francouer from a position of strength. Until that time take advantage of his lack of seniority in MLB, one year deal only. If he’s astar in ’10 then he’s earned a long term deal.
  7. Andy October 27, 2009 at 1:40 pm
    Harry, not sure I agree. For one thing, I think an arbitrator may award Francoeur more than he’s worth. For another, I think that this year, spending on free agents by most teams will be low, so if the Mets decline to offer a one-year arbitrated deal but agree to negotiate something, then there won’t be many competitive bids for Francoeur’s services, and so the Mets can make an aggressive bid and save their money to address other needs.

    If there’s an economic recovery and big increases in attendance next year then other teams may start opening their wallets, and Francoeur’s value may increase even if his numbers revert to mediocrity. If he ever learns to draw a walk then his value will increase all the more. So in my opinion a multi-year deal but at an aggressive price (say $3 million / year) would put the Mets in the strongest position to keep or trade Francoeur down the road depending on how Martinez develops, etc.

  8. Harry Chiti October 27, 2009 at 8:12 pm
    Andy: The way the Mt organization handles long term contracts, a long term contract or Francouer can have long term negative repercussions. The Tigers, a team in a city in terible straits, had no trouble dumping Sheffield, yet the Mets won’t dump a bad contract no matter how small until its miniscule. give this gut three years and he reverts to Braves form when the NYC city expectations and pressures rise and you have another useless player who won’t leave because of a bad deal. The only reason they released Livan this year was because bonuses were about to set in. If this guy were Wright or Ryan Howard yes, but he’s an average joe… He doesn’t warrant one and the Met organozation doesn’t know how to deal with bad contracts. He gets one year.
  9. Andy October 28, 2009 at 10:52 am
    Well, okay. I do think that in the current market, it should be possible to lock in a multi-year deal at a discount for someone like Francoeur. But I understand your point about the Mets not being able to cut their losses if it turns out in year 2 or 3 that Francoeur isn’t even worth that discounted price.

    But I think they shouldn’t let Francoeur go to arbitration. If it’s a one-year deal, they should offer him a one-year deal at a price less than an arbitrator is likely to award, and if he doesn’t take it just let him walk.