As the Mets look to improve their roster, the one gaping hole is center field. It has been a problem for years with the Mets looking at stop gap options like Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto partially due to Juan Lagares inability to stay on the field and his inconsistent production at the plate, and last year, in the field.
Brodie Van Wagenen has said the team is looking for a right-handed bat at the position. On that note, the free agent center field options are quite poor. In fact, some of the more viable options are Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, and Carlos Gomez, three players whom the Mets realized were not real options.
When looking past the right-hand side, the options aren’t exactly great. The best option of the entire group is likely Shogo Akiyama, and he’s a 32 year old who has never played in the Majors. Further compounding that, Akiyama is said to have slipped defensively meaning he should probably move to a corner spot in 2020.
Fact is, there is no real good option. Looking at the trade route, the best known option is Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley hasn’t been a league average hitter since 2016, and he has had consecutive negative DRS seasons. While he can still handle the position defensively, his defense is not at the point where he can justify his bat or a raise from his 2018 $8.55 million arbitration salary.
To that point, Brodie Van Wagenen has said the Mets need to be creative this offseason, so perhaps they should be creative and move Amed Rosario to center.
The impulse to make that move has subsided with Rosario posting a 0 DRS in the second half. That was a significant improvement from his -16 DRS in the first half and the -16 DRS he posted at the position in 2018. With his only being 23, we can expect him to improve, but considering the level he is at now, it is debatable he can ever reach the lofty Gold Glove expectations we all once had for him.
He might be that if he moved to center.
Baseball Savant noted Rosario had a 29.2 ft/sec sprint speed last year. That is essentially the same speed as Victor Robles and Kevin Kiermaier, and it is quicker than Lorenzo Cain and Manuel Margot. Those of four of the top five center fielders in DRS last year. If nothing else, that tells us Rosario has the speed to cover the position.
Looking at last year, Jeff McNeil worked with Luis Rojas during Spring Training to get up to speed quickly on being an outfielder. During the 2019 season, McNeil proved to be a good outfielder with a 2 DRS with his time split between left and right.
Looking at Rosasrio, he has the speed, and he has the coaching. With his tools and drive, he has all he needs to succeed as center fielder. That goes double with him having an offseason and Spring Training to work on it. The only question is why would the Mets do it. Well, there are two reasons.
First and foremost, there are no real center field options available to the Mets. This leaves them having to hope for magic with a retread or for their getting creative with a solution like Rosario. Now, moving Rosario to center would create a hole at short. On that note, there are better options available like Didi Gregorius and Jose Iglesias.
Those two short term options are much more appealing than any of the center field options available this offseason. On the subject of the short term, the Mets also have to take some consideration of Andres Gimenez. While Gimenez struggled in 2019, he did deal with hand injuries, and he did rebound with an excellent stint in the Arizona Fall League.
Ultimately, the Mets may have to find space for Rosario and Gimenez on the same roster. The Mets could faciliate that by moving Rosario to center. It is a good long term solution, and really, considering the options available at both center and short this offseason, it is the best short term solution as well.
The last few years there has been discussions about how Andres Gimenez needs to move off of shortstop due to the presence of Amed Rosario. The natural choice was second base, but with the Mets obtaining Robinson Cano, that position is blocked for the next four years.
Early this year, it seemed there was going to be a potential opening at shortstop with Rosario struggling there for the second straight year. It got to the point where he began taking balls in center. However, with Rosario turning things around in the second half both offensively and defensively, he seems cemented as the team’s shortstop for the future. As a result, the plans for him in center have likely been abandoned.
While the plans of moving Rosario to center have been abandoned, the plans of moving a shortstop to center should not be.
Right now, the Mets have two very real problems. First, they have zero Major League ready prospects which will begin the year in Double-A or higher. Second, with Rosario establishing himself as a real Major League shortstop and with Luis Guillorme showing he’s a real option as Major League infield depth, there’s no room for Gimenez in the middle infield over the long term.
With no room for him in the infield, and with the team needing outfielders, the solution seems obvious. That’s only obvious if Gimenez could actually play the outfield. Based upon his skill-set, he should be able to make that transition.
