10/29/11

Moving On Without Reyes and Wright - PART 2

17 comments
Part 1 - http://tinyurl.com/FutureMetsP1

So, the 2012 season has begun. In Part 1, I talked about the offseason moves made in preparation for this year, including letting Jose Reyes leave and trading David Wright to Colorado.

The biggest focus for the team has been and is investing in as much young talent as possible. Assuming the moves in Part 1 have been made, the Mets would have high profile prospects Drew Pomeranz, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Yasmani Grandal, Ryan Kalish, Reese Havens, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Brad Holt all at AAA Buffalo. Newly-acquired Nolan Arenado and Zach Wheeler would start the year at AA Binghamton.

I expect that Pomeranz and Kalish would be the first two promoted as both have already played in the majors and both help to fill areas of serious need for the Mets. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to what prospects will be ready and when. What I do believe will happen is that Pomeranz, Harvey, and Familia will all be ready to pitch in the major league rotation at some point next year, giving the Mets an abundance of pitching. I think Mejia will see time in NYC next year, but with his injury will be relegated to the pen while his arm gets healthy.

I’m counting on Reese Havens fulfilling his potential and becoming the starting 2B at some point next summer, moving Justin Turner to the bench. Ditto for Grandal replacing Josh Thole. Kalish and Nieuwenhuis are both wild cards given their injuries in 2011. I’m going to be optimistic here and say both will be healthy in the spring and both ready for a call-up mid-season. As mentioned above, Kalish gets the nod first. Finally, of the prospects I mentioned above I think Brad Holt will be up last, only getting the call towards the end of the year. I expect him to take almost all of 2012 to gain confidence in AAA. He has the talent but is new to the bullpen. He seemed to flourish last year when moved to relief, I just would not rush him to the majors. By the end of 2012 though, I think Holt, Mejia, and Brothers could all be in the bullpen together and potentially giving the Mets their own version of the 1990 Reds Nasty Boys.

Ike Davis should continue his development into a top tier 1B, providing an outstanding glove and a power bat. I expect Murphy to play average defense at 3B but also continue his hitting success. Ruben Tejada will be under a lot of scrutiny replacing Jose Reyes. My hope is that the fans realize that he is not Jose and let him be what he is. He’ll provide good defense (some might argue better than Jose), continue hitting for a decent average, get on base well, and see his power improve slightly. He'll run well but not steal bases. On Lucas Duda, I’ve written about him previously (http://tinyurl.com/dudafans) and to reiterate, I think he will continue hitting and become a .900 OPS, 30-HR, 100 RBI middle-of-the-order bat. I think his defense in the OF will suffer and he will prove to be best-suited for 1B for the long-term.

If at the deadline the Mets are out of contention and staring up at Philly, Atlanta, et. al., the team would be wise to trade Bronson Arroyo and try and rid themselves of Johan Santana and Jason Bay. With the aforementioned pitching prospects making their way up the ranks, Arroyo is an obvious choice to be dealt to a contender. Moving Santana and Bay of course assumes that both are healthy (especially Johan) and performing closer to their career norms. Given the salary owed both and their advanced age (in baseball terms at least) neither figure to be part of the next Mets playoff push. To move them, the team will likely have to get creative and eat salary. It’s even possible that assuming large portions of both contracts could net the Mets at least 2 useful prospects (1 for each)…not necessarily foundation pieces, but commodities that could prove useful as offseason trade bait to sweeten other deals.

The way to get the salary relief needed from removing Bay and Santana from the rolls is to look to contenders looking for veterans to help in a playoff run who want them cheaply. To do this, I would first offer to pay the remaining portions of their 2012 salaries. This money is already a sunk cost and I don’t see how a team would acquire either and pay them for the rest of ’12 AND ’13. Assuming 2 months remaining in the season at the time of a trade, what this means for the Mets is eating about 13.3M (Bay 5.3 + Santana 8) for 2012. It’s less than they took on in cutting Perez and Castillo in 2011. By doing this, the Mets would be in a position to ask for decent talent in return. As both are owed a total of 41.5M for 2013, the Mets can offer to take on a portion of that as well. I would offer to pay half (20.75) under the condition that these payments be made over 2 years – 2013 and 2014.

The acquiring teams might be more likely to accept such terms if the Mets increased the amount paid while taking into consideration the present value of the dollars involved as well as the fact that they (and not the Mets) would be on the hook for buying out the 2014 options on each player. For the sake of argument, let’s round the total number up to 24M, or 12M per year in 2013 and 2014 each paid to move on from Bay and Santana a year and a half early.

