Reese Kaplan -- Walker Deal Better Value Than Murph

I got into an interesting debate with perhaps an even more cynical Mets fan than myself who was bemoaning the fast start Daniel Murphy has had for the Washington Nationals.  It went something like, “See?  If the cheap-ass owners just forked over what he wanted, he could be doing that for the Mets right now!”

The fallacy I tried to point out is that Murphy required a multiyear commitment of $37.5 million.   The Mets are not paying that salary to him.  Furthermore, the trade of Jon Niese for Neil Walker had a net cost of $1.5 million in salary differential for just an obligation to this single year.  $37.5 million (or if you prefer, $12.5 million per year) vs. $1.5 million for Neil Walker and what he’s thus far produced –  I’ll make that deal every day of the week.

Furthermore, the acquisition of Neil Walker was a gambling hedge on a couple of fronts.  He could get a qualifying offer from the Mets, walk away and the Mets would gain a compensatory draft pick.  Assuming Dilson Herrera is for real, you have a minimum wage player and a top draft pick for your one year investment of $1.5 million.  All in all, that’s pretty shrewd business.

He was also a hedge against the inevitable decline of David Wright who demonstrated last year he’s no longer capable of being an everyday player as a result of his failing health.  Should Wright follow in Michael Cuddyer’s footsteps and retire after this season, the Mets have a gaping hole at 3B that’s been filled by Wright since John Kerry ran for President and 3 years before the iPhone was invented.  Walker has played 3B before and could slide over there to take Wright’s place. 

Now to secure Walker’s services is going to cost you.  Figure a starting point would be around what Ben Zobrist got from the Cubs – $56 million over 4 years to deliver a yearly average of 17/79/.268.  Walker delivers a similar 19/81/.272 though without as much positional versatility.  Still, the $14 million average annual value given his 4 year younger age is probably a good starting point.  The Mets did offer Curtis Granderson a 4 year deal when he was 33, so the 30 year old Walker would probably be within his rights to expect that duration to be on the table. 

Assuming the Mets did go in this direction, you’d still have $14 million invested in Walker and $500K invested in Herrera.  You have one more year of Asdrubal Cabrera at $8.25 million (and an $8.5 option or $2 million buyout in year 3).  That’s insurance in case Gavin Cecchini goes the way of Reese Havens and others who couldn’t seem to stay on the field long enough to realize their talents. 

However, there’s another elephant in the room by the name of Lucas Duda.  A stress fracture in the back is what started Mr. Wright down his long, painful path.  The positive here is that the team is not locked into a costly long-term contract.  Duda would be facing arbitration next season and the team might opt to non-tender him rather than be on the hook for $8 million or more in salary for a guy who may or may not be able to play. 

In case you need a scorecard, you potentially have $23 million of David Wright money and $8 million (arbitration estimate) of Lucas Duda money to address two corner infielder issues.  If $14 million is going to go to Neil Walker to play 3rd base, then you have theoretically $17 million to address 1st base. 

The problem is you also need to earmark some funds for your pitchers.  Yes, Bartolo Colon may be heading to a big buffet elsewhere and you recoup his $7.5 million in salary, but Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom and Jeurys Familia need to be paid.   They may keep the purse strings tight on Noah Syndergaard, Steve Matz and Zack Wheeler for as long as possible. 

Now the outfield also has the potential to get messy.  Right now going into next season you have Michael Conforto for sure.  Juan Lagares’ deal has his salary escalating rapidly each year for a bench player.  In 2017 he’s slated to earn $4.5 million.  Yes, Alejandro De Aza is producing less and costing more, but the Mets typically don’t fork over that much for the final 5-6 players on the bench.  Curtis Granderson is having a rough start to his year, but the Mets are on the hook for 2017 as well to the tune of $15 million untradeable dollars.  

