Dec 10

Mets A Winter Meetings Winner

The Mets left Nashville this afternoon a better team that showed up Sunday night, even if they come home with a contract having Ben Zobrist‘s autograph.

CABRERA: Makes Mets better. (Getty)

CABRERA: Makes Mets better. (Getty)

The Mets not only upgraded up the middle defensively with second baseman Neil Walker (trade from Pittsburgh for Jon Niese) and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (free agent signing from Tampa Bay), and in the process improved their bench and came away with a back-up for David Wright.

And, they did it at a minimal cost, $18.5 million in a two-year contract for Cabrera instead of the estimated $50 million they were going to pay Zobrist. The price of what Walker could make in arbitration and what Niese is to make ($9 million) is a wash.

The Mets were poor defensively with Daniel Murphy and Flores (a combined 26 errors) opposed to a combined 16 from Walker and Cabrera. However, defense is more than just errors, it is also positioning and range. For a team built on pitching, they improved in the field with no loss of production at the plate..

Flores will now fall into the role of right-handed hitting platoon with Walker; back-up shortstop; and fill-in for Wright at third.

The decision to sign Cabrera after tendering Ruben Tejada is not overkill because Flores fractured his ankle in winter ball and Tejada is still recovering from breaking his leg in the playoffs. We don’t know if they’ll be ready when spring training opens Feb. 17 (pitchers and catchers) and Feb. 24 (position players).

Assuming both are ready, they can spell Wright at third. Cabrera can do the same.

So, when you add it up, the Mets improved their up-the-middle defense, bench and found a contingency plan for Wright and will save an estimated $30 million.

I’d call it a win-win, leaving them to find a left-handed hitting platoon with Juan Lagares in center and bolstering the bullpen.

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Dec 07

Mets Face Competition For Zobrist

If the Mets really want Ben Zobrist, they might have to give in on that fourth year as there’s a growing line of suitors for the versatile infielder, who, by the way, is an accomplished hitter who can also play the outfielder.

The reported dollars start around $50 million and he’s looking for four years. The Mets want three, and in what should be regarded as bluffing more than anything else, say they could still re-sign Daniel Murphy.

Reports have the Giants having interest, but where he’ll play is the question. They could stick him in left, but their infield is set. I doubt he’ll want to go there just to be a role player, but if Zobrist wants to win the Giants will get his consideration.

The Mets will also get competition from the Washington Nationals, and Zobrist would bring some stability and professionalism to their dysfunctional clubhouse. I also don’t need to remind you the Nationals have deeper pockets than the Mets.

One report recently had the Dodgers showing interest, but they just signed Chase Utley. That signing should also preclude the Dodgers as a potential landing spot for Murphy.

The Yankees continually say they aren’t in the market for Zobrist, but I’ll never discount their propensity for bluffing.

Meanwhile, the Angels, White Sox, Indians and Orioles could all use a second baseman. Of the four, the Angels appear the most willing to write the big check.

ON DECK: Potential landing spots for Murphy.


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.


Nov 23

Not Buying Murphy Return

There were several articles last week claiming the Mets still would attempt to bring back Daniel Murphy, who rejected a $15.8-million qualifying offer. The reports said the Mets would make a sincere run at Murphy, who might bite on an offer that isn’t necessarily the highest.

Nearly everything I’ve read said the Mets might still make an offer because of Murphy’s affection for the team and New York. But, are those really good enough reasons? If that was the case, their decision would be based more on sentimentality than talent.

MURPHY: Still in play for Mets?  (Getty)

MURPHY: Still in play for Mets? (Getty)

The reported market for Murphy is $50 million over four years. The qualifying offer entitles the Mets to a compensatory draft pick plus the right to keep negotiating. It does not signal the Mets’ desire to keep him because they think he’s part of their future.

We don’t know what Murphy is seeking and what the Mets are willing to offer. The only numbers we know of are of the speculative nature.

We also know Murphy is 30 years old, so this will likely be his final shot at the brass ring. I can’t see him leaving money on the table to go back to a team that never had him on the top of their pecking order.

Murphy also hit 14 homers last season and went deep in six consecutive games in the playoffs. What we don’t know, and this includes the Mets, is whether that power surge was a fluke or a sign he’s added that element to his game.

The Mets are also reportedly interested in Kansas City free-agent Ben Zobrist, who is five years older than Murphy, and is a better player who is more versatile. However, the speculated numbers for Zobrist is $60 million over four years.

Zobrist brings more to the table than Murphy, and I think the Mets will shy away because of the price. This might make Murphy more palatable. But, I keep going back to well how Wilmer Flores adjusted to second base and potential of Dilson Herrera.

If those two can adequately fill the void left by Murphy, and I believe Flores can do so, then the Mets should be all right at second base. In that case, the money spent on Murphy or Zobrist, would be better spent adding a center fielder because I’m not sold on Juan Lagares and rebuilding the bullpen.

Nov 17

Are Mets Willing To Outbid Yankees For Zobrist?

Both New York teams are interested in free-agent infielder Ben Zobrist – who can also play the outfield corners – but early reports are the Yankees aren’t willing to go all out.

ZOBRIST: How high will Mets go? (AP)

ZOBRIST: How high will Mets go? (AP)

Do you really believe that? I don’t, either. If the Yankees really want a player, and their competition is the Mets, smart money is on them. Yes, the Mets outbid the Yankees for Carlos Beltran, but that was an aberration.

Leopards don’t change their spots, and if the Yankees want him they will spend. And, the Mets aren’t likely to become big spenders for a 34-year-old second baseman, especially when they have other voids they must fill.

The speculated cost for Zobrist is $60 million over four years, which is reported to be about $10 million more than the package for Daniel Murphy.

I like Zobrist, always have, but second base is not their primary concern. I would say an outfielder and bullpen depth rank higher. Wilmer Flores can replace Murphy at second base, and the Mets also have confidence in Dilson Herrera.