There’s been some speculation that Major League Baseball would consider expanding beyond the 30 teams currently in the two leagues. The last time it happened in 1997 you added the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL and the now Tampa Bay Rays in the AL.
To fire up the baseball neurons in our collective brains, let’s pretend that commissioner Selig has decided as his final parting “gift” to the leagues to add one more team to each league. Assuming we follow the same rules used in 1997, what does a team suddenly on the upswing like the Mets do when it comes to protecting people on its roster?
Let’s review the rules. During the first round a team can protect 15 players from its entire organization – majors and minors. The only exceptions are 10/5 players (of which the Mets have none), players with iron-clad no-trade clauses (again leaving out the Mets), and players who have had less than 3 years in organized baseball if they are aged 19 or older or less than 4 years in baseball if signed at 18 or younger. Michael Conforto, for example, would automatically be protected.
After the first round, you can add three players to the list and after the second round add three more. The choosing teams would get 15 players each from the first and second rounds, then 5 players each from the third rounds, so they would start with a pool of 35 players to form a team.
So let’s take a stab at who should be protected and when. Remember, the drafting team is fully responsible for the player’s salary when they select him. Consequently you have an opportunity to leave unprotected some expensive assets by gambling that a newly formed team would not want to take on the obligation. For example, protecting Bartolo Colon would probably be foolish if it meant leaving a Steve Matz unprotected.
In the past teams generally would protect their veterans and let the kids go, but the game has changed (as has the Wilpons’ financial picture). My thinking is that you protect your inexpensive assets who are young and healthy while gambling on the ones who are more costly, have health question marks or who are older and not generally who a new team would choose to make part of their long term foundation. If someone should take them, oh well…at least you have their budgeted salary dollars available now to address other needs. Towards that end I present my list:
The No Brainer 11
Jacob de Grom
The Next 4
David Wright – Overpriced and underperforming but they wouldn't risk the PR hit of losing him
Jenrry Mejia – Seemingly not a team favorite but his stuff would get him nabbed
Rafael Montero – If you are exposing three starters to the draft then you need to keep him around
Wilmer Flores – Since they don’t need to promote nor protect Reynolds, you need a SS
Unprotected Major Leaguers
Michael Cuddyer – Too old for a newly minted franchise to build around
Curtis Granderson – Age and production not suitable for his remaining years for a new team
Daniel Murphy – $9 million salary and losing him to free agency at the end of the year anyway
Bobby Parnell – Gambling that his health would make him too much of a concern
Jon Niese – You have to consider that the Mets have Syndergaard and Matz coming to replace him
Dillon Gee – Montero could do what he does but at minimum wage
Bartolo Colon – Age and price conspire against him being taken
Josh Edgin – Gaudy numbers last year but a LOOGY likely wouldn’t be a first round pick
Next Three Protected Picks After Round One
Next Three Protected Picks After Round Two
Gabriel YnoaMatt Bowman
Akeel Morris – Far enough down in the minors that a new team might not grab him right away
Protected Minor Leaguers Include:
I pondered long and hard about whether or not Wright should be protected at all. I know I’d get killed for an exclusion but would a newly minted team want to take on $107 million of salary obligation through 2020? More importantly, what could the Mets do with that much money? Parnell is a different case as he might be taken as a late round gamble as he’s not that expensive and could hide on a new team’s DL for a few months.
Let’s hear from you about who you would protect and why.