With yesterday being Black Friday, people ran out to stores and websites looking for deals, and today, they’re assessing what they got and still need to get. Being Mets fans, we expect the team to spend most of the offseason diving through the discount bins.
To a certain extent, every team needs to do that. The player signed to a minor league deal or on the cheap emerges to be much better than anyone could’ve reasonably expected. Many times, when that happens, your team takes it to the next level. In honor of Black Friday, here are some of the best bargain signings the Mets have made in their history.
For this list, we are only looking at players signed to minor league deals, and as this is the Mets we are talking about, it’s being run on Small Business Saturday.
C Todd Pratt – he went from delivering Dominos to being signed to a minor league deal with the Mets. Three years later, Pratt would hit a walk-off homer off of Matt Mantei clinching the first NLDS in team history.
1B James Loney – in 2016, the Mets were left without a first baseman due to Lucas Duda‘s back injury as well as a host of other injuries on the team. Loney would step in and help the team hitting .305/.367/.463 over his first 22 games to help keep that team afloat and make that push for the Wild Card.
2B Jose Valentin – the Mets signed Valentin to be veteran depth only for him to fill the vacuum left at second base by Anderson Hernandez‘s offensive struggles and Kazuo Matsui‘s injuries. In addition to his 3.6 WAR in 2006, he would hit two homers in the NL East clincher.
3B Matt Franco – signed a minor league deal with the Mets entering the 1996 season. He’d emerge as a good pinch hitter who hit a game winning single off Mariano Rivera clinching the Mets first series win in the Subway Series.
SS Omar Quintanilla – the Mets let Jose Reyes go due to a mixture of the Madoff scandal and the belief Ruben Tejada was ready to be the every day shortstop. When Tejada wasn’t Quintanilla was a pleasant surprise with a career year before being traded for cash considerations.
LF Melvin Mora – Mora signed a minor league deal coming out of Japan. In the 162nd game of the 1999 season, he scored on a wild pitch enduring the playoff game. In the Grand Slam Single game, he hit the cut off man leading to Keith Lockhart getting cut down at the plate. In that postseason, he hit .400/.500/.600.
CF Endy Chavez – signed as a free agent prior to the 2006 season, a season where he’d have the greatest catch in NLCS history. He’d also have other defensive gems and game winning bunts in his Mets career.
RF Marlon Byrd – back in the cavernous Citi Field days, Byrd came to the Mets on a minor league deal in 2013 and hit 21 homers before getting traded to the Pirates in a deal which netted Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.
RP Pedro Feliciano – soon dubbed Perpetual Pedro due to his rubber arm, he’d be a key piece of a great 2006 bullpen, and he’d emerge as the best LOOGY in franchise history.
SP R.A. Dickey – this is the gold standard. Dickey was signed to a minor league deal in 2009, and a few short seasons later, he would become the biggest surprise Cy Young winner in Major League history. The Mets then selling high on him and getting Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud for him makes signing Dickey all the more legendary.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were staring down a 2-1 series deficit with Max Scherzer set to take the mound in Game 4. With Patrick Corbin on the mound, the Dodgers were in serious trouble. That’s when they put together a huge two out rally capped off by a Justin Turner homer effectively putting the game out of reach:
— #BeatTheNats (@OCDodgerFans) October 7, 2019
This was just the latest big hit from Turner. In his postseason career, he is hitting .316/.414/.518. That includes him being named the 2017 NLCS co-MVP. What is interesting is that wasn’t his best postseason series. In fact, his best postseason series was the 2015 NLDS against the Mets where he hit .526/.550/.842.
When we see the success of players like Turner, Collin McHugh, Hansel Robles, and others, it presents an opportunity to look at the Mets decision making process. We should be looking at why the Mets kept players who did not produce at all over them. We should be asking why these players found success at these levels away from the Mets that they did not here.
Instead, we see the oddest position emerge. Instead of an analysis, we see something akin to good for these players, and that these players could not have had that success here. For some reason, that is offered as a defense of the Mets and not a condemnation.
We can dig deeper into each player and see why they did or did not succeed. With McHugh, he’s with the Astros organization who have found a way of working with pitchers in terms of sequencing and grips to get the most of of pitchers. Robles was really just a matter of a team being more judicious in their use of him.
As for Turner, this was the beginning of a process which began with his working with Marlon Byrd during the 2013 season. Rather than see where that could lead, the Mets non-tendered him over what was $1 million. Turner would go off to the Dodgers where he’s been a very good player.
Even if Turner would not have had the opportunity to play and prove himself in 2014, he would have in 2015 when David Wright succumbed to spinal stenosis. However, that is besides the point. The point is Turner would have at least been a good utility player who still had upside even if he couldn’t play everyday.
That also overlooks the core problem here. The Mets have had an ability to find talented players, and they have found a way to develop that talent. What they haven’t done is find a way to be patient with that talent, and eventually they make penny wise pound foolish decisions. As the case with Travis d’Arnaud, we’ve seen rage cutting decisions.
In the end, saying a player could not have succeeded with the Mets is far from a defense of the team. Rather, it is perhaps the harshest criticism you could levy upon the team.
