Reese Kaplan -- If They Went After Free Agents...


So you’re the (hopefully new) Mets GM and have some, if not all of the money to spend that’s come off the books during the fire sale.  Most people are in agreement that the team needs are at 2B, 3B, CF, SP and possibly catcher.  How would you go about spending some of those payroll dollars in free agency?

  • Neil Walker – He was the ultimate good soldier when he was healthy and that’s the key reason I would pass.  Health has been such an overwhelming problem for the Mets I can’t see them wanting to put any more fragile eggs into their basket.    
  • Eduardo Nunez – Here’s the kind of player the Mets are likely to target.  He has 24 SBs this year to go along with a .312 batting average.  He’s always been able to hit and to steal, but, like Wilmer Flores, he’s never been able to stick at any one position due to his poor defensive skills.  In 2016 for a combined year between Minnesota and San Francisco he hit .288/16/67 with 40 SBs.  This year the numbers are slightly down and he’s earning $4.2 million.  Given that cutting Asdrubel Cabrera and paying him his $2 million option would give you $6.5 million to play with, he is probably a more attractive option.  Yes, he has less power, but the increased speed and batting average make him more desirable.  $6.5 million for one year, option for a 2nd.
  • Brandon Phillips – His power’s a bit down from what it once was, but the man can still hit.  Unfortunately a rebuilding club doesn’t need any 37 year old free agents.
  • Howie Kendrick –He’s a few years younger than Phillips but with even less power.  I don’t see that the club would necessarily want a 34 year old player to take over this role. 
  • Chase Utley – The man Mets fans love to hate is coming to the end of the road of his career.  Starting next season at age 39 – enough said.
  • Danny Espinosa – Strikeouts have always been his Achilles Heel, and this season the power is non-existent as well.  I’d pass.
  • Wilmer Flores – The man can hit.  Even his greatest detractors can’t deny that anymore.  The problem is he is born to DH.  Theoretically they could slot him in at 2B with potential Gold Glovers in Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario on other side of him and hope for the best.  Daniel Murphy has made a career with his bat while being a latter day Dr. Strangeglove. 
  • T.J. Rivera – Recovering from Tommy John Surgery shouldn’t be quite as traumatic for an infielder as it would be for a pitcher.  Also, the throws from 2B are the shortest on the infield.  Still, there’s no telling when he’ll be available.  He can hit, though with doubles power, not HR power.
  • Jose Reyes – It took him from April to September to finally get into a groove and I’m afraid the powers that be will remember the end and not the 5 months of mediocrity that proceeded it.  I can see a role for him as a backup infielder as he enters his age 35 season, but definitely not as a starter anymore. 
  • Asdrubel Cabrera – You don’t know which one you’re going to get.  Is he the consummate pro he showed in 2016 who played through pain to be a key cog in the desperate run to the playoffs, or is he the malcontent hobbling around on bad legs?  I’m in the camp to cut him loose for $2 million and search elsewhere. 
  • Gavin Cecchini – Like Brandon Nimmo before him, he did not exhibit any standout tool, though during 2015 and 2016 he learned to hit for average.  Unfortunately, even with the multitude of injuries ravaging the Mets, the Skipper prefers to see the likes of Matt Reynolds, Reyes and Cabrera instead of seeing what Cecchini could do with a month’s worth of ABs.  I’d have to pencil him in as a bench option at best. 

  • Mike Moustakas – Now here’s a guy who knows when to have a career year – right when he’s set to become a free agent.  His numbers are impressive in 2017 -- .275/36/81.  However, his career high in power was previously 22.  His career batting average is just .252, though his last two full seasons included .284 and .275.  It’s possible he’s turned a corner.  What is most impressive for a guy with big power is that he doesn’t strike out much, having only eclipsed 100 Ks once in his entire career.  Expect him at age 29 to land a 5 year deal worth around $100 million.  I would like to see him here, but between the Mets’ obvious frugality and the lingering uncertainty of David Wright I can’t see them making a play.
  • Todd Frazier – He’s morphed into a latter day Dave Kingman.  He’s going to struggle to stay above the Mendoza line but he’s going to send a lot of souvenirs into the stands.  Given how little teams seems to be willing to pay for power (witness the soft market for Jay Bruce and the non-existent market for 41-HR hitter Chris Carter), his $12 million current paycheck might actually drop in a multiyear deal.  He’s 32 and currently playing crosstown for the Yankees.  Meh.  He’d be cheaper and shorter term than Moustakas but again Wright is handcuffing the team’s ability to go in a new direction.    
  • You have a lot of the same candidates for 3B who are listed above for 2B. 

