Reese Kaplan -- Setting Off-Season Priorities

If you are an avid reader of the papers and blogs, you find many people advocating various approaches to the off-season.  There’s the Yoenis Cespedes saga.  There are the health issues surrounding David Wright and Lucas Duda.  There’s the starting rotation, all of whom had health issues last year except free-agent-to-be Bartolo Colon.  There’s the bullpen where Addison Reed is about to cross the 8 figure mark for a single season of work and Jerry Blevins who is again a free agent.  There’s the saga of Neil Walker, his back, his prospective QO and whether signing him long term helps make up for the probably loss of Cespedes.  What about the players who had odiferous 2016 campaigns – Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto?  Did they hit bumps in the road or are they lost causes?  What about the slugger with the $13 million option, Jay Bruce, who seemed to forget how to hit once he arrived?

We all play armchair GM and some take it to the most granular level, picking very specific players to target and how many dollars they should be paid.  I think it’s time we step back and take a look at the multitude of areas which can be improved, then rank them in order of importance.  Here’s my stab at just that exercise:

  • Pick up Jay Bruce’s option – whether you keep him here or look to trade him, for a player with his long track record of health and production, you can’t let him walk for nothing.  When Cespedes walks, you need his bat or you need to trade him to obtain another promising one.
  • Swallow hard and pay Addison Reed – I still doubt they will do so, but without him the pen becomes a major question once again.
  • Re-Sign Jerry Blevins – between he, Reed, Jeurys Familia and Hansel Robles you have the makings of a very fine pen.  Throw in perhaps a Paul Sewald and Josh Smoker or re-signing Fernando Salas and you could have one of the tops in the game.  I’m irritated every time I read about how the Mets need to trade to improve the pen.  You have the material here already.  (this entry was written before the news came down about Jeurys Familia's escapades on Tuesday.  Now I think they must look at the prospect of a Reyes-like suspension if there's anything to these allegations).
  • Look for another catcher – I’m fine with Travis d’Arnaud getting another shot, but given his track record for long stays on the DL, whether you believe in him as a hitter or not, it’s foolish not to have a viable long term alternative available.
  • Wave bye-bye to Neil Walker – You have Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores and TJ Rivera as capable replacements at 2B.  Gavin Cecchini is also transitioning to that side of diamond.  Risking a $17.3 million QO is bad business as he’ll likely take it so he can have a very well paid year to reestablish his health and hit the market again next year.  Let someone else pay him.  You’re dealing from a position of strength here. 
  • Increase your catering budget and welcome back Bartolo Colon – He has been too good to let him walk away, especially considering that Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zach Wheeler are all dealing with issues.  For those who say, “What about Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman?” I suggest you look at the catcher bullet.  You have to give to get.
  • Fortify the bench – Please, no more sightings of the likes of Eric Campbell and others of his ilk.  Rather than give up still more pieces for the third installment in the Kelly Johnson chronicles, just sign the man.  I’d keep Brandon Nimmo around as the spare outfielder to go along with Juan Lagares.  Rene Rivera earned his keep.  The losers in the 2B sweepstakes become the backup infielders. 
So what would you prioritize first?  (Don’t say sign Yoenis Cespedes – it ain’t happenin’!)


Thomas Brennan said...

If there is ANY chance Familia's suspended, Reed MUST be resigned. He should be resigned anyway.

When anyone asks me to answer simply, YO or NO, on resigning Cespedes, I just say YO YO. Any other move on him is a mistake.

Mack Ade said...

I agree with everything you outlined.

I don't know where all this Familia mess is going, but, if he really did this to either his girlfriend or child, he will lost for at least hald the 2017 season.

We must go out and get another quality back end reliever.

Robb said...

familia, crap. he's going to be suspended almost regardless of what actually occured. thats mlb.

Strangely, this probably increases the likelihood of cespedes returning. As they will need to find a positive in the off season more now.

I agree entirely on bruce, he + walker are the financial hedge vs cespedes leaving.

also addison reed is in arbitration, so he is under control, whether or not he get the 10 mm that he is projected to is another story (btw the mlb trade rumors projections for reliever are outrageous, while the closer market is going to be growing top relievers get years more so then 8 figures on average, think darren oday/miller)

As for the QO for walker. sure its 1 year 17 mm, but thats not what he wants, he wants 4 years and the market for power hitting or even 270 hitting second baseman is nil. thats why the mets will issue the QO, but if he takes it that is ok too. his market will be bigger then we think.

The mets are in a much better financial position then they were two years ago, even if the wilpons might not be. Revenue at the Mets will increase this year.

Reese Kaplan said...

