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Re-Examining Mets Offseason

At this moment in time, with perhaps a very minor move or two, it would appear the Mets are done adding pieces this offseason. The different holes in the roster have been noted, but what we have not really seen done is an examination of the Mets decision making process. It is something which should be done more earnestly.

Dumping Swarzak’s And Not Frazier’s Contract

Purportedly, one of the selling points of the trade to obtain Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz was to move the contracts of Jay Bruce (2 years, $28 million) and Anthony Swarzak ($8.5 million). While moving Bruce was certainly understandable, it was curious the Mets moved Swarzak instead of Todd Frazier ($9 million).

As we have seen relievers tend to be mercurial, and it is quite possible with a healthier season, Swarzak could have been much more productive in 2019. Depending on the moves the team made in the offseason, he reasonably could have been the last man in the bullpen.

As for Frazier, we have seen the Mets make his spot on the roster tenuous. Pete Alonso appears poised to be the first baseman sooner rather than later, and the Mets brought in Jed Lowrie with the purpose of playing him everyone, albeit at different positions across teh diamond.

Seeing there being a multitude of free agents who could play third base, wouldn’t it have been better to move Frazier over Swarzak? As we saw, the Mets could have replaced Frazier with Lowrie. Other options included Mike Moustakas, Marwin Gonzalez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Neil Walker. The Mets could have accomplished the same versatility they sought to accomplish by signing multiple players from this group, and they could have had platoon options over Frazier’s bat. It’s noteworthy with the exception of Moustakas these are switch hitters making them more useful bench players than a player who has never played a reserve role in his career.

Why Didn’t McNeil Play Winter Ball?

The very minute the Mets obtained Cano, it was clear Jeff McNeil was going to play some outfield. Now, it could be argued the amount of outfield he played depended entirely on the other moves made this offseason, but nevertheless, the plan was always to have McNeil see some time in the outfield.

Considering McNeil played exactly 17.0 innings in left field in Triple-A last year and just 56.1 innings in the outfield in his six years in the minors, you would have thought the team would have found a spot for him to play winter ball to hone his craft. After all, the team did try to get Dominic Smith time playing outfield in the Dominican Winter League (it didn’t work out).

Now, because the team couldn’t make any moves to improve the outfield, they are going to play McNeil in left all Spring with the hopes he can get up to speed over the course of less than two months worth of games. It should also be noted this decision is moving Michael Conforto from his best defensive position to right, and it is forcing Brandon Nimmo to center, a position the Mets have been reticent to play him at the Major League level.

Why Trade Plawecki if d’Arnaud Wasn’t Ready?

In his four year career, we have all seen Kevin Plawecki‘s warts, but through it all, he has established himself as a viable backup catcher at the Major League level. While the Mets may have felt the need to choose between him and Travis d’Arnaud, that decision would not have been forced upon the Mets until the moment d’Arnaud was ready to play. As we see now, d’Arnaud is not ready to play.

Instead of keeping Plawecki, they traded him for an underwhelming return in the form of Sam Haggerty and Walker Lockett. The only player of value in the trade was Lockett, and he had been previoulsy traded for Ignacio Feliz, an 18 year old who signed for an $85,000 bonus out of the Dominican Republic two years ago.

Instead of hedging their bets wisely, the team instead signed Devin Mesoraco. Say what you will about Plawecki, but he is far superior to Mesoraco. He’s a better pitch framer, and he is the better hitter (93 to 92 wRC+). And before anyone invokes Jacob deGrom, you need to explain how Mesoraco was the reason why deGrom was so great.

Where Are the Extensions?

There has been a growing trend in baseball for teams to lock up their young players. For example, the Yankees have already locked up Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks, and they are working on locking up Dellin Betances as well. These actions promise to keep the Yankees core together while keeping them cost controlled to what promises to be a team friendly discount.

At the moment, the Mets have free agency concerns of their own. After 2019, Zack Wheeler will be a free agent. After 2020, deGrom will be a free agent. After 2021, a significant portion of the Mets current Mets core will be free agents with Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz will be headed to free agency.

We know deGrom has put himself on the front burner, but what are the Mets doing besides him? After all, if CAA is in town, it means the team can negotiate extensions for both deGrom and Syndergaard. There is also nothing preventing them from reaching out to the agents for the other players.

Really, this is the biggest part of the offseason which needs examination. What exactly is the plan going forward? Do the Mets have intentions of building something much sustaining, or is this a one year gamble? Are the Mets playing things out in 2019 and reassessing. At this moment, we don’t know. Hopefully, the Mets do.

15 thoughts on “Re-Examining Mets Offseason”

  1. RealityChuck says:

    Did you even consider the possibility that no one was willing to trade for Frazier? And that Seattle prefered Swarzak and might have walked away from the trade if they were asked to take Frazier instead?