  • Lorenzo Cain – He’s hitting .300 with 14 HRs, 47 RBIs and 24 SBs while playing a Gold Glove level of centerfield.  He’s the kind of all-around offensive player the Mets have been lacking during the all-or-nothing years that have just ended.  Going into his age 33 season, I think he’ll be obtainable for a 3 year deal at a higher AAV than the four or more year deal he’d likely command.  $16 million per year for 3 years.
  • Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo – We all know what Lagares can do with the glove and his arm.  We also, unfortunately know that his style of play leads to extended time on the DL and unrealized potential since signing his lucrative contract extension after his 2014 Gold Glove season.  Nimmo is showing unprecedented ability to get on base and recently had a 2-homer game.  The jury is still out on him being able to handle CF duties.  If the season started tomorrow, they would likely be platooning in CF. 
  • There are some other names out there who are familiar – Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutcheon (if the option is declined), Colby Rasmus, Jarrod Dyson and Ben Revere.  I can’t see any of these options likely to happen. 

  • Jake Arrieta – A Cy Young Award winner going on the market at age 32 is probably looking at a 4-5 year deal in the $22 million plus per season range.  These are the Mets.  Nothing to see here.
  • Alex Cobb – A TJS victim already, Cobb had put together two sub-3.00 seasons in succession before succumbing to the procedure.  This year he’s back with a 3.59 ERA and his other numbers are similarly respectable.  The injury might depress his value a bit but he might be undervalued as another year of healing under his belt could lead to another step towards his previous success.  At age 30 and earning $4.2 million this year, he’s an interesting option.  $7 per year for 3 years.
  • Yu Darvish – See Jake Arrieta.  Same story – too much money for the Mets to be seriously interested unless they change GMs. 
  • Doug Fister – He’s got the number one criteria to interest the Mets.  He’s only earning $1.75 million this year and is a .500 pitcher with a 3.61 ERA for his career.  He did put together some nice seasons in Washington and it was a little surprising to see him go unclaimed in the FA market this past year.  Boston got him late and he’s delivering 3.91 in a bandbox stadium. 
  • Lance Lynn – Baseballreference.com says that Lance Lynn over a 162 game period will deliver a 14-9 record with a 3.29 ERA and a respectable 1.27 WHIP.  He’s earning $7.5 million for the Cardinals and at age 31 next season he should command a LOT of attention for the folks who fail to land Arrieta or Darvish.  Are you listening, Jeff Wilpon?  $10 million per year for 3 years.
  • Tyson Ross – Over a three year period from 2013 through 2015 Ross delivered a 3.07 ERA for the Padres and represented them in the All Star game in 2014.  He’s had some health issues since then as evidence by his strikeouts being down.  He might bear some watching as a low cost wildcard.
  • Jason Vargas – An All Star this year for KC, he’s been in something of a slump since getting off to a fast start.  Still, his overall numbers are 15-10, 4.15 and he’s made 28 starts showing health.  He’s earning $8 million this year and coming into his age 36 season he’s not likely to see more than that again. 

  • There’s not much to look at here.  Matt Weiters has an opt-out but he’d be walking away from $11 million.  He’s hitting .233.  Look for him in DC again next year.
  • Miguel Montero hasn’t had significant playing time in a few years and burned some bridges on his way out of Chicago.  He’s a backup at best at this stage of his career.
  • Welington Castillo is the most interesting option out here to me.  He’s got a player option of $7 million for next season.  Like Mike Moustakas, he chose the right time to put together his best season.  He’s hitting .293 with 19 HRs and 49 RBIs in just 336 ABs.  He might be a nice get if the Mets are content to trade one of Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki.  The problem with the 31-year old Castillo has never been his bat or his durability.  It’s his defense.  He’s simply not good, way worse than the Mets’ catching duo.  However, given the horrific pitching the Mets have gotten this season, it’s unlikely they would want to throw gasoline onto that fire and will likely return with the guys you see behind the dish in 2017.
  • Jonathan Lucroy – He’s done the opposite of Castillo – picked his walk year to have the worst of his career.  It’s probably not age-related decline at 32, but catching is what it is and people who play back there not named Yadier Molina tend to deteriorate fairly quickly.  Still, Lucroy is a career .280 hitter with modest (12 HR) power.  I’d be interested in a short term deal, something like 2 years with an option.  He’s currently earning $5.25 million and will be looking to cash in on his window of opportunity which likely won’t occur again. 

My 2018 Mets team:

SS         Amed Rosario
CF        Lorenzo Cain
LF         Yoenis Cespedes
1B        Dominic Smith
2B        Wilmer Flores
RF        Brandon Nimmo (until Michael Conforto returns)
3B        Eduardo Nunez
C          Kevin Plawecki/Travis d’Arnaud

BN       Jose Reyes
BN       Gavin Cecchini (until T.J. Rivera returns)
BN       whichever catcher isn’t playing
BN       Juan Lagares
BN       Nori Aoki

SP        Jacob de Grom
SP        Matt Harvey
SP        Alex Cobb
SP        Lance Lynn
SP        Steve Matz/Seth Lugo/Zack Wheeler/Rafael Montero/Robert Gsellman

BP        Analysis to follow

The Mets could opt for corner outfielders and play a platoon of Lagares/Nimmo.  This group would be headed by J.D. Martinez and Jay Bruce, but that would require your long term commitment to Michael Conforto in CF.  The Mets have seemingly resisted this approach.

