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Three Years Later, Game Changing And Franchise Altering Options Still There

Today is the three year anniversary of Yoenis Cespedes officially signing a three year $75 million contract with the New York Mets. The contract came with the opt out the Mets had said they didn’t want to offer anyone, and it was a surprise for a team who had seemed to move on from Cespedes early in the offseason.

For those who recall, the Mets had signed Alejandro De Aza on December 23, 2015. With his signing, the plan was apparently to have him platoon with Juan Lagares in center field. He would be in the same outfield as Michael Conforto, who after a promising 2015 season, looked primed to be an everyday player and Curtis Granderson, a man who was a series of infield and managerial gaffes away from being the World Series MVP.

That was a respectable, but not an especially formidable outfield for a Mets team who had designs on winning a World Series. It caused frustration because the De Aza signing didn’t exactly put the team over the top. The money saved on Michael Cuddyer‘s retirement was arguably poorly spread between De Aza, Jerry Blevins, Antonio Bastardo, and Bartolo Colon.

No, this team needed Cespedes.

What was odd was Cespedes was still a free agent. Sure, there were better regarded free agent outfield options in Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Alex Gordon. There were other attractive options available as well. Still, this was a player who thrived in the biggest market in the world hitting .287/.337/.604 with 14 doubles, four triples, 17 homers, and 44 RBI in 57 games.

Extrapolating that over a 162 game season, and Cespedes would have accumulated 40 doubles, 11 triples, 48 homers, and 125 RBI. Now, it shouldn’t be anticipated Cespedes could do that over a 162 game schedule. However, what we did see is Cespedes is a difference maker just like he was with the Athletics.

Yet, still he lingered with little interest. Sure, the Nationals were rumored to have offered Cespedes $100 million, but it was the typical Nationals offer with deferred money, which did not seem to interest Cespedes. The fact this was the only real offer kept him around thereby allowing the Mets to swoop in and get Cespedes on a good deal for both sides.

It was a coup by Sandy Alderson. It was a necessary move which helped the Mets reach the postseason again in 2016. It marked just the second time in team history the Mets would go to consecutive postseasons. It happened because Cespedes lingered allowing the Mets to make a bold move.

This is the same situation which is present with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

Somehow, some way, the two best free agents entering this free agent class are still available. For reasons unbeknownst to us, there are few teams in on either one of these players. In adding either one of these players, the Mets would take their 2019 team and put it over the top. A team who is projected to win around 85 games would move into the 90+ win range. That’s what happens when you add superstars and potential Hall of Famers.

It was the impact Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter had on those 1980s Mets teams. We saw that impact again when the Mets went out and traded for and re-signed Mike Piazza.

The Mets took advantage of unexpected opportunities. They struck when no one else expected them to strike. The result was a period of relevance, winning, and increased attendance. The chance is there. The Mets need to strike now and bring in one of Harper or Machado. The 2019 season rests on it.

33 thoughts on “Three Years Later, Game Changing And Franchise Altering Options Still There”

  1. OldBackstop says:

    I don’t like the way either of those guys play the game. They are petulant children. They don’t hustle. Machado is a dirty player. Harper needs to be in the AL, he plays the outfield like a hostage. They aren’t players worth the high end of $30/10. THAT is why 27 of 30 teams aren’t interested, not because the teams are skinflints, not because they don’t care about winning.

    If Mike Trout was on the table, 30 teams would be in. He is a person of character who plays the game right and is worth “marrying.” Those two guys are ah0les.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      You say that now, but next year we will hear:

      – Mike Trout never won anything with the Angels.

      – You can’t pay that much to one player.

      – For as great as he is, he doesn’t make others better.

      And other typical nonsense.

  2. holmer says:

    No, I don’t think OldBackstop would say that and neither would I, who agrees with him 100 %. Please get off the Machado/Harper bandwagon. They are talented, sure, but they may cost a team more games because of clubhouse animous than they win games on the field. If the Angels finished dead last next year I would pay the kind of money Machado and Harper demands (and not getting!).

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Harper has never been on a sub .500 team.

      Never.

      1. holmer says:

        And with all the talent the Nationals have had since Harper’s been on the team, how many championships have they won?

        1. metsdaddy says:

          It’s Harper’s fault Storen, Thornton, Rzepczynski, and Scherzer blew it in elimination games?

  3. OldBackstop says:

    Harper has hit .211 in the playoffs, and the Nats rotation makes something like $100 mil.

    Its a childish argument, pick up your game.. It is a 20 man game, if not 25. No baseball exec is going to weigh a team record to a perennial MVP unless it has playoff heroics. They are going to look at this guy and say “He will make his teammates better and he won’t be starting backfires with his teammates and the press. He won’t have teammates choking him in the dugput on camera because he doesn’t hustle.”

