Reese Kaplan - De Rigueur Salary Analysis

At this time of the year many pundits are analyzing where the Mets payroll will be and how much they have to spend in order to improve the club.  Quick fixes are usually expensive and not always successful, but it sure would be nice to read about the Mets being in play for some stud offensive players. 

Actually the payroll could conceivably stay flat or even decrease again in 2015 yet the team might produce more.  Have I been drinking Sandy Alderson’s special Kool Aid?  No, but I just looked at the plethora of articles on the payroll and figured that an extremely weak FA class for hitters is going to drive the price of pitchers higher as clubs will be focusing their efforts on the names that are out there for the picking.  However, once some career .500 pitcher signs the first multi-year contract paying an average value of more than $10 million per season, Sandy’s phone should begin ringing off the hook.

Towards that end, let’s take a look at the givens and the expendables.  By my calculations the club has $66 million or so in payroll obligations for 24 spots, so there is room for a bonafide superstar bat in the budget. 

David Wright @ $20 million
Curtis Granderson @ $16 million
Lucas Duda @ $5 million (ESPN arbitration estimate)
Bobby Parnell @ 3.7 million (ESPN assuming no increase due to season lost to injury)
Bartolo Colon @ 11 million (assuming there are no takers for him)
19 others @ $550K (rough average of contract values from the 40 man roster)
24 players @ $66.15 million

The Expendables
Anthony Recker @ $900K (ESPN arbitration estimate)
Ruben Tejada @ $1.5 million (ESPN arbitration estimate)
Eric Young @ $1.95 million (ESPN arbitration estimate)
Jenrry Mejia @ $2.5 million (ESPN arbitration estimate)
Dillon Gee @ $4.5 million (ESPN arbitration estimate)
Jonathon Niese @ $7 million
Daniel Murphy @ $8.5 million (ESPN arbitration estimate)

I know what you’re thinking…how could you consider players in the expendables list after Eric Young not worthy of a spot on the roster?  It all comes down to payroll flexibility, limited resources and the upcoming major hits to the budget that will occur when some of the younger players like Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom and Zack Wheeler start hitting their arbitration years and you’ll want to have money to lock them up long term. 

Now, who plays on this team if you consider the expendables gone in trade (or non-tendered in the case of the first three)? 

1B  Lucas Duda
2B  Dilson Herrera (only because Matt Reynolds doesn’t yet have to be added to the 40-man roster)
SS Wilmer Flores
3B David Wright
C  Travis d’Arnaud
LF Curtis Granderson
CF Juan Lagares (or Matt den Dekker if Lagares is demanded in a trade as described on Saturday)
RF Newly acquired superstar caliber bat

C  Juan Centeno
IF Eric Campbell
IF  Wilfredo Tovar
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
OF Cesar Puello or Andrew Brown

SP Matt Harvey
SP Jacob de Grom
SP Bartolo Colon
SP Zack Wheeler
SP  Rafael Montero

RP  Bobby Parnell
RP  Jeurys Familia
RP Vic Black
RP Josh Edgin
RP Dario Alvarez
RP Carlos Torres
RP  Dana Eveland

Now let’s compare the projected 2015 lineup with what was unsuccessful in 2014.  How will Dilson Herrera stack up to Daniel Murphy?  Will you get nearly 200 hits and a .289 average?  Probably more like .260 as he adjusts to the new level, but he will deliver more power and speed so that’s at worst a push. Matt Reynolds is but a non-stop flight away in Las Vegas if Herrera sputters.

How about a full year of Wilmer Flores vs. Ruben Tejada?  Is a season of .260/15/65 beyond the realm of modest probability?  I think not and it would represent a quantum leap forward in offensive production.

Then you have the question of the unnamed newly acquired outfielder vs. the combination of Eric Young, Chris Young, Matt den Dekker and various other warm bodies who occupied left field last season.  They’ve set the bar at limbo championship height, so it’s entirely possible you’ll see another quantum leap here as well. 

Throw in bounce back seasons from Wright and Granderson plus the second half version of Travis d’Arnaud and you’ll see that the addition of one slugging outfielder makes the team one that even Terry Collins might not be able to keep under .500 (particularly when you remove the temptations from him to go back to the tried and true failures of the past). 

Now the reason for trading Daniel Murphy is obvious – money.  While he may be an All-Star on the Mets, he’s a super sub or borderline starter on good clubs.  However, his projected salary is not unreasonable to better businessmen who understand that investing in payroll is necessary to putting a decent product on the field. 