With Jacob deGrom receiving his contract extension, it appears he is going to be a Mets pitcher during his prime, and it sets the stage for him to join David Wright and Ed Kranepool as Mets for life. With that being the bulk of the list, there is a host of Mets players who got away. The most famous of which was Tom Seaver who headlined the Midnight Massacre. Putting Seaver aside, the Mets bloggers discussed those players who got away:
Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)
Honestly in recent memory John Olerud comes to mind. He had one of the best pure swings I can remember. Other than that I guess you have to bring up Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner, but who saw those coming?
Daniel Murphy is the most recent Met to have gotten away. And, I’ve heard there are people in the front office who would like a mulligan on that one as well. Having him in 2016 and 2017 would’ve been huge, and not having him kill the Mets in DC would have been huge too.
Allison McCague (Amazin’ Avenue)
To me the most egregious example of a Met getting away is Justin Turner, simply by virtue of how little it would have cost to keep him. Of course, it was impossible to know that he would put up the numbers he did after leaving the Mets, but unlike the Murphy situation where it was a choice not to sign the player as a free agent, they non-tendered a perfectly serviceable utility man just because they didn’t want to pay him and trashed his character on the way out for good measure. I think a dark horse candidate in this conversation, however, would be Collin McHugh, who changed his approach after joining the Astros by throwing his fastball less often and his off-speed pitches more often to much greater success than he ever had as a Met. And now he remains a key piece in the Astros bullpen as they head into another season where they will likely make a push for the postseason.
I’ll give you Justin Turner for sure. What irks me is he’s a good guy and even in the form he was in when he was here, was a valuable piece for the solution. That he evolved thanks to the tutelage of Marlon Byrd while he was here makes it even worse, since this version of Justin Turner would‘ve unquestionably transformed the Mets.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
Olerud; he was a far superior player to Todd Zeile. Just look at his seasons 2000-02; think he would have helped? In my opinion, if Mets have Olerud, they win 2000 World Series. My God, remember the Zeile farewell tour? Infamnia!
Tim Ryder (MMO)
I’m gonna hesitantly go with Melvin Mora. The guy he got traded away for, Mike Bordick, was a fine pickup and helped that 2000 team get over the hump, no doubt. But Mora went on to have a solid little career and Bordick was back in Baltimore via free agency the following season.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
The Mets let 18-year-old Paul Blair go to the Orioles in the minor league draft of 1962. Blair played 18 seasons in the majors, winning eight Gold Gloves as the premier AL center fielder of his generation.
Then again, had the Mets kept Blair, they wouldn’t have needed to trade for Tommie Agee prior to 1968, and Agee robbed Blair in the 1969 Series, so all’s well that ended well, perhaps.
Pete McCarthy (OABT)
I thought Nolan Ryan was the only answer to this question, but there are some fun ones in here. Yay Mets!
Far be it from me to disagree with you Pete but Ryan wanted out as much as the Mets were frustrated with him. It wasn’t so much that they traded Ryan and he became a Hall of Famer after it’s what they traded him for.
Scott Kazmir would like a word.
There is always going to be a part of me who wonders what would have happened if the Mets kept Darryl Strawberry. He would have one good year in Los Angeles before everything fell apart for both him and the Mets. For those who forget, the Mets opted to replace him with Vince Coleman, who was detestable as a Met, and it lead to a series of poor decisions which built as bad and unlikable a Mets team as we have ever seen. For Strawberry, his personal problems were far worse than anything the Mets encountered.
Looking at everything, there are a number of mistakes like trading Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga, but that at least indirectly led to the team signing Robin Ventura. Murphy leaving transferred the balance of power back to the Nationals.
But overall, the one which comes to mind right now is Matt Harvey. For Harvey, it was more than trading him for Devin Mesoraco. It was everything. The 2013 version looked like future Hall of Fame. The 2015 version looked like a staff ace. The ramifications of that 2015 season were far reaching, and we never saw Harvey return, literally and figuratively.
Before you go away from this piece, please sure you click on the links and visit the sites of those who have taken their time to contribute to this roundtable.
Also, a very special congratulations to Pete McCarthy and his wife on the birth of their baby girl!
Right now, the Mets starting outfield is likely Michael Conforto–Juan Lagares–Brandon Nimmo. Now, there is every reason to believe that could be a good outfield. Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League last year, and Conforto returned to his All-Star form at the close of the season. There are reasons to question Lagares’ bat, but when he plays, he is a Gold Glove outfielder.
The Mets have every reason to believe that when they play this trio they are putting a winning team on the field. Their problem is what happens when they don’t play.
Right now, the first man up is Keon Broxton. Over the last two years, Broxton has hit .213/.296/.419 with an 85 OPS+ over the past two years. While he did post excellent 11 DRS in just 134.1 innings last year, he was a -7 DRS in his only full season in center. He does have elite speed, which suggests he can be a plus defender next year, but there is nothing to suggest he can hit at all.
The Mets are also betting on Jeff McNeil in the outfield. Considering his sprint speed and his baseball IQ, there is every reason to believe he can play out there. However, there is a question about whether he can hit like he did last year. Lost in his excellent numbers was the fact McNeil had a 5.6 percent walk rate and a .359 BABIP. Those types of numbers are only sustainable if your name is Ichiro Suzuki.
