By Steven Inman
The Mets biggest needs this winter are shortstop and in the outfield but the team also has smaller needs to address.
The Mets are going to need to find a right-handed hitting first base platoon mate for Lucas Duda this winter. Duda hit .180 with two homers in 111 at bats against lefties in his 2014 breakout campaign.
While Michael Cuddyer’s name has come up on a number of occasions, the Mets can fill this small hole on a much cheaper level, saving money to address outfield and possibly shortstop. A great option to fill this platoon is lefty-killing infielder Danny Valencia.
Valencia started his career as an everyday third basemen with the Minnesota Twins in 2010. After the league sort of figured the Miami native out, he bounced around to a few teams but one skill never left him and that is the ability to mash left-handers.
Valencia hit .321 vs. lefties in 112 at bats in 2014 and is a career .327/.368/.502 hitter against left-handers in 229 career games.
Valencia has experience at both first and third. Valencia is property of the Blue Jays. He will be eligible for arbitration this winter for the first time which would make him a possible non-tender. MLB Trade Rumors has Valencia at around $1.7 million if the Jays offer the 30-year old arbitration. The Mets can probably get him for a little over a million if he is put on the open market and he would fit a huge need.If the Blue Jays do tender him a contract he would be far from untouchable in a trade.
Lucas Duda hit .272/.372/.543, that combined with Valencia’s line vs. lefties could make for top 5 NL Production at first base all for less than a combined five million.
How should the Mets handle first base this winter?
The Mets will be actively searching for another outfield bat this winter but free agent to be Nick Markakis isn’t a great fit. For one, Markakis is an older player (31 this November) and is looking for a big payday. It is likely a contender will give the Glen Cove native a four-year contract at a salary of at least $10 million a year. The Mets already have an offensive player like Markakis, his name is Daniel Murphy.
2014 Season Statistics
Daniel Murphy Nick Markakis
143 G 155
.289 AVG .276
.734 OPS .729
9 HR 14
57 RBI 50
Pretty similar? We think so.
The Mets will shop Murphy this winter to save on his expected $8.5-9 million salary so why would they give an older player with similar numbers a long-term deal for even more money?
Answer: They won’t.
Markakis doesn’t have the power that the Mets are looking for and they don’t need a more expensive Daniel Murphy. The team is much better off trading a pitching prospect or two to acquire a young, inexpensive bat like Oscar Tavares or Addison Russell.
By Steven Inman
Oscar Taveras went into the 2014 season as baseball’s #3 prospect according to MLB.com and Baseball America. As the season draws to a close Taveras can find himself on another team.
Taveras is still just 22 but has conquered the minor leagues to the point where Cardinals GM John Mozeliak admitted that Taveras has to be playing in the big leagues somewhere.
Taveras’ stock has certainly fallen a little since being called the next Vladdy Guerrero last winter and being one of the few truly untouchable prospects the game has.
The Cardinals have openly questioned Taveras’ conditioning this season and he came off the bench in all of the Cards postseason games. “I think he needs to focus on quickness.” –Mozeliak to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Dispatch. The Cards believe that Taveras put on too much bulk this winter.
Taveras is in a numbers crunch in the St. Louis outfield and could actually be available. “The betting line here says someone goes this winter from the current outfield crop. Jay and Bourjos are both arbitration-eligible. Mozeliak underscored that Taveras needs to play regularly somewhere. Prospect Stephen Piscotty, 24 in January, demands a hearing. A winter trade of somebody seems likely.” –Strauss (in same article)
The Mets should make this gifted hitter their number one target this winter.
Taveras hit .318 with a .370 OBP with eight homers and 49 RBI in 62 games at Triple-A Memphis this season. He has enough potential that he can turn the Mets offense into a strength, all at the league minimum. This is the bat the Mets have been waiting for.
If Taveras had already reached his potential he wouldn’t be available and if he was he would cost more than the Mets have in their farm system. A potential swap of Noah Syndergaard plus another high ranking pitching prospect and Oscar Taveras could make a lot of sense from both sides and is definitely something the Mets should be interested in pursuing.
Taveras is still a work in progress in the outfield but can play either corner and has some experience in center. He has great power but his ability to hit for a high average and get on base is probably what would be appealing to a team like the Mets who covet guys with high on base percentages.
The Mets could in theory trade a prospect to St. Louis for Taveras, filling their need for a big bat without spending any significant money. Then the team could have the budget to either address shortstop or keep Daniel Murphy and Bartolo Colon.
I’m not saying this is likely but the Mets should swing for the fences for once this winter.
The recent trend in baseball is locking up young stars to long-term deals before they are eligible for arbitration, let alone free agency. These deals are usually very team-friendly, such as the Rays contract with superstar Evan Longoria. Longoria received a six years $17.5 million during his rookie year in 2008. Tampa got a superstar that they drafted on the cheap through his prime and Longoria got financial security. It doesn’t appear as if those deals really exist anymore.
