Talkin’ Baseball – One Position, One Player


Good morning.

Question - If the ownership of the Mets tell you as a general manager that you can only upgrade one position this off-season what position would it be and who would you go after and what deal will you try to make?

            Mack says –

                        This would be easy for me.

                        The position would be third base and the player would be Boston Red                         Sox prospect Rafael Devers.

I know a lot of you out there (Hi Charles!) think this kid would never be moved by the Red Sox, but this is the team that traded the Babe, right? I want to build an all-star potential infielder and I need an outside to man the corner for me.

The deal would cost me. But it would be worth it. I’d start with two players, but I’d end with three. Two would be a couple of my young AA-A starters, while the third would be either OF Brandon Nimmo or IF Wilmer Flores. Like I said, it will cost me, but I believe this deal would be worth it.

Deal:  Devers for Flores, Corey Oswalt, Nabil Crismatt

Reese Kaplan says –

            My number one deal to push going into the off-season is to sign as a free agent Mike Moustakas to play 3B for the Mets.  He's only going to be 29 years old, so a 5-year deal is not all that risky, his numbers are improving each year and with David Wright's career pretty much over he would cement that position with power hitting for the duration of the contract.  The money is most definitely there with perhaps $85 million coming off the books. 

I think outfielders like Jay Bruce are easier to find and it's still possible the Mets will try Michael Conforto in RF with Yoenis Cespedes in LF with a combination of Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo at CF. 

I don't see that the catchers who are likely on the market are a vast improvement over what we have though Jonathon Lucroy might be a good buy-low candidate. 

If/when your pitchers recover you should have the depth there that you expected. 

Wilmer Flores and TJ Rivera can slug it out over who plays 2B (along with a possible retention of Asdrubal Cabrera). 

Eddie Corona says -

This question I imagine should read, you only have enough dollars to upgrade one position because with about 7 free agents on the current roster there are going to be replacements throughout the diamond.
This is a very tough decision since "getting the best player available" sometimes develops in the winter meetings or perhaps a Free agent who slips because demands or the markets doesn't develop (as in Cespedes 2 years ago).

In a bubble I would like to see a upgrade in CF. With this pitching staff, an Outfield of Cespedes in LF, Conforto in RF and a Charlie Blackmon type in CF would be great...

Upgrading Catcher would be great but really there are so few quality catchers that the upgrade may be moot. Unless you can acquire a Machado or Donaldson 3b may not be the place to spend top dollar and acquiring a Devers would not be issue with ownership since he would on a minimal salary...

Richard Herr says –

The first thing I'd say to the owners would be "Go piss up a rope." If they think the team could compete at a major-league level by just upgrading one position while all of those contracts are expiring, they are even less aware than I thought they were. (BTW my wanting to tell the owners to go PUAR probably explains why I don't make the big bucks. )

However, since the restrictions for the question are what they are, I'm going to turn right around and not spend a helluva lot of the owners' money. I'm going to ask them to spend damn little, as a matter of fact. I want to upgrade the position of Health and Conditioning Coach. I want to get the hell rid of Mike Barwis and his muscle-beach philosophy of conditioning.  Let's bring in someone who is a little removed from the football practice of building muscles.  Let's not have a whole bunch of buff guys  who are not playing because they're nursing core muscle injuries. Let's have fleet athletes who can run the bases and generate bat and arm speed.  That one move would greatly improve the team by removing half the roster from the DL.

Now I'd like to take a moment to defend poor Ray Ramirez. Everyone sees the word "trainer" and figures he's the one responsible for the conditioning of the players. I would guess that his training puts him somewhere between physio-therapist and nurse. As PT he can do the stretches, massages, and hot tub type management to recuperate injuries. He can probably also inject the players with a needle. However, he can't prescribe what goes in that needle. He also furnishes the shoulder that the players lean on as they hobble off the field. However, he does not make out the lineup card. He does not assign players to the DL. He does not handle roster assignments. It's not his damn fault if management is putting out players who are not fit to play.  He's just there to slap on the band-aids. He doesn't condition.

