Nov 27

Mets Make Wright An Offer He Can Refuse

Multiple news agencies report the Mets finally have an offer on the table for David Wright, one that will likely be rejected. The numbers are $100 million over six years, and that’s on top of the $16 million option the team already picked up for 2013.

Contemporaries Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay and Ryan Zimmerman of Washington have signed $100-million contracts. Based on that, the Mets believe they are making a fair-market deal.

CEO Jeff Wilpon said the preference is to have both Wright and R.A. Dickey play out next season and become free agents rather than trade them. The thinking is the compensatory draft picks would be more valuable than a handful of mid-level prospects and major league caliber reserves. Let’s face it, the Mets certainly won’t get players comparable to Wright.

On a related note, the Mets want to avoid the potential public relations disaster of having Wright and Dickey leave, only to come back as All-Stars with another team at the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field.

Such an occurrence would be far more damaging public-relations wise than letting Jose Reyes go last winter without an offer.

Wright’s agents are expected to reject the offer, as most first offers are. This will be Wright’s last chance for a big payday because he’ll be 36 or 37 by the time the new contract expires.

Ideally, Wright wants a contract long on years, similar to the one the Rays gave Longoria. However, Wright’s numbers haven’t been what they were earlier in his career and the last four seasons have included a variety of injuries. That would create some question from the Mets about his durability, although he played a full season in 2012 (156 games).

The average yearly salary would be $16.6 million, which represents a slight raise from the $16 million he’ll get this season. That certainly won’t fly with Wright’s agents.

Nov 26

Bar Set For David Wright Negotiations

Whatever you hear about what David Wright might be asking or the Mets might be offering, just understand the bar has been set by his contemporaries Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman, Both are close to Wright in terms of age and production. Just not salary.

The Tampa Bay Rays, long known as a team with low payroll agreed to a contract extension over the weekend with Longoria for $100 million over ten years. The deal includes the same terms of his current contract through 2016, then adds an additional ten years. There is an option for 2013.

LONGORIA: Sets the bar for Wright (AP)

Who knows if the Rays will be in Tampa by then, but wherever they go, Longoria will be with them.

Then there is Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals, who, after moving into their new park have become big spenders. Zimmerman, who is a long-time friend of Wright’s, signed an extension before spring training last year for $100 million over six years, including the final two years of his current deal plus four more seasons.

Arguments can be made both are better recently than Wright, who after two down seasons bounced back in 2012.

Longoria is the face of the Rays as Wright is to the Mets, but has better power numbers. He is 27 and Wright will be 30 five days before Christmas. Zimmerman is 28.

Remembering Wright is roughly three years older than Longoria and a year older than Zimmerman, he has 204 career homers with an average of 26 a season. Longoria has 130 with an average of 33. If he maintains his current pace, by the time he reaches Wright’s age, he could have 230 career homers.

Zimmerman has 153 career homers, averaging 25 a season.

The Mets maintain re-signing Wright is their priority, but seem close vested as to what they are willing to spend or how long a deal they might give. A ten-year deal like Longoria’s puts Wright close to 40 at the end, and likely well into the downside of his career, much like Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees.

The last four years have been below Wright’s standards and include trips to the disabled list for a variety of injuries, all sustained by playing hard. That includes lost time from the Matt Cain beaning, which can’t be termed an “age related” injury.

All that will be considered in the Mets’ offer.

Statistically, the three are fairly even with Longoria having the highest upside. Given that, I don’t see how the Mets could justify anything less than $100 million and six years, although recently I suggested they go $100 million over five years.

The years might vary, but $100 million appears to be the ceiling. Do you see the Mets setting the bar higher?

I didn’t think so.

Longoria’s contract will be argued as the bar for third basemen. It shouldn’t vary by much. The only real question is: Do the Mets want to spend the money?

 

Nov 25

Mets’ Alderson Graded Highly By Ownership

I have been hearing how Sandy Alderson will be held accountable for the Mets’ performance this summer and I don’t believe that to be the case, regardless of what happens with David Wright and R.A. Dickey.

Alderson is getting A’s across the board, because those handing out the grades aren’t the fans or the press, or even his colleagues. Grading Alderson are the Wilpons, who are passing him with gold stars because he is doing exactly what is expected of him.

Alderson was brought in here at the urging of Wilpon’s friend, Commissioner Bud Selig, with the purpose of bringing some stability by slashing payroll for a floundering franchise.

To that degree, he has done his job.

Alderson acted to clean up the Mets’ toxic contracts by cutting Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and despite it being too late, finally Jason Bay.

