Dec 20

Just How Much Better Are The Mets?

New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen vowed the Mets would compete in 2019, and his early moves dictated his seriousness in following through with that promise. Trading for closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano, with whom the Mets will be on the hook for roughly $100 million remaining on the latter’s contract was indeed a big splash.

In addition, the Mets signed catcher Wilson Ramos to fill a significant void, outfielder Rajai Davis to a minor league contract to compete in center field, and brought back former closer Jeurys Familia to fill a set-up role. Combined, they are appreciably better than the team that finished 22 games under .500 last year, but not close enough to be the contender Van Wagenen hopes.

However, the three teams that finished ahead of them in the National League East last season also improved. Atlanta added third baseman Josh Donaldson and brought back catcher Brian McCann; Washington added lefty starter Patrick Corbin, but doesn’t appear to have a chance to bring back Bryce Harper; and Philadelphia added outfielder Andrew McCutcheon and second baseman Jean Segura, and will host Manny Machado today. They are also reportedly interested in Harper.

Should the Phillies land both Machado and Harper it would make them the odds-on favorites to win the East, ahead of the Braves and Nationals, with the Mets slated for fourth place regardless of what they do, and the Marlins last, despite whom they bring in for catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Ramos was a better signing then Realmuto because it enabled the Mets to keep prospects outfielder Brandon Nimmo and shortstop Amed Rosario, or possibly Noah Syndergaard. Dealing Syndergaard was never going to happen, but not surrendering players was essential to the Mets, who are thin in major league ready talent.

I wrote at the time of the Cano-Diaz trade, which enabled the Mets to shed the remaining $26 million left on Jay Bruce’s contract (that would amount to only one year of Cano’s deal). I didn’t like the trade – still don’t – but added we had to wait on the rest of Van Wagenen’s offseason to draw a full conclusion.

I’m not crazy about bringing back Familia, who will go into the set-up role. I would have preferred they make a serious run at Andrew Miller, which would fill the void of a left-handed reliever. Miller was off last year because of inflammation in his right knee which accounted for two stints on the disabled list, including one of 60 days.

Philadelphia is also a player for Miller, as are a half-dozen other teams. With the money earmarked for Cano and Familia, the Mets are on the outside looking in on Miller, who worked 96.2 innings over the past two seasons.

They still have a myriad of questions: Ramos has a long history of injuries; Peter Alfonso is untested at first base; Cano is 36 and on a downward slide; Rosario has offensive issues; Yoenis Cespedes will be out until at least the All-Star break; the bullpen is still thin despite Ruiz and Familia; and the rotation, outside of Jacob deGrom, is more potential than proven performance.

Van Wagenen has talked a good game so far and the Mets have been on their fair share of back pages but have won nothing, yet. The Mets seem more inclined to make lower profile deals than a blockbuster trade or sign a major free agent.

What the Mets have now is what they’ll likely go into spring training with and that isn’t good enough to contend, which we already knew.

Dec 20

Mets Continue To Wait On Dealing Bruce Or Granderson

Never mind trading both, the Mets will be hard pressed to trade either Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson soon.

If they do so, it won’t be until mid-January if not later. Perhaps not until spring training when most teams are trying to determine their rosters before the start of the season.

Interest in either has been tepid at best, despite the relatively manageable contracts for Bruce ($13 million) and Granderson ($15 million), primarily because the market remains crowded.

According to mlbtraderumors.com, the following free-agent outfielders are available:

Left Fielders
Cody Asche (27)
Gregor Blanco (33)
Nick Buss (30)
Chris Coghlan (32)
Coco Crisp (37)
Rajai Davis (36)
Alejandro De Aza (33)
Jeff Francoeur (33)
Josh Hamilton (36)
Craig Gentry (33)
Cole Gillespie (33)
Desmond Jennings (30)
David Lough (31)
Brandon Moss (33)
Angel Pagan (35)
Jimmy Paredes (28)
Ryan Raburn (36)
Colby Rasmus (30)
Nolan Reimold (33)
Michael Saunders (30)
Rickie Weeks (34)

Center Fielders

Peter Bourjos (30)
Michael Bourn (34)
Coco Crisp (37)
Rajai Davis (36)
Sam Fuld (35)
Austin Jackson (30)
Desmond Jennings (30)
Ben Revere (29)
Justin Ruggiano (35)
Drew Stubbs (32)

Right Fielders

Dustin Ackley (29)
Jose Bautista (36)
Gregor Blanco (33)
Peter Bourjos (30)
Marlon Byrd (39)
Franklin Gutierrez (34)
David Lough (31)
Jimmy Paredes (28)
Mark Trumbo (31)

 

That’s a sizeable group; with a good number of them likely to be had for less than what the Mets are scheduled to pay either, and many are younger.

So, why would a team give up a player or prospects when they can just sign somebody off this list, and possibly for less money?

This can’t come as a surprise for Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who should be aware of the market, and has to understand that having a glut of outfielders has to drive up the asking price for a team thinking of making a deal.

The Mets could sweeten the pot with more players, but this would entail them wanting to make a bigger deal and they don’t seem so inclined to go that route.

So, they are likely to wait this out or take somebody they don’t really want just to make a trade.