Now, it should be noted it is perfectly reasonable to expect McNeil to be a quality Major League bench player, and he has shown you can trust him to play long stretches of time. If he is pressed into duty, the Mets and Mets fans should feel comfortable. However, what should bother everyone is the complete lack of depth behind him.
With respect to him, the reason why you play him in the outfield is because he has a strong arm, and there really isn’t room for him in the infield. However, it is not a long term or even a short term solution as he is slow footed making his play out there a bad idea. For Mets fans, you may assume this refers to Smith because of what you saw with him last year. It is, but the same statements also apply to Davis.
As for Davis, it should also be noted he has hit .190/.260/.321 in 444 Major League plate appearances. It should be noted that is worse than the .210/.259/.406 in 332 Major League plate appearances which has caused Mets fans to become frustrated with and sour on Smith. Put another way, if you don’t believe in Smith, you should not be believing in Davis, at least not as an outfielder.
After this group, you have to actually consider Tim Tebow. Sadly, that’s not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but only to the extent where the Mets could actually be in a position to be forced to consider him.
When you are discussing players like Byrd and Blanco, and when Tebow even enters the discussion, it is clear the Mets outfield depth is completely lacking. Sure, we can believe in McNeil while liking Broxton’s defense, but in the end, the Mets don’t have enough depth across the outfield.
This all needs to be considered when Brodie Van Wagenen says the outfield isn’t a priority. When actually analyzing the options, you see just how wrong he is, and it’s another reason why the Mets need to puruse Bryce Harper or even A.J. Pollock. At this point, the Mets should also be looking at Adam Jones, Joc Pederson, or Ben Zobrist.
Really, just anything because what’s in place is not going to cut it.
After the 2013 season, the Mets made the decision to non-tender Justin Turner. That is something important to remember with all the issues with David Wright, the failure that was the 2017 season, and with Turner joining Kirk Gibson as the only Dodger to hit a walk0ff postseason homer:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 16, 2017
It’s incredible to think it’s 29 years to the day of Gibson’s dramatic Game 1 home run off Dennis Eckersley. It’s also incredible to think the Mets had no use for Turner.
This is the point where everyone enters into some needless arguing. The defenders of Sandy Alderson will say Turner hit .280/.319/.385 with a 0.8 WAR in 2013 right before the Mets decided to non-tender him. The people upset with the move will point out how Turner worked with Marlon Byrd to help increase his launch angle. It should be noted that in September 2013, Turner hit .357/.357/.571.
It also should be noted Turner was first time arbitration eligible and due approximately $1 million. The Mets passed, and the Dodgers eventually gave it to him. Turner emerged as the everyday third baseman, and the Dodgers have won four straight division titles.
Overall, the argument boils down to this:
- Defenders point to past performance as justification
- Critics point to Turner’s production
Put that all aside and really ask what is the job of the General Manager. Is it for a General Manager to analyze past production to determine the future outlook of a player? Or is it to analyze a player and pay him based upon what is a reasonable expectation of future production?
Before answering the question, here’s just one more to ponder – Was it worth $1 million to find out if Turner’s September production was indicative of future success?
Before the last game of the season, Terry Collins told us all what we were expecting. He will not be returning as Mets manager. While unnecessary, he was magnanimous in announcing he was stepping aside and taking himself out of consideration for the managerial position with his contract expiring. The Mets rewarded him with how he’s handled himself in his seven years as manager and over these trying three days with a front office position.
In essence, Collins’ tenure with the Mets ended much in the way it started. The Mets were bad and injured. It was a circus around the team, and he was the face in front of the media left holding the bag. What we saw in all of those moments was Collins was human, which is something we don’t always see in managers.
Part of being human is being emotional. We’ve seen Collins run the gamut of emotions in those postgame press conferences. And yes, we’ve seen him cry. Perhaps none more so than when he had that gut wrenching decision to keep Johan Santana in the game and let him chase immortality. In his most prescient moment as a manger, Collins knew he could’ve effectively ended a great players’ career, and yet, he couldn’t just sit there and rob his player of his glory. In the end, that would be the defining characteristic in Collins’ tenure as manager.
He let Jose Reyes bunt for a single and take himself out of a game to claim the Mets first ever batting title. He left Santana in for that no-hitter. He initially let David Wright try to set his own schedule for when he could play until Wright all but forced Collins to be the adult. Through and through, he would stick by and defer to his players, including but not limited to sending Matt Harvey to pitch the ninth.
Until the very end, Collins had an undying belief in his players, especially his veteran players. It would be the source of much consternation among fans. This was on more highlighted than his usage of Michael Conforto. What was truly bizarre about Collins’ handling of Conforto wasn’t his not playing one of his most talented players, it was Collins had a penchant for developing players when he was interested.
In fact, that 2015 Mets team was full of players Collins developed. You can give credit to Dan Warthen, but Collins deserves credit for helping that staff develop. Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jeurys Familia all developed into dominating pitchers under Collins guidance.
