Dec 01

Mets Tender Contracts To Nine

As expected, the Mets tendered 2018 contracts to all nine of their arbitration-eligible players today. The list includes four of their projected starters and two back-end relievers.

Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler were offered contracts, as were Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Hansel Robles, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and infielder Wilmer Flores.

This action ensures these players will play for the Mets next season. Any arbitration-eligible player tendered to a contract must either accept the offer or go through an arbitration hearing.

All nine are expected to go through the arbitration process.

 

Nov 30

Mets’ Smith Responds To Criticism About Weight

If there has been a positive to the Mets’ uneventful offseason, it has been Dominic Smith’s response to criticism he was out of shape this summer. Reportedly, Smith has lost 12 pounds, admitted he underperformed and said he was determined to get better.

SMITH: Watching his weight. (AP)

SMITH: Watching his weight. (AP)

All positive developments. Now, it doesn’t mean the Mets won’t consider other options, but perhaps it will make them think twice before they leap. If you’re looking to save money, which the Mets are, a platoon of Smith and Wilmer Flores makes more sense than going after Carlos Santana, who’ll cost plenty but won’t put them back into the playoffs.

“This is something I want to get under control and never make an issue again,’’ Smith told The Post about his weight. “I would rather go through this at 22 than go through this in my prime.

“They drafted me in the first round, so they expect me to be a first-round type player. They expect me to be a star in New York City. Of course, I didn’t live up to the expectations, and I am not going to take that and am upset about that. I know my capabilities and what I’m able to do. I am just going to put it all together and I am going to show the world.

“I definitely have a different mindset coming into next season. I am working my butt off every day continuously and I’m just working. I learned a lot. I got up there for six weeks and I learned from that and I am not taking anything for granted. It’s an honor and pleasure. Every day I get to wake up and play for the New York Mets, it’s an honor and pleasure. You know that you have to work hard. You have to be realistic with a lot of situations, so I definitely am.’’

Other than his nine homers in 49 games last summer, Smith did little to distinguish himself. Even so, the Mets finished 22 games below .500 last year and have a myriad of holes that Santana or Logan Morrison or Adam Lind or Jay Bruce won’t be able to fill.

Forty-nine games is not a big enough window to draw any definitive conclusions on whether Smith will be able to become a viable player, let alone be a star. As much as I’d like to see the Mets be a contender next season, I don’t think they will. There are just too many unanswered questions, of which Smith is one.

However, Smith can stop being a question if he’s given a chance to prove himself over a wider window.

Nov 28

A Neil Walker Reunion Not A Good Idea

It was a good idea when the Mets first acquired Neil Walker, although I would have preferred they kept Daniel Murphy. A reunion is not a good idea despite the Mets’ crying need for a second baseman.

WALKER: Pass on seconds. (AP)

WALKER: Pass on seconds. (AP)

When the Mets dealt Walker to the Brewers, it was after he accepted a $17.2-million qualifying offer. Walker accepted the offer after negotiations with the Mets broke down. One can reasonably conclude Walker might have hard feelings toward the Mets.

To come back to the Mets expect Walker to want at least two years. Considering his back issues, that’s not a gamble worth taking.

It makes sense if the Mets were expected to contend next summer, but do you really expect them to make up the 22 games they need to get back to .500?

That’s an incredible jump I don’t expect them to make. If the Mets were a serious contender, I’d rather they go after Jason Kipnis or Dee Gordon, or even Ian Kinsler, as has been speculated. Kinsler, 35, has two years left on his contract with Detroit, that will pay him $22 million. The money is doable, but should the Mets commit to a middle infielder at his age?

If age weren’t a consideration, how about Chase Utley, who is 38 but made only $2 million last year. Utley to the Mets would be a delicious sense of irony

Kipnis and Gordon would cost too much both in terms of prospects and/or money, so I don’t see the Mets going that route.

Who then?

The cheapest options are Asdrubal Cabrera, or Jose Reyes, or T.J. Rivera in a platoon with Wilmer Flores.

Nov 20

Mets Trying To Light A Fire Under Smith

Dominic Smith is done with the Mets if they are able to sign – and each one of these guys will get at least three years – Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, Logan Morrison or Adam Lind, then where does that leave Smith?

Certainly not on the fast track to Flushing.

SMITH: Mets trying to motivate Smith. (Getty)

SMITH: Mets trying to motivate Smith. (Getty)

Smith did not distinguish himself last summer – but did hit nine homers in 183 plate appearances – and GM Sandy Alderson indicated as much, saying he “didn’t win [the job] in September.’’

