I originally thought I didn’t have much to fix with the New York Mets going into 2016, which just goes to prove why GMs don’t make plans for next year until the current year is done. Signing Yoenis Cespedes seemed to be the most logical move on a team that was going to lose two good bats, Cespedes and Daniel Murphy, and who could afford a major contract. I guess I have egg on my face.
Not only was Cespedes not productive throughout most of the playoffs, but he looked downright terrible through most of the World Series. Fielding issues, hitting issues, and base running issues, oh my. Well, here’s $28 million Yoenis, enjoy! I had made a play to nab a much less expensive Yasiel Puig from the Los Angeles Dodgers, and highly considered Dexter Fowler as a suitable replacement. Fowler could have at least offered some speed on the base paths as a leadoff hitter, allowing Curtis Granderson to move down the lineup. But in the end, Cespedes torrid summer with the Mets won my money, and I held out hope that another 30 home run year would help the Mets return to October. I’m not very proud of the move, but it’s the one I made so I have to stand by it.
Other than that, the biggest struggle of being the Mets GM was the unmovable contracts of Jon Niese and Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer’s contract I understand, as he offered the Mets a 0.0 fWAR and will be awarded with $12 million in 2016 for his “efforts”. Niese on the other hand is now terribly miscast as a lefty reliever, which has completed altered his value. I don’t know too many lefty long relievers who started 29 games and kept a 4.13 ERA, which ranks 32nd best among pitchers with 150+ innings in the NL. For a mere $9 million, I would have figured there would be some bites. Alas, there were not. I almost had a deal that would have sent him and $5 million to St. Louis for a reliever and a prospect, but that seems too rich for David Groveman’s blood, and again I was stymied.
So Niese will instead be my fifth starter until Zack Wheeler returns in June or July, and hopefully someone will want to pick him up with a reduced contract at that point. Cuddyer, I will just have to hope and pray that he plays well the first few months of next year, and I can unload that awful contract of his. In the meantime, it will be up to in-house options to sure up the bullpen, and a little hope that some guys like Vic Black, Josh Edgin and others can return to help. With four SS prospects in the Top 10, perhaps one can be parted later in the winter for a couple of young arms.
This project was fun, but extremely frustrating. An entire winter’s worth of GM meetings, wheeling and dealing and signing was condensed into a week’s worth of movement. Some major trades were made early on, but I had extremely few serious trade offers. I could have been more aggressive, but again I thought I was in a position of strength. A week’s worth of fairly bad baseball will change that quickly.
With a starting rotation of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and hopefully Wheeler by mid-year, I’m set there, barring injury of course. Dilson Herrera, Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada will likely split time at second and short until my two everyday guys emerge. Flores was one of the few bright spots during the WS, as his defense was far from the concern it was in spring. His bat was quiet, but so was nearly everyone else’s. Any money I can recoup from a Niese or Cuddyer deal later in the winter, or early next year should be used to first help the bullpen, and second to find a useful utility veteran who can sub at third if catastrophe strikes there again in 2016. Again, in-house options will have to do for now.
In the end, I don’t think I made the Mets much better. Had I had a little more time to consider certain moves, I think I could have increased the depth of this team, while avoiding the big overpay. But maybe Cespedes will have an MVP year and I’ll look like a genius. I doubt it, though. Good thing this isn’t real, or else I think I’d be looking for a new job.