In case you were wondering just how much the Wilpons have scarred New York Mets fans, we see the reactions to the Francisco Lindor contract discussions. Seeing it, you’d think the Wilpons were again outbid for a borderline MLB reliever.
It should be noted the Mets have offered Lindor a 10 year/$325 million contract. That’s an AAV of $32.5 million which would pay Lindor until he’s 37 years old.
It would make it the largest contract in Mets history given to David Wright by more than double. It would fall only short of Mookie Betts and Mike Trout for the largest extensions in MLB history. It’s on par with the extension given to Fernando Tatis, Jr., and it would put him only behind Bryce Harper in the division.
Yes, Lindor has every right to negotiate for every last penny, and he’s in his right to reject that offer. After a big year, he could get a better offer, and perhaps he won’t. That said, you have to respect him betting on himself.
That’s what this is. It’s a mixture of Lindor thinking he’s worth more and betting on himself. You can say that because the Mets made an extremely fair and reasonable offer.
It’s part of a completely different offseason for the Mets where they added a lot of payroll. Seriously, you wouldn’t see the Wilpons make these moves in one offseason let alone two or three:
- Francisco Lindor $22.3 million
- Marcus Stroman $18.9 million
- Carlos Carrasco $12 million
- Taijuan Walker $10 million
- James McCann $8.15 million
- Trevor May $7.75 million
- Kevin Pillar $3.6 million
- Jonathan Villar $3.55 million
- Aaron Loup $3 million
- Albert Almora $1.25 million
- Jose Martinez $1.0 million
- Joey Lucchesi ~ $600k
Adding those salaries up, the Mets added $92.1 million. Read that again. The Mets added $92.1 million to the 2021 payroll.
What exactly about that is the same old Mets? If it’s missing out on Trevor Bauer, George Springer, or not extending Lindor yet, it’s over focusing on the negative. Likely, it’s schtick, scarring from the Wilpon era, or just a want to be miserable.
Whatever happens with Lindor will happen. We can judge that on Opening Day as well as the 2021 season and beyond. Whatever the case, this is a very different Mets organization than we’ve seen from the Wilpons, and it should be viewed and treated as such.
When you look at the New York Mets 40 man roster, Albert Almora was probably the only player you trusted playing center field. Unfortunately, even with his success working with Chili Davis in the past, he really didn’t have a sufficiently good enough bat to stick in the lineup. That made Almora good depth, especially with his having a minor league option.
It appears Almora is going to use that option this year with the Mets signing Kevin Pillar.
Pillar, 32, used to be one of the best defensive center fielders in the game even if he didn’t have the Gold Gloves to show for it. In fact, from 2015 – 2017, Pillar only trailed Kevin Kiermaier in terms of DRS among center fielders. He had accumulated the sixth highest WAR among all Major Leaguers during this stretch.
After that, Pillar’s defense took a nosedive. From 2018 – 2020, Pillar has a -14 DRS. Essentially, he transitioned from Gold Glove caliber to a player who needs to move to a corner outfield position. To be fair, OAA has painted a slightly different picture with Pillar posting a -1 OAA over that stretch.
Regardless of whether you trust DRS or OAA, it should be clear Pillar’s days of being a defensive replacement are all but over. He no longer has the glove to be that late inning defensive replacement, and truth be told, Brandon Nimmo has posted not too different defensive numbers. In fact, over the last three years, Nimmo has a -11 DRS and -2 OAA albeit in fewer innings.
Looking at it that way, you could question what role Pillar would play. To that end, the answer very clearly could be as a platoon bat. In fact, over the past three years, Pillar has a 105 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Over the past two years, that number is a 119 wRC+.
Of course, the problem is that’s not necessarily an upgrade for the Mets. Over the past three years, Michael Conforto has a 112 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Nimmo has a 126, and Dominic Smith has a 128. That makes all three of the projected Mets Opening Day outfield as better hitters against left-handed pitching.
That said, Pillar is still a better option that players like Almora, Guillermo Heredia, and Mallex Smith. You can trust Pillar a lot more defensively than Jose Martinez. Really, when you break it down, Pillar provides good depth at all three outfield positions, and he gives the Mets some late inning pinch hitting and double switch opportunities.
Pillar is also a solid hedge against injuries. On that front, teams are going from 60 games to 162. There is likely going to be more attrition than we see over the course of a typical season. We will likely see some more injuries, and we almost assuredly going to see players need to take off more days than they usually would.