Baseball America calls Gimenez “a quick-twitch athlete with well-rounded skills, a high baseball IQ and leadership qualities” who has a “quick first step.” MLB Pipeline notes Gimenez has a “strong arm, excellent hands, range and plus instincts for the position.” While this was written for him being a shortstop prospect, these are the type of skills you want out of a center field prospect.
As an aside, we saw Juan Lagares make the same transition from shortstop to center when he was a prospect. In 2011, Baseball America said he was best suited in left field due to his fringy speed and below-average arm. The following year, the analysis was updated to indicate he had ” the average range, sure hands and plus arm strength required to play all three outfield posts.” As we know he would become a Gold Glover at the position.
This is not to say Baseball America was wrong at the time on Lagares. Rather, it shows the more a player works at a position the better they get. We saw that with Lagares developing into a Gold Glover. We saw that with Rosario figuring things out at short in the second half this year.
If Gimenez has a real future in the Mets organization, he is going to have to find a new position, and he is going to have to put in the time to improve at it like Lagares and Rosario did with theirs. That position was supposed to be short or second, but he’s hopelessly blocked there.
However, center field is wide open for him. Moving Gimenez to center allows the Mets to help solve their center field depth issues while also solving the problem of finding a spot for their sole Major League ready position player prospect. When you break it down, the question isn’t whether the Mets should try this, but why haven’t they done this already.
This past week I appeared on the Simply Amazin’ podcast to discuss a number of issues facing the Mets right now.
During the podcast I mentioned Anthony Kay, Ali Sanchez, Vince Coleman, Mackey Sasser, T.J. Rivera, Noah Syndergaard, David Peterson, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, Ryley Gilliam, Steve Villines, Andres Gimenez, Juan Centeno, and others.
Please click the link and listen.
The New York Mets are five games under .500, which is the lowest point they’ve been at any point this season. As with most teams under .500, everything seems in disarray. This is a pattern for the Mets franchise which exists even in good times. Still, things have been at a higher level of dysfunction lately.
Mickey Callaway didn’t take kindly to what appeared to be an innocuous comment from Newsday’s Tim Healey. The frustration coming from a tough loss, having to answer difficult questions, or whatever else is related to being the Mets manager came flying out. Callaway finally snapped and directed it at Healey, which he shouldn’t have done.
This was an embarrassing course of events which were made all the more difficult when Callaway had to speak with reporters three times before getting the words which people wanted to hear from him out. As bad as you may want to characterize what Callaway did or did not say, it’s nowhere near are terse and sarcastic as what Vargas had to offer:
Jason Vargas' entire statement regarding yesterday's incident: pic.twitter.com/FbiBaSsSYi
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 24, 2019
It should be noted here Callaway was at least man enough to speak with Healey personally and offer an apology. Nowhere was it reported Vargas did the same. Despite that, both were not suspended and were fined $10,000.
Of course, with this being the Mets, that’s not enough. During the game, we were reminded just how bad a job Brodie Van Wagenen has done as the General Manager. Jay Bruce would hit a pinch hit home run against Brooks Pounders, a scrap heap guy Van Wagenen had to obtain to try to piece together what was an incomplete bullpen to begin the year. That homer essentially put the game away for good.
In that game, there would be 20 runs scored and 34 hits. The only position player in either starting lineup not to register a hit? Robinson Cano. Cano was 0-for-5 dropping his stat line to .223/.270/.361. So far, he has a -0.8 WAR in year one of a five year $100 million obligation to the 36 year old second baseman.
At the same time, we have seen Edwin Diaz have the worst year of his career while Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn are progressing well in the Mariners system. According to MLB Pipeline, Kelenic is the 24th best prospect in all of baseball, and Dunn is the 67th best.