The logic behind moving Jenrry Mejia is a bit less obvious.  He’s coming off a 28 save season – selling high.  He’s flamboyant – something the Mets organization abhors.  Bobby Parnell is untradeable until healthy, so you have redundant closers.  Consequently Jenrry looks like the odd man out. 

Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese look to be the expendable pitchers for reasons I outlined a few weeks ago.  They are mid to back end starters, won’t embarrass you, but won’t likely put you over the top either.  The Mets have front end starters bubbling in the pipeline, including Noah Syndergaard and Steve Matz.  Consequently you can fill your rotation with what already exists on the 40 man roster and hold off on those promotions until after the Super Two deadline passes.  Rafael Montero can man the fort for one of them and, of course, Matt Harvey slots in for the other. 

So now the hard part comes – who is that unnamed superstar caliber outfielder to usurp the $19 million or so leftover in the budget?  I wouldn’t expect them to sink it all on one player, but that does make the Mets seem almost legitimate in the pursuit of a bat considering that they could now afford someone of that caliber. 

Almost as important as identifying that player is figuring out what it would take in trade to get him considering there is no one in the FA class other than Yasmani Tomas who might be young enough or strong enough to warrant that kind of consideration. 

One name bandied about lately is the Dodgers’ apparent dissatisfaction with Yasiel Puig’s prima donna tendencies, but the Toyota Camry of clubhouses in Queens wouldn’t likely want him to disrupt the sleepwalking culture they’ve so carefully perfected.    

Later this week I’ll identify some potential targets to consider.  


Anonymous said...

Good Afternoon Reese:
Sorry but I don't believe there will any big trades. You"ll see Sandy pick up either Rios or Cuddyer, that's all. The team is so close but Sandy wont trade any of his depth ,till after spring training. Once every one shows up healthy. Or at the deadline? But the team will be in the race so they wont be trading Murphy then or Colon. Your stuck with

Anonymous said...

the overlooked benefit of clearing the veteran salaries is what will be returned. If the hope is that our OF of the future in return, I think it will not be realized, but if the plan is to restock and already fattened farm, then I think Sandy and Co can work some magic. Moving the Vets does not appear to create holes that cannot be filled, knocks off $30M for additional acquisitions and results in an even better Farm post Thor and Matz grad. All of this combined with one of the most exciting young staffs in baseball and a limited number of holes to fill. That is a team that is poised to make a move; no guarantees, but they are a heckuva lot better positioned now than even just two years ago.

Reese Kaplan said...

For as many well deserved accolades as the pitching pipeline has received, where are the position players? Yes, we have high hopes for Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto but that's pretty much about it until you get to Ahmed Rosario and Wuilmer Becerra who are not exactly around the corner. If you can get AA and AAA offensive players for the vets, then Sandy Alderson deserves a tip of the chapeau.

Mack Ade said...

The system does not have enough top projectable depth other than starting pitching.

There is plenty of pitching that has no chance of making a future Mets rotation, that can fill in high celing players NOW at AA/A+/A levels.

Depth gives you options.

Anonymous said...

Yes it would be great if Sandy can trade a few pitchers for some top talent position players! But I don't see it happening. 1 or 2 pitchers will go down in Spring training. No OF depth,yet. I cant see Sandy trading from his Pitching depth yet. I would like Sandy and company to choose a few of the core players and buy out some ARB-FA years!
Wheeler-Familia-Lagares-Duda to a 3-5 year deal now. It gives the team some cost certainty

Tom Brennan said...

I agree with Mack there.

One thing to keep in mind with the Expendables: Jennry Mejia may have struggles as a starter, but he could be used as EITHER starter or reliever by another team.

There is often nothing like experience. Jennry is far more experienced now than at the start of the year. My guess is that gained experience would allow him to be a far more effective and valuable starter than he was this past spring.

More likely he stays a reliever if traded, but he is cheap and versatile. An acquiring team could use him either way.

Tom Brennan said...

Early signing cost certainty has its pluses. Good thinking.

They do have pitching to trade, though. A guy like Verrett could start for another major league team. Perhaps Pill too, who might be a lesser pitcher than Logan but would have a great bat for a pitcher in the NL - which has to count for something to some team. Gorski too. Might be a fringe 5th starter, but he'd be one making $500K.

Mack Ade said...

Thomas -

I agree with your choice of pitchers (Verrett, Gorski, Pill).

