It is no secret that the Mets will be looking to improve in two areas in 2015. They either need a shortstop or an outfielder, but the Mets most likely won’t pursue both. Shortstop has young options in Wilmer Flores and Matt Reynolds, or they could fall back on Ruben Tejada. And there’s always free agency, but the best options will go to higher bidders than the Mets, so we should get that thought out of our heads. The Mets could try and trade for another shortstop, but at a premium infield position, the cost will be high.

The outfield is a different story. The only young in-house options are Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Both showed improvement in the last weeks of 2014’s regular season, but neither is a clear heir to the everyday job, and neither can provide the type of power most fans are looking for. In order to find another power hitter that can do damage either ahead or behind Lucas Duda, a major trade will be needed, as free agency is again likely out of the question for the likes of Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera.

Jose BautistaIf 30 home runs and 100 RBI are the threshold we want to in an outfielder, as mentioned in previous comments, the pickings are slim. Only 10 players in all of baseball hit more homers than Duda’s 30, and only four of those are outfielders. Mike Trout isn’t going anywhere, and probably neither is Giancarlo Stanton, at least not to the division-rival Mets. That leaves the aforementioned Cruz, who will be after a huge pay day via free agency, and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston recently told fans that the team payroll for 2015 will likely be higher than this season’s, and that money stands a good chance of being spent on one of the three power pitchers at the top of MLBtraderumors.com’s Power Rankings. The team was competitive this year, and the idea of getting one of the league’s elite power hitters for anything short of a king’s ransom is absurd. Not only would the Mets have to part with one-time Blue Jays prospect Noah Syndergaard, but likely another top pitcher, and two or even three position players. But there are risks.

Since coming to the Blue Jays in 2009, Bautista has played more than 120 games just three times in his six years. Also, Rogers Centre has always played well for power, and ranked first in the American League in home runs allowed, and second in baseball for 2014. Bautista’s health and power transfer to Citi Field do not make such prospect sacrifices advisable. To boot, Bautista will be making $14 million next year. Normally that would be an outstanding value, but sadly this might be too expensive for the feebly financed Mets.

Acquiring Bautista could end up working out well for the Mets, but there are younger, cheaper options certainly out there. J.D. Martinez hit 23 home runs and drove in 76 in pitcher-friendly Tiger Stadium in just 123 games, and is arbitration eligible. Yoenis Cespedes hit 22 home runs and drove in 100 between Oakland and Boston, and as reports have stated, the Mets and Red Sox match up well for trades this off-season. He’s owed $10.5 million. And there are less well-known options, like Oswaldo Arcia of the Twins. He hit 20 dingers and drove in 57 runs in just 103 games, and could be one of the least expensive options the Mets find anywhere.

The point being that while 30 home runs and 100 RBI are wonderful, in the post-steroid era we are witnessing, they are few and far between and usually unavailable. If the Mets truly want to be competitive for years to come, they need to avoid trading for Michael Cuddyer, Marlon Byrd or even Jose Bautitisa, guys with lots of mileage and money owed. If the Mets are going to unload any group of prospects to get someone, it would cost less and be more prudent to get someone who’s on the way up, rather than the reverse. Acquiring a young hitter involves immense risk because of sample size and the like. However, there is also upside in making guys like Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto earn a job in the outfield rather than simply give it to them in a year or two because there aren’t any other options.

The Mets have the pieces to be very good for a long time, but careful moves must be managed. Now is not the time to spend frivolously, but rather save and acquire young talent on the rise, to the best of our ability. Spending should come in a return bid to the playoffs, not in a desperate attempt to make them.

28 comments on “Jose Bautista and the elusive power outfielder

  • Joe Gomes

    I think Bautista is a pipe dream created by Sports Writers in order to have something to talk about when it comes to the Mets. Otherwise, there would be only the stupid decision to bring Collins back to discuss. Or the Wilponsis proposal to start their own brand of bitcoins in the form of Freddy Coupons.

    The Mets are in all probability going to try to trade the excess pitching for a bat. But, if that bat is going to cost more than 1 pitching prospect, then it will be a no go and I agree.

    Like it or not, the Mets don’t want to get into a lengthy contract in the outfield because they feel they will have internal options come 2016. If I am the Mets, I would try to find out what the Philthies want for Byrd and the RedSox for Victorino.

