Reese Kaplan -- Is It 2017 Yet? Part 2


Here’s Part 2 of the look ahead to 2017.  Fortunately this side of the equation – pitching – is far rosier than the outlook for the offense. 


Noah Syndergaard pitched at an All Star level in 2016 and the Mets benefit from the fact he’s not even arbitration eligible until 2018.  He will be one of the best bargains in all of MLB. 

Steve Matz has had an up and down season, some of it related to issues that may or may not be resolved surgically in the off-season.  However, his performance exceeds that of Zack Wheeler during his 2014 campaign and he is not arbitration eligible until 2019. 

Although he’s been pitching at an elite level since entering the league, Jacob de Grom earned just over minimum in 2016 and is not arbitration eligible until 2018 either.  The team may be wise to recognize his performance as they did Matt Harvey’s a year earlier.  It would help pave the way into perhaps buying out his free agent years with a contract extension. 

In looking at the contract statuses for the various pitchers I was surprised to find out that Zack Wheeler is arbitration eligible in 2017.  Considering he has not pitched since being shut down in 2014, he’s not likely to get a huge bump in pay, but an increase will most definitely have to be budgeted. 

Perhaps the most vexing of the pitchers from a financial standpoint will be the aforementioned Matt Harvey who earned $4.3 million for his sub par and injury shortened 2016 campaign.  He is arbitration eligible and it seems no matter how poorly someone performs a major salary increase is always a virtual certainty.  I’m thinking he’s end up somewhere in the $6.5 million range. 

In summary, your starting rotation (if it can actually be on the field together at one time) will probably cost somewhere in the vicinity of $14-$15 million.  Considering many individual pitchers earn more than that, the beancounters the Mets employee have to be doing cartwheels.

There are two more pitchers that merit consideration, however, that could quickly turn this bargain basement staff into a much more expensive one.  First comes big Bartolo Colon.  He was an All Star again at age 43 and at times was even more dominant than he’s been during his first two years in a Mets uniform.  This year he’s earning $7.25 million and he’s been worth every penny.  Given the fragile state of health at times this season for every pitcher not named de Grom, it might be prudent to plan on a capable fallback position should injuries happen once again.  Signing him as a long man/spot starter would probably cost about the same money once again. 

The reacquisition of Jon Niese was a classic bad contract for bad contract kind of deal.  The Mets can get out from under it by simply exercising the $500K buyout of his option for 2017.  Keeping him would cost $10 million and I think if you polled the fans, baseball executives or pretty much anyone with a pulse, given the choice of Colon or Niese, well, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Lefty.

Of course, the team in the past has been loath to plan for contingencies, thinking instead that injuries never happen and you can always muddle through with people from the minors.  How did that great Logan Verrett strategy work out fer ya?

There are some other choices who could provide innings in a pinch.  Newcomers Gabriel Ynoa and Seth Lugo both logged much of their careers as starters.  Sean Gilmartin was always a starter until his Rule V success story in the majors last year out of the pen.  Then there’s the reborn Rafael Montero with a 1.99 ERA in AA who might very well never want to set foot in the pitching hell of Las Vegas ever again.  These choices are dice rolls whereas a veteran like Colon is more of a sure thing, but spending for a sure thing is not normally in the Mets’ collective DNA when it comes to planning for what might go wrong. 


Here’s where it’s going to get expensive in 2017.  Closer Jeurys Familia got a huge bump from the minimum wage range to $4.1 million for 2016.  He’s certainly earned it with a record setting saves streak and until very recently almost unhittable stuff.  He’s arbitration eligible and expect a pretty big bump – probably to $7.5 million. 

Next come the minimum wage guys like Hansel Robles and Erik Goeddel, both arbitration eligible in 2018.  You’d have to figure they’re both pretty much locks for a spot in the pen. 
Josh Edgin has only recently made it back to the majors and perhaps as the team falls further out of contention he’ll get more opportunities.  Then again, evaluating talent is something that the Skipper has not quite understood during his tenure.  He sticks to what he thinks he knows, come hell or high water.  The reason he might want to look at Edgin is that he pitched to a sub 2.00 ERA before his injury and he’s just arbitration eligible for the first time in 2017.  Given the small number of innings on his resume, he’s not going to get a big increase.  This fact becomes doubly important when you consider that Jerry Blevins is having an excellent year at a $4 million salary already, but is also a free agent.

