Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
The internet is ablaze with rumors that the Mets are interested in pursuing J.D. Martinez of Detroit should the Yoenis Cespedes reunion fail to materialize. Other names mentioned as backup plans include Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun.
Given Sandy Alderson’s history, you would think that this order is actually his order of preference. Martinez is under contract for under $12 million this coming season and then hits free agency. McCutchen is a $29 million or so total commitment for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Braun is the big buck option with $20 million per year due for the next four years (assuming they would buy out his age 37 season by exercising the $4 million out option).
My question to frugal Sandy is why not trade for one of these alternatives REGARDLESS of what happens in the Cespedes negotiations? Let’s assume a miracle occurs and you retain Cespedes’ services. (Apparently it did. Tuesday afternoon stories appeared saying that Cespedes was back for 4/$110 million). You’ve already got his money in the budget so that’s a wash for the 2017 payroll. Trading one of Curtis Granderson ($15 million) or Jay Bruce ($13 million) for prospects would pay for the new acquisition. Trading both would actually put you ahead of the payroll curve and provide you with an outfield of Cespedes/McCutchen/Conforto (or feel free to substitute Martinez or Braun with Conforto being force-fed into centerfield).
If you did trade away both of them, you still have left handed power coming from Lucas Duda, Conforto and the switch hitters Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker. That’s an almost perfect balance of four left handed hitters and four right handed hitters whenever a righty pitches. You could then have 6 right handed bats and two lefties (unless they do platoons using Lagares on those days with Conforto and Flores for Duda) when lefties pitch. All in all, that could work and not bankrupt them in payroll.
Like most Mets fans, I’m growing rather impatient that NOTHING is happening while other teams actively try to improve their rosters. The excuse that they need to wait for the Cespedes matter to settle is a fallacy as evidenced by the payroll examples I just provided. Granted, they need to fortify the bullpen, keep a close watch on the catching situation and budget for payroll increases for some of the pitchers. However, doing nothing is not a formula for success, particularly when your team right now is likely worse than the 2016 one-and-done squad from a year ago.
What I think will happen is that if they do manage to retain Cespedes then they will trade Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson for minor league prospects (and payroll savings), then go to battle with essentially what they had last year. Then will enthusiastically spin the return of Duda and Wright as the offensive “improvements” so greatly needed. They will crow about the infield depth of Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera should injuries occur again. They’ll add some middle relievers try to compensate for the loss of Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas. They’ll sign some has-beens to minor league deals as AAA fodder for pitching rotation depth.
Sounds familiar, huh?