Undoubtedly, Pillar has improved the Mets depth. He’s a player you can trust in the starting lineup for extended stretches, and he pushes Almora to the minors. He is a late inning defensive replacement for a team starting a first baseman in left field, and he is a good pinch hitting option against left-handed pitching. All told, while not awe inspiring, this is a move which makes sense and makes the Mets better.
The position of the New York Mets seems to be defense only matters when you can have a designated hitter. If you have no DH, then you need to shoehorn in as many bats as you can into the lineup. In other words, the Mets are purposefully going to put out a sub-optimal defense and torpedo their pitching staff because of one position.
It’s beyond ridiculous.
Brandon Nimmo has averaged a -4 DRS in center over the past three seasons, and that is despite his not having played more than 350.1 innings at the position in any one year. Dominic Smith has averaged -2 DRS in left over the past three seasons despite not having played more than 219.0 innings in any season. J.D. Davis has averaged a -6 DRS at third over the past three seasons despite not having played more than 269.1 innings there in a season.
All told, these three players have proven themselves ill suited to handle the positions they are currently slated to play. What is maddening when you look at Nimmo and Smith is they are actually quite good at their real positions. Nimmo has a 5 DRS as a left fielder in his career, and Smith, after taking away his rookie season, has a 0 DRS as a first baseman.
It just seems bizarre to purposefully put these players in a position to purposefully fail. Nimmo belongs in left, Smith belongs at first, and Davis belongs on the bench. If you are a team operating responsibly, that is what you should unequivocally do.
Obviously, this is not taking into account Pete Alonso. Frankly, the Mets not addressing this logjam was their way of ignoring Alonso. In reality, the Mets are carrying three first baseman with him, Smith, and Davis. That’s three players for one position. That number grows to four when you look at Jose Martinez, who was signed to a minor league deal.
The Mets unwillingness to move one of those players this offseason has created a very real problem with this roster. Unless it is all a smokescreen, which it very well might, the actual plan is to put three first baseman on the field everyday and put a left fielder in center. They then hope this plan which always fails doesn’t fail again this time.
For some reason, that is a Sandy Alderson tactic. In the early years of Citi Field, we saw him jam Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, and Daniel Murphy into the lineup. We also saw him try Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson in center rather than get a player who could actually go other there and handle the position on an everyday basis. At this point, you just wonder how much this was an accident and how much this is his actual plan.
Certainly, you can and should argue Alonso, Nimmo, and Smith need to play everyday. No one will argue with that proposition. However, they can’t do it all on the same roster. Center field is far too important of a defensive position.
You have to go back to 2012 and 2014 with the San Francisco Giants winning with Angel Pagan to find a team who won with a bad defensive center fielder. Before that, you have to go to Johnny Damon with the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Before that, there isn’t publicly available DRS information. All told, in this century, there is really just three seasons teams won without an at least decent center fielder.
If you are operating a baseball team, you can’t look at purposefully punt center field defense. It’s even worse by putting a first baseman next to the center fielder in left. Then, to make sure you’ve done all you can do to screw things up, you throw a first baseman at third in front of the third baseman in left. It’s ridiculous.
Really, there is no way the Mets can go forward with this roster to begin the season. They need to add an actual third baseman and an actual center fielder. If one of Alonso or Smith has to sit, so be it. That’s the position the Mets put themselves in. If you need to move one of them in a deal to address a need, do it, but only so long as it is a good deal.
All told, it is poor planning and team building to purposefully put out a terrible defensive outfield. We saw in 2020 how much that can completely derail a season. We’ve seen it other times in Mets history. Whether or not there is a DH, the Mets still need to find everyday players at third and center.
So, the Mets didn’t get Trevor Bauer. Instead, Bauer went to his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers for what might’ve been less money. Despite Bauer really not being better than the Mets fifth best starter, the over the top criticism started:
— Sal Licata (@sal_licata) February 5, 2021
Welcome back, @Mets.
— Brian Monzo (@BMonzoRadio) February 5, 2021
This is just scratching the surface of what we find at the bottom of the barrel. For their sake, you hope this is just schtick because these are purely horrid opinions.
Yes, we all know the Mets didn’t get Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, or George Springer. Instead, they got better players and a much deeper roster. In fact, just look at who they signed/acquired so far this offseason:
- Francisco Lindor
- Carlos Carrasco
- Marcus Stroman
- James McCann
- Trevor May
- Sam McWilliams
- Aaron Loup
- Joey Lucchesi
- Jordan Yamamoto
We’ve also just learned with the Bauer bidding the Mets have at least $40 million they can invest in the 2021 team. It can also be used to extend players like Michael Conforto, Lindor, Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard.
