Justin Turner

Justin Turner Flat Out Better Than Mets Third Basemen Since 2014

After the 2013 season, the New York Mets non-tendered Justin Turner for what is still inexplicable reasons. By any measure, it was a mistake to part with a player who was quality and versatile infield depth.

What we couldn’t have fully appreciated was just how much of a giant mistake it was. Really, it was an off the charts horrendous decision.

Since 2014, Turner was an All-Star, NLCS MVP, and part of the 2020 World Series champion Dodgers. While second baseman Daniel Murphy was the NLCS MVP the preceding season, no Mets third baseman accomplished these feats.

Since 2014, Turner has a 141 wRC+, 22 DRS, and a 26.6 WAR.

As a group, Mets third basemen have collectively amassed a 103 wRC+, -57 DRS, and a 17.9 WAR.

Turner has outhit, outfielded, and was just a flat out better player than anything the Mets put out on the field since he left the team. Certainly, that’s not something we ever expected from a team who had David Wright.

No one, and I repeat, no one should have realistically believed Turner would be far superior to Wright. That was absurd then. However, that wasn’t the point.

The Mets were making the claim Turner’s late season improvements weren’t of any value. They were claiming Eric Campbell was a better player. Even in 2013, those were both dubious claims.

With that, the Mets parted on cheap depth. They parted with a player on the cusp of a huge breakout. They parted with a difference maker.

Now, they’re in a position where Turner is STILL a massively better option than what the Mets have in-house. It makes you wonder if the Mets now realize this and try to bring him back, or if they’re going to keep going down this same path.

Mets Still Need A Third Baseman

Back to our regularly scheduled programming, the New York Mets still do not have a third baseman for the 2021 season. With the Nolan Arenado trade their options are dwindling.

We are not sure as to the realistic chances are of obtaining either Kris Bryant or Eugenio Suarez in a trade. We also know Justin Turner is seeking too many years, and his preference is to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Mets aren’t in on Kolten Wong, and there aren’t any more free agent third base options available. The end result is the Mets running out of time and options to fulfill their massive third base vacancy.

And yes, it’s a massive vacancy as J.D. Davis has proven wholly incapable of playing that or any other defensive position. As we saw last year, without a juiced ball or overly inflated BABIP, he’s not worth playing on an everyday basis.

The end result of all of this means Luis Guillorme is probably the Mets best bet. He’s shown he can be a good everyday option at second base. While some may question his bat still, his defense there is elite and can carry his offense.

This means Jeff McNeil moves to third. Last year aside, he’s proven he can play the position, and as we know, his bat will play anywhere.

If that’s the plan, it’s a good plan. The only problem is the Mets don’t have the depth to cast Guillorme in a starting role. That’s obviously not his fault, and being fair, that shouldn’t preclude him from getting the starting position he’s earned.

Overall, the Mets are nearing Spring Training, and there’s no obvious third base plan. They don’t have the internal depth, and there are very few external options available.

All told, the Mets still have a lot of work to do.

Where Were Mets On Nolan Arenado?

There are reasons to not obtain Nolan Arenado. There’s the contract and maybe some concern about the shoulder. Mostly, it was a no trade clause allowing Arenado to pick his next destination.

Taking all that into account, you can understand why Arenado wasn’t going to become a New York Met. However, seeing the trade, you do have to question where exactly the Mets were in the trade discussions.

Really, not only did the Rockies kick in $50 million for the future Hall of Famer, but they also got an extremely underwhelming prospect return:

Even with Brodie Van Wagenen doing all he can to destroy the farm system through his sheer incompetence, the Mets easily could’ve beaten that package. That goes double when you consider the Mets had some Major League pieces which they could’ve included.

It’s very possible Arenado didn’t want to play in New York. He certainly wouldn’t be the first, and he won’t be the last. However, on that note, there have been others to think that only to come to New York and absolutely love it.

You would at least hope if the Mets had the opportunity to speak to Arenado, they could’ve sold him on the idea. Maybe they did, and he wasn’t persuaded.

However, unlike Ken Griffey, Jr., this doesn’t quite seem to be the case as the Mets weren’t among the purported final teams pushing to obtain Arenado. It does seem like whatever the reason, the Mets were not pushing for the superstar.

