The New York Mets have had the most active offseason since Sandy Alderson took over as general manager. They have made big-ticket signings to go along with the minor moves that had been characteristic of the majority of the team’s transactions over the past several offseasons. Although this part of the baseball season is not over, it appears that the major moves the team will make are. With the possible exception of Stephen Drew falling in the team’s lap on a short-term deal (The Yankees are out after signing Masahiro Tanaka and the Red Sox seem only marginally interested) and the probable signing of a veteran relief pitcher (Mitchell Boggs, Kevin Gregg, etc.), the Mets will most likely only make minimal moves, if even that, over the next few weeks prior to catchers and pitchers reporting. So, the question is: Was this offseason a success?
The answer is complicated, but Ike Davis might be the key to how it’s viewed as the season progresses, but we’ll get to that later. First we have to look at the moves the Mets made, the moves they didn’t make and the ones they let get away.
The Mets sign Curtis Granderson to a four4year, $60 million contract – The Mets overpaid for Granderson – which everyone basically agrees. Granderson will be 36 in the final year of his Mets contract, and it’s highly debatable he will be worth $15 million in that season. However, in comparison to the outfield contracts paid to Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Hunter Pence, the Mets arguably got the best deal of the bunch. The bottom line is, the Mets needed to make this move. They needed a legitimate corner outfielder with power and Granderson matches that description. This one goes in the plus column for the Mets, despite the over pay in years on the contract.
The Mets sign Bartolo Colon to a two-year, $20 million contract – The Colon signing is interesting. His success over the past two years, and his solid pitching in 2011 for the Yankees, makes this seem like a no brainer type signing, especially at the dollar amounts involved. However, several factors make this a bit of a gamble for the Mets. In the modern era of baseball, there aren’t many pitchers that are really successful after the age of 40. Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson were freaks of nature who could still absolutely dominate hitters into their forties and Roger Clemens was most likely using performance enhancing drugs (something else Colon has actually been caught doing). Most other pitchers had middling performances in their forties and some of them were Hall of Famers (Don Sutton, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, to name a few). Colon’s weight also makes him an anomaly, with only David Wells being of similar girth and effective after age 40. All of these issues make the Colon signing tough to gauge. He could be surprisingly good or stupendously bad. However, if the latter occurs, the Mets do have pitching depth at the high minors, so the fall out would be minimal. So, even with all of the potential issues involved, the pitching depth on the team makes this one a check in the plus column as well.
The Mets sign Chris Young to a one-year,$ 7.25 million contract – This has been one of the most debated contracts of the offseason, most likely due to the fact that it was the first signing they made and, at the time, many fans felt it would be the only major signing, subsequently proven wrong. The Young signing is all about potential. Can he recapture his previous success or are his past two seasons in Arizona and Oakland a sign of decline? It’s hard to know, but on a one-year deal, with several outfielders in the high minors (Matt den Dekker, Cesar Puello, Travis Taijeron, Dustin Lawley, possibly even Cory Vaughn) who could make appearances this year or next year, along with the likes of Eric Young Jr. and Lucas Duda (who may now get some time again in the outfield), even if Young is an abject failure, the Mets have enough to get through this year and make another move next year. That is, unless one of the young guys really stands out. So, considering this move isn’t long term and could result in a productive player if Young bounces back, this also goes in the plus column.
The Mets resign Jeremy Hefner to a minor league deal – Hefner had been non-tendered, but the Mets made the right move by bringing him back while he recovers from TJ surgery. Hefner is a solid back of the rotation starter or swingman. Every staff needs a guy like Hefner, who can fill multiple roles on the staff, and here’s hoping that Hefner has a role like that on the team next year. Put a notch in the plus column here.
The Mets made multiple minor league signings and a waiver claim. The players acquired were as follows: Joel Carreno, Antony Seratelli, Brandon Allen, Miguel Socolovich, Ryan Reid, Taylor Teagarden, Omar Quintanilla, John Lannan and Jairo Perez.
Lannan is the highest profile of these moves. He could push Jenrry Mejia as the fifth starter, as well as Carlos Torres as the long man. At the very least, he’s a left handed pitcher who will provide depth in case one of the incumbent starters is hurt. Quintanilla is a depth move in case the Mets can’t acquire another shortstop and need a back up to Ruben Tejada if Wilfredo Tovar doesn’t prove to be ready to take on that role. Quintanilla was over exposed as an everyday player, but would be a solid back up.
