Envisioning an Andrew McCutchen to the Mets trade

mccutchenThe 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings concluded on Thursday. While a number of teams were in the mix for or making splashy trades and free agent signings the New York Mets mostly looked for a place to offload the $13 million contract of Jay Bruce. Depressing isn’t it? Yes, bringing back Yoenis Cespedes is fantastic but is that going to be it for the offseason?

One name much talked about in trade negotiations was that of the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen. It looked like the Washington Nationals were on the verge of landing him when talks went south. So the Nats looked west as they brought in Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox who are well into rebuilding mode.

And even though the Pirates now say they will be keeping McCutchen it is pretty clear that he can be had for the right package. So the questions are whether the Mets could put together the right combination of pieces for the center fielder and whether they should even bother.

With the Mets, more so than with most other teams, much of the decision making comes to down to dollars and cents. Presently the team’s payroll is at about $150 million and GM Sandy Alderson recently said he expected it to be lower than that once the new season begins.

Let’s first look at the player and see where his precipitous 2016 decline puts him.

Here are his major league batting statistics.

Year Age AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2009 22 433 74 124 26 9 12 54 22 5 54 83 0.286 0.365 0.471 0.836
2010 23 570 94 163 35 5 16 56 33 10 70 89 0.286 0.365 0.449 0.814
2011 ★ 24 572 87 148 34 5 23 89 23 10 89 126 0.259 0.364 0.456 0.820
2012 ★ 25 593 107 194 29 6 31 96 20 12 70 132 0.327 0.400 0.553 0.953
2013 ★ 26 583 97 185 38 5 21 84 27 10 78 101 0.317 0.404 0.508 0.911
2014 ★ 27 548 89 172 38 6 25 83 18 3 84 115 0.314 0.410 0.542 0.952
2015 ★ 28 566 91 165 36 3 23 96 11 5 98 133 0.292 0.401 0.488 0.889
2016 29 598 81 153 26 3 24 79 6 7 69 143 0.256 0.336 0.430 0.766
8 Yrs 8 Yrs 4463 720 1304 262 42 175 637 160 62 612 922 0.292 0.381 0.487 0.869

So we see a player who from 2012 through 2015 was consistently good for a 900 or so OPS to one in 2016 who dropped to 766 in the OPS number.

Observers noted that McCutchen’s usually stellar defense was nowhere to be found during the past season. The Strat-O-Matic Game Company gave him a defensive range grade of CF-1 (that’s the best there is) for five years until for 2016 it will be CF-3. That’s as steep a decline as the offensive numbers have shown. It is moving from Gold Glove caliber defense in center to what we saw when Yoenis Cespedes manned center for New York early in the past season.

The 2016 version of McCutchen was a good but not excellent player. To spend a lot in player and prospect talent for that version of him would be ill advised.

Usually if a healthy player still at or near his prime age (McCutchen had his 30th birthday in October) has a down season one can expect an up tick the following year. It is possible that McCutchen has had his last 900 OPS season. But if he could be reasonably expected to come halfway back then we could average the 766 OPS in 2016 with the 889 one from the prior season and expect an OPS of (766+889=1655, divide by 2, =828). So a reasonable expectation would be for an OPS in the 800 to 850 range. The Steamer Projection for him is .283 BA/.378 OBP/.470 Slug%/848 OPS. Looks reasonable to me.

On Wednesday this was my suggested offer that I tweeted at Twitter.

tweet

The Pirates, unlike the White Sox, do not appear to be in rebuilding mode. They well could be enticed by a mix of immediately usable items (Lagares and the pitcher) and some future value.

Since the Mets are very budget conscious including Lagares and his salary would be key. And while the Pirates might not balk at Lagares’ salary of $4.5 million in 2017 they might put the kabosh on the idea when they see themselves owing him $6.5 million in 2018 and then $9 million in 2019.

From the Mets’ side they would be taking on McCutchen’s contract which is for $14 million this coming season and then $14.75 million in 2018. If the team can successfully trade Bruce away while not taking on much salary from the reliever that he brings back the team could still keep payroll under $150 million to keep the Wilpons from erupting.

So this is what I would like to so the Mets front office try to do. If the Pirates decline then at least the team was out there mixing it up. Beats what it looks like they’ve been doing.

26 comments for “Envisioning an Andrew McCutchen to the Mets trade

  1. Scott
    December 10, 2016 at 9:24 am

    I bet Conforto and Matz would get it done.

    • TexasGusCC
      December 10, 2016 at 9:56 am

      Probably would.