But it wasn’t just the heralded pitchers. It may have taken some time, but Collins developed some other less heralded prospects into good Major League players. Collins helped make Jon Niese, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores into significant contributors to a pennant winner. It wasn’t just those players. Collins seemingly brought out the best in all of his players.
With the exception of Murphy, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who performed better after leaving the Mets. Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, R.A. Dickey, and Marlon Byrd regressed after leaving the Mets. Really, you can pick you player, and the chances are those players were not the same after playing for a different manager.
Because of his managing, Mets fans saw things they never thought they’d see. A knuckleball pitcher won 20 games and a Cy Young. A Mets player won a batting title. There was actually a Mets no-hitter. Despite the Madoff scandal, the Mets got back to a World Series.
Through all of our collective hand wringing over his managing, we have all tended to lose sight of that. Collins got the best out of his players. It’s why we saw the rise of that team in a dream like 2015 season, and it’s why the Mets fought back so fiercely in 2016 to make consecutive postseasons.
And in those moments, Collins celebrated with his team . . . and the fans. More than anyone who has ever been a part of the Mets, Collins treated the fans with respect. He returned their affection. That was no more apparent than that improbable run in 2015:
— Matt Dunn (@MattDunnSNY) October 22, 2015
It was more than the celebrating. Collins was there to console grieving widows and take time out for sick children who just had heart transplants. At his core, Collins is a good and decent man. It may be that part of his personality which allowed him to get the most out of his players. It helps you overlook some of his shortcomings.
Certainly, Collins has left behind many reliever careers in his wake. Names like Tim Byrdak and Scott Rice are just footnotes in Mets history, and that is because Collins over used his relievers. This was just one aspect of his poor managing. There were many times where he left you scratching your head. It was his managing that helped cost the Mets the 2015 World Series.
However, as noted, the Mets would not have gotten there if not for Collins. To that end, we all owe him a bit of gratitude for that magical season. We owe him gratitude and respect for how he has treated the fans.
He did that more than anyone too because he ends his career as the longest tenured manager in Mets history. When he was hired no one expected him to last that long. Yet, it happened, and despite all of his faults, the Mets were better off for his tenure. In the end, I respected him as a man, and I appreciated what he did for this franchise.
I wish him the best of luck, and I’ll miss him. My hope is that whoever replaces him is able to capture the best of the man. Those are certainly huge shoes that are not easily filled. Mostly, I hope he’s at peace at what was a good run with the Mets, and I wish him the best of luck in his new role.
Entering the trade deadline, the Mets had eight players who were impending free agents and another two who could be free agents if the Mets declined their 2018 options. Despite the Mets looking to get something in return for each of these prospects, they walked away from the trade deadline having made just two deals:
If you are going to question why the Mets didn’t do more look no further than their 48-55 record. Simply put, the teams in contention didn’t have much interest in the players who have led the Mets from potential World Series contenders to also-rans.
Sure, there will be people who point out it was not a robust market for position players. That’s true, but it did not prevent the White Sox from moving Melky Cabrera, the Athletics from moving Adam Rosales, or for that matter, the Mets from moving Duda. This brings about the question over why teams weren’t interested in the Mets pieces. For each player, there is a different answer:
RF/1B Jay Bruce
2017 Stats: .263/.326/.523, 19 2B, 27 HR, 72 RBI, 2.3 WAR
When assessing why teams aren’t interested in Bruce, one thing to keep in mind is team’s don’t covet home runs much in the same fashion they once did. Remember, Chris Carter went from winning the National League home run title last year to being a non-tendered free agent with little interest on the free agent market. So, yes, the 27 homers are good, but they do not completely define a player’s value.
Keep in mind, Bruce is no longer considered a good defensive player. While, it should be noted his 8 DRS and 2.6 UZR are good defensive numbers, it is coming off a season where he posted a -11 DRS and a -8.9 UZR. To the eyes, Bruce does look a step slower in right.
As for the rest of the value, Bruce has shown himself to be a first half player who tapers off in the second half. To that end, he hit .250/.281/.500 in July. Potentially, this could be the beginning of a prolonged slump like we saw Bruce have with the Mets last year. Certainly, other teams noticed that as well, and they might be scared off by how poorly he performed when asked to change teams mid-season.
INF Asdrubal Cabrera
2017 Stats: .260/.339/.404, 15 2B, 9 HR, 30 RBI, SB, -0.4 WAR
In 2017, Cabrera got hurt, and when he was asked to move off shortstop, a position where he has posted a -9 DRS and -4.7 UZR, he balked. First, he demanded his option be picked-up, then he demanded a trade. Things like that don’t go over well when you have shown yourself to have a lack of range at three infield positions, and you are not hitting well at the plate.
2017 Stats: .224/.330/.446, 20 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB
To a certain extent, the relative lack of interest in Granderson is surprising. After a slow and painful start, he has been a much better player since June 1st hitting .258/.404/.558. He’s also accepted a role on the bench without being an issue in the clubhouse. As a pinch hitter this year, he is hitting .267/.421/.533. If your team has an injury, you know he can capably fill in at three outfield positions. He’s also a tremendous clubhouse presence. Ultimately, this tells us teams were scared off by his age and his $15 million contract.
