Dec 05

Lagares Contract Turning Into Bust

Is it too soon to call Juan Lagares a bust?  As of now, that appears the call on the Mets’ 5-year, $23-million deal given to the flashy center fielder after his 2014 Gold Glove Award winning season. He might get a pass because of a bad elbow allowed base runners to take liberties on him.

However, after a summer in which balls were consistently hit over his head and he lost his starting job after the Yoenis Cespedes trade, the Mets go to the Winter Meetings with the idea of obtaining a center fielder to platoon with Lagares. What does that say?

LAGARES: Falling short. (Getty)

LAGARES: Falling short. (Getty)

We know the Mets won’t re-sign Cespedes or move Curtis Granderson to center. And, we also know Lagares has a lot of room for improvement at the plate and must stop his defensive regression if he’s to remain in the Mets’ plans.

Working in Lagares’ favor is the contract that will pay him $2.5 million in 2016, $4.5 million in 2017, $6.5 million in 2018 and $9 million in 2019. While that might not be a lot of money for a full time player, it could be too much for a platoon player, and definitely a lot for late-inning defense.

The primary free-agent targets to platoon with the .259-hitting Lagares are Denard Span and Dexter Fowler, both of whom will command a large salaries, and most likely would not accept a platoon situation. Gerardo Parra and Colby Rasmus are corner outfielders, but the Mets have MIchael Conforto and Granderson. And, if you go further down to David Murphy and Will Venable, the Mets might as well stick with Kirk Niewenhuis.

Lagares has not played to the level the Mets want, but the limitations of the market could prohibit a chance. But, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a bust so far.

 

 

Dec 02

Mets To Tender Contract To Mejia

One of the Mets’ most intriguing contract questions will be answered today when they are expected to tender reliever Jenrry Mejia a contract.

Mejia, who is serving his second suspension, will miss the first 100 games of the 2016 season. The 26-year-old Mejia was to earn $2.595 million last year, but only earned a prorated portion for the three weeks he played.

MEJIA: To be offered contract. (AP)

MEJIA: To be offered contract. (AP)

By virtue of the collective bargaining agreement, arbitration-eligible players tendered contracts must get at least 80 percent of their previous year’s salary, which would be $2.076 million in Mejia’s case. However, considering the time Mejia missed because of suspension, and the time he will miss next year, that figure according to ESPN will be about $1 million.

Of course, the Mets can offer whatever they want, and because their bullpen needs, it makes sense to keep Mejia around in hope he turns himself around.

Also no-brainers among the Mets’ arbitration-eligible players that will be tendered contracts are Matt Harvey, Lucas Duda And Jeurys Familia.

Because of their bullpen holes, I also expect the Mets to tender set-up reliever Addison Reed and relievers Carlos Torres and Josh Edgin.

However, remaining a question is shortstop Ruben Tejada, who made $1.88 million last year. Tejada would make a good insurance policy if his recovery from a broken leg sustained in the NL Division Series heals properly.

If they cut Tejada loose, it would mean confidence in Wilmer Flores, Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds. The conventional wisdom in keeping with those three is predicated on the Mets not re-signing Daniel Murphy.

There still remains the possibility of the Mets signing free agent Ben Zobrist.

 

Dec 02

Price Signing Could Forecast Mets’ Handling With Harvey

Not that it would have happened anyway, but Boston’s blockbuster signing of David Price Tuesday means there won’t be a trade of Matt Harvey to the Red Sox for shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley.

I was onboard for such a deal, and the Price signing only affirmed my reason.

The cost for Price is $217 million over seven years. The key to the deal is Price has an opt-out clause after three years for roughly $90 million. If Price can give the Red Sox a couple of playoff appearances, and perhaps a World Series title, the contract would have been worth it – if they allow him to leave.

The Yankees mistakenly chased after C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez when they exercised their clauses.

The Price contract makes you wonder what it will cost when Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steve Matz hit the market. The Mets certainly can’t afford to sign all five to mega deals at once, but they can defray some of the cost if they stagger the signings and they trade one or two of theses guys.