Last winter the Atlanta Braves locked up young star Andrelton Simmons to a seven year $58 million contract. Simmons is still a work in progress with the bat and wasn’t even arbitration eligible until this winter, hardly a discount. I’m a big fan of Simmons but for that price they may have been better off going year to year. The point is by the time these players are in their 3rd or 4th year and have established themselves; they are already a fortune to keep.
There just doesn’t seem to be hometown discounts anymore. Another Braves player, Julio Teheran just got over $30 million after just his rookie year. This doesn’t bode well for the Mets and some of their young talent such as Zack Wheeler.
Unless players get locked up during their first two years, they seem to be getting monster contracts. Wheeler in less than 300 big league innings has already proven to be a quality starting pitcher in the big leagues. That means it’s already time to get paid.
The good news is Wheeler,23, won’t be a free agent for five more years, but let’s just say he establishes himself in 2015 as a top of the rotation pitcher. After the season he can tell the Mets he won’t sign long term for under $60 million or so. Another season it goes to $75 million or so and will continue to escalate.
Wheeler was 8-3 with a 2.71 ERA over his last 16 starts of the season.
Homer Bailey of the Reds got six years $105 million last year, not because he is a great pitcher but because he eats innings and was one year away from free agency. Money in baseball is getting out of hand and it is up to the Mets to lock up some of their young talent now like the Braves are doing.
The Mets did a good job of this a few seasons back when they signed Jon Niese to a five-year contract extension. Niese looked promising but with all of his injury questions he was hardly a sure thing at the time. If the Mets brought that contract to Niese today, he for sure wouldn’t sign it. Now Niese is a young left-handed pitcher locked up long-term and could bring a good return in a trade.
If the Mets wait a few years, players like Wheeler or even Matt Harvey may decide to just go year by year in arbitration until they hit free agency where they will sign elsewhere for significant dollars.
A six year contract worth around $40-45 million with a couple of team options would give Wheeler the security he is looking for while ensuring that Wheeler will be a Met throughout his prime.
The Yankees are considering bringing in former Met GM, Omar Minaya, to join the Yankees front office.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman is close with Minaya, who is currently the senior vice president of baseball operations for the Padres. According to a report in Newsday, it’s not clear what role Minaya would have with the Yankees, though it’s possible he could replace Mark Newman, who recently retired as the team’s farm director.
Minaya, born and raised in New York, has made it known he would like to return to New York baseball someday and it doesn’t appear that it is going to happen with the Mets, at least anytime soon.
A majority of Met fans had a negative opinion on Minaya after he was let go after the 2010 season. That perception is changing now though thanks to young pitchers that his regime drafted such as Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese among others.
Minaya, the Mets GM from 2005 to 2010, has held his current job since December 2011. San Diego fired Josh Byrnes as GM on June 23, and Minaya temporarily shared the GM role with two others before A.J. Preller was hired on Aug. 7. It is unclear what role Minaya will have with Preller, who also grew up in New York and went to Walt Whitman High school on Long Island.
Cashman has a history of hiring former GMs, including Kevin Towers (Padres) and Jim Hendry (Cubs).
As a Met fan would you have a problem with Minaya joining the Yankees front office?
By Steven Inman
While the Mets saw significant progress from many young players in 2014, it didn’t result in much of a difference in the win column. The Mets only won 79 games in 2014, only five more than in 2013 and 2014. There are many reasons for the team not being contenders in this season but perhaps the biggest reason finishing under .500 was based on a move that they didn’t make last winter.
The decision to not sign shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a long term deal now looks even worse for Sandy Alderson and the Mets.
Sandy Alderson and brass picked Peralta as their number one target last winter. They had a meeting with the shortstop during the winter meetings and ran for the hills when they heard his asking price was north of $50 million. Instead they gave that money to Curtis Granderson and Chris Young.
We reported on BrokeMets during last year’s winter meetings that since shortstop is such a tough position to find a hitter these days, they would have to overpay someone or be forced to start Ruben Tejada again.
Instead Peralta signed a four year contract worth $53 million with the Cardinals and St. Louis is reaping the benefits of that move as they play in their 4th straight NLCS.
Peralta’s deal looks cheap compared to what similar players have signed recently. There are only a handful of teams in major league baseball with a shortstop that can hit. Having one like Peralta gives a team like the Cardinals a huge advantage, as if they didn’t have a deep enough team already.
Met shortstops hit .236 this season which was 27th in baseball. They clearly need an upgrade but the team is likely to just go with Wilmer Flores and hope he doesn’t get exposed playing every day at this key position.
Perhaps the Mets 2014 season goes a lot differently if they got a 20 homer bat out of shortstop. This is a move that Sandy Alderson should regret not making especially considering they spent that money elsewhere on the offense.
David Wright endured a career worst season in most statistical categories in 2014. The Mets captain suffered from a serious shoulder injury early on in 2014 and was never able to get back on track before officially ending his season in early September.
