By Steven Inman
With Michael Cuddyer now in the fold, the Mets payroll is close to $100 million. It won’t stay at that number all winter as many veterans such as Daniel Murphy, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese could be traded for prospects to save money.
The rival Atlanta Braves are actively looking for a back end starter to give them innings. According to David O’ Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves are willing to listen on any of their young power relievers not named Craig Kimbrel.
So why would the Braves trade Avilan? Well he is coming off a rough year where he had a 4.57 ERA in 62 games. His advanced peripherals (4.24 FIP) don’t suggest he was better than his ERA in 2014. Avilan had an ERA of 2.00 and 1.52 in 2012 and 2013 respectively. The reliever has always been deadly on left-handers though with a .195 batting average against left-handed bats.
Avilan won’t be a free agent until after the 2018 season. With the Braves actively looking for a starter and the Mets looking to dump one, perhaps these two rival teams can match up on a trade.
With Dillon Gee expected to make $5 million in arbitration next year he could be the New York pitcher moved. Gee, 28, won’t be a free agent for two more seasons and could help bridge the gap until some of the Braves young pitching prospects such as Lucas Sims and Jason Hursh are ready. Gee is 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA at Turner Field in six career starts.
Again this is just speculation but it does make sense. Sandy Alderson and new Braves President John Hart won’t be afraid to deal within the division and the Braves plan on dealing from the excellent relief core to add a starter who can give them length in games. That’s exactly what Gee has done when healthy.
By Steven Inman
With the acquisition of Michael Cuddyer to a two-year $21 million deal, the Mets lineup now looks more balanced than it has in a few seasons. The Mets are now likely over budget going into 2015 but if they can just somehow keep Daniel Murphy another season, than this Mets lineup may not be a liability as it has been in the previous few years
CF Juan Lagares Right
2B Daniel Murphy Left
3B David Wright Right
1B Lucas Duda Left
RF Michael Cuddyer Right
LF Curtis Granderson Left
C Travis d’Arnaud Right
SS Wilmer Flores Right
Again with the rising arbitration cost of Daniel Murphy, who could be up to $9 million in 2015, it is likely that Murphy is on another team next season. However if the team could trade someone else, such as Bartolo Colon’s salary and keep Murphy’s bat in the lineup than they could balance left-right-left-right throughout the entire lineup. It should be very interesting to see the Mets offseason approach in terms of their lineup during December’s Winter Meetings.
Ideally the Mets can still find a starting shortstop, moving Wilmer Flores to the bench and Juan Lagares out of the leadoff spot. Flores is out of options so he will make the 25-man roster regardless.
Shockingly the Mets have made the first move of the MLB offseason by signing outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year contract. The numbers on the deal are not yet known but it is expected to be around $25 million. The Mets will forfeit the 15th pick in the 2015 draft to sign Cuddyer.
This is a desperate move by the Mets. Sandy Alderson quickly established this offseason that Cuddyer was his number one outfield target on the free agent market (in their price range) but Cuddyer is 35 years old and played in just 49 games in 2014.
The Mets moved quickly because they had no interest in getting into a bidding war on Cuddyer who had drawn a lot of interest around the league, mainly from American League teams that could use Cuddyer as a full time DH in the second year of the contract.
Cuddyer has played in big ballparks before in Coors Field and Target Field, but Coors Field did help Cuddyer win a NL batting title in 2013. Cuddyer will likely play right field for the Mets which would move Curtis Granderson to left field. Cuddyer has played 897 games in right field in his career but has started just three in left field.
Citi Field is difficult to play for newcomers so it makes sense to put the outfielder in right where he is most comfortable. Cuddyer is a very poor outfielder but could also play first base for the Mets against left-handers.
If Cuddyer is healthy than the Mets are getting a bat at fair market value, but he is turning 36 in March. The Mets were desperate for a bat with power and Cuddyer’s ten homers last season in just 190 at bats. Another appealing aspect of signing Cuddyer is for a power bat, he doesn’t strike out much.
The Mets clearly believe they are contenders with this move but they are now likely at their budget and will have to move Daniel Murphy and or a starting pitcher to add another bat such as a shortstop.
Did the Mets make the right move signing Cuddyer or is this a panic pick?
The Mets have interest in White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez according to CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine. Ramirez, 33, hit .273 with a .305 OBP along with 15 homers and 74 RBI in 2014. The Mets would love to add a shortstop along with a right-handed bat to the lineup so it should come as no surprise that the Mets were among the teams to check in on Ramirez.
Ramirez has spent his entire seven year major league career with the White Sox and has $10 million owed to him in 2015 along with a $10 million option for 2016.
BrokeMets wrote about how Ramirez would have been a very nice option for the Mets at short about a year and a half ago. Now, not as much as Ramirez is 33 years old and will cost a pretty penny in prospects since so many other teams such as the Yankees and Dodgers will be looking for a shortstop this winter as well.
The Mets aren’t going to get away with simply offering Dillon Gee for Ramirez, the White Sox are going to want a top pitching prospect from the Mets to pry away the 2014 All-Star. The White Sox don’t have an internal option to replace Ramirez at short so they don’t have to trade him.
Plus with the Mets already over budget, before signing any player to a major league deal, Ramirez’s ten million owed in 2015 has to also be a factor.
The Mets enter the offseason in dire need of another bat, preferably for the outfield to go with Curtis Granderson who can play either corner as well as the gold-glover Juan Lagares.
The team strongly liked Michael Cuddyer for that role in the outfield but he was offered a $15.3 million qualifying offer. It isn’t known yet if the former All-Star will accept such a deal with the Rockies (he absolutely should) but either way, the Mets are now out of the running for the 2013 NL batting champ. The Mets would have to give up the 15th overall pick in the 2015 draft for any player that rejects a qualifying offer which at this time the team is unwilling to do.
