I’ve been hesitant to blog about potential Mets offseason acquisitions because it’s almost pointless to speculate when you have no idea what the team’s projected budget is for the 2018 season. Recent reports in Newsday cited sources indicating Sandy Alderson doesn’t even receive an actual budget from the Wilpons. If the Mets front office doesn’t have a real payroll estimate then how can anyone guess what the Mets will do?
In November (right before single game tickets went on sale) the Mets leaked this:
A month later Joel Sherman said this:
They went from being potential “players on some of the big free agents” to having a meager 10-15 million bucks to spend. Pathetic.
A few days ago the media started reporting that the Mets are entertaining trading Juan Lagares and AJ Ramos to clear salary to potentially add free agents. This leads me to believe that the Mets don’t even plan to spend 10-15 million unless they can dump the salaries of Lagares and/or Ramos (both extremely useful roster pieces). If that’s the case I’m liable to put my foot through the dry wall in my apartment before Opening Day.
In order to maintain my sanity and at least try to enjoy this offseason, I’m going to use this post to spitball about potential ways that the Mets can improve the roster. I’ll operate under the assumption that the Mets are truly willing to spend 10-15 million dollars.
In my opinion the Mets have a need for an infielder (needs to play 2B), an outfielder, starting rotation insurance, and even another relief pitcher (in addition to recently signed Anthony Swarzak).
Here are some options:
Spend It All On One Elite Guy:
You really can’t sign an elite player to fill even one of those holes with only 10-15 million to spend. It’s impossible. Yu Darvish, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain should all get more than 15 million per season, and they will receive enormous multi-year deals. Even the elite reliever Wade Davis will make roughly 15m per season.
If Sandy got the Wilpons drunk, and they agreed to sign one elite free agent (preferably Lorenzo Cain) I’d certainly consider signing a player like that and doing nothing else. But one elite players won’t single-handedly give the Mets the 15-20 wins they need to be a playoff contender. Their only hope is that they get the necessary wins from players currently on the roster. The Mets ain’t signing an elite player anyway so let’s not waste energy thinking about it.
Spend It All On One Pretty Good Position Player or Starting Pitcher:
Signing one second tier impact position player free agent (e.g. Jay Bruce or Todd Frazier) is going to cost you 10-15m. A trade for a comparable talent (e.g. Jason Kipnis, Josh Harrison) will also eat up all of the “available money” unless the Mets include Ramos or Lagares in a deal. The same goes for a deal with a starting pitcher like Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn. In my opinion it doesn’t make sense to spend all of the money on one player in this tier. The Mets lack the organizational depth (in majors and minors) to ignore the remaining holes.
Spend It On A Plus Relief Pitcher and Dumpster Dive for Position Depth
In 2017 Mets pitchers sucked, were injured, or both. The Mets lost their top starting pitcher (Noah Syndergaard) and top reliever (Jeurys Familia) to injuries, they lacked a veteran innings eater (the role Bartolo Colon previously occupied), they lacked major league ready depth at AAA, and everything fell apart.
On the bright side, the Mets for the most part had sufficient position player depth. They had six viable major league outfielders (Cespedes, Conforto, Bruce, Nimmo, Lagares, Grandy) in the organization and ten infielders (Duda, Flores, Dom Smith, Walker, Rosario, Asdrubal Cabrera, Reyes, T.J. Rivera, Gavin Cecchini, Matt Reynolds). And they utilized every single one of these players at various points in the season due to injuries, trades etc.
If you believe in the Mets current position player depth and feel the starting staff will stay healthy/rebound then you could argue it makes sense to add another impact reliever and add scrubs for position depth. Bringing back Addison Reed (roughly 9m salary) to bolster the pen and bringing back Jose Reyes (maybe 4-6m per) would eat up the 10-15m. If you backloaded a potential Reed deal you might be able to squeeze in a cheap fifth outfielder like Ben Revere.
I’d like to consider Brandon Phillips and Howie Kendrick as options but I think they’ll make more money than Reyes. If Reed receives 9m per season and Kendrick/Phillips receive offers for 7-8m they’ll be out of the Mets price range. In this case the Mets would have to dig deeper in the position player dumpster for guys like Stephen Drew. Woof.