Teagarden is interesting as he’s a more experienced version of Anthony Recker, which is very likely the reason he was brought in to camp, with the very under experienced Travis d’Arnaud slated to be the everyday catcher. Teagarden has a legitimate chance to make the team if he has a good spring. The same goes for Reid, claimed off of waivers from the Pirates, who could make it as an extra arm in the bullpen, or, like Lannan, depth in the high minors.
The others will most likely not make the team and may never get an at bat with the Mets, but they are still interesting as a group. Carreno has excellent stuff and is still young, so he could be one of these minor league contract moves that general managers get lauded for if the player turns out to be a plus for the team. Seratelli is a speedster switch hitter who can play anywhere on the field. He’s a local kid as well, and could be this teams’ version of Mike Baxter, or he could never see an at bat at the major league level. Allen has oodles of power and no concept of strike zone judgment, but could be in competition this spring with the likes of Andrew Brown for a bench spot, due to his power. Socolovich is a hard thrower who will most likely only provide extra minor league depth, but we all said the same about Torres and Scott Rice last year. Perez is a gamble who has shown a nice bat in the minors, but an inability to stay healthy. He does a lot of the things Justin Turner did, so if he was invited to spring training, he’ll at least be allowed to compete. Most of these players are most likely only minor league depth with little backlash if they aren’t successful. Due to that, this also goes in the plus column for the Mets.
Ones that got away:
LaTroy Hawkins should be on this team. The search for a veteran reliever should have been over months ago with the Mets re-signing of Hawkins. He was the perfect match for a group of young, still unheralded pitchers (with the exception of Bobby Parnell), and had proven to be a leader in the clubhouse and the bullpen itself. He also didn’t exactly get a massive contract from the Rockies, so this is clearly a mark in the negative column for the Mets.
Justin Turner fits here after being non-tendered. This move will not make a massive impact on the Mets, but Turner brought clutch hitting and versatility that will be missed. This goes in the negative column.
Johan Santana also falls into this category, but this is a definite plus. His contract was too big and his potential, at this point, was too small.
The moves that weren’t made:
The Mets did not trade Daniel Murphy and this goes in the plus column. While it would be nice to find a spot for Wilmer Flores to play, that could still happen. This could be totally wrong, but it wouldn’t be a big surprise if Murphy is traded at the trade deadline, especially if the team is not in the race and Flores is tearing it up in the minors. It also could happen that Davis and Duda are total flops, leading the Mets to move Murphy to first and promote Flores. Murphy is a leader on this team, a quality bat in the lineup and one of the hardest workers in the game. Nothing negative about any of that.
However, it all comes down to this. The Mets didn’t trade Duda or Davis and that was, potentially, a massive mistake. Sure, Duda has played the outfield, but he’s not an outfielder. Yes, Davis hit 32 home runs two years ago, but he also was absolutely dreadful for the vast majority of 2013. There are multiple reasons that moving one of these guys was so important. Only one should be on the major league club, but if one isn’t dealt during the next few weeks or in spring training, they both will be on the 24 man roster. On top of all of that, if Davis is an abject failure again, he will have lost any value to other teams, meaning he will either be released or sent to the minor leagues. Both of those results are bad.
On the other side of the coin, Davis could be traded and become successful elsewhere, while Duda is total flop. This would result in Mets fans screaming at the skies about giving Davis away for nothing. However, they will be making those same screams if he is unsuccessful and the Mets get zilch in return for him.
Of course, Davis could return to form and be successful in a Mets uniform, confirming that the Mets were right in not giving him away for nothing. Don’t you see how complex this is? Davis’s success or lack thereof, wherever he plays this year, will totally adversely or positively affect the view of the off season. Since it appears that he isn’t going anywhere, let’s hope he’s a success.
Looking at all of the facts, it looks like the Mets were successful, not only for 2014, but also for the future as they didn’t bog themselves down with too many long-term contracts. This could also be strengthened by a Drew signing and a solid veteran relief pitcher signing, or could be totally eclipsed by the failure of Davis and or Duda. Who knows, but the bottom line is, it’s nice to talk about a Mets offseason that actually got stuff done.
My vote? I think it’s a good one, but we’ll see.