Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
As disappointing as this year has been, it may get worse before it gets better. Going into 2017 the Met have very few players written in ink on the lineup card and based upon the last off-season’s inertia Sandy Alderson doesn’t seem to have it in his DNA to make the kind of wholesales changes necessary to reshape the roster.
Lucas Duda will be available to the Mets next year in his final year of arbitration. The team may have to consider whether or not they want to allocate potentially $7 million plus on a guy with a balky back despite the power he can provide when he’s available. Given his paltry contributions in 2016 you’d think he would not be deserving of a raise, but the MLBPA will see that he does indeed get one. Could a wink-wink, nod-nod deal be done through which the Mets don’t tender him a contract but he still signs back with the team for the same or less? It’s possible and he never struck me as the go-for-the-gold type of player, but even then is it a wise move?
The alternatives are the two-headed monster of James Loney and Wilmer Flores. Loney’s had a credible season bouncing back from obscurity here in El Paso but that relative success may indeed lead him to seek greener (in more ways than one) pastures elsewhere, perhaps a club with a starting vacancy at 1B because Loney would be buried on the bench if Duda is indeed healthy and re-signed. Flores is showing once again he can mash lefties at will, so he’ll have a role unless they decide his best value is as trade bait.
Here’s where it gets very interesting. There’s no guarantee they would pony up what it would take to re-sign Neil Walker. They do have an option on Jose Reyes who could play 2B. The aforementioned Wilmer Flores is another possibility. The trade of Dilson Herrera suggests that defensively challenged Gavin Cecchini may be asked to shift to the other side of the diamond as well. Again, nothing can be written in ink.
Here’s the only iron clad guarantee on the infield for next year. Asdrubal Cabrera is signed for 2017 and played at a good level both offensively and defensively. Assuming he stays healthy, he’ll be in the lineup at SS on Opening Day.
Ah, the $20 million (plus) question…what does David Wright have left in the tank? More importantly, if he’s unable to play, who is the alternative? It’s hard to foresee a scenario with the likes of Kelly Johnson or Ty Kelly or Ty Wigginton coming out of retirement to man the hot corner, yet the club’s hands are somewhat tied until they have a resolution to the Wright question.
Despite his name being floated in trade rumors this season, Travis d’Arnaud is one of the few players who they can pencil into the lineup to deliver above average offense and mediocre defense compared to other catchers around the league. Considering he’s still on the lower end of the pay scale, it’s hard to imagine they would shift gears at this juncture unless it was for some kind of blockbuster to net them a guy like Buster Posey from San Francisco or Salvador Perez from KC. Unfortunately, to my knowledge the defending World Champions’ GM nor the Giants’ GM have not taken any severe blows to the head lately, so that’s not going to happen.
Three guys jockeying for position out there is untenable. Incumbent Yoenis Cespedes is probably the first choice but he has an opt-out clause. Newcomer Jay Bruce has been pretty brutal upon arriving, but his Granderson-like salary with way more than double the RBIs makes picking up his option a no-brainer. That leaves Michael Conforto as the odd man out. Yes, he’s had a “challenging” sophomore season, but his manager inexplicably finds starts for the sub-Mendoza Alejandro De Aza while Conforto improves his game by sitting on the bench.
Juan Lagares and his repaired thumb may come front and center again as the team is rather lefty-heavy and defensively challenged. After that CF options are Michael Conforto (who doesn’t get a chance to play there), Curtis Granderson who shouldn’t play there and Brandon Nimmo who hasn’t yet shown he belongs in the big leagues (though Alejandro De Aza does, for reasons that escape the majority of Mets fans).
How can you have only 31 RBIs in over 400 ABs while having amassed 18 HRs? That’s almost impossible to do. His .226 batting average suggests that the 4th year on his deal was probably not one of Sandy Alderson’s better ideas. You’re stuck with him for 2017 so expect to see him manning RF once again.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
C Travis d’Arnaud
LF (One of Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto)
CF (Juan Lagares)
RF (Curtis Granderson)
That’s 3 out of 8 positions unknown at this point. You can’t leave it to the Skipper to resolve the outfield situation because he will choose the veterans regardless of how poorly they perform (witness the number of starts for De Aza and Granderson). Someone has to be the smartest guy in the room.