Posted by Reese Kaplan at 10:00 AM
Well, after a long trip to the other side of the world I come back to see the Mets be uncharacteristically active during the off-season. If you recall, the big acquisitions in 2015 were the recently retired Michael Cudaver, er, Cuddyer, John Mayberry and Rule V Selection Sean Gilmartin. 1 out of 3 is an All-Star in baseball but a putrid record in making business decisions.
Now, of course, there was that mid/late season flurry of personnel activity that brought Yoenis Cespedes, Addison Reed, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and others to help seal the pennant. Still, that whirlwind would not have been necessary had the roster been addressed in the off-season. Consequently seeing the Mets be active was a pleasant surprise.
I was always in the camp that was not enamored with the idea of adding Ben Zobrist at his advanced age and at the money he would command. Yes, he was a much surer thing than Dilson Herrera, but I felt the money could better be allocated where there weren’t alternatives such as a LH bat for CF or setup relievers.
Imagine my pleasant surprise, therefore, to see them acquire Neil Walker at virtually no cost by sending Jon Niese packing. To me that was the ultimate no-brainer decision as you addressed the same need without spending the kind of money nor the length of commitment that Zobrist would require.
The Asdrubal Cabrera move was a little less clear until I thought about the broken boned infielders the Mets have in Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada. Even if they’re both fully ready for spring training (which is no guarantee), you do still have the issue of David Wright’s durability to consider. A two year commitment for modest money for Cabrera was a good hedged bet against these three players’ health.
The question now, of course, is how to replace Yoenis Cespedes’ offensive production. There are many who will point out that a full year of David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Conforto and now Cabrera would make up for what was missed when way too many ABs went to the likes of Eric Campbell, Mayberry, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Cuddyer, Kevin Plawecki, Anthony Recker, Eric Young, Jr. and others. However, everyone who watched the team saw what it meant to have a fearful hitter in the middle of the lineup. Still, the World Series was won by a team without a bonafide offensive superstar so that sword cuts both ways.
Right now the Mets stand with a payroll of about $109 million, certainly with room to spend for another solid reliever and a platoon partner (if not outright replacement) for Juan Lagares. My personal thought would be to bundle Lagares plus to the Marlins for their embattled and apparently no longer wanted Marcell Ozuna. He’s one season removed from a 23 HR/85 RBI campaign and has been vocal about the manipulate-the-service-time game Miami played with him. While he’s not necessarily Cespedes or Justin Upton, a 20 HR centerfielder plus health and full season productivity from the aforementioned others would probably be enough offense. Best of all for the Wilpons, he’s still earning close to major league minimum.
Another buy low opportunity to consider is Aroldis Chapman. Before everyone goes all PC on me about how he’s an alleged wife beater and all, I’m cynical enough having watched countless others who have done the same or worse get chance after chance after chance if the talent is there. I don’t have to break bread with the guy to respect his on-the-field talent. Would you make the Reds an offer now that the Dodgers’ deal has fallen apart? You wanted a lefty reliever and lefties hit a paltry .120 against the guy.
Sure, it’s easy to say go sign Upton and Tyler Clippard but spending big money is not the team’s MO. I am not upset about missing out on Jason Heyward who, for all of his defensive prowess, has been an offensive underachiever that doesn't seem worth $23 million per year. His numbers are in line with what Neil Walker produces.
Are there any sleeper moves that you would like to see made?