    If a tool like.Harper is worth $30/10, Trout is worth $60/20.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      If you’re judging Harper by the actions of that psychopath Papelbon, you’re doing it wrong. There is a reason why the Red Sox, Phillies, and Nationals were more than happy to get rid of him.

      As for Harper’s postseason numbers, I’d denote two things:

      1. Plenty of great players have been poor postseason players. Look no further than Willie Mays.

      2. Go back and look at the stats deeper. Harper was been GREAT in elimination games.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        You brought up team success, not me. And if you look at his numbers Harper is Mr. May.

        Papelbon was doing what vets have with lazy young players for 150 years….show them it is a team game and they can’t take plays off. Papelbon was awesome.. Too bad he hadn’t been Harper’s dad and raised the cocky little jerk. Then he might behave like Trout or Wright or Granderson and bring some leadership to the team that is dumb enough to marry him.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          1. When you say Harper is a clubhouse cancer, you bring up team success.

          2. No, players do not choke other players. Period.

          3. Harper’s dad raised a great baseball player who has never had even a hint of an off-the-field issue.

          4. Odd how you chastise Harper for being Mr. May and then want him to be like players who haven’t won a World Series.

          5. Harper is objectively a top 10 player since he debuted in the league. You win with players like that. Just ask the Nationals.

  4. OldBackstop says:

    And, I have made this point before, but Harper sbould go to an AL team where he doesn’t have the opportunity to roll up a negative -3.2 dWAR….worse as he ages. He is not asking DH money.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Harper’s 2018 season in RF was a complete outlier. Let’s not make too much out of it.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        An athlete’s most reason season can not be an outlier. It is the single most important data point. Ten years to Harper means nine years of decline, sez history. Has that decline begun?

        Doesn’t 2015 look like the outlier in Harper’s career? His WAR for the last three years after doesn’t add up to 2015. Maybe that was his Norm Cash year.

        Chronological age is only one metric. Some players star2t to lose their edge much earlier than the ‘”peak years” tables.

        Shtt Harpers 2015, and then subsequent 2016-18 have probably CHANGED those numbers leaguewide. All the nerds have to go recalc!

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Yes, one poor season can be an outlier. For example, Beltran’s 2005 season was an outlier.

          In reality, saying Harper’s 2018 season in RF wasn’t an outlier is confirmation bias because we have seen nothing like that from him previously.

          1. OldBackstop says:

            Yes, Beltran’s 2005 was an outlier. You can tell that because his career is over. But the year immediately remarkable success or failure, all anyone can do is conjecture. The outlier in Harper’s case was 2015, it contains the vast majority of his career season records.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            But in 2006, you would’ve said Beltran wasn’t worth it because 2005 wasn’t an outlier because it just happened.

  5. OldBackstop says:

    Interesting” https://www.northjersey.com/story/sports/mlb/mets/2019/01/25/what-ny-mets-roster-needs-before-spring-training/2657147002/

    — maybe trade Smith for another failed top prospect at a better position of need.

    – Dowdy is a Rule 5 and they like him….he’d have to stay on the roster all year

    — Mets like JD Davis a lot.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Mets better like Davis for that insane overpay

      1. OldBackstop says:

        I think Santana was the only top 30 prospect we gave up.

        Jeez…Davis play three positions plus emergency pitches and is the reigning PCL batting champ.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Davis has been bad in the majors, is slow footed, and he has holes in his swing. Who cares if he pitches twice a year and hits well in the minors?

          And again, I reiterate the Mets gave up three quality prospects.

          1. OldBackstop says:

            Let me see if I can explain minor leaguer’s chance to actually be above replacement major leaguers, while also comforting you that Dilson Herrera is back.

            The Mets gave up two guys that will never see AAA ball, not even Top 30 in our mediocre system, and Santana, a 5’8″ 18 year old in Rookie ball not in our top 5 middle IFers.

            Count to me how many Mets MIs Santana has to climb over to even get a major league start? Mauricio, Cecchini, Carpio, Guerro, Gimenez, Guillorme, Newton….that’s the minors. Rivera, Rosario, Lowrie, Cano, McNeil, Davis…that’s the majors. One of them is over 30.

            So we gave up our 14th best MI to get the current PCL AAA batting champ. Which, given that performance, is where you should be if you see holes in his swing, becoming the league’s best hitting coach.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Your assessment of Santana is poor because you’re using a predetermined bias to believe by the time he’s MLB ready, those players are still in the way. That’s both in terms of talent and ability to stick at the position.

            With respect to Davis, why am I believing in him? Because he hit well in a league where Campbell hits well? Because he thrives in the minors but not the majors? Because the real reason he has thrived is he had an “H” and not an interlocking “NY” on his cap? Because Chili Davis will finally have a positive impact on a team?