The other big money guy to worry about in the pen is 8th inning specialist Addison Reed.  He’s been sensational all year and already earns $5.3 million and is arbitration eligible.  Would the short sighted and usually penny-wise and pound-foolish Mets let him walk?  If not, you’re probably looking at about $6.5 million for a setup guy. 

For awhile the great Jim Henderson experiment seemed to be something of a success, but the arm injuries that derailed his career have once again stopped him from being a productive member of the club.  He’s arbitration eligible but probably wouldn’t warrant much. 

Tom Brennan has been extolling the virtues of a couple of minor league hurlers – Paul Sewald and Josh Smoker.  Both are big strikeout guys are having success in a very difficult environment.  They are options should they decide to let any of the more expensive alternatives walk away. 

Assuming they try to keep the current pen more-or-less intact, you’re looking at a payroll of $22 million not including what you might pay for a guy like Bartolo Colon as insurance.   


Thomas Brennan said...

Smoker turned homer last night. Hopefully just jitters. If Wheeler comes back healthy, staff looks good. If, somehow, Harvey does too, we should be in very good shape. Lugo did quite well yesterday, Ynoa? I'll believe he is a majorleaguer when he proves it.

Hurry up, Common, Flexen, Molina, SZAPUCKI, and Gonzalez.

Gary Seagren said...

The wheels on this bus are coming off and as much as I'd like to think it's probably better to get everyone healthy and hopefully recover from a long 2015 season my faith in the FO is suspect at best. We ALL know Granderson and his $15 million contract will be back and TC will plug him in the lineup until probably July "hoping to get him started" .200 batting avg. and all with the silver lining being Reyes will probably be back and he has made a big difference in the leadoff spot. Beyond that it's a real crap shoot. Cespedes and Walker have to come back but will the FO pony up the big bucks to keep them even knowing if they don't resign them who in the world could we get to fill their shoes....stay tuned

bob gregory said...

Just as athletes are referred to as having "ceilings"...

I believe the past few years have proven that Alderson has a ceiling as a General Manager
Collins has a ceiling as a coach

bob gregory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reese Kaplan said...

The problem is Collins' ceiling is subterranean. Remember when Sparky Anderson won all those times with the Big Red Machine? It was said a monkey could fill out a lineup card and run that team and they'd still win.

The difference between a good manager and a bad one is that good ones can motivate players through adversity and get players to perform at their highest level. Bad ones sit the hot players. Bad ones play favorites. Bad ones never give a rookie a chance unless there's no other option.

Bad GMs demote the hot players. Bad GMs don't promote the hot hitters. Bad GMs hang onto their mistakes instead of realizing they're a sunk cost and moving on.

Thomas Brennan said...

We want Rivera and Kelly back. Trade all-or-nothing Grandy and release little-or-nothing de Aza.

Thomas Brennan said...

Re-sign Cespedes

Thomas Brennan said...

Re-sign Cespedes

Gary Seagren said...

Resign Cespedes AND Walker

Eddie Corona said...

Very late comment but can you post a link to the Part 1 Version?
I would Not (as i said last year) Sign Colon... This team was always advertised to have an embarrassing of riches in pitching... well prove it... spending 8 mil on a 43 year old is asking for trouble...
The FO needs a dam plan... if your signing Walker as a Insurance for Wright or duda then ok... but have him play 3b when wright is out... otherwise he needs to go... Paying 10 mil+ for a 2b is wrong allocation...
take the 1 round pick and draft well... We need to re balance this team again with players who actually fit.
Cabrera was solid but he needs to play SS for about 2 months and then hand it to Rosario... Cabrera is your 2b next year...

Thomas Brennan said...

Hi Eddie, I will let Reese link part 1 if he sees this. You draft poorly, it does not help things, for sure.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hi Eddie, I will let Reese link part 1 if he sees this. You draft poorly, it does not help things, for sure.

Robb said...

degrom is super 2, he is eligible for arb this off season (he has 4 arbs instead of three, syndergaard is too). need to get him signed to a kluber contract asap.

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