I don't think Walker will get the big contract until he demonstrates he's healthy and that the back issues are not a long term or recurring thing. Consequently, any offers this year will be on the modest side in terms of average annual value or term. It would behoove him to take a one-year deal to reestablish his value and prove his health. He's very good but not $17.3 million good.

Eddie Corona said...

You definitely outlined all of the Major Moves this team needs to address although I don't know if the order is quite an issues as much as the task...

1. first question is are you saying that you don't believe the the Mets will sign Cespedes or they shouldn't...
2. Bruce option should be picked up... 100 % but he is cannot be part pf this team... Flip him for the best deal you can get but his best value to the club is not as a member of this team... And thats with or without Cespedes.
2. A. Reed (with the familia saga) now has to be retained... I was considering trading him to a team who needs a closer for more assets, unfortunately seems like that team will be us...
3. Blevins has been great and I agree needs to be part of the Bullpen..
4. Catcher you said your ok with him having another shot but acquire a long term alternative... Does this mean at the major league level? because if yes then there is not room for Rivera
5. Walker's situation stinks... I wanted that QO so we could gain the Draft pick (and more important the Draft Pool money) But your right, no way we could risk paying 17 mil on him or his bad back... here I have to agree... collectively the names you mention should offset (maybe not in power but overall) the loss of walker...
6. Colon... So A reed is a hard pill to swallow but sign Colon is not? No way ... Move on already...
even if he duplicated this exact season it would be foolish to sign colon over other moves...
I really don't get it... we have a position of strength here (a la 2b) same concept you pointed out...
7. Bench... I like the kelly johnson or similar veteran off the bench... but yes No more Soup... we have to have professional hitters / defenders available to be able to get back to the playoffs.

I think Salas should be brought back as well...

Reese Kaplan said...

I don't believe the Mets will sign Cespedes but I would like them to do so.

On d'Arnaud, a long term alternative could be someone who could play C and another position, thus justifying keeping 3 catchers.

The difference to me with the Walker situation and the Colon situation is that all of the alternatives -- Reyes, TJ Rivera, Flores and Cecchini -- are healthy. None of the Mets starters this side of Lugo and Gsellman are 100% healthy. Colon is insurance. Gsellman or Lugo can be flipped in trade to help another area (such as catcher).

Reese Kaplan said...

Also, signing Colon for around $7 million is not the same as signing Walker with healthy alternatives for $17.3 million.

Adam Smith said...

So many questions, and you didn't even mention 3B.

1. You said not to say this, but unless they have another option for a game changing RH bat, you have to find a way to sign Cespedes.
2. Yes, sign and trade Bruce. I would even be ok if the deal were for a basket of prospects.
3. With Familia now in question, bringing back Reed and Blevins is a no-brainer.
4. R. Rivera proved himself valuable this season, but you can't trust TdA to stay in the field even if he hits. Which leaves the quandary of whether you're willing to risk having Rivera as your starting C for long stretches. If so, your only backup is likely to be someone who starts the season in AAA, as you can't really carry 3 big league catchers (and finding a starting level catcher who can also capably back up other positions is likely unrealistic. I'love admit that I don't know what I'd do here, but I suppose I'd be ok with them either going with TdA one more year or cutting bait on him.
5. Gotta let Walker walk. There are just too many question marks here to risk $17mm on another one. Especially at a position where you have multiple other options. Take the chance that one of the other guys will take a step forward. You only need one. This (and everything else) would be a lot easier if you knew you could count on DW for anything.
6. Definitely keep Colon.
7. Sure, sign Johnson for the bench.
8. Hope that you get some clarity as soon as possible on Wright. I'm ok with playing Reyes 130 games at 3B, but carrying Wright at all, who needs hours to loosen up before playing, leaves the team a man short every day that he doesn't start. It's very likely that he never gets much better than where he is. Someone probably needs to make the guy retire.

Reese Kaplan said...

A Mike Napoli is an example of someone who can be a catcher or 1st baseman. (And he's a free agent).

Adam Smith said...

Fair enough on Napoli. Maybe that's an option.

TP said...

Napoli's catching days are behind him. He also makes Duda look like a gold glove at 1B. Not a good fit.

Reed will absolutely be retained IMHO, especially given the cloud over Familia. Blevins will be gone as Mets won't pay big bucks for him with Smoker and Edgin. He will be missed.

Every year the list is long and worrisome. 'On the plus side, despite all the injuries they actually established more depth in both starting pitching and middle infield than was previously thought. I'd still put my investments into adding a big arm to the pen, securing an innings-eating starter (perhaps Dickey if Colon costs too much), and focusing on upgrading at catcher.

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