INF Jose Reyes
2017 Stats: .226/.289/.387, 17 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 13 SB, -1.0 WAR
Let’s start with the obvious. Adding Reyes to your team is a potential PR nightmare. The Cubs thought it worthwhile for Aroldis Chapman, but it is likely no one is going down that road with a below replacement level player. As noted, the main issue is Reyes has been bad this year. Even with the recent surge, he still hasn’t been great this year, and there was zero interest even before he was hit on the hand.
2017 Stats: .232/.277/.374, 4 2B, 6 HR, 20 RBI
Rivera’s reputation as a defensive catcher and pitching whisperer has taken a bit of a hit this year. Whatever the reason, he did not have the same touch with pitchers like Robert Gsellman like he did last year. Also, while he is throwing out more base runners, he has taken a significant step back as a pitch framer. Overall, he still has a good defensive reputation and is a good backup catcher, but he hasn’t excelled in the areas where he excelled in year’s past.
2B Neil Walker
2017 Stats: .266/.347/.455, 13 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 0.9 WAR
If Walker stayed healthy, there may have been some semblance of a trade market for him. When he has played he has hit, but he has only played in 63 games as a result of a partially torn left hamstring. This was a year after he had season ending back surgery. Between the injury history and his $17.2 million salary, the lack of trade interest in him is certainly understandable.
Looking at the above, it is understandable why there was at best tepid interest in the Mets trade pieces. That is why they are still on the Mets roster. However, this does not preclude an August trade. To that end, Mets fans were all disappointed the Mets weren’t able to moved Marlon Byrd at the 2013 non-waiver deadline. Twenty-seven days later, Byrd was traded with John Buck for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.
Ten years ago, Omar Minaya had his second draft as the manager of the New York Mets. With the team having signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran in the offseason, they would not have a first round draft pick. In total, the Mets would draft 49 players, and they would be able to sign 35 of them. Of the 49 players drafted, six of the players would play in the major leagues. Here is review of those players that were drafted and played in the major leagues:
Kevin Mulvey, LHP (2nd Round, 62nd Overall)
Mulvey was a fairly well-regarded fastball-changeup pitcher out of Villanova, who shot through the Mets minor league system. In his first full professional season, he started in AA, and he finished the year with one start in New Orleans, which was then the Mets AAA affiliate.
In the offseason, Mulvey was a significant piece in the trade that brought Johan Santana to the Mets. Notably, he was the only player drafted by Minaya to be included in the deal.
Mulvey would not last long with the Twins. He spent a year and half with the team, and he made a very brief major league appearance with them in 2009. He would become the player to be named later in a trade in which the Twins acquired Jon Rauch to help them not only win the AL Central, but also to help them in the postseason.
Mulvey would not pitch well for the Diamondbacks. In 2009 and 2010, he would only make four starts and four relief appearances. He would go 0-3 with a 6.92 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP. In 2011, the Diamondbacks would designate him for assignment to remove him from the 40 man roster. A year later, he would be outright released.
Mulvey caught back on with the Mets in 2012, and he was assigned to AA Binghamton. After 13 relief appearances that saw him go 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.707 WHIP, Mulvey retired from the game of baseball, and he returned to Villanova to be an assistant coach. On July 14, 2016, he was named the head coach of the Villanova Wildcats.
In total, Mulvey only started four games and made six relief appearances over three major league seasons. He finished with an 0-3 record, a 7.90 ERA, and a 1.756 WHIP.
Joe Smith, RHP (3rd Round, 94th Overall)
After losing Chad Bradford to free agency, the Mets decided the side winding Smith was ready to take over Bradford’s role in the bullpen.
Smith would pitch two seasons with the Mets making 136 appearances. In those games, he would go 9-5 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.402 WHIP. While he could never match what Bradford did for the 2006 Mets, Smith was still a reliable bullpen arm so long as he was called to pitch to right-handed batters.
With the Mets bullpen falling to pieces during the 2008 season, the Mets sought a dominant reliever who could pitch in the eighth inning and who could be a reliable closing option in the event the Mets closer once again succumbed to injury. With that in mind, Smith was included as a part of a three-team deal that netted the Mets J.J. Putz. Ironically, it was Smith who would have the best career out of all the relievers in the deal.
During Smith’s five year tenure with the Indians, he got better and better each season as he got better and better pitching to left-handed batters. He went from being a reliever who got just righties out to an eighth inning set-up guy. Because of that, he got a big three year $15.75 million contract from the Angels when he hit free agency for the first time.
While Smith regressed a bit during his time with the Angels, he was still a very effective reliever. Because he is still a very useful reliever, the Chicago Cubs obtained him after the non-waiver trade deadline. Despite pitching well with a 2.51 ERA in 16 appearances for the Cubs, he was left off the postseason roster. Smith is due to be a free agent after the season.
So far in Smith’s 10 year career, he has averaged 64 appearances and 57 innings per season. He is 41-28 with 29 saves, a 2.93 ERA, and a 1.199 WHIP.
John Holdzkom, RHP (4th Round, 124th Overall)
Holdzkom was a high school pitcher with a big arm whose fastball could reach triple digits. Initially, he posted big strike out numbers in the minors before needing season ending Tommy John surgery in 2008. The surgery caused him to miss the entire 2009 season, and when he returned, he was never the same pitcher.