  2. Zozo
    December 10, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I think you are going to need more than that for McCutchen.

    Trade both Granderson and Bruce for whatever prospects we can get.
    Then trade those prospects and Gsellman, Smith and Nimmo for him

  3. Doug
    December 10, 2016 at 9:51 am

    I like that this article taught me how to calculate the average of two numbers. 😉

  4. TexasGusCC
    December 10, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Larry, the Pirates are very high on Austin Meadows and Josh Bell, who they will start at LF (with Marte moving to CF) and 1B, respectively. They don’t need an outfielder or a second baseman. They need pitching, pitching and more pitching, plus an infielder.

    If I’m running the Pirates, I ask for Rosario, Gsellman and Conlon or Szapucki, and weigh it from there. When the two Sox teams made the Sale trade, Rick Hahn had his deal from the night before, but wanted to do “some more digging” overnight. If the Mets balk at Rosario, I’d ask for Flores, Gsellman, and Lugo, at least. Cecchini hasn’t proven he’s better than Flores.

    The Mets then need to discount Lagares, Granderson and Bruce to clear alot of space. Good luck to them there.

    • Chris F
      December 10, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Right you are Gus. Everyone knows Rosario is off the radar, period. But if you go with a Wheeler Gsellman Szapucki package that might make Huntington listen. The thing is, the Nats really got suckered so badly, that any trade will cost a lot. All the MLB radio talking heads say Cutch has played his last game as a Pirate, so a deal is out there. Unfortunately, this is not a Sandy like move.

      • TexasGusCC
        December 11, 2016 at 12:13 am

        Chris, how’s this:
        – Mets trade Bruce and Granderson to Orioles.
        – Mets get McCutchen.
        – Pirates get two good prospects from Orioles, and an A ball prospect from the Mets, say Milton Ramos.

        That is the only way to match up teams. There has to be a third team, and the Orioles need some lefty power and probably two bats.

  5. Mike
    December 10, 2016 at 10:01 am

    McCutchen, if he has any kind of bounce back this year, would be a great addition. I had a very similar thought about the package Larry. I just wouldn’t include Dom Smith as an option – the Mets need him at 1B in 2018+.

    Offer Lagares, Duda, Gsellman or Lugo, and even a choice of Cecchini/Nimmo. If the Pirates are reasonable at all, that’s a very fair package that helps them in 2017 and forward.

    Trading Duda (he’s gone in 2018 anyway) opens some playing time for Flores and even Reyes at 1B.

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

  6. Joe Gomes
    December 10, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Mets Rule #1.

    If a player (Lagares, Conforto) has a bad year, they are useless going forward.

    Mets Rule #2

    Any player from another team, even if they had a bad year, is better than any Mets player.

    Mets Rule #3

    Our players are worthless and you must packaged 3 or 4 of them to acquire an CF who had a bad year offensibly and defensibly.

    Mets Rule #4

    Mets fans are never happy or have any patience with young players coming up. Lagares, Conforto, Plawecki, Nimmo, d’Arnaud, Flores, TJ, Ceccheni, Duda, etc are all worthless and you should not expect anything for them in a trade.

    Mets Rule #5

    If any of the above players get traded and have success with another team, the Mets fans will rip the Mets brass for being shortsighted and not giving opportunities to their stud prospects.

    • TexasGusCC
      December 10, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      Love it Mr. Gomes. May I contribute Mets Rule #6:

      While other teams seem to find a way to make room for a youngster doing well in AAA, the Mets will bring in as many veterans to impede that youngster as they “can afford”.

      Of course, the manager is fully invested in this theory because someone once told him youngsters lose games, not veterans that are too injured to play or just aren’t performing.

      • Joe Gomes
        December 10, 2016 at 2:05 pm

        This is the reason that we still don’t know what Lagares or Conforto can do after 2 years. I understand that Conforto needed to go down to AAA but we shouldn’t forget that when he came up to the majors, it was straight out of AA.

        Lagares had a bad year in 2015 for sure. But lets remember also that he was hurt and started playing shallower in order to compensate for his weaker arm. Because of this, more ball went over his head and his defensive numbers suffered.

        Regardless the Mets are going into 2017 not knowing what they can get from Lagares or Conforto and by bringing back Walker, you won’t find anything out from Flores, TJ or Ceccheni. So in fact, it will be yet another wasted year of development for these players.

        Now the Mets are without money to upgrade the BP and 30M that could have been used for it are tied up in Walker and Bruce.

