Last week, I went in on Amazin’ Avenue for not putting up some viable, smart and sensible free agent options for the Mets to sign ahead of the 2018 season. I still stand by that, and I have my eye on you, Amazin’ Avenue. I’m rooting for you, but like… please… stop with the Adam Lind for New York Mets First Baseman analysis. It’s awful. Make it stop.
So since then, I thought it would be a good idea for me to put my money where my mouth is and give you my list of some viable candidates for the Mets to snag in the coming weeks. First, some background info.
The Mets 2018 payroll is coming in at an estimated $123 million dollars after arbitration, which is down from last years total of $154.4 million last year. This is, of course, going to change once the Mets begin signing players. However, let’s run with the idea that the Mets do not spend more than they did in 2017. That means we have roughly 30 million dollars to play with for the 2018 roster.
Re-Sign José Reyes
I go back and forth on this one a lot. For me, Reyes was a constant reminder of how abysmal the 2017 Mets were. Watching his first at-bats of the season was like watching paint dry while someone kicks you in the nuts and insults your mother.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that rough, but it was bad baseball. The issue with Reyes is quite literally, how do you teach an old dog new tricks? The answer is you don’t, but you need that old dog to teach the young dog his tricks. Amed Rosario is the most valuable prospect on the Mets and he should be started at shortstop on Opening Day and he should be leading off by the June, that’s how this ideally goes. Who has walked that path before? José Reyes. Who was once the face of the New York Mets? José Reyes.
The guy can play three-quarters of the infield and can run. Reyes should be your first bat off the bench, your pinch runner, and your starter when your regulars need a day off. You’ll be able to get him at a fraction of the price he’s worth. There are too many reasons to sign him than there are to not.
Sign Robbie Ross, Jr. or Kevin Siegrist
The Mets need another lefty in the bullpen and either of these guys can fill that need, all the while keeping the bank unbroken.
Robbie Ross, Jr. is coming off of a year that was spoiled by a back injury, so his 2017 numbers don’t look like anything. However, his numbers from 2016 and back are great. Especially if you track his move to Boston, you can see a steep drop off in his numbers. When he was in Texas they tried to find a spot in the rotation or the bullpen, but never really settled on a spot for him. In Boston, in the bullpen, he flourished and saw his numbers steady and solidify.
Should he recreate those numbers the Mets could snag him for just under what he got in Boston, 2-years averaging $1.5 million a year. Swarzak and Blevins are going to make a combined $12.5 million next year, so Ross is a steal if we get him under contract for $2 million a year.
Siegrist is also in a similar situation to Ross, in that he’s coming off a less than successful season in 2017. Siegrist saw his past two season ERA almost double last season, which is pretty terrible considering he threw his fewest innings in a season since 2014. With a great arsenal of pitches, Siegrist becomes a hard-throwing lefty option, who also has a nasty changeup.
Sign Drew Hutchison
I will be very honest, I applauded the Tommy Milone signing. I know, way too optimistic for my own good, but I really want to Tommy to prove me wrong. It’s the same part of me that felt awful for Jeremy Guthrie, even though I was very glad the Nationals lost by a billion.
Regardless, this isn’t about Tommy Milone, it’s about Drew Hutchison. When the Pirates made a deal with the Blue Jays for Francisco Liriano and prospects in 2016, I thought he’d see a lot of success in Pittsburgh. I remember texting my friend Sam and telling him that Drew Hutchison was gonna be huge for the Pirates.
Instead, he pitched 6 games for the Pirates, putting up a 5.58 ERA and a 1.588 WHIP, and spent the rest of the time in their farm system. Which means he’s cheap and he’s ready to prove himself.
So far the main thing I think the Mets can capitalize on with a bunch of these signings are players with something to prove. Drew Hutchison is only 26 and has a lot to prove. His 2015 campaign was something along the lines of what Marcus Stroman did in the following two years. That’s why the Jays got a slew of Pirates prospects for him. The talent is there, it’s just a matter of putting two and two together. Add that to Mickey Calloway’s ability to make something out of nothing (re: Corey Kluber), Hutchison could make a great spot starter or long relief bullpen guy, if the Mets see the same injuries from 2017 flare up again.