This might seem like a lot, but with a greatly reduced payroll in 2013 and 2014 (more on this in Part 3), $12M per year for the flexibility that comes with almost $30M in 2013 salary relief will seem like a bargain. For the teams acquiring them, Jason Bay at $8M and Santana for under $13M are a lot more attractive than at their current deals. Teams on the brink of winning could potentially be getting a bargain in adding these all-star talents ‘on the cheap’. On the flip side, if the Mets are actually in the race in 2012 and Bay and Santana are contributing, there is no harm in holding onto them and then attempting to deal them under similar conditions next offseason. I would still deal Arroyo, however.
I would expect the lineup in September to feature –

Ca – Grandal
1B – Davis
2B – Havens
3B – Murphy
SS – Tejada
OF – Kalish
OF – Nieuwenhuis/Pagan
OF – Duda
SP1 – Dickey
SP2 – Niese
SP3 – Pomeranz
SP4 – Harvey
SP5 – Familia

With Mejia recovering from injury, I would only expect him to appear out of the bullpen for the 2012 Mets. As mentioned earlier, I would also expect Holt to join Mejia and Brothers in the pen. A displaced Dillon Gee could also prove to be a very valuable reliever. You can see the team starting to come together at this point, although not complete. Arenado and Wheeler could both be September call-ups, I just don’t think they’ll see much regular playing time until 2013.

Heading into 2012, the Mets will have a ‘leaner’ approach. Although familiar names are leaving in this scenario, the development of the team’s young (and potential core) players will give fans excitement and reason to root for the Mets. When the season ends and the Mets are looking at their most pivotal offseason in years, they will be well-positioned with a solid young core to build around, only a few positional holes left to fill, and A LOT of money to spend.

In the final installment, I’ll go over the potential 2012-13 offseason moves and bring the entire picture into focus, taking a look at what the 2013 (and beyond) Mets could look like.

17 comments:

Mack said...

You and I are still on the same page.

My concerns at this point is what seems to be a lack of pop in the outfield and a questionable solution at third base.

A 2014 rotation of Pomeranz, Wheeler, Harvey, Familia, and Niese could be the ticket

Michael S. said...

...to be addressed in Part 3 :)

Mike Freire said...

I like your creativity, concerning the looming salary issues with Santana and Bay. It would be nice if we could offload just one of those guys. Two would be even better.

Man, I was so excited when we first got Santana! Unreal how badly that has turned out.

You are correct in that we need to move on. The current roster is not going to win a WS. So, we can either keep doing what we are doing and hope for a change (unlikely), or try a new direction, which could be better or worse.

Nice job.....Mike

Charles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Are you thinking of the same Brad Holt that I am? Because the Brad Holt that I am aware of - the one who pitched for AA Binghamton last year - stinks.

Anonymous said...

And nobody is going to want to pay Jason Bay $8 million. Are you serious?

Michael S. said...

I'm very serious. As I wrote, planning to trade him is contingent on him performing and returning to his career norms next year. He has to build on his late-season success (.955 OPS in September) or there will be no deal without the Mets eating almost all of the salary.

Holt began to take to the relief role as they year went on. Scouts still like his stuff...I'll defer to them. I expect him to take a step forward as a reliever next year.

Michael S. said...

Again, thank you for the positive feedback Mike.

I feel the same on Santana, I never thought the Mets would be in a position where they'd be better off walking away from him.

Hobie said...

Fascinating combination of analysis & supposition, Michael, Thank you.

Playing GM is fun, but highly speculative. Playing MULTIPLE GM’s (i.e. speculating on trades) is on the fringe of fantasy—but even more fun I guess. The house of cards you have here has a Wright for Pomeranz foundation. I would love to see that, but proceeding from there makes the entire time-line moot if that exchange doesn’t take place.

I guess what I’m interested in is more possible “Part I” scenarios before sailing off into the winters of 2012 & 2013,

Michael S. said...

Appreciate the feedback Hobie.

It's highly speculative. I wrote the piece as a possible avenue the team could take. They way I'm looking at the situation, the Mets needs are:

- Young OF/Leadoff
- Middle of the Order OF
- Middle of the Order OF
- Major league/franchise catcher
- Replacement for Wright (if traded)
- 2 more pitchers

How they go about filling those needs will only be seen with time. The players I selected are just suggestions that seem like a fit.

