Reese Kaplan -- Jared Porter Better Not Be Done Yet

Every now and then the Mets do something with the thought of either saving money or enhancing the roster that involves transferring control of one of the team and fan favorites players.  It’s always difficult to see one of your long time favorites change uniforms and leave town, but some instances are more difficult than others.

The granddaddy of them all, of course, is the Achilles Heel of the old M. Donald Grant administration, fueled in large part by former New York Daily News columnist Dick Young.  Through the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which in effect created the new era of free agency and quickly made the highest paid pitcher in baseball trail behind inferior competitors.  The front office did not like the way in which Seaver and his agent engaged in rather hard negotiation for what they got, so when the 1977 trading deadline approached the Mets did not engage in signing players to make their team better but instead decided to push their perceived spoiled child out the door to the Cincinnati Reds for one known player in Pat Zachry who was fresh off a co-Rookie of the Year Award, as well as young infielder Doug Flynn, and two prospects from the minors in Steve Henderson and Dan Norman.  That didn’t seem to be much of a haul for the greatest pitcher of the generation, but it made the Mets front office feel significantly better and saved them a huge pile of salary dollars that otherwise would have gone into Tom Seaver’s pocket.  

To be fair, Tom Terrific had started on the down side of his long and illustrious career.  During the five full seasons in the red and white uniform he had a winning record of 61-43, but his ERA rose to 3.33 which was much worse than it had been while playing for the Mets.  His strikeout rate per 9 innings was down to a hair under 6, but those numbers would still be considered top notch in 2021 even if paled against the previous 10 full years in Queens when The Franchise was 182-107 with a stunning 2.34 ERA and 2334 strikeouts in 2718 innings pitched.  

I bring up this painful memory because the Mets made tremendous strides towards turning from last place cellar dwellers into potential contenders.  The supplementary pieces like Trevor May and James McCann were certainly helpful in fortifying the shaky foundation, but the team-changing acquisition of superstar Francisco Lindor and surprisingly capable starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco for a package inferior to what the Reds gave up for Seaver made the fans, news media and the pundits all opening the champagne and clearing space on their mantles for replicas of the World Series Championship trophies.  

Unfortunately, there are still holes to fill to make the team move even further forward into the upper echelon of the National League East.  You can’t forget the moves made over the past few years by the Atlanta Braves and the improvements that other clubs have done as well.  Consequently the Mets should not be done in the roster changes for the upcoming 2021 season (as well as the minor league rosters that are filled with a lot of warm weight but not as much potential for future success as folks would like to see). 
Consequently, there are many folks (myself included) suggesting that the Mets parlay Jeurys Familia and his $11,666,667 of salary to some other nostalgic ballclub who remembers his 2015 and 2016 seasons when he nailed down 43 and 51 saves respectively while fanning better than a batter per inning pitched.  That was long ago and far away.  He’s fallen faster than the approval ratings of your favorite restaurant during the pandemic.  So any club willing to give us their problem child for our problem child would be a swap of bad contracts, but no one would shed a tear to see Familia close the door behind himself on his way out of town.  

No, the difficult and emotional transaction folks must consider is what would happen if the Mets dangled one of their two first basemen as a trade possibility?  How would folks, fans and anyone else with access to opinions about the team feel if all of the sudden Pete Alonso or Dom Smith were no longer donning orange and blue?  Despite Alfonso’s watered down 2020 season he’s still fondly remembered for his 50+ HR season as a rookie in 2019 as well as winning the HR Derby at the All Star Game.  

On the other side you have smiling Dom Smith who will work at first base, left field or DH to get into the lineup.  This past season he was a breakthrough which saw him do greater than 6 times the WAR rating of his Polar Bear teammate.  The one-year-younger Smith slugged .616, hit .316 and had an OPS of .993.  For a point of comparison, Mike Trout hit .281 with an inferior slugging percentage and an identical .993 OPS.  That’s pretty heady company.