That means if Van Wagenen did not make the trade, right now, the Mets would have five top 100 prospects (Andres Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio, Anthony Kay) with more on the horizon. That means the Mets farm system would have been the envy of everyone, and the team could have sold REAL hope for an under .500 fourth place team.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Mike Puma of the New York Post wrote an article alleging Van Wagenen called the Mets to instruct Callaway to remove Jacob deGrom from a game. The reporting has been confirmed many times over with the allegations going much further than this being an isolated event. On the topic, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post had this to say:
I asked the question to Brodie Van Wagenen this way, a few hours before the Mets would prove to be a splendid tonic for the reeling Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in serving as 13-7 patsies, a few minutes after he feigned ignorance at a subtler version of the inquiry:
“Do you tell Mickey what to do?”
* * * * *
So I asked. And this is what Van Wagenen said: “This organization is about teamwork and collaboration and the ability to trust the manager on an everyday basis.”
This is what he didn’t say: “No.”
It wouldn’t be until after the game Van Wagenen would seek to deny the reports. When he did, he would come across as less than convincing.
This is all coming off the heels of the team scapegoating both Dave Eiland and Chuck Hernandez while replacing them with an 82 year old Phil Regan and their bringing back Ricky Bones less than a year after he was removed from the position. We’ve also seen Travis d’Arnaud and Keon Broxton scapegoated this year.
On top of all of this, Brandon Nimmo went from neck pain we shouldn’t worry too much about to a bulging disc he tried to play through (both in the majors and in a rehab stint) to being shut down. Jed Lowrie has yet to play this season. Overall, the handling of the medical situations has continued to be inept, and the offseason acquisitions have mostly been a disaster.
At this point, no one has any credibility, and people have long since stopped wanting to hear what Callaway and Van Wagenen have to say.
The Mets have been embarrassed by the actions of his manager and fifth starter. There’s a potential scandal brewing with the General Manager allegedly violating MLB rules. There’s the continued problems with handling injuries, and the payroll remains an issue. Fans are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the team, and they’re staying away from the ballpark. Overall, the team is five games under .500, and they are closer to last place than the division or a Wild Card.
This is the exact time Jeff Wilpon needs to speak with the media. He needs to show everyone the team is not dysfunctional. He needs to support his embattled General Manager and manager. He needs to provide a vision for the future; one which can get the fans reengaged. In the end, this team is run by Jeff Wilpon, and he is the one who has to be accountable for the decisions made.
Speaking now is what a true leader would do. When put that way, we shouldn’t be holding our breath waiting for him to be accountable for the decisions made by him and the people he put in charge.
While Sandy Alderson had his faults as the Mets General Manager, he left the Mets in a very good position. The next General Manager would have at this disposal the assets and core necessary to build a real World Series contender sometime within the next three years. If done, properly, this could have been a stretch akin to the 1980s Mets.
First and foremost, there was a young core still under control. Michael Conforto rebounded from shoulder surgery in the second half, and he appeared ready to return to his All Star form. Brandon Nimmo had a breakout season where he was the second best hitter in the National League. Jeff McNeil emerged to hit .329/.381/.471 in 63 games showing a great contact rate while playing well at second base.
The team still had a very good starting rotation. Jacob deGrom is the reigning Cy Young winner. Zack Wheeler‘s second half was as good as deGrom’s. Steven Matz finally made 30 starts in a season. Noah Syndergaard came back from a finger issue and pitched well. Over his final eight starts of the season, he was 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA.
The team also did not have an onerous long term deal which would stand in the way of really improving the team. After the 2019 season, the contracts of Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, Anthony Swarzak, and Jason Vargas were set to come off the books. That was $32.5 million coming off the books. Combine that with Wheeler’s $5.975, and that was $38.475 coming off the books.
With respect to Vargas and Wheeler being pending free agents, the team did have internal options. Justin Dunn had a breakout season, and he re-emerged as a Top 100 prospect with an ETA of last 2019 or early 2020. With a similar 2019 season, you could see him realistically being part of the 2020 rotation or possibly the bullpen.
Behind Dunn, Anthony Kay and David Peterson had an opportunity to make a push to put themselves in a position to have an ETA of 2020. Between the three pitchers, the Mets realistically only needed one more starter via trade or free agency.
