Reese Kaplan -- My Crystal Ball for 2018


So the towel has officially been thrown in on the 2017 season (though if it had been a fight the referee would have ruled a TKO long ago).  Better late than never, I always say.  It will be interesting to find out between the first trade deadline and the August waiver trade deadline who might still be departing for greener pastures.  With Lucas Duda now a part of Mets history and Drew Smith potentially part of its future, let’s take a look at how the roster might look for next season.

1B – There’s no reason to believe Dominic Smith won’t be given every opportunity to prove himself.  In AAA he’s hitting for average, power, driving in runs and flashing good leather at 1B.  Capable backups include Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera, both of whom happen to bat from the right side when the Madison Bumgarner types take the hill.

2B – Ah, here’s quite the conundrum.  Do they bring back Neil Walker?  Do they bring back Asdrubal Cabrera?  Do they hand the keystone position to T.J. Rivera or Wilmer Flores?  What about Gavin Cecchini?  My crystal ball says they will hold an open competition between Rivera and Flores for the role, with the resulting DEFENSIVE superior getting the nod.  By this time they know what both can do with the bat.  If you want a higher average, go for T.J.  If you want more dingers, Wilmer’s your man.  What neither has shown to do well is field any position they’ve tried.  If they’re entrusting the spot to one of them, I have a feeling it will come down to glove rather than bat.  Either one will help score runs, but who’s going to give away the fewest of them?

SS – They’re banking heavily on Amed Rosario being the real deal, a latter day Jose Reyes who can contribute in all facets of the game.  Since his once and future Met role model is still persona non grata around baseball, I have a feeling he’ll be back in a utility role and as insurance that Rosario has growing pains. 

3B – I have a feeling that the Mets will try to make a well-insured contract to have Neil Walker return at 3B.  He provides veteran leadership, seems to enjoy playing here and could be a good role model for the otherwise very young infield.  He is grossly overpaid at $17.2 million and he’s likely not going to garner his true value having missed significant time each of the past two years with injuries.  Consequently I think the Mets will try to come in somewhere around 3 years/$39 million to offer him job security.  Frankly, I think he’d take it as many other clubs are going to be gun shy given his recent injury history.  If he delivers a career average 2.4 WAR and each 1.0 is worth $8 million, then he’d be a bargain at that price. 

C – Here’s the big mystery.  Travis d’Arnaud’s bat has come alive the past month or so, but he’s probably not going to finish with big enough numbers to ensure he’s handed the starting gig.  The problem is that there are very few catchers ever made available who can provide both defense and offense.  The free agent pickings are rather slim.  You could try to cash in on a sub-par season from Jonathon Lucroy who is set for free agency if Texas doesn’t extend him, but his reputation as a receiver is that he’s a good hitter.  Tomas Nido is at least another full year away and hit a bump in his offensive road this year, so this position is one of tremendous need.  Personally, I saw enough of d’Arnaud’s bat to think that he’s worth holding over for another year, though I’d like to see if Kevin Plawecki can force his name into the conversation.  Neither are great catchers but then the available options on the table are about as appealing as 3-day old sushi. 

LF – Yoenis Cespedes.  Enough said.

CF – Michael Conforto should get the gig.  He’s handled the role competently and with more playing time he has the athleticism (if not the pure speed) to make himself into a plus player out there. 

RF – Here’s another twisted tale.  They tried to sell Jay Bruce in the off-season and failed.  They are trying to sell Jay Bruce in his best offensive year ever and not finding much interest.  Bruce has commented he wants to try free agency, so the Mets are probably going to hang onto him to net the compensatory draft pick provided by making a QO which he’s likely to turn down (unlike the unhealthy Neil Walker who realized there was no market for a guy coming off back surgery).  However, I think Bruce is going to repeat the Daniel Murphy situation, spurning the QO to sign for less money elsewhere.  Somebody ought to mention that to the man since he’s since proven in 2017 that he CAN play in NY and he would be part of one of the better offensive outfields in the game should he choose to stay.  If not, I think the Mets go all-in on J.D. Martinez who is younger and right handed, a plus considering they still have the lefty bats of Conforto and Smith, plus the switch hitting Wallker. 

