Reese Kaplan -- What If deGrom WAS Traded?


For all of the Noah Syndergaard “Thor” mystique, the fact is that it is Jacob deGrom who quietly matched him pitch for pitch.  There are a lot of rumors swirling about a possible trade of deGrom to the Houston Astros which would certainly be tantamount to throwing in the towel on the 2017 season, but would it be good business to do so?

A lot of people are pushing Jose Quintana as a comparable for what deGrom would net, but I would posit that deGrom should return even more.  First of all, let’s look at the numbers – 2.89 FOR HIS CAREER for deGrom vs. 3.49 for Quintana.  I can go line-by-line citing stats, but the end result is that deGrom is superior across the board.  Furthermore, Quintana, though being a year younger, is already in the big money portion of his career.  This year he’s earning $7 million, next year $8.85 million, then jumps to $10.5 million and $11.5 million the following two years if his options are picked up.    Contrast that to the fact that deGrom is earning just a hair over $4 million this year, is arbitration eligible for the first time in 2018, and is under team control through the end of the 2020 season, becoming a FA for 2021.  He is a better pitcher earning less money and thus should be far more attractive to an acquiring team.

The question for the Mets, of course, is whether or not they could withstand the loss of that kind of talent.  A lot depends on the glass half-full or half-empty perspective on the near future of the ballclub.  During this past off season the braintrust believed that nothing was necessary to be done to ensure a return to the post season, not even taking into account how injuries could impact things.  Needless to say, that inertia approach to team building has been a colossal failure of the level that will likely be taught in sports management curriculum for years to come. 

So if you are in the first camp and think the Mets are merely some bad health issues and a player or two away from respectability, then trading Jacob deGrom in his prime is not for you.  You would need him to anchor a staff alongside Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.  Seth Lugo and perhaps Robert Gsellman are the backups and you have reinforcements at AA and below.

However, if you are of the “rebuild” mindset, then you are thinking 2018 is probably a lost cause, too, and you have to be thinking about 2019 and beyond.  Towards that end could the team withstand the loss of deGrom if it brought back people who might contribute to a long term solution for 2019 and into the next decade?

Let’s assume for the moment that they do pull the trigger on a deGrom trade (highly unlikely), what would the pitching rotation look like next season?  You would start with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.  The next in line would be Seth Lugo, but I would suggest an aggressive youth-oriented approach might want to include Chris Flexen who is currently making it look easy in AA.  He sports a 1.73 ERA, walks under 1 batter per 9 IP and strikes out over more than 1 per IP.  Granted, he is just 22 years of age, but Dwight Gooden was 19 when he made his major league debut.  Furthermore, knowing how Flexen performs at the major league level would also help the team know what to do with Matt Harvey who is a prime candidate for a deadline deal next season before he becomes a free agent. 

Now there have been many column inches already written about what you would get in return for deGrom, so I’m not going to rehash that same territory.  Furthermore, I don’t know why the Mets would only entertain offers from the Astros.  I would be going after quality rather than quantity.  An acquiring team’s top two prospects plus some wildcards from further down in the depths of their system would not be unreasonable for a guy whose career numbers are mirroring that of Tom Seaver. 

What?  You’re crazy!  He’s good but he’s not THAT good!


.615 winning percentage vs. .603 for Seaver.  2.89 ERA vs. 2.86 for Seaver.  1.111 WHIP vs. 1.121 for Seaver.  7.7 hits per 9 IP vs. 7.5 for Seaver.  2.3 Walks per 9 IP vs. 2.6 for Seaver.  9.5 Ks per 9 IP vs. 6.8 for Seaver.  Yeah, he is that good. 

At the time of the Midnight Massacre the Mets acquired Pat Zachry (co-holder of Rookie of the Year), Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson (2nd in voting for ROY with the Mets who delivered 12/65/.292 in about half a season's worth of ABs), plus Dan Norman, a highly regarded prospect who was coming off a 17/63/.273 season in AA with 33 SBs.  He, of course, didn’t pan out. 

What is very different this time is that there is no animosity between the front office and the star pitcher.  There’s a ton of money coming off the books next year so paying deGrom in his first year of arbitration eligibility is certainly not a problem.  Consequently, Sandy Alderson can do what he does best…sit on his butt waiting for the phone to ring because failing to trade deGrom would result in having his great talent again next year.  He can ask the sun, the moon and the stars and see if anyone bites.  There’s no pressure to trade him, but major pressure if he did to ensure he got multiple players of value in return.  Furthermore, deGrom is 29 and Seaver was 3 years older when traded.