David Rubin says - 

Sad to say, the one position that is our weakest, and one that was supposed to be manned by the best homegrown position player in our history (so far) is Third Base, and that person, of course, is one David Wright. While there are decent free agents at that position this offseason, investing in either Todd Frazier or Mike Moustakas in my opinion is not the way to go. Frazier has had a very mediocre season and Moose is most likely heading home to the West Coast, which would mean over-paying for him, something in my "role" as GM I am not prepared to do (hey- remember, the Wilponzis are my boss!!!)
Therefore, I am targeting a top Cubs prospect whose path is blocked by both Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant- one Jeimer Candelario! He's a switch-hitter and takes a lot of walks, both things that current GM Sandy Alderson values, and his power is coming and should end up providing somewhere around 25 homers per season. The Cubs still have Ian Happ before him, and a completely full infield, so his loss wouldn't be of great concern to their immediate future.

What IS concerning to the Cubs is their immediate rotation and bullpen needs, and I have 2 ways that we can go with this trade. If it's going to be a one-for-one deal, believe it or not, I am prepared to offer the expiring contract of one Matt Harvey for Candelario! Matt has one season left, 2018, before he becomes a free agent and sadly his love affair with the city of NY and the fans has waned to the point where he is no longer the "Dark Knight" but the "Dim Light" of Queens!! Rarely have I seen a pitcher fall so far, so fast, but that's what injuries and lack of concern with your physical welfare can do. He needs a new start, and we need a third baseman, so there would seem to be a natural fit here.

However- since we're in wheeling/dealing mode, I am willing to expand this deal a bit- still holding true to the framework of the question, but expanding the trade a bit. Let's make this trade happen now, in July, 2017, while Harvey is still on the DL- but we can sweeten the pot on both sides. Let's include Eloy Jiminez from the Cubs, and install him ASAP in Right Field, to replace the FA bat of Jay Bruce, who we will include in the deal to give the Cubs a quick infusion of much-needed power into their everyday line-up right now. Jiminez doesn't come cheap, so we will also have to add a longer term piece for the Cubs, in the form of minor league pitcher Corey Oswalt, who has the chance to become a 5th starter for them some time over the next 2 years.

I watched Jiminez play at the All-Star Futures Game in San Diego in 2016 and witnessed live the amazing catch he made. He works hard on his defense and he could end up as a 60+ player with even higher upside then that. By improving our defense and hitting at third, in the form of Candelario, we would have a 5-6 year answer at the position, and in moving Harvey and Bruce, another $20+ million comes off the books and the Wilponzi's THEN might be willing to open up their checkbooks, especially since it would bring the running total of available funds this off-season over the $75 million threshold.

I would LOVE to bring in Devers from the BoSox but I don't think they'll even consider moving him; Senzel will give the Reds the bat they lost when they traded Frazier in the first place as well as long-term cost control, and the Giants, desperate to solidify third, aren't going to move Christian Arroyo so fast. Therefore, get Theo on the phone STAT and let's make this happen!!!!!

Jack Flynn says –

Given how much money is coming off the books next season, it would be criminal for ownership to handcuff the general manager this badly. But if you look at economic factors and the players currently in the farm system, the biggest need for 2018 is at the catcher position.

Even if both Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson are allowed to leave as free agents, the Mets would still have Yoenis Cespedes in left field and Michael Conforto for center field. The top two outfielders after Cespedes and Conforto are Juan Lagares (untradable considering the two years and $15.5 million still coming to him) and Brandon Nimmo (one of the more fascinating first-round picks in recent Mets history). The Mets have to give both a shot next season - Lagares because he's too expensive to bench and Nimmo because he's been made to wait so long for an opportunity that the Mets destroyed any trade value he might have otherwise had. It's not hard to envision a scenario in which Conforto moves to right field and allows for a Nimmo/Lagares platoon to cover center field. If nothing else, the pitchers will appreciate the outfield defense.

