Posted by Mike Maar at 8:07 AM
A MLB offseason is a dynamic thing. Budgets, available options and the order in which needs get filled can lead to pretty unpredictable results showing up for Spring training. This week, 2 pretty significant dominos fell for the Mets when Bartolo Colon signed with the Braves, and Neil Walker accepted the Mets’ $17.2MM qualifying offer.
Bart’s signing with the Braves was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of fans. How disappointed are the Mets? Hard to say. They probably were very appreciative of Bart’s contributions and would have liked to have him back as insurance. On the other hand they were pretty much let off the eventual hook PR-wise, while being spared from having to pay the probable $10MM+ it would have taken to sign him for 2017. It also opens some opportunity for Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman heading into Spring training.
Neil Walker’s acceptance of the $17.2MM QO was fairly predictable. The Mets probably viewed the offer as a no-lose situation - either get Walker back for 1 more campaign without making a long-term commitment, or get a 1st round comp pick while handing 2B over to cheap options Reyes/Flores/Rivera. As it is, 2B will be filled with a veteran bat that could help the overall strength of the lineup if Yoenis Cespedes does not return, while the hefty $17.2MM is somewhat offset by the departure of Colon.
So what’s next? Ideally, it would be getting the Cespedes situation settled, as that would help determine the direction in several other positions - obviously the rest of the outfield and potentially 1B.
Predicting what’s going to happen is a bit like predicting the weather - one little unforeseen change and the result can be completely different result. That’s what makes it fun, and puts the heat in the hot stove.
So taking a stab at a long-range forecast, let me float a fun theory: Whether Yo resigns with the Mets or not - his decision, following the Colon/Walker moves, now helps push the Mets toward trading Lucas Duda. Crazy, right? But Duda’s a year away from free agency and Dom Smith is on the horizon, so they may be starting to think of life without him. For different reasons on top of that, here’s the thinking...
If Yo does resign with the Mets, they’re going to be hunting some savings. Sure, they might trade Bruce or Grandy. But with Walker now also making $17MM, they’d probably like to find some more savings. They can do so if they turn 1B over to some combination of cheap options - Flores plus Johnson, and possibly even the now-displaced Reyes.
If Yo does NOT resign with the Mets payroll isn’t an issue, but they may wind up with Michael Conforto playing LF everyday, and either Bruce/Grandy playing RF. Very left-handed if they also keep Duda at 1B. Again, handing the job to Flores gives him a full-time job while balancing out the lineup.
But what do I know! We’ll see what dominos fall next. Happy forecasting!