As Macks Mets' Mike Friere pointed out in his fine article this morning, the Mets had a payroll of $150 million last year. 
Presumably, that was reduced by roughly $15 million by net insurance receipts on David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes.
Now pretend you're the new GM and have been given the green light to go right up to the salary luxury tax threshold this year. 

How would you sign and trade your way to the best $206 million team you can assemble, assuming you chose to spend that much?  $206 million is the amount that, above which, luxury tax begins. 
Remember, you are trying to build a sustainable winning franchise, not just a potentially great 2019 team that will collapse in subsequent years due to lack of foresight in making the right deals.

What would you do, and who would be on that team?


Tom Brennan said...

I'll start off the bidding, having not tried to price this out exactly, nor thought it through exhaustively:

1B – Alonso

2B – Cano

SS – Rosario

3B – McNeil

OF – Harper

OF – Haniger

OF – Conforto

Ut – TJ Rivera, Frazier, Lagares, 5th OF until Cespedes returns

C – Ramos, d’Arnaud





Gio or Happ










Traded: Thor, Gimenez, Dunn, Peterson, Nimmo, Plawecki, Bruce (Frazier if possible)

Thor brings back package of Super prospects, perhaps from SD, that will help us bridge the age gap starting in 2020.

Nimmo part of Seattle deal, to get us a righty bat in the OF in Haniger.

Part of this deal assumes Cespedes is never the same, a la David Wright. If he is close to 100% again, worry about that when the time comes.

Reese Kaplan said...

Well, that's indeed an interesting exercise and so un-Mets-like to consider what it woudd be like to spend like a real ballclub. Here goes:

Make a blockbuster trade with the Diamondbacks to receive both Zack Greinke and Paul Goldschmidt. Greinke earns $34.5 this coming year and $35 each of the next two years. That's a lot of cabbage. Goldschmidt earns a modest $14.5 this year but is set to become a free agent in 2020 at age 32. So off the bat we've spent $34.5+$14.5 or $49 million.

In return I would send Juan Lagares and Todd Frazier. That buys you back $18 million and drops the spend thus far to $31 million. You would also have to send them Peter Alonso, David Peterson and a few wildcards like Gerson Bautista and Gavin Cecchini.

It works for the Diamondbacks because they lose Goldschmidt in a year anyway and will need a replacement at 1st base. They lost AJ Pollock and need a cneterfielder. Peterson, while likely no Greinke, could be the next Corbin for them. Most importantly it brings to the D'backs $31 million of salary relief.

Then I would execute the Dan O'Dowd discussed trade of Jay Bruce, Dom Smith, Justin Dunn and Andres Gimenez for Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Mallex Smith and $50 million of salary relief. That brings the net incremental cost of Cano down to under $9 million. So we're up to a spend of $40 million.

Now as it stands your rotation would consist of deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Greinke and Matz with Vargas in the pen.

Your lineup would include Goldschmidt at 1st, Cano at 2nd, Rosario at SS and McNeil at 3B. Outfield would be Conforto, Smith and Nimmo.

We still have two issues to address. You haven't improved at catcher and you haven't improved at a setup guy in the pen. You've spend $40 million thus far.

You have a few ways to go here. You could sign a defense-first catcher like Maldonado at say $6 million per season. With that kind of pitching staff and the addition of Goldschmidt/Cano to replace Bruce/Frazier you could afford offensively to do that and still win games. However, I'd go another way and offer to get Francisco Cervelli (final year on his deal) at $11.5 million from Pittsburgh by sending them Jason Vargas and their choice of Kevin Plawecki, Travis d'Arnaud and Tomas Nido. that way your incremental cost is about $2 million or less.

So now we're up to $42 million. Add in $9 million for Andrew Miller and you're at $51 million. Figure some modest increases in pre-arb years for Smith and Diaz, and there you have it -- under the luxury cap threshhold and a Greinke replacing Harvey as the new Big Five.

Tom Brennan said...

Pretty interesting rebuild there, Reese.

Your team would certainly be a cinch for 90+ wins, absent the injury bug. Maybe 100 wins.

It shows this can be done.

Spending that much more is a lot - but lots more ticket sales, with less Mets-offered discounts, and one would think it would be revenue-neutral - or better.

Mack Ade said...

The Cano possible deal is heating up today.

Names being tossed around...

Kelenic, Dunn, and McNeil

Mike Freire said...

I would pull Kelenic and McNeil out of the list..........I like Dunn, but I am OK dealing him, along with Gimenez who would be surplus post-trade. If we are adding in Kelenic and/or McNeil, then I want Haniger over Mallex Smith, along with Cano and the closer.

Mack Ade said...

You trade 2 of these 3 chips and you lose me

Tom Brennan said...

Haniger had a great season and was 11th in MVP voting this year. 38 doubles, 26 HR, 93 RBI, .285.

Interesting that Haniger was the Mets' pick in the 31st round of 2009, did not sign, and then was the 38th overall pick in 2012. Who was 12th overall? Gavin Cecchini. Reinforces how bad that pick was.

Mack, you are a purist, but we're both getting older - I would trade prospects now if we could win and truly contend over the next 2-3 years and then have a realistic gameplan to turn that into 6 or 7 years - or longer.

Tom Brennan said...

I will say this - Cano has been a durable sucker.

From 2007-16, spanning 10 years, he missed 26 games, then missed 12 in 2017, and played virtually every game that he wasn't suspended in 2018.

That's why, going into his age 36 season, he has already been to the plate almost 8900 times.

A similarly skilled and durable player - less power, higher average - Pete Rose - kept playing very well thru his age 41 season. Cano's contract is thru age 40. Maybe he is close to worth it for the next 5 years.