Whatever the reason, the Mets need a third baseman. If the Mets get Kris Bryant or sign Justin Turner, then the Mets missing out on Arenado isn’t a big deal. That said, if the Mets don’t eventually fill this massive hole at third base, they will have to answer questions how they couldn’t beat that dreadful package from the Cardinals.

For now, the Mets, who have so far had an incredible offseason, deserve the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully, we won’t have to revisit this at any point before, during, or after the 2021 season.

Congratulations Daniel Murphy On A Terrific Career

Former New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has announced his retirement after 12 years. For seven of those years, he established himself as a Mets great.

When talking about Murphy’s career, first and foremost is the 2015 postseason. That postseason was not only the highlight of his career, it was also the greatest postseason performance we’ve ever seen from a Mets player with him becoming the first ever player to homer in six straight postseason games:

Part of that run was arguably the greatest game a Mets player has ever had. In Game 5 of the NLDS, Murphy went from first to third on a walk allowing him to score on a sacrifice fly, and he’d hit what proved to be a series winning homer off Zack Greinke.

Lost in that great run was the pitchers Murphy homered against. He wasn’t beating relievers or fifth starters. No, he was dominating Cy Young and postseason greats winners like Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, and Jon Lester.

That was the start of Murphy raising his game to become an All-Star MVP caliber player. Of course, that would come against the Mets in a decision Sandy Alderson admitted was a mistake.

While we focus on those years, Murphy was more than that. He was a 2014 All-Star. He was a rookie who helped keep the 2008 Mets alive. He was the first LF in Citi Field history, and he’d be the first Mets player to lead the team in homers in a season at Citi Field.

He’s third all-time in Mets history in doubles. He’s one of only three Mets second basemen to be an All-Star. He’s the only homegrown Mets second baseman to make multiple All-Star teams.

By WAR, he’s the second best Mets second baseman in team history. He’s the fourth best middle infielder. By what we saw in 2008 and 2015, he’s arguably the most clutch player in Mets history.

Now, he’s not just a former Met, he’s a former MLB player. He can now take time to spend with his family. As we found out in 2014, that was his priority as he missed the early part of the season to be with his wife who just gave birth to their first child.

On a personal note, I not only appreciated Murphy for his play on the field, but his kindness to me. When he found out my wife was pregnant, both he and Justin Turner helped get a Mets onsie autographed for my son. He also gave me a ball from Citi Field to teach my son how to post baseball.

In the end, congratulations on a remarkable career, Daniel Murphy. You gave us a great ride in 2015, and you gave us Mets fans plenty of moments we’ll never forget.

Mets May Want To Look At Evan Longoria As Backup Plan

One moment, Evan Longoria is a budding superstar. The next, Longoria is a player on an onerous contract the San Francisco Giants wish they didn’t obtain from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Putting that aside, let’s take a look at his level of production since joining the Giants.

Since 2018, Longoria has a 94 wRC+ and a 12 DRS. While his wRC+ is below average and ranks just 20th among qualified players, his DRS is third best in the majors over this time span. Overall, his 4.9 bWAR and 3.3 fWAR makes him a top 20 third baseman in the league.

Make no mistake, the offense is quite poor. However, part of that could be Oracle Park which is a nightmare for right-handed hitters. Longoria has been no exception.

In his career, Longoria is a .242/.293/.388 hitter at Oracle Park. That’s a paltry 83 wRC+. By and large, at best that’s the production of a Four-A player. More likely, that’s a player who is not even that good.

However, that’s only part of the story. Since joining the Giants, Longoria has been a .259/.314/.466 hitter, which equates to a 103 wRC+. By no means is that outstanding, but it’s a significant improvement over his home stats.

With Longoria’s glove, you can justify a 103 wRC+ at third. Assuming that’s the level of production you can get from him, the question turn becomes if it’s worth trading for him.

Before prejudging, there’s an important consideration. The third base market is absolutely barren. Right now, it’s really just Justin Turner, who is much more likely than not to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

If Turner won’t come to the Mets, Longoria should be on the table, at least in concept. Yes, it would be preferable to sign Kolten Wong and move Jeff McNeil back to third.

