Reese Kaplan -- The 2018 Roster Vacancies

With the settlement of the arbitration hearing for Wilmer Flores and the recent returns of both Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas, it appears that the NY Mets opening day payroll will slightly eclipse the $150 million mark making it the highest ever in the history of their ballclub.  For people criticizing them for spending like a small market team, that $150 million payroll is actually  12th in the league, well behind the $223 million of the Dodgers, but triple the $50 million of the Brewers.

What probably allows the Wilpons to sleep at night is the knowledge that this relatively lofty payroll position is most definitely a temporary phenomenon.  When the 2017 season ends, an awful lot of payroll comes off the books should the Mets choose not to renegotiate with several players. Consider these dollars (in millions):

17.2        Walker -- can't see that they would keep him
15           Granderson -- in the words of J. Peterman to Elaine Benes, thank you for a job...done
13           Bruce -- a poor year and he's gone.  A monster year and he's off to land a big contract
7.75        Reed -- the one worth pursuing
7.25        Duda -- A lot depends on what Dom Smith does in the minors this year and his own health

There’s over $55 million departing right there.  In addition, you have Jose Reyes and Fernando Salas playing on one year deals, though their cost is rather insignificant.  There’s an $8.5 million option on Asdrubal Cabrera for 2018 and at less than half the cost of Neil Walker it seems pretty obvious they would retain him. 

The only other player who would seem to be at risk of leaving for financial reasons is Juan Lagares.  He’s set to earn $6.5 million in 2018 and then jumps to $9 million in 2019 with a $9.5 million option for 2020 ($500K buyout).  For someone who has devolved from Gold Glove starting center fielder to role player, that may be deemed too rich for their blood and he could wind up playing elsewhere. 

The starting rotation is not yet eligible for free agency, so it’s possible that all will return at whatever rate an arbiter thinks is equitable.  I’m sure Wilmer Flores’ small victory will be inspiring some of the players to go that route, particularly when they’re not going to hit free agency for some time yet such as Jacob de Grom who is not a free agent until 2021. 

Jeurys Familia is once again under team control and the Mets do have an option on Jerry Blevins for 2018.  The tricky one is going to be Addison Reed who will likely be called upon to play closer in the early part of the year which will help his cause when he goes looking on the open market for work come 2018. 

The pickings are somewhat slim for bolstering the offense.  Jonathan Lucroy would seem to be the first target for the Mets to consider if Travis d’Arnaud has another disappointing year.  J.D. Martinez is an interesting option as well, though he’s not a centerfielder. If Wright is forced to retire then Todd Frazier and Mike Moustakas become options as well.

Tony Watson and Jake McGee are a couple of quality lefty relievers.  After Reed you have Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Tyler Clippard, Luke Gregerson and Steve Cishek from the right side that look promising, too. 

It may be that a strong year from Robert Gsellman and health from Zach Wheeler could put Matt Harvey into play as part of a deal to bring back either young talent or an established star in a position of need.  

Play GM.  If you have $55 million leaving, what would you do?  How would your answer change if the elephant in the room chooses retirement after another year struggling with his health?


Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Good morning.

I was a big fan of the contract the Mets made with Lagares when it was done. I considered it a cheap investment into someone that had the potential of settling in as our regular center fielder. I guess he still does, but his list of injuries have made him harder to bother play and market.

I would call up in September latest Amed Rosario and hand him shortstop job. Reyes was this young when he was called up. Rosario will be able to handle it.

I would move Cabrera over to second followed by picking up his option for 2018. We really have no one even close to him in the pipeline better to play this position.

I too would offer Reed a 2018 contract. Good relievers are hard to find. Great ones are extremely rare.

Eddie Corona said...

Love this stuff... Most will say worry about next year ... well next year but there is no fun in that...
Walker, Granderson, Bruce, Duda ... all gone...
Reed is gone too but mostly because someone will pay him to be a closer and The Mets (are cheap) and will not invest closer money for a set up guy...

I would try to bring back Reyes and keep him as a super sub... (hopefully a 1 year deal 5 mil or less) ...
Rosario is the SS next year 100 Pct and I am hoping he forces his way on this team this year...

I am not a huge fan of the Free agent market so i would not spend foolishly But I would try to make a deal for a Catcher or CF... Lucroy is getting old and may be 32 ish so most Catcher fall fast... the Nido progress will dictate the Catcher plan...

I would trade one of the pitchers and hope for a big haul... If Harvey returns to form then he's goes but I dont think the haul would be that huge... So I think I would consider trading a Matz or Wheeler if I could get that 3b/C/CF guy we are looking for...
And I would gear that payroll flexibility for the 2018 class ... we need to at least be in position to be players in that crop if it arises... Machado is Boras Client so i figure he will be out there...
a Rosario, Machado, Cespedes, Conforto, D Smith (2,3,4,5,6) sounds good to me...

Mack Ade said...

The Mets also need to begin to address the third base situation soon. David Thompson knocks a lot of minor league runners in, but he does not project to be a major league third baseman.

Cabrerra can play second next year... and Dom Smith will be at first and Rosario at short.

We need a new full time third baseman in 2018.

Robb said...

The smartest thing the mets can do if Wright is unable to make a go of it is to use carbera/flores/chechini as their 2b-3b and go get muchado after the 2018 season.

As for Legares, if i were the gm id let him have the cf job in 2018 with conforto in rf and cespedes in lf and see if he can do it, with nimmo as the 4th outfielder.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Mack -- is the knock on Thompson his glove or they just don't feel his bat will progress enough when the pitching gets better? 95 RBIs is a lot in any league so it will be interesting to see how he fares in Binghamton this year.

As far as next year goes, I can see Wilmer Flores as a first option if Wright retires. The FA most likely would be Todd Frazier but he's a bit like Jay Bruce in that he's an all-or-nothing swinger with low batting average. Still, he's from NJ and might find the prospect of playing nearer to home appealing.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

It's his legs. He just isn't fast enough to play the hot corner.

I played third. It's not easy.

I would move him to first base post haste because that's where his future is.

Reese Kaplan said...

So is that the same reason Wilmer Flores struggled to field the position when asked to do so? I would have thought that 2B would require even more athleticism, though the so-called "hot corner" requires laser like reflexes particularly against right handed hitters. I guess with the throws being so far across the diamond you can be forgiven at 2B if you merely knock something down as you would have time to make the short throw.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Second base is the easiest position to play. Least amount of distance between throw to base. Thirs is next hardest. Short is the hardest because it is the deepest. You can't play short unless you are both fleet of foot and have a cannon arm.

Mack's Mets © 2012