Sandy Alderson’s yard sale sign is up

Whether or not General Manager Sandy Alderson decides to return next year, his upcoming moves and decisions leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline should all be based on one thing and one thing only – will it give my team a better chance to win in 2018? If you want to hold on to that last gasp of hope for 2017, that’s great, but we need to look ahead toward 2018 and how the organization can best prepare for it.

A fire sale implies that you’re getting rid of every last item, so perhaps that’s not a term we should be using if we’re serious about competing next year and the year after. Yard sale might be a more appropriate metaphor, as we’re looking to unload some stuff no longer of use to us, but which might hold appeal to a neighbor at a deeply discounted price. You don’t put the XBox One and the 60″ flat screen on the driveway tables. You put out the big box TV set and the Wii console.

At every yard sale, some jackass will look past the VCR and the dusty beer mug set and want to know if your brand new stainless Weber grill is for sale. No, Theo Epstein, it’s not. As you may have read this week, the Cubs were inquiring about Seth Lugo and Rene Rivera while the Astros previously asked about Jacob deGrom (no, the Porsche is not for sale).

Just as brand new and cherished items should stay safely in the house, out of view of yard sale shoppers, so too should players who will clearly need to remain if we’re to be competitive next year. These include all seven quality starting pitchers. deGrom and Noah Syndergaard will form our 1-2 punch for the next three years at least and the other five, due mainly to injuries, would not fetch fair value right now. Among those five, plus maybe an additional veteran, we should be able to put together a strong rotation for 2018 and beyond. Also on the list of untouchables are Jeurys Familia, our two top prospects, and our two best hitters (Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto). While not untouchable, a few other players, because of their low salary and value to the team, should stay off the table as well. This includes Jerry Blevins, Paul Sewald, T.J. Rivera, and folklore legend Wilmer Flores.

Beyond that, there are players who it makes perfect sense to unload. Pending free agents who won’t likely be back next year are just costing the team money and blocking young players from playing. Lucas Duda (update: traded to the Rays for an up-and-coming reliever), Asdrubal Cabrera, and Curtis Granderson are the old bicycles taking up room in the garage. If no one wants them, they’ll get donated; i.e., put on waivers in August. Beyond those three, there are a few more pending free agents who are still contributing now, not blocking anyone, and could conceivably be back next year. That list includes Jay Bruce, Rene Rivera, Neil Walker, Jose Reyes, and Addison Reed. These guys are the folding chairs and free weights you’d just as soon keep than give away. If somebody makes a reasonable offer, by all means, let’s trade them, but let’s not give them away. Also, a compensatory draft pick is better than “a player to be named later” or “cash considerations.”

Other players not mentioned thus far could be included in trades if the return is worthwhile, but they too could have a role next year. This includes Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo, Josh Edgin, and Rafael Montero. Again, only if the return is worthwhile. These are not throwaway players. And obviously, you hold on to the guys who have remaining options who inevitably get called up when there are injuries – Kevin Plawecki, Josh Smoker, Erik Goeddel, et al. The maddeningly frustrating Hansel Robles, however, can be had for a small price. He’s over by the cookbooks and VHS tapes.

As you’re planning a yard sale, there are things you find in the attic and basement that you realize have no value to anyone, so you throw them out – grandma’s vacuum with the frayed cord, a broken laundry basket, the toaster that almost caused a fire that you never returned. Sincere apologies to Fernando Salas for the unflattering comparison, but a yard sale is the perfect time to unload useless stuff taking up space.

20 comments for “Sandy Alderson’s yard sale sign is up

  1. David Groveman
    July 28, 2017 at 9:04 am

    While I don’t love the return on Lucas Duda, I think it’s clear that the Mets need to make moves as sellers.

    This should be done with an eye on competing in 2018

    That means Seth Lugo is also hard to part with.

    • Pete In Iowa
      July 28, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Frankly David, I’m shocked the Mets did as well as they did in the Duda trade. From the little I have researched, this guy looks like he could certainly be a useful reliever next year and beyond.
      I’ll take that for a pending FA who is not in the plans for next year. Definitely better than I thought Duda alone could bring.

  2. Doug
    July 28, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Boy, when I look at all these names it’s a stark reminder that this roster is just loaded with broken Hot Wheels and wonky See ‘N Says where the cow and the duck just play static…

  3. TexasGusCC
    July 28, 2017 at 10:08 am

    The warning signs were out that pitching will be the only trades that would bring back a decent return. The JD Martinez trade was for an all around good player and it netted three low minors players that weren’t highly ranked. I guess it’s why some teams just dump guys: to avoid paying them and losing too. Other than Cabrera and either Bruce or Granderson, there isn’t another position player that could be termed “in the way” of a prospect.

    Cabrera should get us a Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame mug from Cleveland, but putting Granderson and Reed together for Milwaukee or Houston should get the Mets a decent return.

  4. Jimmy P
    July 28, 2017 at 10:32 am

    If you want quality in return, need to sweeten the pot by adding money.

    Traditionally, that has never been the Wilpon way.

    • July 28, 2017 at 11:05 am

      Except that the last time that the Mets were sellers, they did exactly that.

      The Francisco Rodriguez era in New York, defined by white-knuckle innings and a postgame punch, ended abruptly late Tuesday night: The Mets traded their closer and cash considerations to Milwaukee for two players to be named later.

      The Mets officially have dealt Beltran and cash to the Giants in exchange for right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler.

      The Pirates on Tuesday satisfied both of their biggest September stretch needs, dealing for outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets.