The team is much more likely to engage in a trade for an outfielder but Sandy Alderson and company are highly reluctant to trade top pitching prospects such as Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz for a bat.
One player, who will appear on the trade market this winter and can be had for little more than salary relief, is Dodgers OF Andre Ethier.
Ethier, 32, has played with the Dodgers for his entire 9-year career but is coming off his worst season as a major leaguer. The outfielder hit .249 with four homers and 42 RBI in 380 PA last season. He mainly came off the bench and barely played in the second half of the season. With Joc Pederson looking ready for full time work in the Dodgers outfield as well, L.A. may not even have room for Ethier on the bench.
The two-time All-Star would have been traded years ago if it wasn’t for his large contract. Ethier is due $53.5 million over the next three seasons plus a $17.5 million vesting option for 2018. The Mets, along with the rest of baseball won’t touch that contract but if the Dodgers were willing to pay a hefty total of that to free up a spot on the roster; Ethier would make a fine left-handed outfield option for the Mets.
New General Manager Andrew Friedman has no attachment to Ethier and could be looking to dump him elsewhere before the calendar year ends. He certainly wouldn’t cost a top prospect like Syndergaard or Matz.
Ethier is definitely an upgrade in left field for the Mets who got virtually nothing out there for a majority of the season. Plus Ethier has hit double digit homers in eight of his nine big league seasons. He is young enough (33 in April) to be a bounce back candidate at a discount.
But Is Andre Ethier enough of an upgrade for the Mets outfield?
With the Mets already over their 2014 payroll with many notable arbitration raises expected, the Mets can save some coin by non-tendering former closer Bobby Parnell. The Mets shouldn’t even wait until the tender deadline and should cut the right-hander now to save a 40-man roster spot.
The Mets current plan is to tender Parnell a contract and then ease him back into the bullpen mix early in the regular season. MLB Trade Rumors projects Parnell to make around $3.7 million in his final year of arbitration. I think to give him that would be a mistake as a team without any financial flexibility shouldn’t be taking gambles on injured relievers.
Parnell is not expected to start the year on the 25-man roster as he continues his rehab from April Tommy John surgery. The Mets can’t afford to pay a reliever who won’t be the closer and won’t even be available to start the year $3.7 million.
Don’t forget Parnell also lost a good chunk of 2012 with a very serious neck injury.
Here is the full list of arbitration eligible Mets, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors who do a fantastic job 365 days a year.
Bobby Parnell RP (5.132): $3.7MM projected salary
Daniel Murphy, 2B (5.109): $8.3MM
Eric Young Jr., OF (4.123): $2.3MM
Dana Eveland, RP (4.029): $1.0MM
Dillon Gee, SP (4.028): $5.1MM
Ruben Tejada, SS (3.171): $1.7MM
Lucas Duda, 1B (3.137): $4.3MM
Buddy Carlyle, RP (3.096): $1.0MM
Jenrry Mejia, RP (2.140, Super Two): $3.1MM
After he had his surgery in April I wrote about how Parnell likely played his last game as a Met. You can check out that article here. As of now the Mets plan on keeping Parnell. It is pretty crazy that 18 months ago we were talking about the Mets trading Parnell for a big time prospect and now I’m saying they should cut him.
Remember the Mets could always non-tender Parnell and bring him back on a minor league deal or even a guaranteed deal at a smaller base salary.
Can the Mets afford to keep Bobby Parnell?
The Mets hired Kevin Long to be their new hitting coach a few days ago. Long was fired as the Yankees hitting coach after the Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season. Long has a similar offensive philosophy to Sandy Alderson (which is why he was hired) and that is to work long at bats, draw walks and get the starter out of the game as soon as you possibly can.
That theory has had mixed results with the Mets over the past few years to say the least and in my opinion the Mets should scrap it.
Met hitters take far too many hittable strikes which results in a lot of strikeouts and situations where hitters are behind in the count, having already taken the best pitch of an at-bat.
The problem with the Mets philosophy is that yes, they are getting the starters out in the 6th inning at 110 pitches but middle relievers now are better than they ever have been. Most teams don’t want the starter out because a hitter would rather face for example a tiring Jason Vargas his third time through the order than the Brandon Finnegans or Kelvin Herreras of the world.
The Mets shouldn’t stop walking by any means but they must be more aggressive especially early in the count if they want to be more successful offensively. Ideally Kevin Long can help them with this in 2015.
In the most unfortunate story you will hear around major league baseball, Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras was killed in a car accident Sunday in the Dominican Republic. Taveras was driving with his girlfriend, who was also killed. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak and the Cardinals released a statement a short time ago. “I simply can’t believe it, I met Oscar when he was 16 years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived everyday to the fullest.” Mozeliak said in a statement.
A truly awful day for professional sports, Taveras was just 22 years old.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the Mets potentially being able to pry away the stud outfielder a few weeks ago after the Cardinals were eliminated. After checking around with a pair of Cardinals people I found out earlier this week that was highly unlikely and the Cards planned on building around the young left-handed hitter for years to come even for a package centered around Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard. The only way the Mozeliak and the Cards would possibly deal Taveras was in a deal for a superstar established bat like Giancarlo Stanton.
Taveras was ranked as the #3 prospect in baseball going into 2014 and homered in Game 2 of the NLCS exactly two weeks ago today. He had unlimited potential and reminded many of a young Vladdy Guerrero. Just a very, very sad day and all prayers should go to Taveras and his girlfriend’s families.
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.