If you think $217 million is steep – and it is 2015 – wait until Scott Boras puts Harvey on the market in three years. Assuming Harvey pitches to expectations, Boras’ numbers for Harvey could approach $300 million.

Figuring the Mets don’t change their financial approach, there’s no way they can afford to keep Harvey and deGrom and Syndergaard.

Their best options are to fill their positional holes by dealing Harvey – who is a goner and we all know it – and offering long-term deals to deGrom and Syndergaard.

Yeah, I love the potential of the Mets’ young pitching and it would be great if they could keep the core together and fill out the rest of their roster with key free-agent signings. But, that’s not the real world. The real world has the very real, and very likely, chance of Harvey asking for a monster contact the Mets can’t afford.

I know you don’t like to hear this, but the Price signing screams trading Harvey is the thing to do.

ON DECK:  Tendering contracts deadline is today.

 

 

Dec 01

Alderson Named MLB Executive Of The Year

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is an analytics guy, and while there’s debate at to whether that’s the be-all-and-end-all of building a team remains in question, there is no doubt as to his role in taking this team to the World Series.

For that, he was named Major League Baseball’s executive of the year by Baseball America.

ALDERSON: Worthy honor. (AP)

ALDERSON: Worthy honor. (AP)

“Sandy is the best leader I’ve ever been around,’’ Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi told Baseball America. “ He lets you do your job. He respects you. And he wants your input. In the world today, his ‘yes’ means yes and his ‘no’ means no. That’s one of the best things about him. He’s always in the forefront. He’s not afraid to take arrows. He’s just a great leader.’’

The following are the moves that helped take the Mets to their sixth World Series:

Matt Harvey: When Harvey bucked management and fought to pitch at the end of the 2014 season, Alderson held his ground. While Harvey’s innings became an issue because there was no apparent plan, in the end Harvey pitched in the postseason and enters the offseason healthy.

Michael Cuddyer: I liked this move even though he didn’t post the numbers the Mets wanted. However, with David Wright out for nearly five months Cuddyer proved a stabilizing veteran presence in the clubhouse. He’ll enter 2016 as a role player.

Noah Syndergaard: When Dillon Gee went down, Syndergaard was brought up and we got to see him several months before his scheduled call-up date.

Michael Conforto: As with Syndergaard, the hesitation in bringing him up because of the Super Two issue. Actually, if Cuddyer hadn’t struggled and been injured, we might not of have seen Conforto until September. Alderson bucked the traditional way the Mets had done things and brought up a player with star potential.

Yoenis Cespedes: When the Carlos Gomez deal with Milwaukee for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores fell through, Alderson acted quickly and traded for Cespedes, who jumpstarted their dormant offense.

The Rotation: The Mets gambled and inserted Steven Matz in the playoff rotation and used Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon in the bullpen. Without that move there’s a chance they wouldn’t have gotten past the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Alderson deserves this honor. But his biggest job is to do it again.

Nov 30

Signing Zobrist Not A Given

The Mets want free-agent infielder Ben Zobrist, that much we know. However, wanting him doesn’t make signing him a given. Not by a long shot.

At 34, Zobrist wants a four-year deal at a reported $14-million a season. It isn’t so much the dollars, but the years, that have the Mets hitting the pause button. The Mets would figure to use Zobrist at second – with Wilmer Flores at shortstop, presumably – but can also play him at the corner outfield positions and as a back-up to David Wright at third.

Although the Mets say re-signing Daniel Murphy is a possibility, the odds on that are long. There are also reports the Mets don’t figure on trading for a shortstop, but could make a run at Asdrubal Cabrera. If they were to land Cabrera, Flores would play second base, which is where the Mets say he is at his best defensively.

The Mets also have designs on Dilson Herrera as their 2016 second baseman with Flores at shortstop.

With the Mets having several options other than Zobrist at second, and with numerous other needs, the likely course would be to use their resources on them and pass on Zobrist.