Beyond that, the Mets need a Plan C. No, Longoria isn’t preferable, but he’s a viable option. At a minimum, he’s a very good glove you can stick at third to help the pitching.

Perhaps, being removed from Oracle Park will awaken his bat. For what it’s worth, the team would probably look to have him hit no higher than seventh.

Essentially, what the Mets would be hoping for is the 2006 season Jose Valentin provided. Plug Longoria into a much better lineup, move him down the order, and just let him along for the ride.

At one year $14.7 million, he’s not going to require anything of value in return. Even then, the San Francisco Giants might eat salary to move him. Maybe they’ll take back a similarly bad contract in Jeurys Familia and call it a done deal.

If Longoria isn’t going to cost anything but money, he’s worth pursuing. The third base free agent market is barren, and at a minimum, the Mets would get excellent defense. Yes, explore other options more heavily, but don’t forget to come back to this one.

Jeff McNeil May Need To Be Mets 2021 Third Baseman

With Ha-Seong Kim signing with the San Diego Padres, the New York Mets ability to obtain a third baseman grew exponentially more difficult. That’s not to say there aren’t options.

Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant remain on the trade bloc. Of course, pulling the trigger on a deal for either player is extraordinarily difficult due to the damage Brodie Van Wagenen inflicted on the Mets farm system.

Looking at the remaining free agent third base market, Justin Turner is the only everyday third baseman available. There are many obstacles with him including his age and desire to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This leaves the Mets going all-in on the aforementioned trade options or getting creative.

The creative options involve the Mets addressing second base. That could be signing DJ LeMahieu, or better yet, Kolten Wong. Luis Guillorme could be given the starting second base job he’s more than earned, or the team could go with Andres Gimenez there with Amed Rosario back at short.

These and other options are on the table so long as the Mets believe they can entrust the third base job to Jeff McNeil.

Now, last year, the Mets gave up on McNeil at third rather quickly. There were many reasons why including J.D. Davis‘ ineptitude in left. Of course, Davis was equally inept at third (again) causing this issue.

The other reason why the Mets moved McNeil from third was McNeil struggled there. In 75.0 innings, he had a -2 OAA and a 0 DRS. Part of the issue was he struggled with his throws.

This should give everyone pause, but it should be remembered 75.0 innings is the epitome of a small sample size. Another issue is the bizarre nature of the 2020 season. Taking all that into account, we shouldn’t overreact to McNeil’s third base defense.

Entering last season, McNeil had a career 3 OAA and 5 DRS at third. Of note, that was still a small sample size with his having played 173.1 innings over the span of two years.

However, while he’s doesn’t have extensive third base experience in the majors, he played over a thousand innings at third in the minors. This leaves the impression the Mets believe he can handle the position.

Well, maybe. In Sandy Alderson’s first Mets stint, he was reluctant to call-up McNeil saying he wasn’t a third baseman. When Robinson Cano was suspended, Alderson said third was “up in the air.” All told, in typical Alderson fashion, we’re still not quite sure what he thinks.

Whatever the case, McNeil is easily the best in-house option. As the options for third dry up and look all the more unattainable, he increasingly becomes the only option there leaving the Mets to replace Cano at second with someone else.

At least with second, there are plenty of very good options remaining. Unfortunately, McNeil is probably not one of those options as the Mets could very well need him at third.

Ha-Seong Kim Intriguing Third Base Option For Mets

When it comes to players from other leagues, you can never be too sure how well their skills and stats translate. That is partially the result of MLB being that much better than the other leagues.

Even no doubt candidates like Hideki Matsui put up lesser numbers in MLB. That said, Matsui was a very good player who was a two time All-Star and World Series MVP.

However, that’s Japan. The KBO doesn’t have as many success stories partially because they haven’t sent over as many players. That said, you can see some examples where KBO players played well after coming overseas.

Jung-Ho Kang had a 126 OPS+ in his first two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates before his legal troubles. Eric Thames went to the KBO to resurrect his career, and it worked. In his first three seasons back in the majors, he had a 118 OPS+.

Looking at these and all foreign players, there is one guiding principle. If you’re a talented player, you will succeed in the majors. That brings us to Ha-Seong Kim.

