According to Forbes magazine, the Mets did not quite see the windfall of post-season money that everyone had expected. They calculated the return to be about 25% of ticket sales in the home ballpark – good but not enough to get your hopes up for a big shopping spree this off-season. Throw in the fact that there’s a big loan payment due in 2016 and you can expect that Sandy Alderson may once again have to get creative in order to put a decent offense on the field.
Note I said decent offense. The pitching will be there. Even the beleaguered bullpen fresh off the World Series meltdowns has the potential to be solid. The questions, of course, are how to use whatever funds (and how limited they might be) to build upon the surprising success of 2015.
First, let’s look at the departures – 9 in total thus far, including Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Murphy, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, Bartolo Colon, Tyler Clippard, Jerry Blevins, Bobby Parnell and Eric O’Flaherty. Of this group, I could see them making a run at the former Atlanta Brave bench players and perhaps a minor league contract offer to Jerry Blevins. The other six are onto their next gig elsewhere.
The Mets did add various players onto the 40-man roster today, including people who ended the year on the 60-day DL. This group includes Zack Wheeler, Josh Edgin, Rafael Montero, Jack Leathersich, Wilfredo Tovar, Buddy Carlyle and Darrell Ceciliani. In addition, there are placeholders not likely to be on the team once personnel additions need to be made. These players would include Eric Young, Jr., Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Johnny Monell, Anthony Recker, Eric Campbell and Jenrry Mejia.
So what is is that the Mets need going into 2016? Well, for starters they need to decide their infield alignment. Will they go with Dilson Herrera at 2B and Wilmer Flores at SS? Flores at 2B and Ruben Tejada at SS? Roll the dice that Gavin Cecchini is ready for the big leagues already and then decide between Flores and Herrera at 2B? Give Matt Reynolds a look? Hope to get a short term bounce-back price for Ian Desmond to hold the fort until Cecchini is deemed ready?
Then there’s the outfield. Everyone is penciling in Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson for the two corners, but what about CF? If Yoenis Cespedes indeed departs, do you go back to Juan Lagares? Everyone who’s watched the Mets sees that he’s not the Gold Glove fielder (and especially not the man with the Golden arm) anymore. Is it a medical issue? If so, why didn’t they address it sooner to have him ready for 2016?
CF free agent pickings are pretty slim. Colby Rasmus is available but he’s another low average, high strikeout guy, not exactly what the team needs. Denard Span is coming off an injury plagued year, but he’s been very solid and would give the Mets the high OBP type of player they’re sorely lacking. Dexter Fowler is out there and surely the Cubs will let him walk considering their wealth of young hitters and his outgoing $9.5 million price tag. Gerardo Parra is coming off the best season of his career, but has played more LF than CF and you would be overpaying for what could be a statistical outlier.
Another way for the Mets to improve is the trade route. While they peddled away a great many pitching prospects last year, they do have some options. For example, Lucas Duda had a down year and fizzled when the pressure was on. Still, another team in a less media-intense town might feel he could DH or play 1B for them and deliver30 HRs once again.
My answer to replacing him is Korean free agent Byung-ho Park. He’s posted absurd average and home run numbers for the past few years. Even a 25% drop in production would still energize Queens’ huge Korean fan base and result in a contract likely to pay for itself. If you doubled the Pirates’ Jyung-Ho Kang’s posting fee and salary, he’d still come in at an average annual value of about $8 million. That’s Daniel Murphy money for Yoenis Cespedes production. You’d have to act fast, though, as he was scheduled to be posted Monday and offers must be in by Friday.
The other name you might see in trade rumors is the not-coincidentally moderately expensive Jon Niese. They may opt to go with the best of Logan Verrett, Carlos Torres, Sean Gilmartin or even Rafael Montero for the 5th starter slot until Zack Wheeler returns. Then they can unload Niese’s salary to address problems on the offense or to pay for the arbitration eligible Addison Reed.
What does your crystal ball say about upcoming roster changes?