Reese Kaplan -- Can You Stomach a Rebuild?


Mack’s Mets contributor Mike Freire drew a line in the sand based upon Monday’s “How to Spend the Remaining Payroll” article.  The issue for many Mets fans (also highlighted in Marc Carig’s article on the lack of transparency with the Wilpons) is that the team is not clearly trying to win now nor are they building for the future.  The end result is a continual series of half measures you take by signing the odd second tier veteran here or over-the-hill star there in order to perpetuate the illusion of competitiveness without actually hitting the mark.

When you think back to 2015 when the Mets were treading water around .500 but in striking distance of the top, they made moves to help propel them forward, including the acquisitions of Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, the addition of Yoenis Cespedes, and bullpen fortifications in the form of Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed and Eric O’Flaherty (the latter just to prove you can’t win ‘em all).  The injuries that hit in 2016 were frequent yet the team managed to hit the post-season again.

Starting out in 2017 within a span of less than two weeks you’d lost a top starting pitcher, your top relief pitcher, starting catcher and missed the face of the franchise for the entire season.  As the snakebitten year progressed they lost pretty much the rest of the rotation except Jacob de Grom as well as Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and by year’s end both Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera were gone as well. 

So going into 2018 fans were hoping for a clear direction.  Are they going to make the investment in talent and management personnel necessary to win, or are they going to sell off their top assets and hope to rebuild quickly by reaping the rewards of the players moved.

Anyone who has been around in the post-Madoff days knows the former isn’t happening.  However, based upon Sandy Alderson’s transactions with the departing free agents last year, not many would feel confident in that latter scenario either.  Hey, we all wish the best for Jacob Rhame, Jamie Callahan, Drew Smith, Gerson Bautista, Stephen Nogosek,  Ryder Ryan and Eric Hanhold all evolve into the second coming of Aroldis Chapman (minus the ill-advised gun play), but none were any of the trading organization’s top 10 prospects nor were any ready to step in and make an immediate positive impact.

That’s not to say waiting isn’t a good thing.  After all, that low level minor league pitcher throw-in named Noah Syndergaard turned out to be pretty good, huh?  It’s just that lower level minor leaguers are harder to predict as arm injuries and better hitters threaten their ascent through the ranks.

Still, as painful as it is to say it, what would you be able to net back if you offered up Jacob deGrom in trade to another ballclub?  For reference, the Cubs once traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s for their number one prospect named Addison Russell.  Do you think the Cubs wouldn't do that one over again every day and twice on Sunday?  How about when the Astros sent veteran hurler Larry Anderson to Beantown for an unknown AA hitter named Jeff Bagwell?

So what could the Mets land in a deal for deGrom who has three years of financial control available to the acquiring team and has pitched to All-Star level since his arrival relatively late to the majors.  He’s turning 30 this year and it’s reasonable to assume whomever gets him will land three spectacular years of performance at a cost-controlled price.  

Obviously for the very same reasons he’d be attractive to other teams, he’s also attractive to the Mets.  However, if you could fortify two to three other positions with cost-controllable assets (music to the Wilpons’ and Alderson’s ears), would you do it?

For example, suppose the Blue Jays offered up Vlad Guerrero, Jr. and Bo Bichette (both children of former stars), would you pull the trigger?  Guerrero in 673 ABs has hit .305 with 21 HRs, 122 RBIs and has more walks than strikeouts to go along with 23 SBs.  He’s a third baseman by trade and coincidentally the Mets have a third baseman who is (due to health) long past his prime.  Bichette has had 530 minor league ABs and hit a mere .372 with 18 HRs and 110 RBIs along with 25 SBs and an OBP of .427.  He plays primarily 2B, also a position of need.

The problem here is their tender ages of 19…they’re not ready to contribute in 2018 nor 2019 but with output like that it’s possible by 2021 when deGrom is set to be a free agent they would both break into the majors.  Could Mets fans swallow hard and realize that the long term benefit could outweigh the short term loss?  Certainly the Wilpons would like it as de Grom is set to be a $10 million man this year and that price will continue to go up each of the next few years of arbitration eligibility.  The Blue Jays, however, still smarting from the R.A. Dickey deal may not want to do it.

Still, that’s the kind of aggressive demand I would make for Jacob deGrom.  (And don’t be surprised if another team bites at it).  The question is, would the fans revolt or rejoice?  Bear in mind the losing that would inevitably accompany your stud starter leaving would also help lead to higher draft picks and more growth for the future (assuming they find someone in the front office more talented to do the picking). 

Have at it. 


Tom Brennan said...

I love Jake - one of my all-time favorite pitchers.