Those three pitchers were not the only near Major League ready talent the organization had. Pete Alonso was Major League ready. If he wasn’t, the team still had Dominic Smith who would spend the offseason addressing his medical issues and continuing to get into better shape.
This was all part of a very promising farm system which could have made a charge to the top of the game. In addition to the pitching and Alonso, the team had Jarred Kelenic, who appeared to be a once in a generation talent. Behind him was an impressive collection of teenage talent which included Andres Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and Mark Vientos.
If handled properly, the 2021 or 2022 Mets could have had a rotation with deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, and at least one of Dunn, Kay, Peterson, or possibly Simeon Woods Richardson. The infield would been Alonso, McNeil, and two from the aforementioned group of teenage prospects. That’s if Amed Rosario didn’t have a breakout season or move to the outfield. Speaking of the outfield, an outfield of Nimmo-Kelenic-Conforto would have been the envy of the game.
Sure, not all of the prospects would have developed, but you also could have had someone like a Ross Adolph or another prospect emerge much like we saw with McNeil in 2018. There was also the impending 2019 draft class to consider. The overriding point here was the Mets had a deep well of prospects, and they had payroll flexibility.
Whoever was going to be the next General Manager of the Mets was going to be, they were taking over a job in an enviable position. There were difficult decisions in front of them like which players do you extend, and how hard exactly do you push to contend in 2019 or 2020 knowing what was on the horizon. Certainly, you had to do some of that because taking over the job was likely going to require you to sell a vision of contending in 2019.
While players like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado would have been well worth pursuing, realistically speaking, the Wilpons were not going to green light those signings. On the trade front, the only player available worth the Mets top prospects was probably J.T. Realmuto, but the Marlins have never seemed inclined to be reasonable in a potential deal with the Mets.
With that in mind, whatever the vision for the new General Manager, there needed to be an element of restraint. No matter what the new General Manager did, they needed to maintain that level of payroll flexibility while also not damaging the farm system to pursue short term fixes and/or underselling prospects in order to find ways to circumvent not being able to spend.
Well, in one trade, just one, Brodie Van Wagenen completely failed. In trading Dunn, the Mets lost their lone near Major League ready starter. That was important in case of an injury in 2019, and it was important because with Wheeler and Vargas being free agents, the Mets needed to find at least one cheap option for the rotation.
Worse than that, the team added Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract. Over the next five years, the Mets had $20 million on the books for a player who was going to have a steep decline in one of those five years. That player was coming in at a position already filled by McNeil and at a position which was going to be filled with young talent during the duration of Cano’s contract. You also weren’t moving Cano to first due to Alonso and/or Smith.
Yes, this is where many point out the Mets obtained a cost controlled closer in Edwin Diaz. That’s true. However, he came with a debilitating contract. He also came at the expense of Kelenic. Certainly, a prospect of Kelenic’s level is worth more than a closer both in terms of value in a trade and just in terms of a future impact on a team.
Brodie Van Wagenen would then worsen things. He would trade prospects in Adolph, Adam Hill, Scott Manea, Felix Valerio, and Santana with Bobby Wahl to add J.D. Davis and Keon Broxton (who didn’t last two months with the team). No matter your impression of those players, that’s a big chunk of prospect depth for two players who were really nothing more than bench players.
That’s not a good allocation of your assets, especially when your organization does not have the ability to absorb Cano’s contract in stride and spend their way around losing this prospect depth. Anyone taking over the Mets job knew this, Brodie Van Wagenen included.
However, despite that knowledge he went all-in on 2019. He did not maintain the payroll flexibility needed to address the loss of two rotation spots, a third baseman, and a center fielder in free agency. He traded away not just two top 100 prospects but also quality depth prospects thereby harming their ability to add at this year’s trade deadline (if everything worked out) or to build the 2020 team. Mostly, he lost Kelenic who was a franchise altering prospect, who aside from Darryl Strawberry, the organization has not seen.