I don’t think the Mets have enough position player depth to spend big on another reliever. Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, and Curtis Granderson are gone. Amed Rosario and Dom Smith are now on the major league roster and the AAA depth is non-existent. T.J. Rivera and Michael Conforto are recovering from serious injuries and they have to be considered question marks for next season.
If Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Jeurys Familia are healthy the pitching staff looks a lot better. If one of the other starters rebounds (Steven Matz? Matt Harvey? Robert Gsellman?), and a couple of arms step up in the bullpen (Jacob Rhame? Jamie Callahan? Paul Sewald? Seth Lugo? Dare I say Hansel Robles?) all of a sudden the pitching staff looks a lot better than the 2017 staff. My point is the Mets have internal pitching options (even if many of them are unproven or injury question marks). I’m not really seeing strong options when it comes to position players.
Spend It On Versatile Position Players and Scrimp On Pitching
I’m leaning towards adding a versatile infielder, a versatile outfielder, and a pitcher with experience as a starter and reliever who’s a potential rebound candidate. I like Todd Frazier for the IF but he’s going to cost like 11-12m per and who are we kidding he’s going back to the Yankees. Lock that up.
I think Eduardo Nunez makes sense for the Mets. His glove is weak but he has experience all over the infield including shortstop. He has some speed and can hit. He could start at second base or third base. Who’s playing SS if Amed Rosario struggles or pulls a hammy? Asdrubal Cabrera? Matt Reynolds? Wilmer Flores?!? Yuck. I’d rather have additional depth at middle infield (with Nunez) and let Wilmer play first base if Dominic Smith needs more time at AAA.
I think center fielder Jarrod Dyson makes sense for the outfield. He offers speeds and glove skills. The Mets have NO OUTFIELD DEPTH WHATSOEVER right now. Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo have dealt with serious injuries basically every year since they arrived in the majors. When Juan Lagares sprains his thumb again during spring training and Brandon Nimmo is once again hobbling around, who the hell plays outfield? Are the Mets going tape up Michael Conforto’s healing shoulder and tell him to cut his rehab time in half? Let’s just pretend Yoenis Cespedes is a healthy lock and ignore that he spent half of last season the DL and has battled leg injuries for two years now. Do we really want to sign someone like Adam Lind or Logan Morrison and wind up having a DH/1B playing 125 games in right field?
The Mets could potentially sign Eduardo Nunez (roughly 2 years 14m) and Jarrod Dyson (1 year 5-6m or 2 years 10-12m) and backload the deals a bit so we can afford to snag a pitcher like Francisco Liriano (roughly 1 year 3-4m). He has experience starting and relieving. He had success a few years back in Pittsburgh under their pitching coach Ray Searage. Maybe Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland can salvage something there and he can eat some innings as a swingman. Ubaldo Jimenez is another possibility. Slim pickings when you’re trying to recruit guys with a couple million bucks.
What Will Actually Happen?
Who the hell knows? I feel like there’s a 75% Sandy does absolutely nothing because Jeff Wilpon will spend the 10-15m on his stupid goddamn e-sports team.
The media keeps talking about Bruce and Walker so I suppose there’s a chance the Mets dump Juan Lagares’ salary (owed 15.5m over next 2 years and a 500k buyout of 2020 9.5m option) and use the money to sign Sandy favorites Jay Bruce and Neil Walker. Forgive me if I don’t break out the champagne to celebrate a reunion with members of the 70 win 2017 Flushing toilet squad. Also if this happens I’m sure Juan stays healthy, elevates his swing, learns to hit homers, and becomes an All-Star.
There’s a chance that Sandy brings back Jose Reyes and signs Adam Lind for roughly a combined 10-12m and then promises to spend more during the season. Maybe they’ll throw Bartolo Colon or some scrub pitcher we’ve never heard of a spring invite. Hip hip hooray.
And then there’s a chance they go with one of the horrendous scenarios I outlined above. What an exciting time to be a Mets fan! I can’t wait to spend the next 45 days watching every single free agent sign with a team other than the Mets.