Kim has been great in his seven seasons hitting .294/.373/.493. Using ZiPs, Dan Symborski of Fangraphs projects Kim to hit .274/.373/.477 with 23 homers and 82 RBI. In terms of advanced stats, Kim protects to have a 117 OPS+ and 3.8 fWAR.

Now, this is where Kim’s position would matter a great deal. At shortstop, he’d be a potential top five hitter in the league. At third, he’s just middle of the pack to possibly lower.

Lost in that are two things. First and foremost, it’s a projection. Second and perhaps more importantly, Kim will be 26 next year meaning he’s about to enter his prime and potentially put up bigger numbers.

Another important consideration is the bat is just part of the equation. His defense is a factor as well.

Kim won back-to-back Gold Gloves at shortstop. He didn’t repeat in 2020, but part of the reason why was his team signed Addison Russell. With Russell at short, Kim moved to third where he played well.

Looking at the complete picture. Kim looks like he’ll be an above-average hitter, and at third, he could be an above-average defender. All-in-all, that makes a good baseball player who could help the Mets significantly.

Keep in mind, J.D. Davis has twice proven he can’t play the position, and there are significant question marks about Jeff McNeil‘s ability to handle the position on a daily basis. Luis Guillorme and Amed Rosario are other options, but their bats may not play well there.

Looking at free agency, Justin Turner is the best MLB option. The problem there is he’s 36 and not guaranteed to want to move back east. On the trade market, there’s Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant, but they’ll be difficult to obtain with the way Brodie Van Wagenen needlessly ravaged the farm system.

That brings us back to Kim. Arguably, there’s no free agent with his upside or ability to help the Mets branch out to another market. He could fit very well into the lineup and make the Mets significantly improved defensively. While he may not be a sure get to see his skills translate well, we’ve seen other KBO players successfully make the jump, and we see Kim is immensely talented.

All told, you can see why the Mets are interested. Hopefully, they can get a deal done and lock down third base for the next 5-10 years.

Mets Desperately Need A New Third Baseman With Few Free Agent Options

The New York Mets have a number of needs this offseason, and they’re oft discussed. However, the biggest one that’s overlooked is the giant hole at third base.

Simply put, the Mets cannot afford to put J.D. Davis there again. He’s been terrible at the position in his career, and there’s really no reason to expect any different in 2021.

In his career, Davis has a -19 DRS and -5 OAA in 770.0 MLB innings. With his posting a -8 DRS and -3 OAA at the position in 2020, it would appear his skills are regressing instead of progressing. When you break it down, he’s no more than a 1B/DH thereby leaving the Mets searching for a third baseman.

That’s a spot which likely would’ve gone to Jeff McNeil, who had his own issues at third. However, with Robinson Cano‘s suspension, it would seem McNeil is the everyday second baseman. Accordingly, the Mets will have to look outside the organization to fulfill their third base vacancy.

That is problematic because the options available aren’t great.

As previously addressed, former Met Justin Turner is probably the best option. There are underlying issues with Turner including his age, and whether he’d be willing to return to Queens.

After Turner, one popular name in some circles is DJ LeMahieu. There are a number of reasons to be skeptical of LeMahieu including his stats being Yankee Stadium fueled, his price tag, and his declining defense. There’s also the issue of his not actually being a third baseman even if he can reasonably be expected to transition.

After those two, it’s a pretty severe drop-off. Former Mets Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are probably the next best options, but at this point in their careers, they’re best served being utility players.

Of course all of this depends upon your impression of Ha-Seong Kim. The Kiwoom Heros of the KBO have posted him. With that, he really looks to be the first KBO shortstop entering his prime to come to the MLB.

MLB Trade Rumors calls Kim a “unicorn given his blend of age, power, speed and defensive aptitude at a premium position.”

While Kim is a shortstop, he’s split time between short and third. It will be interesting to see how well he could play in the majors. That said, he’s awfully tantalizing in a very shallow free agent group.

In fact, given Turner’s age and LeMahieu’s many question marks, Kim may be the best option available. In fact, he could be the only real option available to the Mets.

With that being the case, the Mets are in a very difficult situation. They’re either looking to overpay Turner or LeMahieu to get them to come to a team they don’t necessarily want to join, or they’re rolling the dice on Kim. After that, it’s either an internal option or a trade, which is much easier said than done.