Wright wouldn’t admit his shoulder was seriously bothering him until the Mets were all but out of the race, although to the media and his teammates it appeared obvious that Wright was hurting and winded up doing more harm than good for the Mets lineup.
Talking to a former Met today who played with Wright during their contending years, he said an issue that wasn’t really talked about was there wasn’t a teammate that was willing to stand up to Wright this year and basically tell him he needs to go get healthy on the DL because he is hurting the team playing injured.
The Mets are already two bats short now entering the off-season. They are unlikely to be able to find two more middle of the order hitters, if they can’t count on their third basemen next year the offense is almost assured to ruin any chance the club had to contend in 2015.
The team may also lose Daniel Murphy to a trade so the Mets will be counting on David Wright to stay healthy and productive more than ever before as the club hopes to contend for a playoff spot for the first time since 2008.
The Mets enter 2015 with fewer question marks than they have had in some time but one of the biggest concerns will be how productive their seven-time All-Star will be in 2015.
By Steven Inman
The Mets will spend much of their offseason trying to find another outfield bat this winter. One name that hasn’t been discussed much here on BrokeMets is free agent Michael Cuddyer. The long time Twin put up great numbers for the Rockies over the past three seasons. Cuddyer has hit .330 or better in each of the last two seasons with Colorado. Cuddyer could make sense for the Mets on a number of levels. He could provide another bat to a lineup that is not very deep. He’ll even be in New York’s price range. There are few players in baseball with more respect as a leader than Cuddyer. The two-time All Star has also been very good friends with Met captain David Wright since childhood.
Cuddyer just finished a 3 year contract worth $31.5 million with the Rockies.
Cuddyer played very well in a pitcher friendly ballpark in Minnesota before leaving as a free agent after the 2011 season. Cuddyer enjoyed one of his All-Star seasons at Target Field in 2011.
There are also many reasons why the Mets should not sign Cuddyer. For one, and perhaps most importantly the outfielder will be 36 before Opening Day last year. He is probably looking for multiple years on a contract. He just couldn’t stay healthy last season, having only played in 49 games. Cuddyer doesn’t really have the power that will translate to Citi Field at this stage of his career. The Mets need to add 25-30 homers to their lineup next season somehow.
The Coors Field effect definitely skewed Cuddyer’s numbers. The outfielder hit .400 with six homers in 20 games at home last year, compared to .282 with 4 homers on the road in 29 games. Cuddyer hit .356 at Coors Field during his 2013 All-Star campaign.
Cuddyer can still swing the bat and his leadership would be much needed on a young team like the Mets but he can’t be the Mets only offensive addition this winter. Definitively a player to keep an eye on this winter.
The Mets are expected to assign hitting coach Lamar Johnson to another spot in the organization. The team experienced no differences offensively after the change from Dave Hudgens to Johnson on May 26th.
50 G 112
.237 AVG .239
3.9 R/G 3.9
.309 OBP .308
.352 SLG .370
The Mets are still adding candidates but at least two former Mets will be among the guys interviewed. Bobby Abreu who retired last Sunday after a base hit with the Mets is emerging as a guy the Mets are very high on. Abreu wants to be a big league coach but said he wants to take care of some things in his home country Venezuela. Abreu has hinted that he would be more than interested in talking to the Mets about the job according to Mike Puma of the NY Post.
Edgardo Alfonzo is also a candidate. Fonzie was working as a coach with Single-A Brooklyn this season after a 12-year career.
Also Triple-A hitting coach George Greer, who was a candidate to replace Hudgens in May is a candidate.
Hitting coach and possibly an assistant hitting coach are expected to be the only coaching changes on the Mets staff for next season.
Sandy Alderson recently discussed how the team could bring in the Citi Field fences again this winter. “I think it’s going to help us a little bit confidence-wise when you get in that batter’s box and say, ‘Hey, look, I can use the field and do some damage here,’ because that’s what a lot of guys in this lineup are paid to do, and that’s get big hits. I think it would be great for us.” -Alderson said to reporters recently. That full article of Alderson quotes can be found here.
Based on these comments I would bet the Mets do tweak the dimensions again this winter, especially in right field. The move would help Curtis Granderson and David Wright more than anybody. Sandy Alderson said the team believes the new dimensions, that haven’t been announced yet, would have given Granderson seven more homers this season according to an Adam Rubin article on ESPN NY.
When Wright is at his best he is driving the ball to right center.
Granderson has badly struggled at home this season. In 77 home games this season, the outfielder is hitting .200 with seven homers and 26 RBI. Compare that to a .259 average with 13 homers and 40 RBI in one less game on the road. The Mets should keep this a pitcher friendly park with all of their great young pitching but it could help the Mets offense a lot if the team brought in right field, even if it was just a few feet.
If the team doesn’t plan on adding offense by spending, it could make sense to add offense by moving the fences in a little.