Thursday I’ll be heading down under for some much needed R&R (and copious amounts of fermented grape juice) throughout the vineyards of southeastern Australia. This column will be my last until I return with one on Saturday, November 22nd. While I typically travel during the month of October I couldn’t run the risk of missing Terry Collins’ first ever appearance in the post-season, right? Instead I head out in November and miss the beginning of the hot stove season when all of the important deals happen. In fact, it was during this window last year that Sandy Alderson pulled a fetid rabbit out of his, um, er, hat and signed Chris Young. So that got me to thinking, what roster surprises might I find upon my two week news embargo?
They do ANYTHING
I’m already on record stating that the 2015 roster is going to bear a strong resemblance to the crew that started regularly in early August of 2014. There have already been a number of stories placed about “internal solutions” and “keeping all the young pitching studs”. Doing anything would indeed be a surprise, though perhaps not a true shock.
They non-tender Bobby Parnell
For the Filene’s Basement Boys, nearly $4 million sunk into a pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery and whose start to the season could happen after they’ve already fallen out of contention may be an expensive pill they’re not willing to swallow. That one would most definitely be a shocker.
They do tender a contract to Eric Young, Jr.
Despite his marginalization that coincided with the team winning, his possible $3 million price tag a bit much for a guy who can run like the wind but only if he gets on base. He’s a mediocre fielder with a rag arm. It would make business sense to cut him loose, thus offering to keep him around for yet another unproductive year would catch many off-guard.
Ditto Ruben Tejada
Again, from a baseball standpoint paying $2 million for a guy who can’t run, can’t hit and fields at an average level seems somewhat irresponsible, but they may rationalize he’s only 24 and FUD (Fear/Uncertainty/Doubt) surrounding Wilmer Flores might push them into enduring the diminutive Panamanian for one more year.
They let Wilmer Flores play SS
For an organization that hasn’t developed hitters throughout their history, it’s been surprising they kept looking for reasons not to play the man. Finally when he was given the chance in August and September he gave them a glimpse of what he’s done in the minors – hit for contact, not strike out, drive in runs and show some pretty formidable power for a middle infielder. Still, it seems you can’t go a half day without someone penning something about how you can’t really plan to go into the season with Wilmer at SS.
Matt Reynolds makes the team
The PR machine is in overdrive all of the sudden about AFL all-star Matt Reynolds. He put up gaudy numbers between AA and AAA last year and he’s even shown a little pop in Arizona. The thing that stands in his way is the 40-man roster and the fact he doesn’t yet have to be included on it. Having him begin the year in Queens would therefore truly be surprising.
They trade Daniel Murphy
Murphy has accomplished at the major league level what they hope Matt Reynolds can do. Wilmer Flores probably has more offensive potential, but would be better served playing 2B than SS. Dilson Herrera is just 20 and should get a full season in AAA, so a Reynolds/Flores DP combo up the middle could be in the cards. More importantly, the $8 million Murphy is projected to earn could theoretically go towards an outfielder.
They trade Gold Glover Juan Lagares
If you want to make a splash you have to make some waves and sending this young man packing would most definitely do both. The reasoning, however, is simple. Matt den Dekker showed strong OBP, reduced strikeout totals and well above average fielding. He has more running speed and likely more home run power than Lagares. It would be a painful pill to swallow, but if you could package Lagares, Murphy and one of Niese/Gee/Colon for a slugging corner outfielder wouldn’t you have to consider it? In that scenario you’re giving up say $15 million in salary which would pay for someone (preferably right handed if den Dekker and Granderson are playing every day) to play the other OF position. That one would be a tidal wave of a shocker, but it could be good business if the return was right.
The find takers for one of the costlier starting pitchers
This group would include Bartolo Colon ($11 million), Jon Niese ($7 million) and Dillon Gee (approximately $4.5 million). As it is, they have Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom, Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero along with the Super Two duo of Noah Syndergaard and Steve Matz. Since no one at the trading deadline blinked on Colon, he’s a keeper. Niese and Gee have had both inconsistencies and health issues, but given their ages and price tags they might fetch something in return. Still, I can’t see anyone beating down the door for any of this trio until Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and others are off the board.
They make an aggressive bid on an international free agent
Whether it’s Yasmany Tomás or Yoan Moncada, it’s not been in the Mets collective DNA to spend scarce dollars on what they perceive as unproven players. For every Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, Yu Dervish, Masahiro Tanaka, Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Ichiro Suzuki or Aroldis Chapman that becomes available there is the Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Alay Soler, Jorge Toca and Kazuo Matsui counterpoint. Having been burned a few times, they instead turn their investments into proven commodities like Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Carlos Baerga, Roberto Alomar, Jose Valverde, Jason Bay, Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Frank Francisco. Maybe it’s time to rethink that strategy…nah, it won’t happen.
They make Kevin Plawecki the backup to Travis d’Arnaud
Yes, it would it violate every 40-man roster/Super Two principle they hold so dearly, but it would set up an interesting scenario. You have a solid hitter in Plawecki backing up the more power-oriented d’Arnaud whether for rest or for injury fill-in duty. Plawecki could also get at-bats subbing against tough lefties at 1B for Lucas Duda. This move would cost major league minimum and demonstrate the aggressive approach taken by winning teams, hence it’s unlikely to happen.
They trade a young, minimum wage pitcher
This one I feel is the least likely to happen of all. Sandy Alderson prides himself on the wealth of arms he’s assembled and if anyone is going, it’s the veterans who earn bigger paychecks. Seeing a Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero included in a trade would totally shock me.
When I get back via San Francisco and Phoenix on my way home to El Paso I will hopefully have time on my layovers to find out what has or has not yet happened. I’m still banking on point number one…what you’ve seen is what you’ll get.