Overall, not only did Van Wagenen fail to build the 2019 Mets into a contender, he hamstrung the team’s ability to build that contender in 2020 and beyond. The reason is the team does not have the payroll flexibility or the prospect depth truly needed to overcome the way the Wilpons choose to operate their team.
Consider for a moment if Van Wagenen did nothing, the Mets would have been a fourth place team much like they are now. However, if he did actually do nothing, the Mets would have had a deep farm system and real payroll flexibility to attack this upcoming offseason. That’s all gone now, and seeing what he did to this organization in less than a year on the job, it’s difficult to have any faith he can turn things around and get the franchise back on track.
The Mets followed splitting with the Braves by losing two of three to the Phillies. As a result, the Mets have lost four of their last five – all of them in the division. Here are some observations from the disappointing series.
- Noah Syndergaard‘s peripherals are fine, and in the long run, he’s going to have Thor like numbers.
- What killed Thor and continues to kill the Mets pitching is a National League worst defense.
- J.D. Davis has been the worst infielder in all of baseball, and with his sprint speeds, he would be terrible in LF. In the long run, he really serves no purpose in this Mets team.
- It’s bizarre the Mets would let Davis Be this bad at third, continue to trot him out there, and not even allow a more physically fit and athletic Dominic Smith an opportunity to prove himself in left field.
- Amed Rosario continues to hurt this team with bad defense (worst SS in the NL) and his poor plate discipline. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for the Mets, Andres Gimenez has gotten off to a brutally slow start in Binghamton.
- So far Wilson Ramos is killing the Mets. By DRS, he’s the worst catcher in the NL, and he’s become a glorified singles hitter with a 58.3% ground ball rate.
- Not one Mets everyday infielder has a positive DRS.
- Keon Broxton needs to be better. He has a 47 wRC+, and we saw him overpowered by a 94 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate to end the game. He’s also a -1 DRS in the outfield.
- Juan Lagares has been better every which way than Broxton, and as a result, he needs to get the bulk of playing time in center.
- With neither Broxton nor Lagares hitting, the Mets need to keep Jeff McNeil in left field, especially since that’s his ultimate destination when Todd Frazier and/or Jed Lowrie return.
- Mets desperately need Frazier’s glove. Not only will it give the Mets at least one plus defender on the field, but it will also allow Rosario to not have to cover nearly as much ground.
- With Frazier finally hitting the ball yesterday, he should be called up and immediately inserted into the starting lineup.
- Jeff McNeil is turning into a modern day Ichiro Suzuki. This is not hyperbole. When you break down the numbers, he should be regressing. Instead, he continuously adapts his approach and has incredible contact skills.
- You knew sooner or later Steven Matz was going to lay an egg, and boy did he. One thing to note here is he was this bad his first start of the 2016 season. He responded to that by putting up nine straight starts allowing two earned or less.
- So much for Zack Wheeler‘s second half being a fluke.
- To acquire Edwin Diaz, the Mets gave up two top 100 prospects (Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn), and they took on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract. So naturally, when the game is on the line, they won’t use him.
- With the Mets limiting to Diaz to just the ninth, we once again learn the Mets statements about every game mattering only applied to Pete Alonso.
- Good for Brodie Van Wagenen for taking the bullet on Diaz’s usage. He made the call, and he stood there like a man to defend himself. Also, good job by Mickey Callaway not throwing everyone under the bus and whining about the restrictions.
- Sometimes, you should just appreciate a player for what they do well. Paul Sewald went out there twice and ate up innings to help save that bullpen. Considering how well he handles that role, he has a spot in this bullpen.
- On that note, great job by Drew Gagnon pitching 5.1 innings on three days rest. Should Jason Vargas fail again on Friday, Gagnon has earned the first shot to replace him in the rotation.
The Mets made a blockbuster deal with the Seattle Mariners where they gave up two former first round draft picks in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. At the moment, the Mets are in the midst of trying to negotiate a trade to obtain J.T. Realmuto. In those discussions, we have heard the Mets potentially trading any one or a combination of Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio, or Mark Vientos.