The entire scenario is predicated on Wright for Pomeranz. If the Mets can't get a top flight pitching prospect in a deal for Wright they should not trade him.

Mack said...

Michael:

Sadly, I have to agree with anonymous creep about Brad Holt. Though, I will express it a little better.

Holt has been lost for three years. He had a good excuse the first year (pitching coach Rick Waits got into his head), but that's long gone.

He simply can't find the barn anymore and is back to a one pitch guy.

I do hope you're right and I'm wrong, but I'd be very surprsied.

Michael S. said...

No worries Mack, if he doesn't make it then no loss. The Mets have many other internal options to fill out the pen.

Hobie said...

Agree with you list of needs, Less sure of what the priorities are in SA’s head, but each step will probably require reshuffling whatever that list is.

e.g. If we could trade Wright (+…) for Pomeranz (+…?—would love Rosario; would that take Familia?—hope not), maybe we’re more generous in a Jose offer. If Jose departs maybe we’re more inclined to arb with Pagan. If Wright stays maybe Young &/or Capuano rise on the dance card. If Jose stays (w or w/o Wright) a cheaper alternative to Pagan gains priority (I wouldn’t be shocked to find a Pridie/Legares platoon until N’huis has a healthy/productive chunk of months in AAA), etc.

Charles said...

Would the Mets trade Matt Harvey, Reese Havens, and Akeel Morris for Ryan Zimmerman? This of course, is assuming we never had David Wright. Because, in my view, the Mets and Rockies are not far apart from each other talent wise, and I cant imagine Alderson trading away some of his best prospects for a good third baseman, yet thats what you think the Rockies are likely to do. David Wright doesnt put the Rockies into the playoffs next year, so why would a team that just accumulated these prospects by trading away their star pitcher, turn around and trade them away for a good third baseman, whose one year away from free agency, and not likely to stick around when a better offer comes pouring in after the season. Basically, it be like trading Ubaldo strait up for Wright for the Rockies. Why? I'm sure you'll respond, just know you'll not sway me, I think it's more likely i'll win the lottery, then I do of David being traded to the Rockies for Pomeranz.

Mack said...

Charles:

Let me go back and make a timeline here.

1. the rumor that Colorado was interested in David Wright came from Colorado beat reporters

2. we here at Mack's Mets than said that the Mets in no way would trade Wright unless they reciever a package that includes Pomeranz.

That's all

Michael S. said...

Hobie -

There are a lot of scenarios that could play out with regard to both Reyes and Wright. When I wrote this, I approached it from the standpoint that both would be leaving because I wanted to show at least one way the Mets could put together a contender without them in the event that they left. It was mostly in response to the meme out there that if Reyes and Wright leave the Mets will be dead in the water for many seasons to come.

There are a lot of dominoes to fall, each impacting the next. I put forward a way for the team to attempt to build a younger and cheaper foundation.

Charles -

I hold no illusions about swaying you, if I remember correctly we talked a bit about this when I first wrote the piece on Wright being traded to Colorado. As Mack said, my stance is that since the Rockies are pursuing Wright, they should demand Pomeranz and Arenado in return. If the Rox say no (which they very well might), the Mets should keep Wright. If David is traded, I think the Mets should hold out for a pitcher with SP1/SP2 upside.

As I wrote previously, my comparison is Beltran/Wheeler. Because the Giants really wanted Beltran, the Mets were able to shake them down. My assumption is that the Rox really want Wright since they're the ones placing the calls. Wright's value in trade should be equivalent to Beltran's, even possibly greater due to his age and contract status. That has been and is my logic on this one however, you're right, the decision is ultimately in Colorado's hands.

But I do have to disagree with you on one point. Given that they play in the NL West, I think the Rockies feel that adding David Wright could put them in contention. If the Mets added Zimmerman, it would be a move towards building a team but not necessarily for next year.

BTW, I'm not trying to nitpick but the hypo Nats deal isn't equivalent to the Wright-Pomeranz deal because Havens doesn't play 3B (Wright would block Arenado so it would make sense to include him in a deal) and Morris has the potential of a top of the rotation pitcher while Brothers is a reliever.

Also, remember that the Rockies have deeper pitching than the Mets and received both Pomeranz and White for Ubaldo. It would be like getting Wright and White for Jiminez, a deal that swings favorably towards the Rox, especially considering that Ubaldo has had only one outstanding year, really stunk up the joint in 2011, and could have some serious injury problems surfacing.

Charles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mack's Mets © 2012