After six games in the rookie leagues in 2010, the Mets released him. Holdzkom would take a year off from baseball before signing a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds. He would struggle for two years in the Reds farm system before being released in June 2012.
From there, Holdzkom went to the Independent Leagues in the hopes of rekindling his hopes of becoming a major league pitcher. With his fastball returning, he was dominant with high strikeout numbers once again, and he caught the attention of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who offered him a minor league deal. In 2014, Holdzkom would actually appear in nine games for the Pirates pitching very well. In those games, he was 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA and a 0.667 WHIP.
Holdzkom would lose his fastball again, and he would never again be able to crack the Pirates major league roster. On the eve of Opening Day, he was released by the Pirates, and he was eventually signed to a minor league contract by the Chicago White Sox. While never appearing on an injury report anywhere, Holdzkom only made one appearance in 2016 for the White Sox rookie league affiliate in July. In two-third of an inning, he allowed four runs on three hits and two walks.
As for this moment, it is unknown what lies in the future of this 28 year old pitcher who is still looking to reclaim his fastball.
Daniel Murphy 3B (13th Round, 394th Overall)
Murphy is the best known player from the Mets 2006 draft. He got his start with the Mets in left field for a 2008 Mets team desperate for offense. Murphy hit well enough that he was named the Opening Day left fielder in 2009. That year it was apparent he was not an outfielder, and he began his transition to second base.
While there were some rough spots along the way, everything finally clicked for Murphy last postseason with him hitting home runs in six consecutive postseason games. These home runs were all the more notable when you consider Murphy hit them off Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and Kyle Hendricks. His key steal and home run in Game 5 helped propel the Mets to the NLCS, and in the NLCS he was the obvious choice for MVP.
He signed with the Nationals, and he went out and proved his postseason run was no fluke. Murphy hit .347/.390/.595 with 47 doubles, 25 homers, and 104 RBI. All these numbers were career bests. He led the National League in doubles, slugging, and OPS.
In his Mets career, Murphy hit .288/.331/.424 while averaging 33 doubles, nine homers, and 57 RBI per season. Among Mets second baseman, Murphy is the all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, RBI, and batting average. He is also ranked third overall for the most doubles by a player in a Mets uniform, and he is ranked eighth in batting average.
Tobi Stoner, RHP (16th Round, 484th Overall)
The German born Stoner was used as a starting pitching in the Mets minor league system. However, in his brief time with the major league club, he was used exclusively out of the bullpen. Between 2009 and 2010, Stoner made five appearances going 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.412 WHIP.
After his big league call-ups, Stoner actually regressed. That could be in part due to bone spurs in his elbow he had to have removed prior to the 2011 season. Even with the removed bone spurs, Stoner could never get back to being the pitcher he was or who the Mets thought he could be, and he was released on the eve of the 2012 season. Stoner would pitch the 2012 season in the Independent Leagues. In 12 starts, he would have an 8.11 ERA, and his professional career was over after that season.
Josh Stinson, RHP (37th Round, 1,114th Overall)
Stinson was a high school pitcher with a mid 90’s fastball. As he did not truly develop his secondary pitches, he became a bullpen arm. With a his live arm, he got called-up in 2011, at the age of 23, and pitched in 14 games with the Mets recording a 6.92 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.
The Mets relased him before the 2012 season, and he was claimed by the Brewers. He pitched mostly in the minors for the Brewers. Stinson did get a brief call-up where he actually pitched well. Despite his success in a small sample size, he was released before the 2013 season, and he was eventually picked up by the Orioles. He made 19 appearances with the Orioles, pitching to a 4.50 ERA, before he was granted free agency. Stinson signed a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he would not make it to the majors in the 2014 season. The Pirates released him at the end of the year.
In the 2015 season, Stinson pitched for the Kia Tigers of the Korean Leauges. In 30 starts and two relief appearances, Stinson was 11-10 with a 4.96 ERA and a 1.521 WHIP. No one signed him to a professional contract to pitch in 2016. According to Stinson’s Twitter account, the 28 year old still considers himself a free agent pitcher.
Vic Black, RHP (41st Round, 1,234th Overall)
The Mets drafted Black out of high school, but he would not sign a deal with the Mets. Rather, he attended Dallas Baptist University, and he re-entered the draft in 2009 where the Pittsburgh Pirates would draft him in the first round (49th overall). The Mets would acquire Black in 2013 as part of the trade that sent John Buck and Marlon Byrd to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Black and Dilson Herrera.
In 2014, Black seemed to have a breakout season for the Mets. He began to harness his high 90s fastball, and as a result, he was becoming a reliable bullpen arm. Unfortunately, Black would land on the disabled list with a herniated disc in his neck. When he tried to pitch through it, he eventually developed a shoulder strain. He was first shut down, and then designated for assignment in the offseason.
While Black elected free agency, he hoped that he could re-sign with the Mets. Neither the Mets nor any other major league team were interested in his services. Black has not pitched in professional baseball in two years. At the moment, it is unknown if he will be able to ever pitch again.