What is interesting is we have not yet heard Peter Alonso‘s name attached to any rumor. Seeing the power and arguably unprecedented exit velocities combined with his status as a clear-cut T0p 100 prospect, it would be really hard to believe neither the Mariners nor the Marlins would have any interest in Alonso.
This would lead you to believe the Mets are making Alonso untouchable in trade discussions. With the Mets seemingly having penciled him in as their 2019 first baseman, you could understand the idea. On the other hand, why would the Mets make him more untouchable than their other players or prospects?
Looking at the infield right now, you could win by playing Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, Todd Frazier, and Rosario in the same infield. Certainly, that infield and lineup would look all the better with Realmuto.
If you don’t want Cano, Frazier, or even McNeil being your everyday first baseman, there are still free agent first baseman available. Mark Reynolds, who has a 103 OPS+ over the last three years, is available. Matt Adams is a platoon bat who has a 119 wRC+ against right-handed pitching over the past two years. This is also a scenario where bringing Marwin Gonzalez aboard makes sense. With first base effectively vacant, you could have sufficient playing time between him and McNeil at first base, second base, third base, and the outfield.
There are also former Mets like Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores, who we know can handle first base and New York. If you are so inclined, you could probably even sign Asdrubal Cabrera the job. He has shown himself to be a different hitter in a Mets uniform, and it is possible playing first over a middle infield position keeps him fresher and healthier.
Arguably, any of these options are better than Alonso. While there may be some flaws, it is notable that Steamer has projected Alonso to hit .241/.318/.458. It is interesting to note Fangraphs Depth Charts comes to the same slash line albeit while giving Alonso a higher projected WAR.
Again, these projections may be flawed, but they may also not be. That’s the risk when you play an unproven rookie at first base.
The bigger risk for the Mets is trading Conforto or Nimmo. This is not an organization blessed with any outfield depth. Beyond them is Juan Lagares, who is injury prone, Yoenis Cespedes, who may not even play next year, and a collection of prospects who will likely not be in a position to contribute at the Major League level. Looking at the free agent class, you see a number of players who have considerable age or health concerns. Mostly, you see a group who will most likely not contribute at the level Conforto or Nimmo will next season.
That brings us back to Alonso. If the Mets haven’t already, shouldn’t they put his name on the table to see if that moves the needle on Realmuto? After all, the Mets window is likely two years, maybe three. While Alonso is very, very intriguing, he’s not a sure thing, and you can go get a first baseman who can produce for you while simultaneously getting production from Conforto and Nimmo while watching Rosario build off his improved second half.
Overall, when you break it all down, you really have to question the Mets seemingly counting on Alonso instead of one of their players who have actually produced and shown an ability to improve at the Major League level. That plan becomes all the more dubious when you consider the free agents available and the depth at certain areas of the Mets farm system.
There are prevalent rumors about how the Mets may be making a big trade with the Seattle Mariners. In the deal, the Mariners would send Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets in exchange for a package centering around Jay Bruce and Andres Gimenez. There are different iterations of the deal with the Mets possibly getting Mitch Haniger, and there is some issue about how much of Cano’s contract the Mariners will eat.
What is interesting here is Cano has a big contract. He is owed $120 million over the next five years. If the Mets were to take on this contract, he would rank just behind David Wright and Johan Santana for the most money the Mets have ever paid to one player on one contract.
Adding this type of an obligation could create the narrative the Mets are willing to go out and spend whatever it takes to win this year. From some corners, you will likely hear about how the Mets are spending money like a New York team and are now operating with a big payroll. You may even hear the Wilpons get praised for this.
Now, if this is a good trade, Brodie Van Wagenen should receive praise for executing a bold maneuver. He should be given credit for operating within the constraints of the budget to improve the team. And no, this is not the Wilpons expanding payroll.
Remember, part of this deal is the Mariners taking on Bruce’s contract. Also, the team will be collecting insurance money from Wright’s contract and presumably Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract. More than that, his is the cheap way out.
While Cano is owed $120 million, Diaz and/or Haniger are pre-arbitration. More than that, there are more expensive and frankly better options on the market.