He also traded Carlos Beltran for prospect Zach Wheeler, and got rid of Francisco Rodriguez, who embarrassed the team by getting into a fight with his father-in-law outside the family lounge at Citi Field.

Best of all for the Wilpons, is he took the Mets into the 2012 season with a $100 million payroll, some $43 million less than in 2011. A good part of that was because of the decision to let go of Jose Reyes, thereby shedding the Mets of another potentially burdensome contract for a player with an injury history.

Doing so might help the Mets extend the contracts of Wright and Dickey, that is, if the team wants to make that call. As of now, talks seem stagnant.

The Mets have a myriad of holes and issues, with few immediate answers. On the plus side are young pitchers Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Wheeler to give them a promising rotation from which to build.

Losing Wright and Dickey would be damaging to the Mets on the field, but they will benefit from compensatory draft picks. At worst, the Mets restart their rebuilding program, but they would further reduce payroll.

There are voids in the bullpen and outfield, and also questions in the rotation and at catcher.

Clearly, they are several years away, and based on that Alderson should be strongly judged.

However, the criteria the Wilpons are using to evaluate Alderson is in reducing payroll and toward that end, he is passing the test.

Alderson has already been evaluated by the people whose opinion of him matter most.

Nov 24

Making Cases For Pelfrey And Torres To Return

After writing about Jon Niese and untouchable Mets yesterday, I thought I’d take a different approach and consider those Mets believed to be out the door.

Say hello to Mike Pelfrey and Andres Torres. Both long thought to be gone, but upon further review cases can be made for their return.

PELFREY: Making a case for his return. (Daily News)

The 28-year-old Pelfrey made $5.68 million in an injury shortened 2012 and is expected to hit the market with a career 50-54 record. He is arbitration eligible with Scott Boras as his agent, all which should make the Mets deathly afraid.

Quite bluntly: Even at 20 percent off his 2012 salary, the Mets think that is too high, which is why they won’t tender him and say good-bye after a disappointedly short-lived career in Flushing. He had a couple of solid seasons, even All-Star worthy in 2010, but regressed in 2011 and was hurt last year.

He never reached the level expected of a first-round pick while others, such as Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain sprinted past him into elite status. Unquestionably, Pelfrey has the physical tools to excel, but dramatically underachieved. A combination of a lack of poise – who can forget the three-balk game? – poor pitch selection, mechanics, and although he’ll deny it – spotty confidence – lead to mediocrity.

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Nov 23

Jon Niese One Of Few Untouchable Mets

When I look at the current Mets’ 40-man roster there are few players where it would take a lot to pry away from the team. Matt Harvey is one of them, in fact, there’s a thought of re-doing his contract as to buy out his arbitration years.

I keep Harvey, of course. And, prospect Zach Wheeler.

NIESE: An untouchable Met.

Also on the list is Jonathan Niese, who signed a long-term deal that will carry him through 2016, with option years for 2017 and 2018, going as high as $11 million in the last year. A hard-throwing left hander with a positive history and contract controllable for four more years is a bargain.

Considering Niese’s production, contract and being a lefty, it’s small wonder he is the name most often brought up when Mets GM Sandy Alderson is contacted. That’s also the reason the Mets would be foolish to part with him.

As Niese continues to develop, and dare I say it, approach 20 wins and becomes an All-Star, I can see the Mets picking up those options and extending the contract.

Niese is a rare commodity in today’s economics. Harvey could see a long-term offer is he proves the real deal in 2013.

Signing Niese when they did was a smart move and akin to the long-term deal David Wright is on. That’s why they won’t deal him. He and Harvey are on a short list, one that doesn’t include Wright and R.A. Dickey.

The Mets want to keep both but admit they could be dealt. They are currently talking to more teams about Dickey than Wright, presumably because the knuckleballer is on a $5 million contract for 2013 while Wright is more than triple that amount.

Trading Dickey and/or Wright in the offseason would be have the obstacle on them being free-agents after next season and would likely be contingent on the other team getting the opportunity to negotiate its own contract extension, similar to what the Mets did when they traded with Minnesota for Johan Santana.

That other team would be stuck with the task of negotiating with Dickey for roughly $50 million and Wright for perhaps as high as $120 million. Few teams want to assume that burden, which is why Jeff Wilpon said last week he’d rather let them walk and take the draft picks.

From the player’s perspective, the concept of free-agency is deciding where you go and for how much. Chances are both players, unless they are blown away with an offer, would walk after being traded.

The Mets won’t have any such dilemma with NIese, which is why he’ll be in Flushing for a long time.