            And even if you’re right, why do you still give up Adolph and Manea?

            As for the last, I’ll tell you – you shouldn’t.

  6. OldBackstop says:

    So, let’s try to put this in a way that Harper’s actual value, including defense, ranks up, using total Wins Above Replacement (WAR). I’ll use rhe last three years, where Harper has averaged to three relatively full years.

    In the last three years, SEVENTY NINE major league position players (not counting pitchers) have had a higher combined WAR than Harper’s total of 7.5. Cane has more. Frazier has more. Hell, Jed Lowrie has more.

    Not a superstar, not a star, Harper has been a *slightly* better than average player for the last three years. He just has notoriety for the 2015 game and getting choked out on camera.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Over that three year span, he’s the third or fourth best hitting RF. Among players with at least 350 games played over the last three years, his 132 wRC+ ranks 19th best.

      That’s a superstar, especially if he doesn’t have a complete outlier season defensively

      1. OldBackstop says:

        You are citing a strictly offensive stat. The issue I raise is with the whole product. In a DH role, he may be the 19th most productive player. In looking to add wins, in actual game winning, to address the best investments the Mets could give in wins, 141 pitchers and players have had a higher WAR than Harper.

        And 2018’s negative dWAR is not an outlier. After his rookie year when he looked like a marginally fielder, he has only managed a positive dWAR once. And the trend looks like age decline, with his best dWAR in year one and his worst in year seven.

        I’d take a hard look at those 141 players who have helped their teams with more than 7.5 WAR over the past three years. I’m sure we can find one for under $300 million.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          The bat is cited because he’s a great hitter. As for his defense, his 2018 is a complete outlier when looking at a much more reliable stat like DRS.

          And no, you’re not getting a better player than Harper. Players like him become a free agent at this age once every 15-20 years.

          1. oldbackstop says:

            I just wrote this up for the Bill James site….consider it with a fresh eye, MD:

            look at Harper’s stats as if looking at a mystery player with no age span given.

            It looks like a guy who came up at 24 or so, kicked ass in his peak year of Age 27, then has has a downslope in speed and defense that you would expect in an early 30s hitting star that has to transition to a DH team or at least first base.

            Chronological age curves are an interesting stat, but if you look at the backup data, the aggregates are made up of wildly fluctuating individual careers. The trend is peaks are earlier and earlier, because kids (like Harper) were all baseball 9-5 at Age 15.

            Impress me. Give it a fresh eye. Is this a case of love a chronological age like…Jason Heyward? Both Harper and Heyward weren’t on the market with a 4.6 WAR per 650 PAs. Heyward should have given someone MORE comfort….he was younger than Harper and coming off his best WAR year (not four years removed), and had averaged a higher WAR, 5.7 to 4.6.

            And now one can see that Heyward is never going to….highly unlikely to….contribute as he did in those early 20s. He peaked at Age 25. That year there were howls that he was THE free agent, and he got 8/$184.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Heyward/Harper is a bad comparison because you’re comparing a player who accumulated value on defense against a player who is a great hitter.

            Moreover, Harper had a complete outlier defensive season, which can be explained by a number of factors including a new coaching staff and positioning.

            One interesting fact to consider is Harper was actually faster in 2018 than he was in 2017. This would indicate Harper is a player still improving and ready to take the next step forward as he enters his peak years.

  7. oldbackstop says:

    Also, if he turned down 10/$300, then Harper is trying get get paid like a 5 tool OFer player ala Betts or Trout. But clearly his future should rapidly be first base or DH, where his numbers are not elite….take something simple, hits, and he is 13th in 2016-2018 among DHers and 1Bs…..

    1. metsdaddy says:

      He still has the speed to play OF, and the fact he would have 1B in his back pocket makes him more, not less, valuable.

  8. oldbackstop says:

    I saw that sprint speed stat about Harper somewhere else. I guess he only ran it out in his walk year! 🙂

    1. OldBackstop says:

      Yeah but can he be an everyday first baseman? I would feel very antsy as an NL team giving someone 300 mil who has just played himself out of the OF and has yet to establish himself at first. An AL team…much more comfortable.

      It was pointed out elsewhere….a good name for his stats are erratic. Are you going to get the guy that batted .330 in 2015 or the guy who has been sub .250 two of the last three years? The 10 WAR 2015 guy or the 1.3 2018 guy. The guy with positive 1.5 dWAR in the outfield or the guy with the disastrous -3.2? The 42 HRs in a full season guy, or the guy who only hit 24 the next year with equal games?

      These are not normal fluctuations for a young superatar.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Given Harper’s history at C and OF, I’d have zero issue with him at first base.

        And no, I’d have no issue with him as his offense has remained at a certain level even with his proverbial down years.

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