Guerrero could well be a future superstar who I believe, contrary to what Reese indicated, will debut in the majors in 2019. Bichette may be as, or almost, as good, and my guess is he bursts onto the scene in 2020. Add him in the infield to Rosario and Smith - major wow by 2021.

Painful as it would be, I'd make that deal, and go out and sign Yu Darvish or someone comparable.

vtmet said...
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vtmet said...
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vtmet said...

Sorry but, I am not trading: Rosario, deGrom or Syndergaard...Fred is old, he can't live forever; and then hopefully the Jeffrey will lose all interest in baseball, sell the team to someone that wants to win, and then pursue his spot in politics...

Viper said...

If the Mets would be willing to trade deGrom, (my personal favorite Mets), why not just trade Syndergaard as well and get at least 3 other stud prospects?

In reality what's needed is for the Wilpons to open their wallets and get real players. I doesn't have to be all at once, but at least a couple with the mindset that 2019 is the year the Mets go for the championship.

Anonymous said...

I was all in to trade De Grom to Houston in July and got back a boatload of prospects, so i would be willing to do it.

Unfortunately they traded all the other free agent veterans and took back no salary in any of those trades. If they would of taken back salary our farm system would have been better off. Stupid moves by a stupidly run organization...


Reese Kaplan said...

@Zozo- Preaching to the choir...

Tom Brennan said...

Zozo, "a penny saved is a penny earned."

The elder Wilpon grew up during the Depression - now, it's just us fans that experience depression LOL

Herb G said...

I'm not ready to throw in the towel and rebuild, staying out of contention until 2021 or so. We have young core players in Conforto, Rosario and Smith, (Yes, I believe Dom will get his head straight and be back at 1B by mid year.) as well as that rotation. With the right additions, this team can definitely contend this year. (Unless health issues derail us once more, of course.)

If I am doing any major trading now, I shop Cespedes. The Cards already got their heavy hitter in Ozuna, but the Giants are looking, and several AL teams need a slugger as well. Cespedes' no-trade clause is a barrier, but he might be induced to accept a trade. If so, I would use the prospects we got in return, combined with some of our own, to bring a package to Miami for Yellich, and maybe Realmuto as well.

Mike Freire said...

@Herb.....that's the rub, isn't it? You don't want to throw in the towel for three years, but the Wilpons likely won't authorize Sandy to make the moves necessary to fortify the roster and actually contend.

The middle ground is a frustrating place to be!

bill metsiac said...

I'm with VT here--- no rebuild. Those work in 1-team cities, but never here. And I'm definitely not for selling low on Yo, Herb. We've got as much chance of getting Miami to take his contract AND giving us Yelich/Realmuto in a package deal as we do of Santa bringing them to us.

As for MnLers, does anyone here know anything about a kid named Jose Diaz? He's only 22, a converted Catcher whom the Padres just released after only 1 season on the mound in class A. Is he worth picking up to look at in St. Lucie?

Mike Freire said...

I would make that trade, Reese.......the casual fan wouldn't get it, since most of them don't follow other team's prospects, etc.

I also agree that I trade Jake OR Noah, but not both......I think Noah is a piece that you can use in either scenario (win now or build for 2020, 2021).

bgreg98180 said...

Just think about this a moment.
Really think about what it means.
Spend the next 5, 10, 15, 20+ yrs as a Met fan just waiting.
Waiting for the ownership to change in order to have hope as a fan that your team will have a goal and realistic plan to enjoy winning.

This is scary.

Yet it perfectly surmises what a Met fan has to accept, if they are being realistic.

The cross town team's fan base is about to experience a tidal wave of the next generations NY baseball fans.

bill metsiac said...

Tom-- Fred was born in 1936, after the Depression was over. His "growing up" years were in the '40s and beyond.

Reese Kaplan said...

A rebuild means you sign the Jhoulys Chacin types, not Yu Darvish. The point is to free up money and gain prospects. What would be accomplished in trading away deGrom and then spending even more money and more years for Darvish?

Herb G said...

I got back late, so I am not sure you will get to see my reply, but . .

I just don't see things the way most of the guys on this site do. IMO, the fact that the Wilpons approved moving the payroll from $85M in 2014, to $101M, $135M and then $154M last year demonstrates to me that they will OK the kind of signings that Sandy believes will field a winning team in 2018. They didn't hold him back from signing Cespedes to that big contract last year.

It is difficult to watch the Mets exercise patience as so many free agents and trade targets fall around us. But there are still plenty of quality players at each position we need to fill, and I believe in the long run Sandy will field a team that can compete for a playoff spot, so long as the health of key players holds out. And that can be said about almost any other competitive team as well.

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