Smith was the Mets’ second-ranked prospect at the time of his promotion, but despite the surprise in his power, he was a disappointment in his plate discipline and on-base percentage, and defense, which was supposed to be his strong suit. In addition, Alderson was upset, and rightfully so, about Smith’s conditioning.

“Dominic’s going to have to be careful about his conditioning, certainly in the next few years, if not throughout his career,’’ Alderson said at the GM Meetings last week. “He was in excellent shape coming into Spring Training. … As happens with any long season, fitness dissipates and he’s put on some weight.’’

If the Mets surprise us all and sign a free-agent, Smith will undoubtedly open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. That’s fine for 2018, but what about the following two years?

Barring an injury, that would leave Smith stuck in the minor or a reserve, because for the money the Mets would pay a free-agent, he’d have to be above Smith. And considering his play last season, Smith would have to tear it up in the minor leagues in 2018 to build up his trade value.

Smith hit .198 with a .262 on-base percentage and struck out 49 times [with only 14 walks] in 49 games. Those are lousy numbers that don’t merit coming into spring training with a job waiting for him.

So, what are the Mets’ first base options?

There’s signing a free-agent, of course, which seems a long shot because the Mets don’t want to spend the money. They could go into next season with a platoon of Smith and Wilmer Flores, which probably is how they’ll go, or they could stick with Smith.

I think the free-agent talk, coupled with the criticism about his weight, is designed to light a fire under Smith.

Nov 10

Mets Should Go With Smith At First

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Mets’ need for a first baseman and where Dominic Smith fits into their plans. By any numerical system – conventional statistics or analytics – Smith did not have a good debut with the Mets last summer.

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

Smith, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, exceeded his rookie status in 49 games and 167 at-bats last season. He hit .198 with a .262 on-base percentage and .658 OPS. However, those are just numbers, just like his 49 strikeouts (matching the number of games played) and only 14 walks. However, of his 33 hits, nine were homers.

All this has led to columns about the Mets going after Eric Hosmer or reuniting with Jay Bruce – cue singer: “To dream, the impossible dream.’’ – or maybe Carlos Santana, Logan Morrison or Adam Lind.

Smith will earn the major league minimum of $507,500.

Of all the names mentioned, Washington’s Lind, who earned $500,000 last season, is the one most likely to fit into GM Sandy Alderson’s budget. However, Lind has a lifetime .272 average with 200 homers, including 14 last year, so the Mets shouldn’t be so eager to celebrate – or write any checks.

At 34, Lind is probably looking at his last contract. That he also played in 25 games in the outfield last year could work to the Mets’ advantage. His age means he’ll be more likely to accept a one-year deal.

At 31, Santana, who hit 23 homers with 79 RBI for Cleveland, earned $12 million last year. He’ll be looking for at least a three-year deal. He’s too expensive.

At 30, Morrison, would be a great addition. He hit 38 homers with 85 RBI, but would want significantly more than the $2.5 million he made last year with Tampa Bay. Morrison is reported to be interested in Kansas City as the Royals will lose Hosmer.

As for Bruce, it is reported he wants $90 million over five years, but has a lower estimated landing price of $40 million over three years.

Either way, that’s too rich for Alderson’s blood.

All the names linked to the Mets are predicated on them being as competitive as Alderson believes. If they really are – and I’ve heard of nobody other than Alderson who thinks that way – then go for it.

The Mets won 70 games last year and one NL Scout thinks they’ll be lucky to win 80 in 2017, which won’t do it.

“They have too many holes,’’ the scout said. “Even if all their pitching issues work out for them, they just don’t have enough to contend. They need a second baseman and third baseman, and who knows how Amed Rosario will pan out over a full year? There’s also questions at catcher and first base, plus there are concerns about the health of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.’’

With a reported $30 million Alderson has to spend, and a large part of that will go in arbitration cases (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores.

So, where does that leave us with Smith?

I don’t think the Mets will be as good as Alderson thinks, but you already knew that, being the negative SOB that I am. If the Mets were a player away and money wasn’t an issue, I’d say go for it.

But, they aren’t.

The Mets will be lucky to finish .500, so why not go with Smith and Flores? Let’s give Smith at least to the All-Star break to see what he has, or platoon him with Flores.

In what figures to be another losing season, let’s see if they can find a nugget in Smith. It’s a better option than throwing a lot of money at a player who won’t turn things around and will be gone in a couple of years.