Consider for a moment, MLB Trade Rumors projects Manny Machado to earn $30 million a year over the next 13 years. The site also predicts Bryce Harper will also earn $30 million a year but for 14 seasons. By the end of a 13 year deal, Machado will be 39, and at the end of a 14 year deal, Harper would be 40. Of course, both players are likely to receive opt outs.
The question for the Mets is why wouldn’t you spend an extra $6 million to get either Machado or Harper in their prime years? With respect to Machado, we have heard the Mets have classified him as not their type of player. To be fair, we have heard the Mets have not ruled out Harper, and if that’s the case, we cannot prejudge them on that decision.
That said, trading for Cano over going after a Machado or Harper is the cheaper way out, and considering Cano’s age and recent PED suspension, it is one wrought with risk.
Now, it is possible the deal makes more baseball sense for the Mets. After all, trading Bruce helps on the budget front and also on a roster front. Bruce is an poor fit for this roster and moving him makes sense. If you can obtain Diaz, you are getting a player who would likely be the best available closer this offseason. If you can also get Haniger, well, that’s a huge improvement to this roster.
While we can’t prejudge a trade which has not transpired, it is interesting it at least seems the Mets are pursuing this angle instead of signing one of the two biggest free agents since Alex Rodriguez was a free agent after the 2000 season and adding a couple of other relievers in free agency.
Ultimately, Cano is definitely the cheaper option, but it does not make it a worse option. We won’t know that until we see what the final deal looks like (should a deal ever come to fruition) and also what the Mets would do with the money they save in a deal. Hopefully, for once, the cheaper option will prove to be the better option for the Mets.
The Mets have a number of needs this offseason, and despite those needs, the team is of the belief they can contend in 2019. Two of those needs are a right-handed hitter and a bullpen arm. That’s an expensive item to add in free agency, especially with the team needing to rebuild their bullpen and possibly add a catcher.
The Mariners are rebuilding, and they have those pieces in Mitch Haniger and Edwin Diaz. The issue is the Mariners don’t want to trade those players as they see them as building blocks for the future.
Typically, this is just talk. Untouchable players, especially relievers, are almost always available. The trick is you need to be bowl a team over to get the player, or the player has to force their way out. Remember, Christian Yelich was not available until he became a Brewer. Craig Kimbrel was untouchable until he became a Padre.
The catch is you need to have the prospects to make one of the proverbial godfather offers to pry those players away. Looking at the Mets farm system, while it is improving, it is difficult to argue they have enough to pull off the feat. If the Mariners like Peter Alonso or Andres Gimenez, they could acquire one of Haniger or Diaz, but not both.
That is unless the Mets get creative.
If you create a list of the most untradeable contracts in baseball, you will see Albert Pujols, Chris Davis, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Robinson Cano. Moving Cano is made all the more difficult by his no-trade clause. Add his steroid suspension last year, and it would be completely and utterly shocking to see the Mariners trade Cano.
That doesn’t meant they’re not trying. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the Mariners have contacted both the Mets and Yankees about taking on Cano’s contract. In the article, it was revealed the Mariners were not willing to take back Ellsbury in the deal.
Considering the Mets budget limitations and how they were burned by the David Wright and now Yoenis Cespedes contracts, it’d be shocking to see the team take on Cano’s contract, and that is before you consider all of his red flags. At 36, he still has five years $120 million on his deal. None of this should mean Cano should be off the table for the Mets.
The Mets do have some bad contracts of their own. For example, Jay Bruce is owed $28 million over the next two years. Jason Vargas is owed $8 million next year with a $2 million buy out should the Mets not pick up his $8 million option. You could certainly argue Cano would be much more productive than Bruce and Vargas combined. Still, that leaves you assuming four years and $96 million. The Mets would really have to be enticed to take that on from the Mariners.
Haniger and Diaz would be awfully enticing.
If you look at it through the prism of five years $120 million for Cano, you would not do that deal. However, five years and roughly $170 for Cano, Haniger, and Diaz doesn’t look too bad. That’s roughly $11 million per year per player. That’s certainly fair value for those players.