Johnny Monell, C (49th Round, 1,463rd Overall)
Like Black, Monell did not sign a contract with the Mets instead choosing to re-enter the draft at a later date. He would be drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 30th round in the following draft.
From there, Monell has bounced around from organization to organization. Finally, in 2014, he returned to the same Mets organization that had drafted him eight years prior. Due to injuries to Travis d’Arnaud and the ineffectiveness of both Kevin Plawecki and Anthony Recker, Monell would be called-up to the Mets in 2015, and he would play in 27 games hitting .167/.231/.208 with two doubles and four RBI. Monell would be sent back down to AAA where he would remain for the 2015 season.
The Mets would remove him from the 40 man roster after the 2015 season, and Monell would agree to return to the Mets. Monell spent the entire 2016 season playing for the Las Vegas 51s. He hit .276/.336/.470 with 22 doubles, one triple, 19 homers, and 75 RBI. With Plawecki being sent down in favor of Rene Rivera, Monell became the backup catcher. In order to get him into the lineup more, Monell saw some additional time at first base. Monell finished the year tied for the team lead in homers and third in RBI.
At this point, it is not known if the Mets intend to bring back the 30 year old catcher to play for the 51s again in the 2017 season.
Last year, the Mets parted with number of pitching prospects in a drive to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2006. Over the course of this past year, we have seen some of them actually pitching in the major leagues:
- In 16 starts for the Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP. He is the leading candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and he should receive some Cy Young Award votes at the end of the season.
- The Tigers traded Luis Cessa in the offseason to the New York Yankees. Cessa has pitched briefly out of the bullpen for the Yankees this year. In his six appearances, he has pitched 13.2 innings going 1-0 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.244 WHIP.
- The Atlanta Braves do not seem quite sure what to make of John Gant and his quirky delivery, but they seem to be convinced he’s a major league caliber pitcher. Out of the bullpen, Gant has made seven appearances with no record, a 6.17 ERA, and a 1.714 WHIP. As a starter, Gant has performed considerably better going 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP.
As we know, the Mets got Yoenis Cespedes for Fulmer and Cessa. Gant was part of a trade that netted the Mets Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. The Mets also made trades of varying success to obtain Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, and Eric O’Flaherty. Overall, the Mets gave up valuable pieces to obtain major league players that helped them win the National League Pennant.
As of right now, the Mets are in a similar situation to where they were last season. They need to assess what they need (starter, reliever, and right handed bat off the bench) and what they are willing to trade to obtain those pieces. Sooner or later, the right player is going to come along, and the Mets are going to have to decide whether to trade next year’s Fulmer for this year’s Cespedes. The issue becomes who do you and who do you not trade. Here is a look at the Mets top prospects teams are sure to be inquiring about.
Each and every team is going to inquire on Rosario, and the answer time and time again is going to be no. It’s for good reason as well. When the Mets signed him out of the Dominican Republic, his defense was seen as a given, but there were concerns about his bat. Rosario has put many of those concerns to bed by hitting .321/.372/.464 with 19 doubles, 12 triples, three homers and 56 RBI between St. Lucie and Binghamton. He was a Florida State Leauge All Star, on the Team World Roster for the Future’s Game, and he was named MLB.com‘s 18th best prospect. Unless you are talking a Mike Trout trade, Rosario is off the table.
This is where things start to get a little interesting as Smith has really taken off since Rosario joined him in AA hitting .336/.398/.626 with five doubles, one triples, eight homers and 27 RBI. Smith is starting to show the power that could take him from a very good prospect to an elite prospect with the ranks of Rosario. Already, Smith is a plus defender at first base, and he has the ability to drive the ball gap-to-gap. If you trade him, you could be trading away the next John Olerud or worse if his power game continues to develop. If you keep him, you risk him becoming the next James Loney. Yes, Loney has been a quality major league first baseman, but Loney should never be what stands between you and getting an All Star or difference maker at the trade deadline that could put the team over the top.
It seems that since Herrera came to the Mets in the Marlon Byrd trade, he was touted as the Mets second baseman of the future. He was someone who could handle the position well defensively while being a real force at the plate. He showed that he has unique power for the position. Due to injuries in 2014, the Mets brought him up from AA to play in the majors. Last year, he was seen as an offensive spark when a number of players went down due to injury. This year he hasn’t been a consideration at all. He has struggled in AAA hitting .277/.331/.471 in the Pacific Coast League which is a hitter’s league. Part of that might be teams figuring him out. Part of that may be him dealing with a shoulder injury sapping him of some of his offensive ability and having him fall into bad habits at the plate. He is less patient at the plate, and he is lunging for balls he wouldn’t last year. If you move him, you are moving the guy that could be a multiple time All Star. If you don’t, you just might be hanging onto a guy that may never figure it out.