I’m not in favor of moving deGrom as talents like his don’t come along all that often, but if some team started off by saying you could have their Amed Rosario, their Dom Smith plus two more lower level minor leaguers, I’d certainly have to consider it.   


Gary Seagren said...

Reese after last night, as if we needed a disaster like that to get the trade juices flowing, Sandy, JP and Ricco should all be on a 24/7 phone watch till the trade deadline to put 2018's roster construction on the front burner. I get what your saying am I'm with you but I just don't see it happening not that's it's the end of the world if it doesn't happen because we all love the guy but it would help to know what the overall plan is getting us to the 2018 roster. Will Sandy spend a good chunk of the money coming off the books to build a contender next year and will both he and TC be back. It's hard to imagine after so much promise this spring for a bigger disaster than we've experienced so there's ALOT of work to be done....are we really counting on this FO to do what needs to be done? Stay tuned.

Thomas Brennan said...

My only way of seeing Jake traded is if the Mets are absolutely overwhelmed by can't miss, multiple star-level talents. Anything less, I might just stop being a Mets fan - seriously.

And "deGrom is earning just a hair over $4 million this year" - which hair are you referring to?

Syndergaard has a lot to prove before I put him on the same lofty plateau as Jake.

I think good ownership and leadership has this team battling for the Division in earnest next year, so I don't favor drastic rebuilds.

If someone wants to pay a boatload, maybe it can be for Steve Matz, who hurt his trade value with Sunday's stinker deluxe. Jake stays.

Meanwhile, the Yanks are trying to acquire David Robertson and Todd Frazier - Sandy better get busy before he gets scraps at the trade table for our "product" - NOTHING should be holding him back from trading Reyes, Cabrera, Flores, Bruce, Grandy or Reed for the right prices.

Zozo said...

I love DeGrom but I feel we would be better off trading him plus Reed for a package of Bregman, Tucker, Martes and Paulino.
My reasoning is this if you look back at recent World Series winners, they didn't need 5 top rotation guys to get through the playoffs. I know it doesn't hurt but every team that has won recently has done it with hitting. I would think Bregman and Tucker would fill 2 big holes defensively and offensively on our team. With those 2 and the additions of Rosario and Smith, we would be a force on both sides of the ball for years to come. Which in turn would be amazing for our pitchers and help them out tremendously (see last nights game as an example). Montero pitched pretty good but got screwed over with 3 errors.

Also I am a believer that since we are still in a pitchers park you don't need to have such over powering pitchers, just ground ball pitchers that play to a great defensive team. Just put the ball in play and let there defense do the rest.
I also like what the Yanks did last offseason by trading there excess soon to be free agents but also didn't shy away from trading a player to Cleveland that had a couple more years of control and load up their top ten prospect list with at least half the players. That's my example as to why to trade DeGrom.

I also would like to trade with the Tigers and bring in Verlander and his 2 year contract. It wouldn't take much to get him and Detroit would kick in a little bit of money. He hasn't really gotten hurt and even though he is older he can hold down the fort til our younger guys get brought up slowly through the system.
My last tidbit is that DeGrom is 29 and has already had TJ surgery, he is a power pitcher so it might not be long before he blows up his arm. I would prefer to build around Synndergarrd and with the addition of Martes and Paulino we could very well be set for the next 7 years.

Come on Sandy make the deal

Reese Kaplan said...

@Tom -- you had me doubting my facts but Jacob earns $4,050,000 according to baseballreference.com

Thomas Brennan said...

Reese, I was totally focusing on all the Jake hair we'd lose in a trade, not his salary :)

Zozo, if those guys meet the criteria of totally overwhelming us with can't miss STAR players, I am OK with that, and it is good analytical thinking on your part.

Mack Ade said...

Guys -

A couple of things...

1. A TRUE rebuild has everyone under 28 years old dropped or traded for younger chips.

2. deGrom is maybe the only player right now (Thor when healthy) that can get us 3 quality chips in return for his service.

3. Something is seriously wrong here. Detroit and the Yanks do not seem to have any trouble getting someone to trade with.

4. Yes, it takes two to tango, but there are 28 other available trading partners for a team to hook up with and no one seems to be heading in the direction of Sandy to ask for his (her?) hand and be led to the dance floor.

Reese Kaplan said...

