In case you missed it with the Mets making a circus of the Yoenis Cespedes situation, the team once again traded a prospect for a defensive replacement in center. This is the third such trade the Mets have made since Brodie Van Wagenen was hired as the Mets General Manager.
The first trade was trading Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl for Keon Broxton. Broxton played just 34 games with the Mets in 2019. He had a 3 OPS+ and a -0.5 WAR being released. He has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. Currently, he is part of their 60 player pool, but he has yet to be recalled.
With Juan Lagares departing via free agency, instead of pursuing any one of the cheap defensive center fielders on the fee agent market, Van Wagenen traded Blake Taylor and Kenedy Corona for Jake Marisnick.
Marisnick lasted just four games before landing on the IL. Meanwhile, Taylor has been sensational for the Astros. He’s pitched 7.1 scoreless innings over five appearances. Ironically, his 0.8 WAR would lead the Mets this year.
What is maddening about that is the Mets couldn’t just gone out this past offseason and signed Lagares. Last year, Lagares had a very good 5 OAA. This past offseason, he settled for a minor league deal with the Padres, which based upon incentives, could’ve reached $2.4 million.
The Mets not only gave up prospects for Marisnick, but the perpetually cash strapped franchise, agreed to pay him $3.3 million in arbitration.
Instead of Lagares, the Mets could’ve signed Billy Hamilton. This past offseason, Hamilton signed a minor league deal with the Giants.
Considering the Mets only use their defensive players sparingly, begrudgingly letting them bat on occasion, Hamilton was perfect for this team. He’s an elite defensive CF with speed which could be best utilized as a pinch runner.
But, Hamilton only required a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Since that wasn’t coupled with the unnecessary parting of prospects, Van Wagenen wasn’t interested.
However, now, that the Mets were able to give the Giants Jordan Humphreys, who is a very real prospect with a live arm, the Mets were suddenly interested.
They were interested despite Hamilton missing part of summer camp for undisclosed medical reasons. He would not make the Giants Opening Day roster. Instead, he would be part of their player pool.
The Mets made this trade despite having Lagares back. They also had other no-hit defensive replacements like Johneshwy Fargas.
Obtaining Hamilton when you already had reasonable facsimiles is an odd move. Trading an actual prospect for him when you had those pieces is a plain bad move. When you give up pieces for a player you could’ve had for a minor league deal and wasn’t even on a MLB roster at the trade of the trade is pure and simple incompetence.
Parting with five prospects and a MLB reliever for three defensive replacements, two of whom did nothing of value for your team, and the third not even being on a MLB roster, is a fireable offense. That goes double when Lagares has been with the organization.
This is an embarrassing misallocation of resources. Even if you want to make the dumb and highly flawed argument these prospects may not develop into productive major leaguers, the Mets lost the ability to move these players for actual useful pieces.
In the end, we focus on the loss of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. We can and should look at that to use it to criticize Brodie Van Wagenen. However, if you want a real sign of how Van Wagenen doesn’t know what he’s doing, look no further than his parting with real prospects for the privilege of overpaying players who just could’ve been signed for the league minimum.
In the end, not even comprehending the market and how to properly manage and allocate his resources shows just how much Van Wagenen doesn’t comprehend how to do this job. Whenever the Mets are finally sold we can only hope the new owner has Van Wagenen follow the Wilpons out the door before he inflicts any more damage to the franchise.
The Mets traded prospects Kenedy Corona and Blake Taylor to the Houston Astros for CF Jake Marisnick. Looking at the trade immediately, you see the Mets opted to obtain their replacement for Juan Lagares via trade rather than on the free agent market.
Marisnick will be 29 years old in 2020, and he will be in his final arbitration year before free agency. His 86 wRC+ was the second best of his career. Of course, the Mets did not obtain Marisnick for his bat (for good reason), but rather, they obtained him for his defense.
In 733.0 innings in center last year, Marisnick had a 5 DRS and 3.4 UZR. That is a step backwards from the 12 DRS and 4.0 UZR he posted in 2018. According to Baseball Savant, Marisnick had an 8 OAA, which ranked 14th best in the Majors. Again, that was a step back from his 2018 performance as he had a 13 OAA in 2018.