    Did you even consider that no one was interested in trading for a catcher coming off TJ surgery? And that once they signed Ramos, the Mets were forced to trade either Plawecki or D’Arnaud (neither have options) or carry three catchers? Which means no team was going to give up much of value for either of them.

    I find this sort of analysis absolutely silly, since it assumes that the Mets can dump players on other teams and the other teams will gladly take them because their one object is to help the Mets become a better team.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      1. I did consider that possibility. I also considered the fact the only team Cano would agree to a deal was the Mets, and the Mets gave up Kelenic and Dunn while taking on the bulk of Cano’s context.

      2. The argument wasn’t for the Mets to trade TdA. It was to keep both catchers. I’d also note with the Mets looking to make TdA more versatile, the team had the ability to carry three catchers.

      3. When you misunderstand things, you’ll find them silly.

  2. OldBackstop says:

    MD…..I agree with you, I would have rather dumped Frazier than Swarzak, especially as it was announced that Frazier is injured this morning. Damn! Should have traded him! :-). But no matter how you measure leverage, the Mariners have Encarcion at first/DH and Seager at 3rd and Haniger in right. They now have Bruce listed nowhere as a starter and in the depth chart at both first and DH. Frazier would have just shoved into that scrum. Frazier wasn’t a fit for the Mariners along with Bruce. Pick one or the other, and the Mets understandably unloaded the $28 million guy over the nine million dollar guy. Both weren’t a fit, period.

    McNeil….obviously, all the OF time he can get is crucial. But I just looked at stories around Xmas, and they only passingly mentioned outfield, the focus was on UT IF. I don’t think until JD Davis and Lowrie came on board that it was clear that McNeil would have to be looking to the OF for at bats.

    Plus, he was coming off two lost years to injuries, and 2018 was the most professional games McNeil had ever played. Maybe they didn’t want to push him.

    As far as Travis…well, I think he had next to zero trade value until he could show he was game ready after major surgery. Keeping both Plawecki and D’arnaud around seems, they couldn’t do to the minors. And Mesoraco fits the need nicely.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      It should be noted the Mariners didn’t have EE at the time of the trade. He came later. Mariners could have shifted Frazier to 1B or DH easily, if not Seager.

      With respect to McNeil, you knew he was playing at least some OF when the Cano deal was consummated. That said, you do have a point with the injuries.

      As for Mesoraco, I’ll just reiterate he’s bad, and you should not have him on the MLB roster.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        Good catch on EE..but they got him the next week in that enormous three way trade, so maybe it was in the final touches and they knew he was coming..I can’t see moving Kyle Seager cor Frazier…he had 154 starts at third base last year and never has had one at first. Arenado, yes.

        I can’t find much about McNeil in the OF before Xmas…I don’t know when you have to jump into winter ball, but the OF only got really serious for him, I think, after Lowrie and JD came in.

        As far as extensions.it is feeding the dog at the table, it will never end. They should be grabbing Wheeler, in his walk season, anyone else two. Three. Four years out are risks that the Wilpon’s slim purse can not overcome. Its bad business.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Disagree on extensions. When done correctly, they’re very good business. The Mets locked up Wright and Reyes freeing them up to spend elsewhere. Hell, even the Niese one worked.

          The lesson with Lagares is don’t jump the gun on the player. You do it once you’re reasonably assured of the level of production.

        2. harmony says:

          At the time of the Robinson Cano trade Seattle reportedly had in place the Jean Segura trade that landed Carlos Santana, who later was flipped for Edwin Encarnacion. I suspect the Mariners preferred Santana and Encarnacion over Todd Frazier.
          For what it’ worth, Anthony Swarzak is injured and not expected to be ready for Opening Day.

          1. metsdaddy says:

            I’d note the Mariners don’t have a first baseman unless you’re buying Healy and his .235/.277/.412 batting line

          2. OldBackstop says:

            Their depth chart also has Bruce and Encarcion there.

          3. metsdaddy says:

            There’s a DH spot for EE and OF spot for Bruce

          4. OldBackstop says:

            Their depth chart doesn’t show Bruce starting anywhere.

            http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com/team/depth_chart/?c_id=sea

            Is your point that they ALSO should have taken Frazier? This would be the most geriatric rebuild in history. Player wise, Id like to have retained Swarzak and traded Frazier, but the Mariners werent the team to take both of them, especially assuming the Encarcion deal was looming in their plans.

          5. metsdaddy says:

            Mariners could have taken either one. This was a trade to get rid of Cano’s salary.

            I’d also note if Bruce isn’t starting then why would they care if Frazier wasn’t?

  3. OldBackstop says:

    Ok, so you would rather they take Frazier ($28 mil) than Bruce ($9 mil). Me too. I can guess why they chose Bruce.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I’m saying the Mets should’ve pushed Frazier over Swarzak

    2. OldBackstop says:

      Ok, so you would rather they trade Frazier ($9 mil) than Bruce ($28 mil). I can guess why they chose Bruce.

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