Cecchini is in a tough position in the Mets organization. He isn’t seen as good a prospect at short as Rosario, and he has had some trouble handling the position at Cashman Field, who has an infield that is not kind to infielders. He’s a good hitter hitting .315/.392/.441 with 18 doubles, two triples, five homers, and 40 RBI, and he reminds you of a right-handed Daniel Murphy at the plate. However, he is not considered as good of an offensive prospect as an Herrera. Furthermore, his bat does not have the power profile that would play at third or the outfield. By many accounts, Cecchini will play in the majors one day. What you don’t know is what he will be. Will he be the next Murphy at the plate with similar defensive versatility? With that in mind, will he develop power as he gets older and fills out like Murphy did? Will he turn into the next Matt Reynolds – a major league utility player? Again, you don’t want to lose the next Murphy for a rental, but you also don’t want to miss out on someone because you wnated to keep another Reynolds or Joe McEwing type of player.
Most Mets fans would jump at the opportunity to trade him. He hasn’t hit at all in the majors despite given extended looks on two different occassions. However, Plawecki has been a good defensive catcher and pitch framer. He was also once considered a prospect who could push Travis d’Arnaud for playing time. Keep in mind that since his demotion, Plawecki is hitting .291/.347/.512 with four doubles, five homers, and 21 RBI in 27 games. These numbers aren’t exciting, especially in the Pacific Coast League, but it shows he is starting to become more patient at the plate and more selective swinging at pitches. Also keep in mind that catcher is a position that players tend to develop later in their careers than other positions. Plawecki could still very well be the Mets catcher of the future, or he could be a solid backup. He may not be the type of player who should hold up a deal, but he definitively is a player you want to protect if at all possible.
Ultimately, it seems like one of the aforementioned players are going to have to be traded if the Mets want to acquire an impact player like Jonathan Lucroy. However, they need to be very careful about which one.
In an ideal world, Rosario and Smith are non-starters. These are two players who are excelling in AA at a young age, and they appear primed to contribute to the Mets sooner than expected. You do not ever want to give up a Rosario or a Smith. These players should prove to be fixtures in the Mets lineup for ten plus years. Still, you’re going to have to give up someone if you are going to want to add that last piece who could put the Mets over the top in 2016.
That piece appears to be between Herrera and Cecchini. The Mets may very well have a preference between these two players, and coming into this season, it seemed like Herrera. However, that does not mean they still feel the same way, nor does it mean that other teams think similarly. Regardless of how the Mets feel, a team may force their hand to trade one or the other to hopefully trade for this year’s version of Yoenis Cespedes. In the end, it seems like the Mets will be giving up a Herrera or a Cecchini like they did with Fulmer last year if they want to make a move.
The hope is that the player has the impact Cespedes did last year and that the Mets take the next step and win the 2016 World Series.
Editor’s Note: this was also published on Mets Minors
Last month, The Sporting News ranked Sandy Alderson right in the middle of all GMs in Major League Baseball (15/30). That sounds about right, although I could quibble with the order. To me, when you give Sandy a rating of 15/30, you’re really giving that rating to the entire front office, which includes Paul DePodesta, JP Riccardi, and John Ricco.
Since Sandy Alderson has been the GM for the Mets, he has really been tasked with getting rid of salaries and selling at the trade deadline. To that end, he and his front office have done an admirable job. In my opinion (and most people’s really), his three best trades were to sell and not to buy:
- RA Dickey, Josh Thole, and Mike Nickeas for Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, John Buck, and Wullmer Becerra;
- Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler; and
- Marlon Byrd, John Buck & cash for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.
Looking over the rest of the trades, there really is not much to get worked up about, except the two trades Sandy Alderson made to help the team on the field (and not the team down the road):
- Angel Pagan for Andres Torres and Ramon S. Ramirez; and
- Collin McHugh for Eric Young, Jr.
There has been so much written about the first trade. Rather than regurgitate all that has been written, I’m going to make a couple of quick points. First, this was part of a quick hitting series of moves to try to rebuild the bullpen and TRY to take attention away from Jose Reyes leaving. Second, it seems like every year this team is trying to build a bullpen because the prior season’s acquisitions were terrible or everyone got hurt again. Lastly, this trade violated the old adage of “the team that gets the best player wins the trade.” We knew then Pagan was the best player in that deal.
I want to focus on the EY deal because with the Mets rotation, it has largely been ignored. In full disclosure, I didn’t see it with McHugh. I thought he was an AAAA starter or a 12th man in the pen. I didn’t see him finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting last year or having another solid year for the Astros, especially when he pitches half his games is Minute Maid Park.
Just because I didn’t see it, it doesn’t excuse the current front office for this mistake. EY was acquired because Paul DePodesta loves him. In EY’s two seasons with the Mets, he was a 0.9 WAR player, who won a stolen base crown. The Mets were under .500 and had no shot at the postseason.
In the same time, McHugh has combined for accumulated WAR of 5.2, i.e. he has been the best player in the deal. I shutter to think what the careers Cory Mazzoni or Brad Wieck will be.
Now after all of this, how can I be expected to trust Sandy’s regime to properly rate their own prospects? Sure when he has someone of value, he does a good job maximizing the return. However, when he is making a deal to improve his club, he has been shown to undervalue his assets.
This brings me to an extremely important point: Sandy effectively traded a first round pick for Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer hasn’t been himself at the plate or the field (even preinjury), which further exacerbated this “trade.” All in all, I’m not sure we can trust this front office to go out and get a player. With that said, I’m sure I’m just wasting my breath because there is no way the Mets would take on money to improve this team.