Mets Should Pursue Gary Sanchez

When Steve Cohen had his introductory press conference, he named the Los Angeles Dodgers as a model organization. What’s interesting about the Dodgers is how they got to this point.

While the focus has been on their spending might and analytics, there’s another thing they’ve done extraordinarily well. That’s find the player whose career hasn’t quite planned out, acquire him, and turn him into a good everyday player.

Mets fans are well acquainted with Justin Turner, but it goes beyond him. There’s also players like Max Muncy and Chris Taylor. Much of the current Dodgers run has been fueled by identifying cast offs and utility players and making them good everyday players.

That brings us to Gary Sanchez.

According to reports the once future superstar is on the trade bloc. That’s understandable considering two of his last three seasons have been below league average at the plate, his production has dropped off considerably since 2017, and he effectively lost his job to Kyle Higashioka this postseason.

Seeing all that has happened, the Yankees probably should investigate moving on from Sanchez. That goes double considering the free agents available. In doing that, the Yankees are risking a catcher entering his prime taking off with another team.

We’ve seen Sanchez show flashes of greatness. Over his first two seasons, he hit .283/.353/.567 (138 OPS+). In 2018, he had a strong framing season. He’s always had a strong arm with great pop times. However, these are just flashes.

Behind that is the passed balls and the extremely poor framing numbers for most of his career. When it looks like he’s improved one part of his game, the rest of it suffers.

For example, in 2019, Fangraphs noted Sanchez stopped allowing passed balls only for his framing to take a dive. This year, Sanchez did things to improve his framing only for him to suffer a career worst season at the plate.

How you look at Sanchez depends upon your worldview. If you’re glass half-empty, you see a guy who will never put it together. If you’re glass half-full, you see a 27 year old making improvements to his game and is poised for a huge breakout season at some point over the next 2-3 years.

If you have a franchise truly investing in analytics and player development, you should probably jump at the chance to obtain Sanchez. He’s one of the most purely talented players in the game, he’s shown the ability and willingness to address his deficiencies, and he’s likely going to come at a cheap cost.

If you obtain him, you could have a potential All-Star. His floor right now is backup and power bar off the bench. That’s not a bad thing to ever have. If you’re a forward thinking organization maybe you look to pair Sanchez with a Yadier Molina who could mentor him and help him get the most out of his abilities.

If you lose out on J.T. Realmuto and James McCann in free agency, this is an interesting Plan B or C. If you have the right organization in terms of player development, this could be the best option of all.

Blame MLB For Justin Turner Being On The Field Celebrating

Before Game 6 of the World Series, Justin Turner had an inconclusive COVID19 test. Instead of insisting he pass a test before being allowed to be at Globe Life Field, MLB permitted Turner to play in Game 6.

Turner showed up at the ballpark, and he did his pregame routine. He was in the dugout and on the field without a mask. Even with the COVID19 test pending, MLB did not mandate Turner wear a mask. Even if they did, their efforts were completely ineffective.

The test results confirming Turner tested positive for COVID19 came during the second inning. Despite having that information, MLB permitted Turner to play through the seventh inning. It was not until the top of the eighth that he was removed from the game.

In that time, Turner had three plate appearances. The ball went around the horn after seven strikeouts. Turner made two defensive plays. He was in the dugout and on the field without a mask.

By that time, the damage was quite possibly already done. And that’s just what we know from seeing him play in the game. We also don’t know what contact he had with Dodgers players and personnel before Game 6.

Somehow despite Turner being in the MLB bubble, he contracted COVID19. After there was suspicion of his being infected, MLB did NOTHING to prevent him from spreading it. In fact, even knowing about the risk of potentially spreading the disease, he was allowed in that ballpark to play in that game.

Was Turner selfish for going out to celebrate with his teammates with the full knowledge he was infected? Absolutely. There is no debating that.

However, he already had more than enough contact with the Dodgers to spread COVID19 before that celebration. The reason why that was possible was MLB let him play and then took their time before removing him from the game. And aside from that, MLB personnel and security completely failed to remove Turner from the ballpark.

So, in the end, if you want to blame anyone, you first need to blame MLB for knowingly exposing players, coaches, and umpires to COVID19. After that, we can and should discuss Turner’s own actions.