If someone can take a look at that and what the Mets can still do, and say to you this is the same old Wilpon run Mets, they’re either lying, trying to get attention, think you’re gullible, have no idea what they’re talking about, or some mixture of these.
Make no mistake, this has been a phenomenal offseason. Yes, we can quibble with a move or two, but in the end, calling this anything but a success is dumb. Really, the people pushing these narratives really know better.
Well, at least they should. They should because it’s absurd to think adding a top five player in the game on Lindor on top of everything else they did is disappointing or a failure. It’s really beyond absurd.
This has been nothing short of a great offseason. Arguably, it’s among if not the best the Mets have ever had.
This wasn’t the best week for the New New York Mets regime. Jared Porter’s text messages surfaced, and he had to be fired.
George Springer signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. Brad Hand signed with the Washington Nationals. The New York Yankees obtained Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates without having to part with a huge prospect cost.
Believe it or not, these has actually caused some anxiety and consternation amongst Mets fans.
Bauer or Bust for the Mets
— Sal Licata (@sal_licata) January 25, 2021
Brutal…Mets needed to sign him https://t.co/oRIsNtgBZV
— Evan Roberts (@EvanRobertsWFAN) January 25, 2021
Seeing Mets fans beginning to lose their minds, it’s clear they’re forgetting just how vastly improved this Mets team is.
After all, the Mets obtained Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. With that, in one fell swoop the Mets got the best player and pitcher any team will obtain this offseason.
Keep in mind, many thought the 2020 Mets were a postseason team, and this team has made major upgrades:
- SP Rick Porcello -> Carlos Carrasco
- SP Michael Wacha -> Marcus Stroman
- RP Jared Hughes -> Trevor May
- C Wilson Ramos -> James McCann
- Andres Gimenez/Amed Rosario -> Francisco Lindor
Also, for the all the claims the Mets aren’t spending, people are ignoring just how much the Mets have already invested in the 2021 team. To date, the Mets have already added $61.3 million to the payroll.
Are people going to claim the Mets are being cheap when they’ve added what amounts to the Tampa Bay Rays entire payroll already? Consider that’s before the Mets are even done.
At the time no one say the Lindor trade happening. It went from rumored to confirmed in about an hour. Who knows what else is on the horizon.
Before jumping the gun and lambasting this front office like it’s one which has been run by the Wilpons, look at what they’re already done. Take time to realize they’re not done building this team.
There may come a time to criticize them, but it’s not today. It’s not when the Blue Jays gave Springer a way over the top contract, the Nationals had a closer job to offer the Mets didn’t, and the Yankees rolled the dice on a pitcher who has had two Tommy John surgeries.
Things have already improved immensely under Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson, and they will continue to get better.
The New York Mets made a bit of a surprise signing when they agreed to terms with Jose Martinez on a one year split contract. With the signing of Martinez, it led many to wonder why the Mets signed him, and there were explanations:
The Mets' signing of Jose Martinez feels like an educated guess by the team that in the end, there will be a universal DH negotiated for the 2021 season.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 14, 2021
The Mets have Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso both battling for first base (again). They have already stated they prefer not to put Smith in LF. They also said the institution of the DH could be the impetus to sign a George Springer.
Looking at the respective numbers, you’re not going to bat Martinez over Smith or Alonso. In fact, based upon last year, the Mets aren’t likely to bat Martinez over J.D. Davis.
So, what’s happening here?
Well, some people desperately want there to be a universal DH, and as such, they will use anything to push the narrative. They’ll do it despite their already being an agreement for no universal DH and MLB informing teams there will be no universal DH in 2021.
Now, things change. Perhaps, there will be a new agreement for the universal DH on the eve of the season. We could see the Mets make some deals or see injuries which will elevate Martinez to the DH role.
However, make no mistake. The Mets didn’t sign Martinez to be their DH. The Mets are too well stocked at that position. They’re not benching better players and hitters for Martinez.
No, the Mets signed Martinez as needed depth. He could be a right-handed pinch hitter. He could be in the minors waiting for a trade or injury. It’s quite possible the Mets are working on some things, and they wanted Martinez as an insurance policy to permit them to make a deal.
There are many possible reasons the Mets signed Martinez. You can’t rule any of them out. Well, that’s not true. You can rule out the Mets signing Martinez as the DH.