      The two veterans were acquired, along with some cash, for Minor League infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named.

      • Jimmy P
        July 28, 2017 at 12:55 pm

        Yes, there are exceptions. In some cases, you can’t complete a deal if you don’t include some money. But they have rarely eaten big salary in order to bring back truly high-end prospects. The Benetiz trade was one I’ll always remember because of that penny wise approach. In the case of Duda, the Rays had to take on a $5 million commitment. If Mets threw in $2-3 million, the return would have been much better.

        • July 28, 2017 at 5:40 pm

          What are “high-end prospects” in your mind? My initial reaction is that in the rare times that those types of guys are dealt, they’re moved in trades for players, not cash.

          Baseball America, in its annual look of prospects traded at the deadline, offers this breakdown:

          Best Prospects – These are the kind of nearly big league ready well-rounded prospects that are rarely traded at the trade deadline. They are players ranked among the Top 15 Prospects in baseball. For a recent example, take the Athletics trading shortstop Addison Russell to the Cubs last summer.

          In that deal, the Cubs, the team that received the top prospect, also received cash. They didn’t give it up.

          “Sure enough, Mark Gonzales reports this morning in the Tribune that the Cubs did, in fact, receive cash from the Oakland A’s to complete the July trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Dan Straily.”

          BA also breaks down Top 50 and Top 100. While I’m frustrated over the nebulousness of “high-end” I’m hopeful that it at least means a Top 100 guy.

          Without doing the research, my opinion is that it’s rare that these types of guys are traded for a significant sum of cash at the deadline. And since you used $2-3 million, let’s use that figure and above as significant.

          My opinion is that Lucas Duda’s expiring contract plus $3 million never gets you a Top 50 guy and it’s highly unlikely that it gets you a Top 100 guy.

          In their Midseason Top 100 list, the Rays had the following guys:

          13 – Willie Adames
          14 – Brent Honeywell
          40 – Brendan McKay
          66 – Jake Bauers
          100 – Jesus Sanchez

          For all we know, the Mets offered Duda and $3 million for Sanchez and were politely declined. And since the Mets have done this exact type of trade under Alderson with Beltran-Wheeler, it’s not unreasonable to think that they tried it again.

          Beltran was a highly-sought midseason acquisition and the Mets had to include $4 million to get Wheeler, who certainly wasn’t Top 15 and it’s up for debate if he was Top 50 at the time the deal was made.

          As outsiders, we’re never privy to all of the details and trade proposals that went down. The best we can do is scour the interwebs for whatever news that comes out. It’s just that when we’ve seen at least three instances of this administration offering cash to facilitate better trades, my opinion is that it’s completely wrong to assume that they didn’t try that same approach this time around. Especially now that the owners are on much better financial footing than they were the last time the Mets were looking for prospects.

          • MattyMets
            July 28, 2017 at 7:29 pm

            Brian – the Mets really wanted a different prospect in the Beltran deal (Brandon Belt) but they were rebuffed and settled for their second choice.

  5. Eraff
    July 28, 2017 at 11:13 am

    The Traded Expiring Contracts are no longer eligible to drive a compensatory pick…so you’ve seen deadline trade values plunge throughout the game—Sandy is fishing in the same pond as everyone else.

    The return in the Lugo trade is an interesting guy—not loved enough to be held, he’s been traded twice this year….but he’s well regarded enough to be wanted as a trade piece. He’s a live arm, with enough success and youth to qualify as an Instant Lottery Ticket.

  6. MattyMets
    July 28, 2017 at 11:15 am

    As the saying goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” The Nationals just picked up Neil Ramirez. So the broken lawn mower doesn’t need to go to the landfill after all.

  7. Metsense
    July 28, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Matt, this was a delightful and entertaining read. It was a fun piece with an interesting theme. It made me laugh. Real nice job.
    On the baseball side of it, Rivera gets classified as my old Stingray bicycle and Robles is not one of my throw away objects yet.

    • MattyMets
      July 28, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Metsense – I appreciate the feedback. It was fun to write. If the Stingray bicycle has a banana seat I’d hang on to it. Maybe for some, Robles is that great table saw that just needs a new part that’s hard to find.

  8. BK
    July 28, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Unfortunately the market it weak for power hitting OF/1B types, as evidenced by the modest return on Duda and the tepid (at best) interest in Bruce. The player who might bring the best return is Blevins, with many contenders seeking reliable bullpen help. But I wouldn’t give him up except for a Godfather offer.

  9. Eraff
    July 28, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Ramirez is an Arm Talent…with some sort of Baseball version of PTSD. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him successful at some point

    • Jimmy P
      July 28, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      That’s funny, a baseball version of PTSD. He’s got that shellshocked look to him. One booming double and he’s right back in the foxhole next to his dead buddy, Dex.

  10. Eraff
    July 29, 2017 at 6:43 am

    Wow…: AJ Ramos to the Mets! Ilove it! Who thought of adding a 2018 piece at this trade deadline?

    Tip of the. Cap to Sandy

    • Jimmy P
      July 29, 2017 at 9:01 am

      I agree.

  11. Eraff
    July 29, 2017 at 9:42 am

    This may be about the same return he’ll get on Reed…so, he made a fairly cheap trade for a major league pitcher that he can use in 2018.

    • MattyMets
      July 29, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Ramos deal helps the Mets in ’17 and ’18, plus you just made Reed’s trade value go up a tick as there’s one less closer option available at the deadline. It’s these types of shrewd moves that gave Sandy his reputation.

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