As I stated, what Sandy Alderson does best is sit on his ass waiting for people to come to him. What a GM is PAID TO DO is work the phones and ascertain level of interest from other clubs and then use that as leverage for one against another (so astutely portrayed in the movie, "Moneyball"). I doubt Brian Cashman was passively awaiting a call from the White Sox and then said, "Yeah, that sounds like a good deal." He was trying to improve his ballclub and likely spent the money on a phone call to check in on the White Sox. What does Sandy Alderson do to earn his paycheck anyway? I'm beginning to think a voice mail account would be as effective at fielding incoming calls and not making outgoing ones.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Cashman knew that the Red Sox was doing everything they could to close a deal with the Red Sox... no, he did NOT sit by the phone.

Gary Seagren said...

Doesn't it tell you something that a team who had World Series or bust expectations just a few month's ago doesn't have players anyone wants to give up good prospects to get.

Mack Ade said...

Gary -

Most of the players that other teams would have wanted have health issues now.

Again, this whole season has been a health issue.

Make this whole team healthy from day one and you would have had a playoff team.

Reese Kaplan said...

You wouldn't know how desirable or undesirable our players are to other teams if you don't make other clubs aware that you're willing to deal and package them in the best possible light (paying down salaries, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Of our "vaunted" pitching staff, the only two starters that I am truly attached to are Jake and Thor. The rest are solid rotation pieces, but are likely replaceable, IMO.

I agree that if you deal Jake, you are officially rebuilding and a quick return to relevance is off the table. If you think 2018 will feature a return to prominence (after some tweaking in the off season), then you hold onto Jake.

So, Sandy seems to be asleep (kidding), at a fork in the road.....I wonder which way we will go? (hopefully not off the side of the road, into a tree)

On a side note, Mack's comment about the dance floor conjured up an image of all 30 MLB GM's at a disco, taking turns dancing, bumping/grinding, etc. There is likely something wrong with me, but it did make me laugh for a second.


Michael S. said...

Of our rotation, I keep deGrom and Thor. I know I'm probably in the minority but I'd work Matz and Wheeler to the bullpen. Might prolong their careers, help with wear as far as injuries, and maybe even give the Mets a top bullpen.

With all the money coming off the books, overpay for Darvish (if he's willing). Have that as the top3 with Peterson looking to fill in the back in the future. In the meantime, sell off Harvey and others and fill in 4&5 as we can. I'd even deal Familia ASAP, just as soon as he can re establish himself as useful.

Mack Ade said...

Anonymous Mike -

That is funny and, in another previous life, I was a manager of the first Disco radio station in NYC, 92.1FM- WKTU-FM Disco 92... and they used to call me 'Disco Johnny'.

David Rubin said...

Reese- 100% agreed that Jacob would, should and could bring back more than Quintana and is a FAR superior pitcher. It seems that everyone has forgotten that Mr Q was once a Mets' prospect who was suspended for failing a drug test and was waived; was also a prospect in Yanks org and was waived; and most of all, DeGrom is one of the few key pieces for the team to be competitive in 2018 and no proposed deal that anyone has speculated about or wished for can come close to giving us a reliable #1 starter of whom you can give the ball to every 5th day and have a 90% chance (when healthy) of receiving a quality start! He's worth not 3 top prospects but a package of 5 top parts, in my opinion, and no one is going to offer enough for Sandy to part with this top quality, controllable arm. Trading him throws in the towel for 2018 and 2019, and if that is the plan then it had better include getting rid of all of the top major league components and also bringing in a new GM who would be responsible for guiding the org through the entire rebuild. Sandy's not that guy, and if he remains in place for 2018, you can be sure that he's staying to compete, not to rebuild. A package of the Red Sox top prospects, or the Cubs, Astros, Yankees, Dodgers, etc is only attractive if we're also trading other top quality pieces in similar deals AND if the team is going to be willing to spend big in the international market and the draft. They aren't, so we're left with the free agents to be being traded in order to acquire low level parts and reduce payroll commitment for this unsuccessful season. That's our current reality, sadly, and I'm praying that somehow adding Flexen, Smith, Rosario and others will bring new life and energy to the team along with a return to health of our top performers. I've sadly even given up on a return of Bruce, and the 2017 free agent market that begins in November is NOT going to be one that brings adequate replacements.

In sum- it's something my friend's dad used to call "a German Airplane" - a Mess-A-Shit!!!!!

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