SP – Jacob deGrom

SP – Noah Syndergaard

After this dynamic duo it gets pretty murky.  What is left of Matt Harvey?  What about Seth Lugo?  Rafael Montero has pitched way better of late (until Friday night, that is).  Steven Matz has been flat out awful.  Ditto Robert Gsellman.  Chris Flexen had a rather forgettable debut, but you can’t write him off after one game. 

Personally, I think they would do well to consider some outside help in the FA market.  While Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish will have all of the GMs salivating big time, the two guys I’d pursue with some of that departing FA money burning a hole in my pocket are Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb.  Both have pitched in relative obscurity compared to the other two but done nearly as well.  They’re healthy and younger.  Perhaps they could form a good 3-4 in your rotation with Harvey et al battling for number five?  At least this way you’d have backup options should you lose any of your starters to injury.  The others could work out of the now barren pen.

RP – Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins and Paul Sewald should be no-brainers.  Throw in newcomer A.J. Ramos as well.  After that it’s a mess.  Many are fond of Hansel Robles, but as Tom Brennan has pointed out on many occasions, he gives outfielders neck strain by forcing them to turn suddenly to watch balls flying out of the park.  Josh Edgin has seemingly lost his mojo.  Josh Smoker never found his.  Erik Goeddel is a replacement level warm body.  Ditto Tyler Pill.  Don’t get me started on Fernando Salas.

What they don’t spend on starting pitching they should consider to fortify the pen.  I am already penciling in whomever remains of Steve Matz, Rafael Montero and Seth Lugo as bullpen options but it certainly can’t hurt to get some solid setup guys at moderate (but higher than the Mets typically spend) money to help hold down games.  Drew Smith could help balance out the cost of say a Tony Watson or Jake McGee from the left side, or Luke Gregerson, Joe Smith, Steve Cishek or Koji Uehara from the right side. 

Given that I don’t foresee them spending MORE money on the infield than they did this year, J.D. Martinez or Jay Bruce should be a wash.  That means the Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera and other money is available to help fortify the team.  If there’s a new management team in place I can see that happening.  If not, expect more of the same old same old.  


Anonymous said...

I like extending the QC to Bruce. We can either get him back or sign JG martinez as suggested. Outfield is set.

I'd check into Lucroy since he got traded today since we may be able to sign him on the cheap without a draft pick penalty. If he becomes too expensive stay with what we have. don't offer more thean 2 year 16 mil total.

Totally agree that we need at least 1 mid rotation starter and maybe another innings eater who can keep you in games. Have Harvey, Matz, Lugo etc fight it out for the reaming spots in the rotation and put the rest in the pen.

I like Walker but I'm nervous about his health. If cabrerra doesn't get traded today we have a 1 year option on him. I think we should pull the trigger on that and play him at 3rd. There are much better 3B options on the 2018 FA market after his contract expires.

Thomas Brennan said...

Where's Tim Tebow in the mix? :)

Conlon has a straight really good starts. Conlon, Flexen, Molina and perhaps OSWALT are in-house fresh starter options in2018.

Reese Kaplan said...

You're assuming that they want to do something smart - keeping pitchers out of Las Vegas.

Pablo Grullon said...

Thats a very unimaginative approach. I would look into trading for josh harrison from the pirates and put him at 2B. He would provide us with speed, athleticism and shore up our up the middle defense with Rosario. I would give Flores the 3b job amd hope he can hold it down. Did you know he has a 500 slugging percentage over his last 162 games? And Collins still finds ways to not put him in the lineup. I would see if Lucroy is willing to do a short bounce back contract similar to what the Nats did with Matt Wieters or what Tampa bay did with Wilson Ramos. Say Bruce accepts the QO which i kinda doubt he will, i can live with Confirto in CF for 1 more year tho ideally i woulf want him in a corner OF spot. Rhat still leaves us with plenty of flexibility to address long term needs in the free agent market in 2018 when there will be a much stronger free agent class.

Mack Ade said...

Pablo -

I like Flores a lot and have followed him since his days here in Savannah

You have to trust me on this.

He can not play major league level third base. Or short. Second maybe, but that is it.

Thomas Brennan said...

Mack, Wilmer could play first base, but that position will be very well manned by one Dominic Smith :)

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