Sign Lorenzo Cain
This is the number one move the New York Mets have to make. If the Mets don’t sign Lorenzo Cain, they’re idiots and will have a lot of explaining to do. This is one of those moves that will define the Mets season. Last year it was Cespedes’ contract and whether or not they had a second baseman and how we all wanted Neil Walker back because it meant solidifying the infield and picking up where we started. This is that move times ten.
The Mets desperately need a centerfielder and they haven’t really had one since 2014, when Juan Lagares won his Gold Glove, but even then Lagares wasn’t an everyday player in Center. Injuries have plagued Lagares and while it’s a shame he’s never gotten a full season to truly shine, but I think we all need to move on.
Lorenzo Cain is moving on. Yoenis Cespedes is your left fielder, Michael Conforto is the right fielder of the future, and Lorenzo Cain is your missing piece in Center. That’s a nasty outfield, a very good outfield, but most importantly, a solid outfield.
When it comes to contracts, Cain’s going to get the biggest one handed out by the Mets this year, but it’s all about how you structure it. The re-hiring of Omar Minaya tells me that the Mets are going to get smarter about how they structure contracts moving forward. Minaya was able to craft strong Mets squads, all while not breaking the bank. A guy with his know-how in today’s modern game will become invaluable. His first test is Cain.
Lorenzo Cain will probably be looking for something in the ballpark of 4-years at $80 million dollars. Let’s compare this to Granderson’s 4-year, $60 million dollar deal in 2014, given to him at age 33. Over the 4 seasons he played with the Mets, Granderson put up a 10.1 WAR, equating to an average of just above 2.5 WAR a season.
Cain, on the other hand…
In that same span of time, Cain has put up a 20.5 WAR for the Kansas City Royals and is going to turn 32 in the 2018 season. So for double the value of a player and for just $20 million more on the total deal, you get a better version of Curtis Granderson and a solid option in Center.
Any questions? Good. This is the deal that needs to be made, and the longer Lorenzo Cain hangs around on the market, the better the Mets chances of snagging him are. Especially when his camp seems to be sending out rumors that he’s close to signing with teams that have seemed on the edge of Free Agency.
Amazin’ Avenue didn’t even look at the deals the Mets have struck in the past, instead, they sluffed off Cain’s contract demands as too rich for the Mets blood. Get real. The Mets overpaid for Neil Walker last year, I’d rather them overpay here.
The other thing overlooked is the other team interested in Cain’s services, the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s worth noting that the Jays have been connected to Jay Bruce for the past two years. If the Jays go with Bruce, the Mets will pounce on Cain. It’s only a matter of time.
Sign Yunel Escobar
If for some reason the Mets can’t sign Reyes, either because of his demands or his reluctance to take a bench spot, the Mets should look into Yunel Escobar. Why? Because he’s solidly productive and has been for years.
There’s also the fact that he’s played in the NL East and knows the Mets enemies well. I like that in a backup infielder. Escobar also has the skillset to learn a few different positions. While he’s mainly sat on the hot corner these past few years, he has played short, could play second and could learn the outfield. He’s heading towards the end of his career and with fewer teams looking to sign an older third baseman, the Mets could be a fit. I mean, the guy hits over .300 at Nationals Park. I’ll take it.
Sign Trevor Plouffe
What happened to Trevor Plouffe? Seriously. The former first-round pick never fully blossomed. I mean, this kid was platinum rated, and then never showed up in the majors. After struggling to hit above .260, the Minnesota Twins let him go in favor of Miguel Sano. Now, it’s pretty easy to see why the Twins would opt for Sano at the hot corner… everyone except Trevor Plouffe, who was notably furious with Minnesota after they outrighted him.
The one word used to describe Plouffe’s offensive output, that I find both correct and hysterical, is “useful.” Seriously. MLBTradeRumors once called Plouffe’s offensive output from 2012 to 2016, as “useful. That’s what the Mets lacked in 2017, some useful output. Also keeping in line with our theme of guys who need to prove themselves, Plouffe hit .198 in 2017.
