Reese Kaplan -- 2018: A Tabula Rasa Approach


While things have certainly not progressed the way the fans and management had hoped, the Mets are approaching the fabled crossroads where they must decide if they are indeed going to stage a miraculous comeback that propels them into contention, or if they should start the 2018 rebuild efforts now while there’s still some minor value in their scheduled-to-depart free agents at year’s end. 

For the people sporting rose-colored glasses, they must surely buy into the Sandy Alderson sit pat and do nothing strategy he employed in the off-season.  Obviously the only issue at hand is injuries.  Once everyone is back and healthy the team will win.


It seems to me that they barely eked into the playoffs before making an embarrassing and hasty exit in 2016.  With no reinforcements it was somewhat puzzling to expect they would do any better than they had, yet that was “The Plan” from the front office.  How’d that work out for you?

With multiple players having suffered major injuries during the previous season you’d think they would have prepared for more of the same by bolstering the roster, but they chose not to do so and as a result they’re skidding into oblivion at a much faster pace.  Consequently I put myself into the “chalk it up to bad luck and bad planning, but make adjustments and move on” school of thought.

First, let’s look at what payroll is potentially leaving:

Lucas Duda -- $7,250,000
Neil Walker -- $17,200,000
Asdrubal Cabrera $8,250,00 (or $2 milllion buyout)
David Wright  -- $10,000,000 million insurance payment (Mets first 1/3 and then 25% of remainder)
Curtis Granderson -- $16,000,000
Jay Bruce -- $13,000,000
Addison Reed -- $7,750,000

That’s a total potential spending budget of $69,200,000 assuming they pay off Asdrubel Cabrera and let everyone walk.  They won’t necessarily do that but this exercise is starting with a pretty much blank slate on how you would construct the 2018 team.

1B – Dom Smith
2B – Wilmer Flores
SS – Amed Rosario
3B – Mike Moustakas (FA – 3/$42)
C – J.T. Realmuto
LF – Yoenis Cespedes
CF – Michael Conforto
RF – J.D. Martinez (FA – 4/$64)
B – Rene Rivera
B – T.J.Rivera
B – Asdrubal Cabrera (option $8,250,000)
B – Brandon Nimmo
B – Juan Lagares
SP – Noah Syndergaard
SP – Jacob de Grom
SP – Steve Matz
SP – Zack Wheeler
SP – Seth Lugo/Robert Gsellman
RP – Jeurys Familia
RP – Addison Reed (2 years, $18 million)
RP – Jerry Blevins
RP – Paul Sewald
RP – Fernando Salas
RP – Josh Edgin
RP – Gsellman/Lugo

In this scenario you will note that neither Jay Bruce nor Lucas Duda are here anymore.  There will be plenty of left handed pop from the trio of Moustakas, Conforto and Smith.  The problem many have with Smith is that he’s not a prototypical slugger for 1st base.  Let me remind you that neither Keith Hernandez nor John Olerud were either, but they were excellent ballplayers whose prowess on both the offensive and defensive sides of the game made them forces with whom to be reckoned.  Olerud, for example, averaged 18/89/.295 for his entire career.  Wouldn’t you take that from Smith and be happy?

The other thing that jumps out are two notable names who are not free agents That I no longer envision being a part of the team.  My proposal is to send Matt Harvey and Travis d’Arnaud to the Miami Marlins for young stud catcher J.T. Realmuto.  For people who don’t pay attention to south Florida baseball, Realmuto in his first three full seasons has hit .259, then .303 and this year .290.  More importantly, he stays healthy.  He’s just 26, so he’s a long term solution for the team.  Harvey is a recovering work in progress who is about to become an expensive free agent after the 2018 season.  d’Arnaud is what he is – full of potential but unable to stay on the field.  This package should entice the Marlins, though feel free to substitute one of the younger pitching prospects such as Marcos Molina or Justin Dunn for Harvey.  Is it an overpay to include the tarnished Dark Knight of Gotham?  Perhaps…but it’s that old trade ‘em a year too soon than a year too late philosophy and it sets the tone that his shenanigans won’t be part of the new Mets team.  If you lose him to free agency you get nothing but a compensatory pick.  Here you get a catcher who may be an All Star and is 2 years younger.

The free agent acquisitions include a shorter deal for the older Moustakas and a slightly longer one for the younger J.D. Martinez.  With these two bats secured, the Mets would have plenty of right handed power as well from Yoenis Cespedes, Martinez and Flores.  Throw in the high average hitting expected from Amed Rosario and J.T. Realmuto and there’s not a weak link (nor an all-or-nothing swinger) in the lineup.

I’ve spent just $43 of the $69 million coming off the books, leaving $22 million for future enhancements or better depth to stash in AAA should the wheels fall off the rotation once again.  