        Neil Walker 282 avg, 347 obp, .476 slg, .823 ops. 23hrs 55 rbi’s in 458 at bats.

        Flores 267 avg, 319 obp 469 slg, 788 ops 16 hrs, 49 rbi’s in around 150 at bats less than Walker.

        Now, I am not saying that Flores is a better player than Walker but if you add his numbers to about 550 at bats, the Mets could have a player that gives them 25 hrs and 80/90 rbi’s while making 600k or so.

        So the question becomes, is Neil Walker 16M better than Flores? or a combination of Flores and TJ?

        Sometimes is not how much you spend but how wisely you spend it. 30M could have gone to Melancon and a couple of good BP arms and still have money left over. Heck, Melancon at 15M and just put Gsellman on the pen and the Mets would have had a much improve BP.

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

        • Chris F
          December 10, 2016 at 2:49 pm

          Is Neil Walker 16M$ better than any combination of Flores and Rivera? Umm yeah. At least that and then some. Besides, as heard from Kristie Ackert on MLB radio, the Mets FO absolutely loves his offense and defense and he is a clubhouse leader. He has never posted an OPS+ < 100 in 7 major league seasons, while Flores has once in his 4 years when he saw less RHP. Neither Flores nor Rivera play every-day level defense, although Flores looks passable as 2B. I think if you brought that question to baseball folks outside Mets fans, you would get nothing but laughter. Rivera had his little time to shine, but hes not going to be an every day player for a team fixing to do damage in the post season.

          • John Fox
            December 10, 2016 at 3:52 pm

            Yes I think Flores is passable on defense at second base, and maybe more than passable at first base, especially if he gets some time there during spring training

        • Name
          December 10, 2016 at 3:44 pm

          “Now, I am not saying that Flores is a better player than Walker but if you add his numbers to about 550 at bats, the Mets could have a player that gives them 25 hrs and 80/90 rbi’s while making 600k or so.

          You can’t just use pure extrapolation. Flores benefited from better numbers last year because he played against less righties. He had a 4:1 ratio of righties to lefties in 2015 to 2.2:1 in 2016.

          He started almost every lefty starter while he wasn’t injured, so any additional time would have been exclusively against RHP and thus it’s not as simple as prorating his numbers against the new playing time.
          If you gave him 150 more abs, probably 140 of them would be against RHP. That means you’re looking at a drop of 788 OPS to the 720-725 range.

      • Matty Mets
        December 10, 2016 at 5:38 pm

        Gus #6. Yes. Again and again. It sometimes feels like Pat Riley is in charge.

    • Chris F
      December 10, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Well that sort of like the overall rule for Mets fans: wildly overvalue every Mets player, expect unreasonable returns in all trades, have patience to develop kids in the lineup while expecting them to perform at post-season levels, then boo when they dont.

      Rule 1. Lagares has not had a bad year. Lagares has struggled to develop MLB level plate discipline. Ive been his biggest supporter here for years. I thought he would be a defensive first every day centerfielder. The numbers and eyes say thats unlikely. No one believes Conforto is useless. Suggestion: look at Ike Davis. You will find him running a Dairy Queen in Tempe these days I believe.

      Rule 2. Thats preposterous. The main thing being that someone, say perhaps McCutchen, has a down year and then magically compares to Nimmo. McCutchen is a superstar, with no one in the Mets system even in the same room as him. Nimmo, Lagares, Rivera, Cecchini are all fringe major leaguers, whereas McCutchen is, well, one of the best in the game.

      Rule 3. See rule 2.

      Rule 4. Patience is a virtue Im told. Except when the clock is running out on cost favorable, potentially record-breaking pitching. Teams experience all sorts of realistic rises and fall in expectations, that vary year by year. Three years ago, I agree completely—why Bobby Abreu is robbing ABs from any developing player is maddening beyond words (aside from getting MLB service time-clock ticking). But in a run when the window is open for a few years, its critical to get actual bona fide major leaguers in the game. Developing Reynolds at 2B at the expense of say not bringing back Walker would be a crime.

      Rule 5. Same for all fanbases.

      Think its just the Mets? Try again. John Hart basically told his team of youngsters something simple: you wanna play on a big league field? Then play better. In the mean time Colon, Dickey, Markakis, Kemp etc will be out there until you can stand tall. Just being young and part of the future doesnt mean you will be in the line up. Like Omar Little said in The Wire, “you come at the king, you best not miss”. They play for real in the bigs.