My plan would save the Mets about $15 million over the 2017 payroll (not accounting for projected annual increases to existing players).  Your thoughts?


Thomas Brennan said...

Good analysis, Reese. I will defer to others to comment, except for one thing: Cecchini gets more seasoning in AAA to boost his bat, and Evans is on my bench - see my 10 AM article today.

Hobie said...

Writing Thor off for 2018?

Reese Kaplan said...

Nope..he should have been lumped into that 5th slot with all of the others. I assume Harvey will be healthy. I can't make that same assumption about Syndergaard.

Eddie Corona said...

Reese I think you nailed a good plan... problem is that I don't think that team is a playoff team...
This just means that Thor and degrom would need to be what Clayton and greike were a couple of years ago

bob gregory said...
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bob gregory said...
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bob gregory said...

I would agree to the rwobstarting pitchers you suggest in Cobb and Lynn.

The way I look at it there are very few players on the Mets that can truly be counted on. Most have the words "can be, might, or if they return from attached to them.
Those that can be counted on: deGrom, Cespedes, and Flores.

Even Rosario is a big question mark ( remember the way that Jurickson Profar was talked about 5 years ago?)

I dont see the sense in pursuing Lorenzo Cain considering his age & the degree of difference he will make in 2018. Might as well give Nimmo a chance to fill CF and the leadoff spot. Permanent M.A.S.H unit leader Lagares can help out.

There are two areas I would go all-in to achieve.
1) as mentioned in my comment yesterday, either 1st or 3rd base. Goldschmidt, Donaldson, Machado

2) international Free agent Shohei Otani. Two-way. 23yr old, Japanese player. Nippon Ham-fighter that has been named the MVP of Japan's Pacific League for both his play as an outfielder and Starting pitcher with a 100 mph fastball.
Talent and athleticism is obvious. I would be interested in seeing how he would play as the Met's two-way outfielder and possibly as a reliever.

Viper said...


The first improvement the Mets need to make in order to move forward is get rid of Terry Collins and hopefully, the Genius GM.
Then the Mets need to recognize the talent they have and use it accordingly before going out and signing anyone.

If I were to offer the Mets a 2B who would give 25hrs, drive in 70/80 runs while batting 270 with good upside, would the Mets commit to such a player?. I think they should. His name is Wilmer Flores.
Let him get comfortable at 2B and I think he can potentially give the Mets better numbers.

Eduardo Nunez is the type of player the Mets need but not if he has a lead glove. Like or not, Moustakas is the Mets best option and since the Mets don't have any 3B anywhere close to the ML, so be it.

For the outfield the Mets have 2 choices:
Lorenzo Cain where the Mets choose defense and speed or Jay Bruce where the Mets choose power. I would take Jay Bruce.

Pitcher? Lance Lynn.

This would be my team.

Conforto CF
Bruce RF/1B (if Smith regresses)

#4,5 competition from Lugo, Matz, Montero, Harvey with the leftovers to the BP or minors.

There are enough arms for a good BP inhouse already.

You can make an argument that if the Mets wanted to just go for it, they would sign Moustakas, Bruce, Cain and Lynn. In that case:

Cain CF
Rosario SS
Cespedes LF
Bruce 1B
Moustakas 3B
Conforto RF
Flores 2B

But that IF could be a nightmare if Bruce doesn't play at least average 1B. But the speed and power is there.

Reese Kaplan said...

You don't need Bruce at 1B until Conforto returns. By then you'll know whether or not Smith is for real.

Shohei Otani's future is as a pitcher. His hitting is good, not spectacular. His pitching numbers are off the charts. I'd only see him becoming a full time offensive player if an arm injury derailed his pitching career.

bob gregory said...
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bob gregory said...
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bob gregory said...

A 23yr old Fourth outfielder that could be a shut-down 2 to 3 inning reliever? Sign me up.

Notice I don't trust the Mets organization to keep a power pitcher like him healthy as a starter.
Maybe new front office and support structure that could change. The Mets could have a starting staff of Syndergaard, deGrom, and Otani. Oh boy!

TexasGusCC said...

Nice job Reese, but I'm sure everyone will have some small disagreements. I will choose to totally ignore the roster and instead focus on the player usage. As everyone and their mother points out, why is Cecchini sitting? I understand that Cabrera will play third all September for an evaluation, but why is Reyes starting everyday? Why not at least split the at bats? Too, Aoki is playing against lefties and Nimmo isn't, even though Nimmo has improved against lefties and what have we to lose? Problem is Alderson has wild fantasies about Aoki's BB% and has tried to sign him multiple times in the past.

This team doesn't understand what a customer wants and just lies to us about their commitment to winning. We don't want nine all-stars on the field; we want a competent manager, and visionary GM (for the future, not the 1980's), while we're losing let the kids play, and identify the players that have a future. For example, Matt Reynolds will not get any better; we know Reynolds by now. Let's see Evans, already.

Mack's Mets © 2012