In terms of JUMP, Marisnick was at a 0.9 ft/avg. That’s a steep drop from the 1.7 he had posted in the 2018 season. What is interesting about that is Marisnick had the same exact 29.2 ft/sec sprint speed in 2018 and 2019. Looking at everything, it is possible this was a function of Marisnick’s stats stabilizing over a larger sample size, the standard year-to-year variations in player performance, or maybe this is a sign of his skills declining.
Whatever, the case, with Marisnick, we see a player who relies purely on speed to play the outfield. As noted by MMO’s Jacob Resnick, Marisnick has relatively poor reaction time, but he has “an elite burst.”
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) December 5, 2019
Looking at that, we should turn out attention to Lagares. Like Marisnick, he took a step backwards in 2019. However, unlike Marisnick, Lagares did not remotely put up good defensive numbers. In fact, Lagares had a -2 DRS, -2.9 UZR, and a 5 OAA. That was significantly down from his 5 DRS and 1.4 UZR in 2018. His 5 OAA was actually an improvement over the 0 he had in 2018.
When looking at JUMP stats, Lagares and Marisnick were essentially the same player in 2019. Marisnick had a JUMP of 0.9 ft/avg, and he covered 34.9 feet. Comparatively speaking, Lagares’ JUMP was 0.8 ft/avg, and he covered 35.3 feet. There were some areas where they were different. For example, Marisnick was a better route runner, but Lagares had a better reaction time.
When looking at Lagares and Marisnick, the key separator is their 2019 teams. Wheras the Astros are regarded as possibly the most analytically advanced organization, the Mets were among the worst. Notably, the Mets are not believers in shifting their defense, and it was one of the reasons why the Mets had the second worst DRS in the majors along with the 21st worst outfield defense.
Between the injury history and the defensive numbers, we can say Marisnick is an upgrade over Lagares. However, given the Mets problems with defensive alignment, some of Marisnick’s value is going to be hindered. The same can be said for his not playing between outfielders the caliber of Josh Reddick and George Springer.
Looking at that, you really wonder why the Mets would trade for one year of a defensive center fielder when their own analytical department will likely hinder his ability to impact the game in the way they anticipate he would. It’s also curious why they would give up two prospects to do that when they could’ve signed Lagares of made a deal for a player like Manuel Margot or Delino DeShields Jr.
Of the players sent to the Astros, Taylor is the one which stands out at the moment. After being converted to the bullpen, he was flashing 97 MPH on the gun, and he struck out 10 batters per nine. Also, the control issues which existed with his being a starter disappeared with him reducing his walk rate to 3.2 BB/9.
An important note for Taylor is he is a left-handed reliever who has platoon neutral splits. With Major League Baseball instituting a rule requiring relievers to face at least three batters, LOOGYs are being effectively eliminated. That makes pitchers like Taylor all the more valuable. Certainly, the Astros seem to know that by making this move.
Parenthetically, the Mets need to rebuild their bullpen. Taylor was a pitcher who could have been part of the equation for the Opening Day roster or during part of the 2020 season. Now, the Mets have taken a hit on their depth in an area where they needed to build depth for one year of a defensive center fielder who has shown at least some decline.
When you throw in Corona being much better than anyone reasonably could have expected in 2020, you really wonder why the Mets made this deal.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to say the Mets gave up too much for Marisnick. In terms of value, this was a fair deal. However, this is one move which could very well come to haunt the Mets, and no one should be surprised if Taylor actually has a better 2020 season than Marisnick. To that end, it should not be a surprise if this becomes one of those trades which sneaks up on everyone and has Mets fans tearing their hair out.
Taking everything into account, this is just a bizarre deal for the Mets to make. They further depleted their bullpen depth while taking another hit to their prospect capital. They also obtained a regressing defensive center fielder who will not benefit from the same analytics and positioning. In the end, it’s just a strange trade to make.