Now that Asdrubal Cabrera made his peace with second base, his $8.5 million option for 2018 looks like a decent bargain. The Mets have credible internal options at shortstop and first base - Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith have very little left to prove in the minor leagues. Wilmer Flores deserves a shot to spend the entire season at third base, especially as his bat appears to be catching up with his potential. I may be in the minority here, but I also think that Jose Reyes on a one-year deal makes for an excellent backup option, and TJ Rivera has proven he deserves a job as well. The infield is set, with three starters who are 26 or younger and two decent veteran options in a supporting role to prop up a faltering youngster.

This scenario means that the Mets have shed over $50 million in salary just be replacing free agents with internal options. If the Mets choose to bring back one of Granderson or Bruce (which moves Nimmo and Lagares into a support role), there's still $35 million in savings. There's no catcher available worth $35 million, let alone $50 million, but it is still the Mets' biggest need. Travis d'Arnaud has been given five seasons to bloom into the All-Star some thought he could be - instead, he's proven to be an injury-prone, low average hitter who has nearly as much trouble staying on the field as he does throwing out prospective basestealers. Kevin Plawecki has given no indication that he is an MLB-caliber starter, and Tomas Nido is too raw to be considered a serious option in 2018.

Jon Lucroy has struggled in Texas this season, but would be an intriguing candidate for a one-year make good contract. Alex Avila's production in Detroit this season has been almost entirely out of line with career norms; I'd be wary of giving him anything other than a two-year contract. Otherwise, the fictional GM may have to go fishing in trade waters to see if there's an expensive but productive catcher out there to fill out the lineup card.

Christopher Soto says –

            If I am only permitted to spend money on 1 positional upgrade…My choice would be to sign 3B Mike Moustakas.

Currently for the 2018 NY Mets…..assuming David Wright continues to be broken……3B will continue to be an open position. At only 29 yrs old, Moustakas is still in the prime of his career and can be given a 4-5 year contract without needing to worry about him becoming a detriment at the end of the contract life due to age.

Moustakas would be a perfect fit for the club…..defensively, he is a capable defender who, while his range is not ideal, will make all the plays that are hit to him. Offensively, he brings both power and low K contact abilities to a club that is slowly moving away from high K guys as contracts for Bruce, Granderson, Duda are swapped for more contact oriented players like Rosario, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, and Gavin Cecchini.

The most recent free agent 3B contracts comparisons are Pablo Sandoval’s 5 year/$95M contract signed in 2014. Sandoval was coming off of a stat line of .279 AVG/.740 OPS with 16 HR, 73 RBI and a World Series ring at age 27. While that contract has failed miserably…..Moustakas is easily besting those numbers and should be paid accordingly. I would gander that a 5 year/$120M contract is what it would take to acquire his services giving him an annual salary of $24M. It’s worth noting that I am fully expecting that the insurance from Wrights contract ($15M in 2018, $11M in 2019, $9M in 2020) would help pay for this.


Mack Ade said...

As best I can tell, the general consensus here is somewhere between Moustakas and 'go piss up a rope'.

Thomas Brennan said...

Great comments of real variety.

If I were the Bosox, getting Flores in Fenway ought to be attractive. Devers would be a great target...we'd clearly have to make it worth the Red Sox' while.

Reese Kaplan said...

Everyone seems to be high on the Devers bandwagon yet the first time I looked at his numbers they were good but not overwhelming. However, I just took a look at a comparable set and I can see now why the excitement level:

Devers for his career:

1515 ABs, 47 HRs, 254 RBIs, 26 SBs, .294 AVG, 283 Ks,

Player B:

1745 ABs, 48 HRs, 245 RBIs, 72 SBs, .292 AVG, 311 Ks,

Player B went on to have a pretty impressive career when he could stay on the field -- David Wright.

Eddie Corona said...

Mack if that's all it took to get Devers it would be a heist... I think you would need to add Reed and Smith to that deal...

Reese I can see your point about Moose mainly becuase it would only cost us money... But as a player i think he would be the next Granderson... Over payed for this production... Not to say I wouldn't do it but I am very hesitant... I feel he could bite us in the rear...

Rubin... Love your Idea... But isnt Oswalt not even in our top 5 Pitching prospect much less our top 15 prospects over all... I would think Molina would have to be inserted...But still well worth it if Jimenez would be part of that deal... Like where your heads at...

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