Reese Kaplan -- As They Say, One Man's Trash...


Baseball trades are an interesting phenomenon.  Often they are the matchup of one position of surplus going to fill another team’s position of need (and vice versa).  Sometimes they are trading of experienced players who have health concerns, worn out their welcome or grown too expensive in exchange for prospects (or, during the Sandy Alderson era, suspects). 

Then there’s the less common one in which one team bundles off its headache in the form of a problematic player or simply one with a bad contract in order to obtain another team’s bad contract in the hopes that a change of scenery or a position of need being filled is a better use of the those sunk dollars than continuing to pay someone who no longer fits into your plans. 

The Mets have three examples of bad contracts, all signed just last season.  Anthony Swarzak turned in his far worst performance of his career.  To be fair, he was hampered by injuries most of the time during the 2018 season, but the numbers speak for themselves – 29 games pitched, a 6.15 ERA, 42 baserunners allowed in just 26 IP, 6 HRs and unsightly 1.59 WHIP.  The unbalanced two year deal calls for $8.5 million in 2019.

Jason Vargas’ struggles are well documented, though there were some positive signs in the latter part of the season in August and September.  The bottom line was a 7-9 record with a 5.77 ERA good for a negative WAR of -0.3.  The Mets are on the hook for another $8 million in 2019 and hold an option for 2020. For $8 million or a $2 million buyout.

Perhaps the one that hurt the most was the lost season of Jay Bruce.  He too missed a large chunk of it with foot problems (shades of Yoenis Cespedes), but turned in an awful 9 HRs and 37 RBIs with a .223 AVG.  To be fair he looked better later in the year but as has been his norm, he’s a very streaky type of hitter.  Even with that surge he finished with a negative WAR of -0.4.  The Mets owe him another $28 million split evenly between 2019 and 2020. 

Todd Frazier is apparently a nice guy, good clubhouse presence, and actor extraordinaire (the dive into the stands and coming up with the rubber souvenir baseball).  What he wasn’t much of in 2018 was a professional ballplayer.  His .213 hitting was pretty woeful, and his 18 HRs/59 RBIs were not what was expected of him.  He’s due $9 million in 2019 as well.

Finally there is Juan Lagares, the man of glass, who was signed to a long term deal off his 2014 productive season.  He’s not earned his keep and missed all but 59 ABs of 2018 after a collision with the wall.  He’s due to be a 4th outfielder and earning $9 million in the final year of his deal in 2019.    

With David Wright retired and Yoenis Cespedes on the shelf for most (if not all) of 2019, that’s still a lot of dead money -- $64.5 million of it.  So the question becomes can you parlay some or all of this dead money into someone else’s bad contracts?  Let’s have a look at some contenders:

Ryan Braun is certainly trending in the wrong direction stat-wise.  The now 34 year old is still due $40 million for two more seasons and a buyout.  The Brewers got 20 HRs and 64 RBIs to go along with a .254 AVG.  The most encouraging sign of his output was that he only struck out 85 times.  Still, that’s a lot of dough for a player who used to be great (albeit aided by a syringe). 

I’ve mentioned reliever Mark Melancon in the past.  He’s coincidentally owed $28 million over the next two years, the exact same money due to Jay Bruce.  The Giants lost Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Pence, so they are in need of outfielders.  Melancon lost his closer duties but had posted consecutive seasons of 51 and 47 saves.  He has a sub 3.00 ERA for his career and even this past season turned in a 3.23.  How would that look in the NY Mets’ disaster show of a bullpen?

Ian Desmond has played outfield and shortstop in his career prior to coming to Colorado where they used him primarily as a first baseman.  He’s 32 this year and provided 22 HRs albeit at a poor .236 average.  He’s due $40 million over the next three years including a buyout of the 4th year.  He’s a right handed hitter.

King Felix Hernandez of Seattle is due nearly $29 million for one more year and a buyout.  He is definitely not the pitcher he once was but still is better than Jason Vargas.  This past season he provided an 8-14 record with a 5.55 ERA. 

Mark Trumbo is essentially a right handed Jay Bruce.  He’ll hit a ton of home runs when healthy and can play both RF and 1B.  He’s due one more year at $13.5 million. 

A real "take a flyer" kind of deal would be approaching Boston about Cuban centerfielder Rusney Castillo.  He has not done much in brief looks in the majors with an aggregate stat line of .262/7/35 in just over 300 ABs.  He has, however, hit about .300 for his minor league career.  Castillo is due $25 million over the next two years and Boston would probably like to be out from under what they consider a failed foreign investment.  

Anyone look worth pursuing?  I’d go hot and heavy at the Bruce for Melancon deal because you have two left handed outfield slots covered with Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto.


Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Are you saying that if the Mets made a deal for any of the guys you mentioned, you would welcome them into the clubhouse and not be critical when they fail?

You know you wouldn't.

This is replacing one opiod with a different one.

I pipe dream about being named the next GM of this team while I walk my dog, Maggy May, in the morning. I would tell the Wilpons in the interview that I would only take the job if I would be allowed to eat a staggering amount of money before the next season started.

I would DFA all the names mentioned in your post, plus more, in hopes that some teams ring my phone to work out some kind of deal.

Yes, I would DFA Cespedes.

I would promise that much of this eating of salaries will be recouped by recharged fans that will return to the ballpark (at full priced ticket purchases) who will flock to see the new players I have signed (i.e. Machado, etc.) to play for my team.

I would however, tell them that, financially, this will hurt the bottom line for a year, but a proper rebuild, like what Atlanta seem to do overnight, is possible.

Tom Brennan said...

Mack, I like Mr. Aggressive.

That said, I wouldn't DFA Bruce or Cespedes. Both have some trade value...someone would be willing to pick up $5 million per for Bruce, who had a good Sept, and I would think someone would do similarly with Cespedes,on a flyer...$3 million in 2019, $5 million in 2020. Maybe less for the other team if the Mets can keep all insurance $$. By spring training, Cespedes' health should be much clearer. Swarzak and Frazier...someone should want them for $2 million a year, too.

Reese Kaplan said...

When Bruce was leading the NL in RBIs in 2017 all the incompetent front office could get was Ryder Ryan. What makes you think after what he didn't accomplish and now on the hook for 2 more years of salary that anyone would want him?

Reese Kaplan said...

And I would most certainly welcome Mark Melancon into the clubhouse if it was a straight up deal one-for-one.

Mack Ade said...

Tom -

I said I would DFA them.

Unless the rules of baseball have changed, there is a period of time in which teams can come back and work out a deal for these players before I completely waive them.

Am I right?

Still, I want them all off my targeted 2020-2021 roster.

Zozo said...

I like the Melancon deal Reese, but i wouldn’t mind Bruce in right field next season. He should of been put on the DL probably 2 months before he was. He was playing injured and it showed, they were trying to save their season by chugging him out there. I think he returns to his normal 25HR and 90 rbi days in 2019.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

I don't care if anyone wants Bruce ( are your comments directed at me or Tom?)

I want him off my 2019 team.

My outfield... for now... would be Conforto, Nimmo, Dom...

Two more new names would arrive via FA or trades

Tom Brennan said...

Mack, fair enough, and ALL of them need to be gone by the end of 2019 except, perhaps, for Cespedes.

Mack, it is possible, given Dom's increasing battle-testedness and Bruce's increasing age, that Dom could actually be the better of the two in 2019. I'd still think Bruce would be better.

I would have given Bruce just 2 years, $30MM, not 3 years, $39MM. Let Bruce take the risk that in 2020, he'd be worth more than $9 million. If he did not like the shorter duration contract, who's next on the signing list?

Mack Ade said...

On my team...

1. I would bring in two new outfielders... one outstanding starter and one outstanding OF4

2. I would probably use den Decker as my OF-5. He's an outstanding defensive center fielder.

3. I would trade Alonso + 2 for Realmulto

4. I would give 1B to Dom

Dave Schulps said...

The Marlins already have an Alonso-like first base prospect in Peter O'Brian, so not sure why they would give up one of the best catchers in the game to get him and two lesser players.

Reese Kaplan said...

O'Brien has bounced around quite a bit and at 27 still has not made it to the majors as a starting player. Your point is well taken, however.

bgreg98180 said...

The way I see it, the Mets have 1 shot to change things around.

As has been acknowledged, the entire organization needs to be rebooted beginning with the front office.
The Mets organization needs to allow the new visionary to create his/her ideal.

Stop letting things like:
We've always done this.
We already have that.
You have to have this player.
So and so has to do such and such.

Let the new organizational leader have a blank slate.
Whatever they need to do to achieve that blank slate......let them.

Let the new leader build their team according to their philosophy.
Give them this 1 chance that you will back whatever they envision as long as they can base it upon balancing long term and short term performance at the major league level.

If that means eating contracts..... open wide.

If it means raising payroll, open the vault.

If it means trading away a fan favorite, show some guts and do it.

Stop settling.
Stop rationalizing.
Take off the rose colored glasses.
Build the best team possible for the next 3-5 years now (not in the next 3-5 years)

Anthony Carnacchio said...

Please no trading Alonso

Mack's Mets © 2012