Then there’s the weird 11th hour contract of Yoenis Cespedes which will pay him nearly $4 million less if he sticks around rather than opting out.  Would another team offer him more than $23.75 million per year for 2017 and 2018?  He’s only 30 years old, so it’s entirely possible he could negotiate a 4-5 year deal for himself.  I don’t mean to depress anyone, but consider they could theoretically start 2017 without Cespedes, Wright and Duda.  You think scoring runs is a struggle now?  You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Let’s play GM for a minute and figure out the next series of moves:

  1. Talk to Wright about how to exit the game gracefully a’la Don Mattingly
  2. Take the money you’d earmarked to pay Wright and extend Cespedes
  3. Consider packaging one of your pitchers (Matt Harvey, for example) to land a true slugging 1st baseman or outfielder (given Granderson’s age and final year remaining on his deal)
  4. Fill the 5th starter gap with some combination of Sean Gilmartin, Rafael Montero and/or Logan Verrett
  5. Talk to Neil Walker about becoming the new 3rd baseman
  6. Consider trading Bastardo and returning Josh Edgin to the majors to save some money
  7. Remember that Cespedes was an international free agent and see how that turned out.  Don’t be gun shy about looking outside the borders for talent.  It’s working for other clubs, why not the Mets?
What would you do?


Tom Brennan said...

Hi Reese

I wanted Duda traded and Murphy signed for 1B. That would have made real sense. Get Walker, get Cespedes, but do that trade. Too late.

Re-sign Walker...or the ugly hitting of late could get uglier in 2017.

Ynoa has pitched very well in AAA this year - maybe he is in the mix for 5th starter next year.

In the off season, I would trade Juan and promote Nimmo (yes Nimmo, who I have not been a fan of) for 2017. Nimmo is picking it up and should be ready.

Cecchini is more than just batting average (a plus). He is low power and the last 2 years has had 38 errors in about 140 games. He needs to improve in power and cut the errors in half. Otherwise, Amed Rosario will lap him.

Wright has to do the right thing and retire at season's end. Dilson should be ready.

Red Sox signed a future star the Mets could have used in Yoan Moncada. They need to spend. They will make mistakes, but they need to get more aggressive to get real talent.

Tom Brennan said...

Edgin is still listed as active, but he last pitched on May 29, and before that May 25. I thought I heard he had some elbow tenderness. Bastardo stays until he is clearly healthy.

Lefty pen-wise, I'd like to see the Mets force Al Baldonado upwards and see if he can be a lefty big league pen arm - and soon, like this year.

He is 0-1, 1.80 in 18 relief outings between Lucie and Bingo (after 1.91 in 38 outings last year), and impressively has allowed only 6 homers in 259 career innings (1 every 43 IP). By comparison, big leaguer Logan Verrett has allowed 55 minor league homers in 476 innings. Al Bal has also held righties this year and last to around .200.

I think the lefty can get up to 94-95. That works. Push him hard.

Eddie Corona said...

Thomas You made all the right points... Especially on the Yoan Moncada and the international market...
Unfortunately I do not have the privileged to see these players to say we should get this guy or that guy... But there are scouts that are paid to... more important The mets need to attend every work out that these players have when they show case their talents... 4 ways to build a club... Free agents (we should be agressive but shrewd... Over pay for a Guy like Machado / donaldson in a couple of years, pass on guys like granderson (who was brought in to be a middle of the order guy but never was one in the bronx or with the tigers)... International market... (both the cuban free agents and the 16 year old Dominican and Venezuelan youngster... ) the Draft where sandy and his all star front office team has really on produce one guys of worth (conforto... Mike Fulmer so far seems like he was a good pick) but thats it... 5 years of draft and thats it and thats what he was brought in for to build from within...
Trades and sandy has been solid here but its all about assets... if he is not strong in the other areas then there are no assets...
Red sox, Dodgers, cubs , even team like the Rays, A's, cardinals and Diamond backs all seem to be in on these 4 ways to build a club... we need to be in and be good at all of them... ok soap box over

Tom Brennan said...

Eddie, good points. And it is too bad the Tigers did not take Wheeler over the cheaper and very possibly better Fulmer.

I have trashed Nimmo and Cecchini a lot, but I really would be remiss if I did not address their recent offensive surges.

Nimmo started out 11 for 56 with 2 doubles. Since then, in 133 at bats, he has hit .368 with 19 extra base hits. he really may be almost ready, much to my surprise. Mets first called up Lagares at a similar place in his progression.

