Reese Kaplan -- Assessing the Damage

Since the $17.2 million shoe has dropped people are tripping all over themselves to figure out the Mets payroll and how that move might impact the Yoenis Cespedes negotiations (as well as filling other needs such as additional bullpen arms).  The consensus seems to be that the club is right now around $124-$126 million including Walker and excluding Cespedes.  If you presume that the payroll will not exceed the $160 million threshold you have about $35 million or so to address said needs.
Let’s assume for the moment that the starting rotation is what everyone hopes it will be – Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steve Matz and Zack Wheeler.  That would leave Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman either in the bullpen or AAA.
The bullpen should include Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Josh Smoker and Josh Edgin.  After that it gets quite murky.  With no Jeurys Familia (assuming a suspension), no Jerry Blevins, no Fernando Salas and no Jim Henderson there would appear to be ample room for Mssrs. Lugo and Gsellman with either Paul Sewald or an external acquisition forming the 7th member of the pen.
For now the outfield is a crowded mess – Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce and Juan Lagares are there for sure.  Had the team fulfilled its promise of having Jose Reyes work some in the outfield, he would be there as well.  However, he’s had no time to learn the position so that likely means a guy like Brandon Nimmo may be the 5th outfielder (for now).  If by some miracle they work out a deal for Cespedes, it goes from crowded to sardine can. 
The infield includes Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera and David Wright.  Throw in some combination of Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores and TJ Rivera for backup.  Given that Reyes and Rivera both earn minimum wage, guess who’s likely the odd man out to be bundled off in a trade?
Catching for now is the same mess it was last year with Travis d’Arnaud and Rene Rivera handling the duties with Kevin Plawecki likely slated for another stay in AAA. 
Adding a big right handed bat of some kind – Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion – would necessitate clearing the logjam of infielders and outfielders.  Obviously the desire would be to move one of Bruce or Granderson.  Most are ready to run Bruce out of town based upon his poor showing last year, but does anyone remember Granderson’s first year in a Mets uniform?  He hit 20 HRs, drove in 66 and batted a robust .227 in over 650 plate appearances.  Bruce last year after his horrific start ended his Mets tenure with 8 HRs, 19 RBIs and a .219 average over just 187 PAs.    The point is he was on pace to do about the same.  The difference is that Bruce is 29 and Granderson is 35.  If it’s me, I deal Granderson and keep the slightly cheaper Bruce and see how he fares now that he’s gotten some time to adjust. 
With Bartolo Colon’s departure, it removes from most conversations the likelihood they would trade any of their starting pitching (including Lugo and Gsellman).  That leaves the aforementioned outfielder trade and Wilmer Flores as possibilities, as well as various minor league entities such as Gavin Cecchini.  In other words, the pile o’chips is mighty low. 
Right now it seems every move hinges on Yoenis Cespedes (and, to a lesser extent, David Wright).  Between them they account for nearly $50 million of the payroll.  They should already be assuming Wright is a sunk cost.  However, if they fail to land Cespedes, I would expect to see them make a run at Jose Bautista who would not command as long a contract as the others on the market given his poor showing in 2016 and his age.  After all, Sandy Alderson operates on the principle of payroll flexibility, not necessarily on doing what it takes to win the division.  You also have to figure they’re going to get some retread for the bullpen as Addison Reed assumes closer duties.  That will cost money as well.  


Mack Ade said...

I will be posting my thoughts on this for a tomorrow morning post.

Thomas Brennan said...

Good analysis...Paul Sewald's rather than external 7th pen arm signing may be the cheapest and best way to go.

Is Montero the ulitimate trade chip? No, but he may be one.

Bill Metsiac said...

That's a lot of presuming. We let Blevins and Salas walk, and look for "cheap filler" to replace them. Trade Grandy but keep Bruce, leaving Conforto in limbo. Wright "sunk money", though if he can't play the insurance pays most of it. Artificial payroll limits despite big attendance in '16.

We've got a lot of money coming off the books after this season. Barring trades, Walker, Bruce, Grandy and Cabrera all are signed only thru this season. And with Conforto, Nimmo, and possibly Smith and Rosario or Cecchini, we've got cheap replacements waiting in the wings.

MUCH too soon for the gloom and doom.

Mack Ade said...

Bill -

You do remember that you are talking to the King of Doom and Gloom? :)

Zozo said...

They should operate payroll wise that they are going to get insurance money for Wright once again and go over budget if need be by that amount. I believe they got the insurance money the past 2 years and if needed should assume the same this year. If Wright does go down again this year, will he finally call it quits? I hope so.

They should have gave Cespedes his 5yr $125 mil last year and would have saved money, but Alderson "the all knowing" messed that one up. We would have saved some money by doing so and now it will cost us about $3 mil more per year to get him.

I agree that we should trade Granderson before Bruce, but if we get Cespy we should trade them both. So that way we can spend money somewhere else like catcher or Centerfield.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Bill -- does the name Jim Henderson mean anything to you -- the old lightning-in-a-bottle approach that's characterized the Alderson era. He never pays up for known, healthy commodities in the bullpen. There have been others of his ilk, too.

Trading Granderson does not leave Conforto in limbo because I don't expect Cespedes to be back.

Wright is indeed a sunk cost because you're on the hook for the $67 million remaining on his contract. So you're calling me pessimistic but ROOTING for insurance money to cover it? :)

By the way, there's an $8.5 million option on Cabrera or a $2 million buyout.

Robb said...

if you have a 35 mm margin to sign players but signing one at 30 million means you trade a guy making 13-15. The net effect is 17 to 15 meaning you still have 20 mm, which would allow you to not have to be cheap in the bullpen if you want. also there is not precedent for a 1/2 year or more suspension for domestic violence, which would also reduce the familia cost. so assuming its 80 games which i think is worst case scenario, youd save 4 mm there too (half his 8mm), giving you 24 million to work with at a 160 payroll threshold and at more like 150 its still 14 million for the bullpen/bench with 21 of 25 players accounted for.

bob gregory said...

Regarding Granderson and Bruce:

Just me, but I would be focused on trading Both.

Focus on reshaping this lineup focused more on increased batting average and reduced strikeout rates.

Just too many runners left on base and homerun or nothing innings.

bob gregory said...
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Adam Smith said...

Not sure you can/should trade Flores on a team that desperately needs RH bats that crush lefties. I'd look to trade Bruce, because he'/ younger and cheaper than Grandy and will net a far greater return.

Mack Ade said...

Bob -

Are we supposed to just keep blowing up the well every year?

bob gregory said...

Not every year.

But ..... have to admit....all or nothing does not lead to sustainability.

Fault in Alderson's approach from the beginning.

Should have been addressed earlier.

bob gregory said...
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Stubby said...

Mr. Sunshine. There's no silver lining in which he can't find a cloud.

Mack's Mets © 2012