    It is also possible that a package from a combination of Niese, Colon, Gee, Murphy, Montero may just bring that needed bat back to the Mets without having to sacrifice a Wheeler or Syndergaard type pitcher.

    You need something to talk about? how about listing realistic trades for the Mets taking into consideration the availability of Niese, Colon, Gee, Montero, Murphy and the lack of money. Would those trade / trades bring back enough good prospects that the Mets can then re-use in a trade for a power bat?

    • Jerry Grote

      The Cubs gave up a near ace pitcher and a very good arm to get the 5th best SS prospect. I don’t see a near ace in that group, and at least one of the names comes with an onerous contract.

      Personally, I think we match up well with the Dodgers. I’d go all in on Puig. Let them put a price on it. Plawecki, Mejia, Murphy and Colon/Niese might be a good starting point.

      Puig ends your issues at SS, and the trade puts either Herrera or Flores at 2B. The Dodgers get a bunch of cheap talent, give a starting OF spot to Pederson, get their headache out of the way.

      • pete

        Where do the Dodgers play Murphy? They have Gordon at 2nd base already and Uribe at 3rd. I think Beckett will retire. I don’t think the Dodgers would be interested in Colon or Mejia as they have a closer in Jansen Definitely Niese and maybe another young arm instead of Murphy? i don’t know if Dee can play SS if Ramirez signs elsewhere.

        • Jerry Grote

          Dee Gordon goes to SS – it was the position he came up through the minors and played before Hanley got there.

          So Murphy to 2B. Of course, can they live with the defense is up to them.

          They might not want Colon, no big deal, give them Gee or Leathersich or something. Did you see the playoffs, though? I’m betting the Dodgers make a move to get a big time set up guy. Move our closer to their team, let Familia close here.

          • pete

            Works for me. I could live with Puig and his egotistical mentality. My only worry is Puig and New York City nightlife. Somehow I can see him doing a Plaxico. If Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez couldn’t subdue him who in the Met clubhouse would he respect?

      • Joe Gomes

        Puig is an outfielder. The Cubs traded their ace for prospects but don’t forget who much money he is making as opposed to the Mets trading someone like Wheeler who has another 5 years of control and cheap.

        As I said before, the Mets are not 1 player away from winning the NL east but several. But to do that, they cannot break the pitching. Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, Syndergaard must happen.

        Lets not forget that
        1. Harvey is coming off TMJ so his durability is in question.
        2. Niese was hurt in 2014 and his velocity is down.
        3. Gee was hurt for 2 months and was not the same after coming back.
        4. Colon is almost ready for an AARP card.

        Trade your high upside pitching prospects and you could end up regretting it if one or two starters get hurt.

        • Jerry Grote

          are you saying Puig is worth more or less because he’s an outfielder? I mean, WAR supposedly corrects for that and he’s providing around 5 WAR for cheap dollars.

          I agree; we need more pitching than is generally accepted. That said, you can’t get without giving, and you have to admit, Puig would pretty much resolve a bunch of issues.

          Not the least of which is, who leads off (.382 OBP) and enabling you to get Granderson over to LF.

          I’m ok with giving up some pitching to get a Tier one guy we control for more than a year or two. Tell me who else is out there, can’t be that many.

  • pete

    I’m a Bautista fan. If you think that 14 million is too much for him? Than how can you justify Granderson’s 15 million for the next 3 years? A .229 BA, OBP is how much? Bautista is 900+ OPS for 14 million dollars to go along with his 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s without having Encarnacion in the line up for 6 weeks. He drew more walks than strikeouts. And there is a 1 million dollar option for 2016. Toronto needs pitching. Package Mejia, Murphy another SP, and the a top outfield prospect. That way your trading dollars for dollar and not adding to the payroll significantly.

    • Brian Joura

      Bautsita’s contract calls for him to make $14 million in both 2015 and 2016. But the 2016 deal has a $1 million buyout.

      • pete

        Thank you Brian. Still makes Bautista’s contract affordable for the Mets if they trade a SP and position player which the Blue Jays can use.