Errors are a sad Gavin reality for now, but Cecchini is a fine 37 for his last 89 (.416), so give him some Crazy Glue and he may just be all right too.

Reese Kaplan said...

Left out in this equation is the kind of make-or-break year this should be for Wilmer Flores. There's no reason to believe he won't be penciled in at 3B for the rest of the year. Consequently he has to prove he belongs as a starter in the big leagues or forever be relegated to a supersub role.

If, for example, Flores comes alive and finishes the year with say 18 HRs and 75 RBIs, what does that do to the 2017 equation?

Reese Kaplan said...

On the international front, I think the Mets are still smarting from the Kaz Matsui, Masato Yoshii, Tyoshi Shinjo, Hu, Seo and other fronts that never quite lived up to their hype.

They seem to forget Cespedes, Nomo and others who performed well. International markets are like domestic markets. A small percentage of players become solid and even fewer go onto stardom. However, to eschew everywhere outside the US borders due to some lackluster past history is incredibly xenophobic and ignorant.

bgreg98180 said...


First of all....thank you very much for continuing on. It is nice to see the Macksmets website still producing new material.

I offer a different thought in regards of how to look at the future roster.

Instead of looking at players first and then fitting them into the batting order.....

Try looking at what qualities you are looking for in each position of the lineup first.
Then look at the players on hand and how they may or not meet those qualities and balance according to defensive positional needs.

For example: I always feel the 3 most important lineup positions that I want to be very happy with meeting certain offensive qualities are leadoff, 3rd & 4th place hitters.

As a leadoff hitter, I value On Base % most. The number of strikeouts or avg. or power are areas I will sacrifice as long as the On Base % is high.

For my 3rd place hitter I value Average and Power. I will sacrifice some on OB% in favor of Average because to me...... more rbi's can be scored when a HR, Double, or even a single are hit instead of a walk.

For my 4th place hitter I value Power and RBI conversion. Here I will sacrifice on speed, avg and even some OB%.

For me......in looking forward on the Mets.... my priority would be to assess and identify the organizations current players first as candidates for these three lineup positions.

Find these players no matter what position they play defensively first. Then build the rest of the lineup and defensive positions from there.

Currently, I do not see a leadoff candidate that meets these qualities on the major league roster or in AAA.

Cespedes can be a good candidate for the 3rd lineup spot.

The 4th lineup spot seems to also be an area in need.

Of course these are just my thoughts.

Dallas said...

Nice piece Reese. Not sure anyone could have predicted Murphy doing what he is. In an ideal world we traded for Walker and resigned him. Murph can play 1st,2nd,3rd base (well good enough based on his bat). Wright injury you can predict, Duda not so much. He is probably the different between Mets being in first by 3 games vs the Nats.

Mets pitching kept us in the two games vs the Pirates who are a very high scoring team. DeGrom and Matz didn't have their A game but they didn't do poorly either. Sucks if we have to gut the farm to improve the offense again. Fulmer is showing us the cost of that. Clearly some of the guys raking in April are slumping/tapered off and they are augmented by bench players playing as regulars that havent pulled their weight in either capacity. If they don't make a trade I would at least give Dilson/Rivera a shot, honestly it can't be any worse than what we are seeing. Matz can outhit most of the bench and some of the regulars.

Eddie Corona said...

Thanks Thomas... Honestly I am still a very big believer of wheeler so i was happy he remained... I do believe in the cost effective front and was very torn at the time on whether we should give him up for a rental... (no regrets though)..
Wheeler, by the best scouts projected to have better stuff than Harvey... What he does with that stuff is what will determine his career but I have always said I will take the more talented guy every time...
I believe wheeler will define our next 5 years... If he is good then we can afford to trade one of the big 5 (probably harvey but any of them) for the future 3b, C, or quite possibly 1b (if dom smith isnt the guy) i believe we need and do not have in our system...
If wheeler is bad then we may not have the luxury of a trade...
ON Nimmo and Cecchinni... Nimmo hurts cause the next pick was Fernandez... I believe the front office allstars were trying to be the smartest in the room with that pick and try to make a statement... they should have been best player available... Can you imagine our staff with Fernandez... the the demands we could make on the trade front... Assets...
the Cecchinni pick was also puzzling... I understood at the time the need to find a SS that would move fast through the system... I truly believe their guys was addison russell and was taken off guard when he was selected 1 pick before Cecchinni... But he's reports were avg all across the board... High floor low ceiling... not what i want out of a pick that high... especially when Seager was selected a few picks later... I know not all picks work out but thats what your paid for... to be more right than wrong...