I’m all for giving the reins to David Wright as a bridge from the old to the new and to allow him to reinvent himself as manager.  As Terry Collins has shown, you can make a dozen or more horrible decisions per week and they will still give you a fat paycheck.  Replacing him isn’t exactly like replacing Tony La Russa or Bobby Cox.  Anything beyond a .500 record is an improvement and Wright certainly seems like a smart enough guy to deliver that. 

What’s your master plan for 2018?


Thomas Brennan said...

Sounds like a good plan to me Reese. I, however, am not a fan of a year-older Salas, and Sewald may be nothing more than a marginal big leaguer. Perhaps a Chris Flexen can convert to the pen, and maybe someone else via trade or acquisition. We need a STRONG pen to help wipe away in 2018 what game by game is turning into the Stench of 2017. My brother this off season was saying this pen is not good enough, repeatedly, and even with a healthy Familia, he was right.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -


You and I aren't that far off on 'our team'.

Ironically, I also have Martinez in right field when my outfield post goes up later this month.

Zozo said...

Go into full trade mode ASAP!!!

I like Realmuto idea but I think it's gonna cost you a whole lot of prospects to get him. 1 year of a mediocre Harvey and a washed up Darnaud won't cut it IMO.
I would rather go the free agent route and sign Lorenzo Cain for Center (5yr 90mil) and Jonathan Lucroy (5yr 75 mil) at catcher.
Go with Flores at 3rd and Cecchinni/TJ at 2nd. Then I would put all my eggs in a basket for Manny Machado the following Year.
I also would let Cabrera leave after this year.
Maybe make a play for Greg Holland if he options out of his deal, I knew we should have signed him last year for cheaper.

Thomas Brennan said...

Zozo: at a family gathering last weekend, my brother said for the 10th time, at least, "I told you we should have gotten Greg Holland"

Zozo said...

I was saying we shouldn't have offered Walker that $17 mil it could of been spent so much better. We could have offered him a 3 year deal without an option for a little bit more money than he received.
I said the same thing 3 years ago with Andrew Miller
Would of
Could of
Should of

Viper said...

You lost me on the BP. You cannot, CANNOT continue to bring the same guys that continue to fail this year and expect different things in 2018. That's what the Genius in his own mind GM did and you can see the results.

With 69M, the Mets should be able to put a great team together but I would play TJ Rivera / Cechini combo at 2B, Flores 3B and save my money to go hard after Machado when he becomes a FA.

The Yankees are expected to go after Harper so I don't think they can afford both, can they?

Gary Seagren said...

Thank you Thank you Thank you Reese...my thoughts almost exactly. I mentioned a Thor Machado swap awhile ago to see a reaction from you guys but this team will NEVER pay what it will take to sign him long term and when thinking of 300 to 400 million over what 10 years it makes my head spin. We have to of had enough of long term contracts as I can't remember the last time I wasn't counting down the days until one ended: Granderson, Perez, Castillo, Bay and let's not forget signing the player we couldn't live without good old David Wright. I know I know we all love him and thought great deal but long term contracts are killers plain and simple. Does anyone really think the Cespedes deal won't fall into that same catigory as much as we're ALL praying it won't year one is looking shaky so far and we might all see the real YC if we fall out of the race by August. If our pitching staff going forward is still supposed to carry us to the promised land we HAVE to improve the defense and what is taking the FO so long to bring up Rosario? Cabrera was a find last year but looks nothing like the same player this year so by the way lets get younger asap please and if this season hasn't gone bad enough already you just have to look across town to have it rubbed in our faces. Funny but the franchise that has what like 100 championships or so it feels somehow promotes young players...astonishing so Sandy what more does Rosario have to do to get called up or is this about tanking for a high draft pick next year.

Pablo Grullon said...

I like the idea of Moustakas at 3B he will definitely improve the left side infield defense with Rosario. But although i like JD Martinez i dont want to lock Conforto into CF just cyz hes looked ok there in short spurts. I prefer to have Conforto in RF and go after a real CF via trade. Maybe a billy hamilton if hes available. Catcher is such a dilemma cuz darnaud shows flashes of his talent but gets hurt too often.

Adam Smith said...

I like a lot of this, but I agree with the commenters who would like to see Conforto in RF instead of CF. I'd give Lagares the rest of the season to see if he might be the guy, and if not, I'd go find one. I'd be OK keeping Duda at 1B, but I wouldn't complain either way on that. I'd also let Cabrera walk. Really, if I never see him don a glove for this team again, that would be fine with me. Flores is definitely my 2B next season, with a FA 3B.

Reese Kaplan said...

Ideally I would like to see Conforto in RF as well, but there are better RF options available than there are centerfielders who are going to contribute both offense and defense.

Thomas Brennan said...

Should of

Anonymous said...

JD Martinez is older than Mike Moustakas, not younger. And there's zero chance of Moustakas signing for 3/$42.

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