Jon Niese and Dillon Gee are having a hard enough time being projected for the 2015 rotations. Forget the three you mentioned, all of which have major league, back end of the rotation, talent.

They will all be ready either by opening day 2015 or 2016... there has to be a couple of 'trading down' deals out there for, let's say an A-level outfielder or an A+ level middle infielder

Reese Kaplan said...

That's exactly my point. Trade away the salaries of people who do not necessarily have a future in Queens and replenish the bats that are missing in the minor league system.

eraff said...

Wow--- "Superstar OF Bat" essentially exchanged for:

-370-400 Innings of Under Control, Reasonalbly Priced Starting Pitching

- A Major League Calibre Hitter (Murphy)

- A Gold Glove Center Fielder with Offensive Upside

That Leaves me with a 20 year old at 2b, who is largely a FUTURE Projection....

........a SS who is NOT a SS in all probability... and who is ALSO very unproven/QUESTIONABLE as a Hitter, spare a few hot streaks

...and a 28 year oild CF'er who, SO FAR, looks like a 5th out fielder.

With a decent additioon in LF or SS, a "return TOWARD the baseball card" for Wright and Granderson", this is a CONTENDER IN 2015.

Your proposals will waste another season... You've subtracted several ACTUAL Major league ball players and left the team DEpth Less and SHORT 4 actual MLB level contributors.

Tom Brennan said...

Hi eraff

In most cases, there are two sides to every coin. Reese chose one side, you chose the other. Flip of a coin as to who is right.

But there is a huge starting pitcher surplus. It has to be pared down, no later than mid-2015, unless there is a rash of injuries. Given Niese and Gee's injury history, I'd look at both as less than iron men, and try to trade them before they incur serious injury, not after. No guarantee they do have a major injury, and maybe they'll both log 3,000 career innings, but I saw Santana after the warning signs emerged. I'd prefer to deal sooner.

Think of our bullpen lefty of a few years ago who we did not re-sign, Yanks signed, and got zero innings from him. Sooner is better.

I just rented the movie Draft Day. Really enjoyed it. It is about going with the gut. My gut is den Dekker showed enough glimpses of drastic improvement in the 2nd half of 2014 to project as an above-average starting OF making $500K next year, not a fringy 5th OF. I'd not be surprised if the Mets' hierarchy now feels that way. No one felt that way in July about him. I may be nuts, but I think he'll have a better season than Grandy in 2015. Sign Cuddyer or my (thanks to Mack's enlightenment) new fave Delmon Young and I'm happy in the OF.

eraff said...

ok--- appreciate the back and forth, but a "glut of SP" is almost always a figment of the imagination. However, I'll concede the concept of trading from strength and resources.

That said, a PLAYER at either SS or LF, and a Return to "85% of Splendor" for Wright and Grandy makes this a contending team....and that may require sacrificing some Arms.

The team as outlined above has several players cutting teeth....Herrera is a good project at 2b-----but he's 20! Flores and DD are each very questionalble as Fixtures in the middle of the field/lineup. Make no mistake, I'm a big fan of both!!!!

The residual "damage" is a reduction of depth and bench bats.

Tom Brennan said...

Great, Eraff.

Seems like Mack's list of pitchers includes:
While the Mets won't do it, Mejia learned a lot in 2014 and surely would be a better starter in 2015 were he given the opportunity.

That's 8.


Ten. Those 2 may not excel out of the gate in 2014, were they on the roster opening day, but if needed in April, bet they'd hold their own.

Then Verrett, who I'd bet a lot of teams would use as a #5 next year.


Then three marginal guys as of now, that would be a stretch as ML-ready starters, but could be legit #5's during 2015:

Fourteen - and you could make a case for Mazzoni and Peavey too, which would make it 16

Seems like a HUGE near-term immediate surplus to me. About enough for two teams!

eraff said...

I've already conceded the point about the ability to trade pitchers...but if you're counting 14!!!!!!!!---WELL..... C'MON!

The point I made is that the original post INCLUDED the idea that you're trading Murphy, and Lagares as well---starting 3 pups (frankly, 2 of them with questionable pedegree) and One who is BARELY ready....and MAYBE he is!!!????

So...the supoerstar bat is??????? Because you just lost 380 innings of major league pitching, a young and budding Center Fielder, and a Professional Hitter (granted---I'm ok with moving murph).

....and...Now your bench went from "starting to be good" to "some guys"

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