Anonymous said...

First and foremost, the Mets knew that it was a very real possibility that Wright was not going to make it through the year without going into the DL because lets face it, he has been on the disable list on a yearly basis for a couple of years already so why would it be different this year?

Second, the Mets needed to make a decision on what player was a better fit going forward, Murphy with is ability to play 1B, 2B, 3B or Duda with his massive power but crazy splits? Would the Mets have been better off trading Duda and keeping Murphy at 1B?

All the above is water under the bridge now but one now needs to ask why the Mets still have cold Soup instead of TJ or Taijeron?

Why doesn't Collins use more de Aza with all outfielders struggling? Why doesn't Granderson and Conforto learn how to bunt in order to take advantage of the shift?

Finally, the Mets do indeed need to trade Harvey for a slugging OF or 1B/3B or at worse, a couple of high end prospects not more than a year away. In 2017 the Mets MUST have speed and get rid of dead weight.

Robb said...

I took a look at the money issue. first, theres no reason to believe the payroll would have to go down or not incrimentaly increase. Im not saying adding 50 mm but 10 mm seems fair.

2. subtracting colons 7.5 mm from the equation should include the requisite amounts of increase for both harvey, degrom and wheeler.

3. 6 mm in new funds for lagares and familia (about the amount of their raises, would come from de aza's money and the 1mm decline for granderson)

4. walker makes 10 mm, either keeping him at 15 per would net even with cespedes staying at his current rate or subtracting him give the mets enough money to keep cespedes (6) at an increase plus duda's arb raise (3). approx 9.5 mm if you include herrera

conceivably, you could subtract walker or keep walker (if wright retires or is physically unable to play as his contract is insured for 75%), subtract colon, give everyone else their arb rasies, add a fifth outfielder and resign cespedes to a larger contract and still have a smaller payroll.

honestly the P&L management is beautiful.

just so you know based on the murphy for walker is a net 1.5 million plus potentially 2 1st round draft picks. each of which are valued between 5-8 mm by clubs. So exchanging niese and murphy for walker is a fantastic deal.

Eddie Corona said...

Robb so not signing Murphy potentially equals 2 1st round draft picks... that would be a great exchange...
Now Sandy and Co make something of it...

Tom Brennan said...

I'd still have traded Duda (possibly getting a few high picks) and kept Murphy for 1B and (when Wright almost inevitably broke down, as he has now) sliding him to third - a 1B fix is easier to find. That's what I kept urging them to do last fall.

Back to Nimmo:

1) His going before Fernandez really does hurt, as did Cecchini before Giolito

2) Nimmo has actually done great since he sputtered to start the year with 10-55 with 2 doubles. Hitting .370 since, with about 18 of his 50 subsequent hits being for extra bases, and he also is good at walking. Maybe, just maybe, he can be Bob Gregory's lead off guy next year.

bgreg98180 said...

Pre-season warnings that, at least so far, appear to be correct.

1) Warnings about Wright & D'Arnaud's health

2) Need to replace Duda at first base

3) Best to trade Granderson at his high point after last season

4) Need for a lead off hitter

Dallas said...

Because the Mets didnt have enough guys hitting around .200 or below we reacquired Kelly Johnson.

Johnson, 34, re-signed with the Braves in January for one year at $2 million. He was hitting .215 with one homer and 10 RBIs in 121 at-bats this season.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Robb -- great catch on Murphy's compensatory pick in addition to the one they might net for Walker if they don't keep him. I had glossed over that aspect of the Murphy decision.

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