Posted by Stephen Guilbert at 2:00 PM
While I do not believe the Michael Cuddyer signing was a good one, it did take care of the remaining corner outfield and first base platoon need the Mets had going into the winter.
Despite the loss of draft pick, I do believe the early move suggests the Mets have big things coming up. By signing an outfielder, a trade for a shortstop seems likely.
Here are a few paths the Mets could take:
1.) "The Prospect Shortstop" Path
Trade for: Nick Franklin, Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings, Chris Taylor, Addison Russell, or Javier Baez.
Give up: One top pitching prospect such as Rafael Montero, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard or one mid-rotation arm (Jon Niese or Dillon Gee)
Analysis: The best path in my eyes. Chris Owings may have priced himself out of the Sandy Alderson market with his very strong rookie season but this is one of the better all-around young shortstops in the National League and the Diamondbacks like Gregorius (his glove is ridiculous. Go watch a highlight clip) and want pitching.
Trade: Rafael Montero for Chris Owings. The league likes Montero and for good reason. The kid can pitch, has very few miles on his arm, and is electric. I have been on record many times saying he will be better than Noah Syndergaard and I stand by it. But that is what it will take to get Owings.
Other trades to explore could be Syndergaard for Russell, Jenrry Mejia for Didi Gregorius, or Matt Bowman for Chris Taylor.
2.) "The Superstar Shortstop" Path
Trade for: Starlin Castro or Troy Tulowitzki
Give up: A king's ransom of prospects starting with Noah Syndegaard and complemented by 2-3 more of Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, or Rafael Montero.
Analysis: Yes, I just called Starlin Castro a superstar. No, I didn't mean it. I still do not think Castro is as good as most people think he is. He's a low-OBP inconsistent contact hitter with troublesome declining SB and fielding numbers. But fans love him and he should be included here. He will cost Syndergaard+.
For Tulowitzki, the risk is assuming 20 million a year with a guy coming off surgery and can't stay on the field. The reward is the best infielder in baseball. If we can get away with a trade that does not include Wheeler and allows us to keep one of Montero or Syndergaard, I would go for it. A rumor going around was something like Thor, Plawecki, Conforto and the Mets assume the entire contract. I would be very very tempted to accept that offer but it would put a lot of money on a small number of players--never a recipe for success. If there is a player to do it for, though, it's Tulo.
3.) "The 'No Better Than Flores'" Path
Trade for: Alexei Ramirez
Give up: A major pitcher
Wilmer Flores is projected somewhere between 2 and 3 WAR with a plus bat and poor glove from the shortstop position. Alexei is the opposite. Good glove, not much with the stick. Fans love him because he has some speed, actually had some pop last year, and played good defense. But for 20 times the cost of Wilmer Flores plus giving up a major pitcher like Syndergaard, I'll pass.
4.) "The Free Agent" Path
Sign: Hanley Ramirez, Jed Lowrie, or Asdrubal Cabrera.
Give up: $10-18 million for 3-6 years, depending on the player.
Analysis: I had my heart set on J.J. Hardy but the O's were never going to let him leave Baltimore. The remaining options do not look good. Hanley is now one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball and will need to move to third soon. He will be the most expensive, require the most years, and while his bat is by far the most advanced of the three, he does not fit in with the Mets staff who generate a ton of ground ball outs.
Jed Lowrie is a solid player but over the past four years, he has been worth 0.5, 2.2, 2.3, and 0.8 bWAR from 2011-2014, spanning three different teams and two leagues. The first two years were as a part-time player. A lot of his value comes from power out of the shortstop position and at-times good defense. In short, I do not see an upgrade over Tejada defensively and only marginally better on offense. Not worth the money.
Asdrubal Cabrera, although I hate to admit it, is the best of the three. Still a strong hitter with pop and speed, his defense can be good. It is not above average and has been well below average at times over his career but he has ability and his moments. He would be an upgrade defensively above Flores and an offensive upgrade in a big way above both Ruben and Wilmer.
5.) "The International Savior" Path
Sign: Jung-ho Kang or Yoan Moncada
Give up: Money. A lot for Kang. Less for Moncada, but expect it to exhaust the international free agent bonus pool.
Analyasis: There's nothing here. I like Kang but he is not the sort of signing you can make and expect to be an answer at shortstop.
Moncada is a must-sign in my eyes. The Mets lost a big potential draft pick by signing Cuddyer and they can get that talent back in a big way with Moncada. Experts say that if he were a U.S. high school or collegiate athlete, he would go 1-1 in the draft. That is the sort of talent I want--even if it costs the entire free agent pool. Keep in mind, though, he will be in any team's farm system for two years before being ready. This is not a major league caliber player right now. He's also probably not a shortstop as a major leaguer.
Conclusion: What started as a post about being Sandy Alderson for a day has turned into another "Shortstoptions" post. So I will salvage this piece and give you my day as Sandy Alderson. I present you with three options and choose. Comment which you would do.
1.) Trade Noah Syndergaard, Jon Niese, Kevin Plawecki, and Michael Conforto to the Colorado Rockies for Troy Tulowitzki. Rockies send 24 million (4 million/year of Tulo's contract) to the Mets. Mets sign Jon Lester or Francisco Liriano. Mets sign Yoan Moncada.
2.) Mets sign Asdrubal Cabrera to a 3 year $36 million deal. Mets sign Yoan Moncada.
3.) Mets trade Rafael Montero for Chris Owings.
I like #3 and have for over a year now. If I am Sandy, I still do that and figure out what to do with Herrera, Murphy, Flores, Tejada, and Reynolds later. As well as all of the pitching.