    • Mike
      December 10, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      I get your point of view on this for earlier phases of team building – give young players a chance to grow. But the Mets are in the middle of their Championship window, so they need to maximize the now. Their top shelf, young and affordable starting pitching is a rare opportunity that has to be supported with the best lineup possible over the next 4 years. If we lose the long-term with a couple players as the cost, so be it.

      • Joe Gomes
        December 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm

        If this is the Mets window as you say, then they should open up their wallets and go for it as the Cubs did as the RedSox and Nationals are doing?

        Why not Encarnacion at 1B instead of Duda?

        Knowing that Familia will be suspended for some time, why not Melancon? Chapman, Jansen?

        You see, when you have a window there is not always trades to be made.Sometimes you need to spend money past your comfort zone. You have to build a team to be competitive with the best in baseball.

        Do the Mets have a better team than the Cub, Nats, RedSox? Mets may need not a 150M payroll but one of about 180M in order to take advantage of the window.

        As someone mention, leadership also has to come with performance. Granderson and Walker disappeared for most of the 2016 season. Cespedes disappeared in the postseason.

        • Chris F
          December 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm

          What makes you think the Mets are not opening their wallets? Salary has been rising. Every ownership group has some limit, whether it be actual dollars and cents, or the D/E ratio, or the luxury tax. They have traded talent to get big players. Would I like a 190M$ payroll? Sure, but because it is not that doesnt mean the Mets arent going for it. Encarnacion, Chapman etc clearly is more money than they have or willing to spend. Granderson and Walker disappeared for 2016? Sorry, thats a total joke. Grandy has not has < 100 OPS+ as a Met. He had an .800 OPS, .823 for Walker.

          Perhaps you forgot thanks to Grandy and Ces the team went to the World Series.

          C – TdA
          1B – Duda
          2B – Rivera/Cecchini
          SS – Reynolds/Cecchini
          3B – Flores
          LF – Cespedes
          CF – Nimmo/Lagares
          RF – Conforto

          gets you about 65-70 wins.

      • TexasGusCC
        December 10, 2016 at 5:14 pm

        Mike, the problem with the Mets is everything they do is half-assed. Their rebuild, their commitment to the best lineup, and their choice of manager means they will never win a championship.

        Look at the Yankees: They are honest about their rebuild and the fans are patient and cooperative. The Mets tried to act like they were competing and did not sell off all their assets.

        Wright has already been proclaimed starter; that’s not a team that wants to win. The guy can’t even tie his shoes, he can play 120 games at the most and never if he hasn’t stretched out yet. Come on!!! You only have a four man bench!! How can you carry this player? It’s all about waiting for the insurance money.

        And Collins? LOL, he is loved by all his adversaries. Why not, he’s an idiot. Think they love Bochy? Ha! How about Maddon? Ha Ha! Think other coaches like Belichek? Ha Ha Ha!

  7. Mike
    December 10, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Yes the Mets’ window is open for at least the next 3-4 years. Would I like to see them spend a more freely an land a Fowler and Jansen? Sure. It’s just not gonna happen with the Wilpons. So the thinking has to be within the bounds of reality, hence some trade possibilities.

  8. Metsense
    December 10, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Alderson has identified three young players that he does not want to trade: Rosario, Conforto and Gsellman. I think the Pirates would want at least two of them in the deal but it doesn’t hurt to inquire. Based on Alderson’s comments, I infer that the rest of the young players are available and so are most veteran players on the roster. I would not trade Rosario because he plays a premium position. It would be risky to trade Gsellman , or any starter, because of the unknown health of the starting rotation. I like Conforto but the Mets have other options in the outfield so I am less resistant to including him. It would be great to land McCutchen but he is not necessary in order to win the division.

    • Mike Walczak
      December 10, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      If they wanted McCutchen, they should have signed Fowler. Then they wouldnt have to trade any of their good prospects. Plus what if, Cutch’s season last year was the beginning of a long slide.

      But, this conversation still shows that the Mets really do need a legit CF.

    • Joe Gomes
      December 10, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      Exacly what makes you think that McCuthen would put the Mets more over the top than Encarnacion who would cost no prospects?

  9. December 11, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Good idea really, Lagares and an arm for McCutch, but …Mets are not doing anything like that until they rid themselves of either the Bruce or Grandy contracts. If that can happen first, say to the O’s or Jays, then this idea takes on some steam.

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

  10. December 11, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Oh, and by the way, the “Arm” I was referring to is Matz. Love him, but he is so injury prone, it is bound to happen again. Mets have the depth to replace him.

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