So yeah, you could sign him for DIRT CHEAP. Plouffe can also play first base which would give the Mets a better fielding option than Flores off the bench. All in all, the talent is there, it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together.
Sign Neil Walker
This is a last case scenario signing. Neil Walker doesn’t have many landing spots to choose from, considering the wealth of young second base options coming out of farm systems everywhere. So what that means is the Mets could get him for cheap. Last year the Mets and Walker agreed to a qualifying offer of $17.2 million dollars, making him highest paid player on the payroll, behind Cespedes and David Wright.
Needless to say, the Mets overpaid. LIKE WAYYYYYYYY OVERPAID for Walker’s services. They were in desperate need of a second baseman after dealing Dilson Herrera to the Reds. I also blame Daniel Murphy for this signing, because if Murphy didn’t get shafted and become a superstar in Washington then the Mets wouldn’t have a need Bruce or Walker these past two seasons. So thanks for nothing Daniel…. please come back to me.
So Neil is an option, but he should be considered a fringe candidate behind Asdrubal or Flores at second, depending on what happens at third. These are all questions that will be answered, but a Neil Walker signing could signal that some decisions are being made.
Talk to David Wright
There will come a time to get into this broader details of Wright’s future, but for our purposes here, the long and the short of it is that David Wright’s contract, while fully earned, needs to be restructured. And it needed to be restructured yesterday.
David Wright might never play for the New York Mets again and we all need to start coming to that realization sooner rather than later. So how do you pay him his money? By restructuring his contract, semi-Bobby Bonilla style, and pay the man while he stays within the organization. That way the money is still being earned, and he remains helping the Mets. Over the next three years, the Mets will be paying David Wright $47 million dollars. For the past three years, David Wright has made $60 million for playing in 88 games, a total of $680K per game he’s played in a Mets uniform.
I said it before when I was talking about Reyes, but these guys are paramount to the future success of the New York Mets, and they need to be kept within the organization for as long as possible, even if it’s not on the field. If David Wright wants the Mets to succeed with him on the team, he needs to restructure his contract. It’s the best way he can help aside from getting back on the field.
One more thing…
Let’s say the Mets sign all of these guys, yeah? That’d be insane! It’s so much money! How can they do that? The Wilpons are garbage, right Amazin’ Avenue?
It’s pretty simple actually.
Ross, Jr.: $2 million
Siegrist: $2 million
Hutchison: $4 million
Cain: $20 million
Escobar: $5 million
Plouffe: $4 million
Walker: $8 million
Wright Restructure: Expand the remaining $47 million dollars from 3 years to 6 years. This will move the yearly average from $15.6 million to $8 million a year. This saves the team $12 million dollars in 2018.
GRAND TOTAL FOR EIGHT PLAYERS GUARANTEED TO HELP THE METS?
Don’t say it can’t be done. Because it can. Now do the Mets need all of these guys? No. In fact, signing all of them wouldn’t make a lot of sense, but if they did the Mets 25-man roster would look something like this:
Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz (IR), Seth Lugo = 5
Drew Hutchison, Robbie Ross, Jr. or Kevin Siegrist, Josh Smoker, Jerry Blevins, Anthony Swarzak, A.J. Ramos, Jeurys Familia = 7
C- Travis d’Arnaud, José Lobaton or Kevin Plawecki
1B – Dominic Smith, Trevor Plouffe, Wilmer Flores
2B – Neil Walker, José Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores
3B – Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, José Reyes, Trevor Plouffe
SS – Amed Rosario, Wilmer Flores, José Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera
LF – Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Nimmo
CF – Lorenzo Cain, Juan Lagares
RF – Michael Conforto (IR), Brandon Nimmo, Trevor Plouffe =14 (13 with only one backup catcher)
Total: 25 Players
There’s a lot of different ways this Mets team could shake out. Bottomline is that they need help and they can get it from guys who can help themselves at the same time.
By the way, Amazin’ Avenue, if you need a Mets writer who does the basic research it takes to write a Mets article and doesn’t rely on handpicked stats and wRC+, let me know. I’ve got a long list of people you can pick from.