Dumping some contracts like Bruce and Vargas could make it more palatable. It could also reduce the perspective prospect cost. Right off the bat, you could offer Alonso, Gimenez, and Dominic Smith. That’s a pretty decent haul, and it could prevent the team from having to have to part with another big piece. If the Mets did this, they ultimately become World Series contenders next year with that lineup:
Looking at that lineup, and the fact it would be cost neutral for a team potentially trading away Bruce and Vargas, you have to wonder why the Mets wouldn’t do the deal. And if the answer is Cespedes, you can make McNeil a utility player and move Cano to second. Really, if you think about it having a deep bench is not an excuse to make a deal which could win you a World Series.
This is the deal big market teams make to win a World Series. The Mets should start pretending to be one of those teams instead of trading Noah Syndergaard and heading towards another rebuild despite having a young talented core.
There are mixed rumors about whether the Mets are shopping Noah Syndergaard this offseason. Seemingly, trading Syndergaard would run counter-intuitive to the Mets statements they are trying to win now and in the future. However, if the Mets pull this off just right, they can actually compete going forward.
While we assume all of the other 29 teams in baseball would be interested, we do know the Padres are interested – very interested. They pursued him at the trade deadline, and they are apparently pursuing him again this offseason. While the Padres farm system is loaded, their major league team really isn’t.
In terms of their starting lineup, only Eric Hosmer, Hunter Renfroe, and Franmil Reyes had an OBP over .300. Renfore was the only player with over 20 homers. None of their starting pitchers had an ERA under 4.00, which is all the more troubling when you consider they play in Petco. This is a big reason why they want Syndergaard, or another top tier starting pitcher who is available like James Paxton.
The question is how much the Padres want Syndergaard. If they are willing to give up Fernando Tatis, Jr., there is the chance a deal can get done. MLB Pipeline has given him a 70 grade on the 20-80 scale. Baseball America is equally as high on him saying, “components of a middle-of-the-order shortstop, and even if he has to move to third base has more than enough bat to flourish. His mix of talent, personality and bilingualism sets him up to become the face of the Padres franchise.” Both outlets rate him as the second best prospect in the game.
Last year in Double-A, Tatis hit .286/.355/.507 with 22 doubles, four triples, 16 homers, and 43 RBI. He would also steal 16 bases. He should start the year in Triple-A, and realistically speaking, he will play in the majors next year.
Adding him to the roster would give you a huge prospect going forward. It also creates some flexibility. This could allow the Mets to trade Amed Rosario to improve other aspects of their club including a rotation which would have just lost Syndergaard. The Mets could also shift Rosario to another position like center field where the Mets have a hole.
If you moved Rosario to another position, you could trade Andres Gimenez for an upgrade elsewhere. You could also take one of the other big prospects you get in a proverbial swap to make an upgrade. Overall, if done properly, trading Syndergaard could truly create real roster flexibility.
Of course, the Mets will need it because they are going to need to fill in the rotation. By losing Syndergaard, you damage the strength of your team. You go from the best top 4 in baseball to a shaky rotation. After all, the Mets needed to upgrade the rotation anyway with Jason Vargas being their fifth starter. With Syndergaard gone, they would need to upgrade two spots.
You could do that by signing a Patrick Corbin, but that’s going to restrict the budget available to upgrade areas which really needed upgrading. Essentially, by making this trade, you are going to push competing for a World Series until 2020 at the earliest. Maybe by making this deal, you are passing on competing for the next five years.
Really, before even contemplating a trade like this, you have to have your ducks lined up. You have to know what the next five steps are, and they need to be secure. If not, you are gambling on this whole team and window blowing up.
Overall, trading players like Syndergaard makes and breaks careers. Getting him as part of the R.A. Dickey deal made the Mets contenders in 2015 and 2016. Trading him away could end any possibility of competing anytime soon, or it could open a whole new window. It’s a really difficult decision, and like it or not, the early stages of Brodie Van Wagenen’s tenure will be marked by the decision he makes.