    • NormE

      Just because the Mets gambled on Grandy is no reason to justify a similar gamble on Bautista. And it is a gamble.
      If we assume that Murphy is a goner then I think we have to accept the fact that Alderson will move him (perhaps in a package) for younger/cheaper talent.

      The off-season is a great time to dream, and pete can’t stop dreaming about Bautista. Based on the post-Madoff years I think it is more realistic to dream of an internal solution. For example dream of Plawecki making a big splash and the Mets moving TdA to LF. Or Nimmo becoming the next Lagares (but not in CF). Or Puello recapturing lightning. Or Conforto forcing his way from LV to CitiField.
      As Perry Como said “Dream Along With Me.”

      • pete

        Norme In order for the Mets need to swap salaries. So Murphy, Mejia, a SP and a high prospect = 12-14 million dollars. And that’s how much Buatista makes.

  • pete

    Why would Detroit trade J.D Martinez? They’re in dire need to build around Miggy and Victor Martinez is a free agent this year. We’re only talking about 3.5 million dollars in difference for next season between Cespedes and Bautista. I’ll give you that Bautista is 5 years older. I would take either one. Early speculation by beat writers when we haven’t heard anything concrete from teams FO is just fill in fantasy between divisional series.

  • TexasGusCC

    Patrick, with all due respect, I think we should stop crying on behalf of the Wilpons. I don’t believe the Mets are feebly financed, but rather they are a sacrificial lamb. Alderson is doing the bidding of Selig, which is holding payroll down. The team makes $50 from TV alone. Their SNY is keeping its money by paying the Mets peanuts, that’s Wilpon’s fault. Further, they have sponsorship signs all over the stadium and getting $20 for naming Citifield. That’s before any tickets are sold.

    So, unless we should fly a banner stating to Save the Wilpons, let’s not be deceived.

    Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

    • pete

      TexasGus even if the Mets only draw 2 million fans, That alone keeps the team afloat. The naming rights fee of 20 million you mentioned gets endorsed by Fred and sent right back to Citibank to pay down that debt My question is where is all the other revenue from radio,sponsors and SNY going? (along with the 50 million from the new television contract you stated) And with an 80 million dollar payroll this season it certainly isn’t going back into the organization. I feel like the Wilpons are playing the shell game you use to see in Times Square in years gone by.

      • TexasGusCC

        You know what I’m beginning to think Pete? Selig gave the Coupons the money in exchange for putting his penny pincher as the GM to make the Mets into the A’s West.

        Reason? To show the other teams that if you don’t sign big ticket free agents you could win eventually. Thus, keeping payrolls lower. Further, if you just keep payroll down, just from the inflows you could make money. Don’t forget, Selig was the owner of the Brewer and gave the team to his daughter to become commissioner, so he is an owner at heart.

        So, my point is that the Coupons probably aren’t broke but Alderson is just stringing the fans along while the farm is improving, but the signing of Granderson was supposed to be our “bone” that we were thrown, but like his other signings, he has to overspend to get someone here. He isn’t interer in winning, he’s interested in profit. We are a joke to him, and he treats us as such.

        • pete

          I have been saying that since I started here on Mets 360. Business first, fans second. That dog bone treat they threw out to the fans? Quite a bust? An 80 million dollar payroll and the team nearly played .500 ball in spite of Terry Collins. I can see fred and jeff jumping up and down as if they had won the World Series. jeff says to his dad,”you see! It can be done! 2 million+ suckers come to Our ball park and we can use all the additional revenue the team generates for Our other ventures in New York City! What a bunch of idiots!” as he closes the door. Do the math. At 50 dollars (averaging) it comes out to 105 million dollars in ticket sales alone. I hope the female executive jeff fired drains their secret stash for millions.

  • DKA

    With a dearth of power hitting across all of baseball, few if any hitters ever becoming free agents in their prime years and all of baseball understanding that and foucsed on young, cost controlled player development, all of baseball is is going to be trying to pounce on the JD Martinez, Oswaldo Arcia types. In years past you could trade a mid-30s pitcher with a big contract and get multiple elite prospects from someone. We are now moving to the reverse, where an elite prospect will net you multiple, reasonably priced veterans. Think something like Joc Pederson for Murphy & Gee or Niese.