So if you were to offer up a Dom Smith or a Pete Alonso to another club, you would pretty much be able to name your price for what you got in return.  However, would the trading of a 26 year old or 25 year old player who generate potentially the most fan affection by an offensive player since Mike Piazza was on the club, what would be an equitable deal?  


Tom Brennan said...

I saw this tweet from Steve Cohen: “Oh yeah, this is a difference-maker, and Carrasco is going to be also a real contributor. We’re so excited. ... Hopefully this is just the beginning of more good things to come.” So it sure seems more good things lie ahead.

I also read Buster Olney say that he believes the DH will happen in 2021. Sadly, the owners and players are clearly at odds right now, so getting agreement on this soon is not definite.

Pete and Dom are two of the Mets' most popular players. I can't see Cohen making fans unhappy by trading either. It would have to be overwhelming to happen. Smith was up 199 times. If he was up a full season # like 600 PAs, at last year's pace, he would have had 63 doubles, 30 HRs and 127 RBIs. And he has a strong 1B glove. Pete could hit 45 or more. How do you get rid of either?

Gary Seagren said...

These are the last 2 players I would even think of trading. In Met history offense has been notoriously offensive and now that we have an offense lets not screw it up even though I'd love to dump JF for a bag of balls. Also I am confident Steve and gang will do what needs to be done to complete the roster.

John From Albany said...

I just hope we don't ever again see an outfield of Dom in LF, Nimmo in CF and Conforto in RF

royhobbs7 said...

We may have to go with an OF of Dom in LF, Nimmo in CF and Conforto in RF for this season. As long as we sign a right-handed hitter who can effectively patrol CF as a late-innings replacement for Nimmo (who would move to LF and Dom to 1B in the 7th or 8th inning).

royhobbs7 said...

However, if there is a DH in the NL this year, it would necessitate the need to acquire an everyday CFer which would move Nimmo to LF, Dom to 1B and Pete to DH.
There doesn't seem to be any CFer available who would fit that bill, however. I don't want the Mets to spend upwards of $25 Mil for Springer because he may lose some of his ability to man CF by 2023. And to sign him for 5 years when he would only be a capable CFer for 2 years would not be the most efficient way to use Uncle Steve's resources.

Tom Brennan said...

royhobbsjr, I think even two years of Springer in CF would be useful. Let's say he signs 5 yr / $125MM, even if it pays out $25 million a year, I like to look at it that hopefully, the Mets would get 2 top years, worth about $35 million each, and then the remaining 3 years would cost us about $50 million, (25,20,15). So if we need to trade him in 3 years, even if still owed $50 million, hopefully, we will have gotten $90 million of the expected $125 million value by then. I know my value logic does not align with luxury tax #'s, but there it is, for what it is worth.

If he is worth 4 more wins in 2021 than JBJ, those 4 wins could be the difference between winning the division and getting a wild card. Big difference.

Rick Miller said...

Not a big believer in Dom’s ability.
Last year was a freak year for a lot of reasons and he had 199 ABs and was slipping even as that short season was ending. His swing is awful and long and he seems to be off balance lots of the time.
Good pitchers seem to dispatch him easily as he smiles all the way to the dugout.
And a talent evaluated on another team also worried about his future health and weather or not he would break down because he’s not a hard worker and would probably start putting weight back on.
On the other hand he seems to be a good teammate and clubhouse guy.
Everyone seems to like him. Which is nice. Time will tell.
I also think it’s a bad idea for Pete to not get his reps at 1st.
That’s how he gets better, no?
He was already much better than advertised before he arrived.
If a good trade was available (SP, CF), IMO, Dom could be a good choice to let go.
It would be hard for some. We all have our favorites.

Tom Brennan said...


Tom Brennan said...

Rick Miller, good points. I have two favorites...Pete and Dom. Despite sporadic playing time in 2019, Smith hit well. I don’t think his 2020 was a fluke. I think his career ascent tracks with that of former star Adrian Gonzalez. I hope both Pete and Dom can stay.