Mike Freire said...

As far as the question proposed here, I would hold onto Thor in any scenario and make sure he is paired up with DeGrom who would get a contract extension.

(If we are dealing a starter, I would move Wheeler before anyone else)

The starting rotation is pretty solid now, so focus you efforts on obtaining two or three bullpen arms that can also close. I like variety, so if he is healthy Zach Britton would be a target, along with Edwin Diaz (in the rumored Cano deal).

Those two, along with what we have on hand would be quite an upgrade over last year's edition. You might still need to invest in a lefty specialist, but they usually aren't crazy expensive.

I would add one of the free agent catchers, like Wilson Ramos.

Since the listed Cano deal would add a nice CF'er (Smith) and remove Jay Bruce from the payroll, Nimmo becomes my LF'er and Conforto is my RF'er. Lagares is depth and I would deal Cespedes to an AL club to DH once he is healthy.

It really is odd when you have "extra funds", isn't it?

What this taught me is that the team isn't that far from competing and I don't think it would take as much money as this exercise allows (so long as BVW is given a raise in his allowance, per se).

Mack Ade said...

You buy old guy for chips..

Then you trade Thor...

What am I missing here unless his "old agent" knows something about his arm

Tom Brennan said...

Co-GMs Viper and Texas Gus have still time to weigh in.

They may not be willing to tip their hands to other teams though :)

Robb said...

I dont understand the logic of either of these trades for Cano or for Thor. Trading thor is just bad for fan moral. Cool, let me trade the closest thing to nolan ryan new yorkers ahve seen in 40 years for a bag of players who will nevfer be as good as he is now at 26. Trading prospects for cano and the closer dont really make any sense to me. but then again, this is why i didnt go work for CAA and nor invest money with madoff.

I would really hate a thor trade as a fan. Not the baseball move part,bc that debatable, but he's fun to root for. And i like that considering how shit the mets have been. I want guys who id like to buy a jersey of to stay on the team. No one is buying a Cano jersey or diaz.

bgreg98180 said...

I am not sure how to find all of the projected salaries for relief pitchers in 2019.
Additionally, I am not sure what 2nd year players like Rosario and McNeil get as salaries (.5 million?)

Anyway... how close does this team come?
C- Realmuto & Plawecki (6.1 + 1.3 million)

1st- Bruce & Alonzo (14 + .5 million)

2nd- McNeil (.5 million)

SS- Machado (35 million)

3rd- Frazier (9 million)

OF- Nimmo (.5 million)

OF- Conforto (1 Million)

OF- Adam Jones (5 million)

Bench- Lagares, + 3 more (9 million + ?)

SP- deGrom (13 million)

SP- Syndergaard (6 million)

SP- Wheeler (5.3 million)

SP- Matz (3 million)

SP- Vargas (8 million)

RP- Swarzak, Lugo, Gsellman, + 4 more (8.5 + .5 + .5 + ?)

Total so far= 139.2 million

That would leave about 50 million to spend on 3 bench players a closer and 3 more relievers.

Mike Freire said...

Interesting, Bob.......I think Adam Jones would be a nice get for CF over a two or three year deal, but I am not sure he would come
to the Mets for 5 million? (IF so, I would take him in a heartbeat)

bgreg98180 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bgreg98180 said...

It might be interesting to see what opportunities might be presented to my plan if the Cano/Bruce trade goes through.

I guess Cano would slide in to 2nd base.

McNeil hopefully would still be around to slide to 3rd base.

Frazier then could split between 3rd and 1st.

The closer position would be filled on the cheap with Diaz which would allow for another higher priced free agent rp to take a set up roll.

There would still be about $50 million left to spend on 3 bench positions and 3 relief pitchers.

I wonder if the Mets could get a $15 million reliever and a $10 million reliever. I wonder who might be options for those amounts.

That would leave $25 million to spend on 1 more reliever (maybe a minimum wage member of the current pen) and 3 bench players (TJ Rivera and 1 more of the current minimum wage roster members could account for 2 of those spots).

If those calculations are correct that would leave about $20 million more to spend!

One of the free agent starting pitchers could be added to fill the Matz or Vargas spot in the rotation. Maybe Matz could convert to the bullpen in Hope it helps him to have a fully healthy season?

Tom Brennan said...

Bob, looks like the wheels are in motion. Where the vehicle stops, anyone knows.

Tom Brennan said...

Kelenic - one scout thinks he'll be a superstar.

Dunn - who knows...solid # 3?

Cano - great hitter - can he have a strong final 5 years, given his superior pedigree and durability?

One thing I do know...Kelenic won't be helping the Mets in 2019 or 2020, and Dunn likely not ready until mid-2019 at the earliest. Cano and Diaz get us a lot closer to being a division winner in 2019 and 2020. I would leave .330 McNeil in the line up with Cano, and bench or trade .213 Frazier. Big improvement.

Diaz the best closer in baseball in 2019 - Jake is gonna like that a whole lot. So will fans.

now, only trade Thor if it REALLY overwhelms us. This pitching staff with better hitting and pen could be lethal.

bgreg98180 said...

Next....Machado & Realmuto please.

Tom Brennan said...

With the money saved on this Diaz/Cano deal, plenty to spend. Be bold and spend.

Get Miller now, if healthy, and another good pen arm. Last year, 28th ranked pen. Would a top 5 pen win 10 more games? I say, at least 10 more. I want a superior pen. Diaz is a huge start. Has ANY Mets reliever ever had a year as overpowering as Diaz in 2018? I don't think so. Wow.

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