    If most scouts think Martinez is legit, you may need to trade Syndergaard and another top prospect or two to get him, say Plawecki + Leatherisch. Are you okay with that? I might be, but I might prefer getting Cuddyer for 1 year with an option while having den Dekker continuing to get the majority of at-bats in left against righties and awaiting Nimmo and Conforto.

  • Metsense

    The Mets apparently still have financial restrictions so they need to move salary to obtain salary. Murphy, Niese, Gee, Colon and Parnell are the obvious candidates. I would not really want the Mets to give up Syndergaard, Montero or Matz because they are cost effective controlled young pitchers. If you could get a Bautista or a Gonzales for any mix of those candidates that would be great but highly unlikely. The player that has a 140 wRC+ with 25 homers , 346/506/851 and 30 years old is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers and he could probably be had for Murphy and Niese. (and CY’s 7.25M) to cancel out the 21.5M commitment over the next five years.

    • TexasGusCC

      I have been saying the since the All-Star break, but if I were the Dodgers now I would try to move Etheir and Crawford and keep Kemp.

      • pete

        Too late for Kemp.

    • pete

      Metsense. That’s what I’ve been harping about all season here. SA says the Mets have financial flexibility and payroll comes down to 80 million after the Davis trade! I said the only way the Mets can acquire a LF is trading salary for salary. That’s why you give up Niese & Murphy (16 million?) Mejia and a prospect.

    • eraff

      Murphy and Niese for Kemp???!!!…gimme a Hit of That!

  • pete

    Norme you don’t trade Murphy who is a bona fide major league hitter for a future player. Eventually the future has to be now or you wind up like the Twins.You trade him for a starter that you don’t have in AAA or on your 25 man roster (LF). If Murphy is gone the Mets have depth at 2nd base. No these players will not replace his hits but then again they would probably be better defensively. That’s where your left fielder comes in (eg. Bautista). Murphy will probably make about 8 million next season. Add a starter (salary) and a high prospect and you’re only adding several million to the payroll.
    A gamble is when you take a chance on an outcome. The Mets are stuck with Granderson and his contract (blame SA) for 3 more seasons. To me that’s a poor investment on a declining player. He’s the New York version of Adam Dunn.

    • TexasGusCC

      Pete, Granderson spent 270 atbats in the first or second lineup spot (don’t ask me what took so long) and hit .181. However, the rest of the time he hit .268. So, he may be usable. However, he needs to be just outside the middle of the order and the Mets need to add a real producer like Bautista, Kemp, or Hanley Ramirez. That would be perfect for this team.

  • pete

    Agreed! Putting players in a position to succeed and where they are most comfortable would help ahem TC you got that? Granderson should be in the 6th hole with Wright dropping down to the 5 spot. Lengthens the line up and you can have Lagares? at the top of the order followed by Flores? and bat Herrera 8th.

  • Raff

    When I think about Niese, Gee, Murph as trade-chips, I first focus on their “contract landmarks”- Murph is a free agent after next year. Gee in 2017 (earliest), and Niese is under control until as late as 2018. The Mets will, I assume, be seeking a bat, and they will be seeking to keep the deal as financially neutral as possible. So, without necessarily advocating for such guys as Kemp and Bautista- FYI: I don’t think the Dodgers or Jays are looking to move either, Murphy would be a one-year “throw-in” in any deal involving him and other players/prospects for a “big bat”. And any deal involving Murph is going to include numerous top-line prospects leaving the Mets. Murph, alone, has very little value in the winter. Murph, with one or the other of Gee/Niese and a top prospect (or two) might get play in a deal involving an outfield bat, and a lesser prospect in return

  • pete

    Raff the idea for including Murphy in any deal is twofold. First while he cannot replace the home runs or RBI’s of a Bautista he is a good hitter and can moved to DH on occasion. You’re giving the Jays a “B” tier for their “A”. Second the only way the Mets can make a trade of this size is to shed salaries so the team doesn’t take on additional payroll. The Blue Jays need pitching. Niese should be a number three starter for them. Mejia can be put into the rotation as a 4th or 5th. The top prospect can be an outfielder who the Blue Jays will look to move into LF eventually. So your basically giving the Jays 2 starters and the Mets best hitter.The Blue jays have the resources to extend Murphy if they wish to do so.

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