Mets360 GM Project: 2017-18 New York Mets

This is a project where 30 people got together to act as the GMs of the 30 MLB teams with the idea of conducting the offseason in one week. This is what happened in this simulation, not a prediction of what will happen in real life.

The Mets were one of the more interesting teams this go-round in the GM project because they had several different directions they could be taken in and no matter which way you picked, payroll had to be cut $14 million-plus dollars from 2017’s actual Opening Day payroll.

I went into the project with the following goals, listed in order of importance:

1. Improve the infield defense
2. Remake the relief staff into one which put a premium on limiting walks and having guys who could go multiple innings
3. Look to add a pitcher who could be reasonably counted on to throw 175 or more innings
4. Add an outfield bat

My first move was to trade Wilmer Flores, preferably for a late-inning reliever and, for his sake, an AL team where he could act as a designated hitter. My top choice was the Twins, where the target was Trevor Hildenberger. Unfortunately, the Twins felt unable to add the extra payroll this deal would give them. But a fit was found with my second choice in the Blue Jays and Dominic Leone.

Leone had a 2.56 ERA with a 1.052 WHIP last year, with a 2.9 BB/9 ratio in 70.1 innings. Primarily a fastball-cutter guy, Leone worked his way into a consistent 7th-8th inning role by the end of the year with Toronto, even picking up a save in September. Additionally, the just turned 26 year old had equal success versus RHB (.624 OPS) and LHB (.627 OPS) for the season and in the second half of the year, he had a 7.8 K/BB ratio.

The next move was a completely unexpected one, as the Reds approached me with a Steven MatzEugenio Suarez deal. My plan was to trade a starting pitcher but the expectation was that it was going to be Zack Wheeler. However, Matz’ consistent durability concerns made me amenable to dealing him. Suarez checked my main box of improving the infield defense and with him on the roster, the decision to decline Asdrubal Cabrera’s option became an easy one to make.

My main concern with Suarez was his almost cartoon-like home/road split last year, when he put up a .978 home OPS compared to a .694 road mark. It was almost enough for me to reject the deal. But Suarez had a much more normal H/R split in 2016 playing in the same park. The bottom line is that his salary was modest, he addressed the defensive goal and there’s the possibility he can repeat last year’s .828 OPS in his age 26 season in 2018. Certainly a deal with risk but one that ultimately was viewed as worth taking.

There was no getting around the idea that AJ Ramos made too much money for my taste, especially given his ugly walk rate. The question was if a trade could be made or if it would have to be an outright non-tender. To my pleasant surprise, a deal was able to be struck and one that actually brought back legitimate talent, too. Ramos was sent to the Rockies, along with Jacob Rhame, for prospect Colton Welker, a third baseman who put up a .901 OPS at the age of 19 last year in the South Atlantic League. While my fingers are crossed on the Suarez deal, this one felt like a slam dunk.

The decision was made to keep most of the arbitration-eligible guys on the club, with the exceptions being non-tenders for Nori Aoki and Tommy Milone. Also, the option for Jerry Blevins was declined, as well as the one for Cabrera. My philosophy was to build a pen with guys to go multiple innings on a regular basis and it didn’t seem like it was a good fit with Blevins. Plus the extra money freed up was earmarked for a big free agent.

With Matz gone, the focus was now not just on innings but quality innings. With roughly $20 million dollars saved with the previous moves, we could shop in the high end of the free agent market. Jake Arrieta was brought in to complement Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard at the top of the rotation. While it seems like a down year for Arrieta, he absolutely dominated in July and August. In 11 games in those two months, he had a 1.69 ERA with a 3:1 strikeout/walk ratio.

Arrieta suffered a hamstring injury in September but came back to make two playoff starts, where he allowed just 1 ER and notched 13 Ks in 10.2 IP. It’s easy to be leery of acquiring a guy who had injury issues last year but he made 30 starts and was very effective both before and after the hamstring issue. While the salary outlay was huge, it seems like a pretty big upgrade from Matz.

Other free agent moves were adding second baseman Eric Sogard, bringing home outfielder Curtis Granderson and picking up Rajai Davis. Sogard is a plus defender and last year posted a .393 OBP in an injury-shortened season. It’s doubtful he’ll repeat those numbers in 2018. But his defense gives him room to fall and still be useful. And if he washes out, T.J. Rivera will get a chance to step in his place. Granderson comes back hopefully as a fourth outfielder but gives insurance in case Michael Conforto is out longer than expected or if Brandon Nimmo fails to hit. Davis gives the club more of a CF backup.

Last but not least, Joakim Soria was imported to give another late-inning option in the pen. While he doesn’t fit the mold of a multi-inning guy, his walk rate is significantly better than Ramos’ and his season was deceptively strong last year. While his 3.70 ERA looks solid, he had a 2.23 FIP, thanks in large part to allowing just 1 HR in 56 IP during all of the homer madness last season. An experienced closer, he can fill in should Jeurys Familia be unavailable at any point during the year. The cost was Juan Lagares. The club will certainly miss his defense but the thought was that Nimmo needed an unfettered shot at the starting job and not having to look over his shoulder at Lagares will give him the best opportunity to succeed.

The infield defense of Sogard-Suarez-Amed Rosario should be miles ahead of the Neil WalkerJose Reyes-Cabrera infield that started 2017. The bullpen should feature five guys who can go an inning-plus on a regular basis and Familia has that capability as well, even if he’s rarely called on to do it. Arrieta provides a big boost to the rotation and hopefully a return to Queens helps Granderson get over his season-ending slump. He provides a potential big bat off the bench and someone to DH in AL games while Davis gives a much-needed defensive option. All of the objectives were met and a top 10 prospect was added to the organization, too. Welker might even draw support for top guy in the system, depending how you feel about Andres Gimenez and David Peterson.

You might have noticed that not one of the 12 pitchers on the roster is a lefty. This was not a planned decision but it’s not something to be concerned about, either. Before the Soria deal, I tried to get Josh Hader. And before the big winning bid on Arrieta, the plan was to bid on Jake McGee, who was strong outside of Colorado last year. But historically Familia and Hansel Robles are very good against lefties and Leone had a good year in 2017, too. No doubt there will be a dropoff in performance from what Blevins gave in the pen but the expectation is that it will be more than made up for in the innings that the other relievers will provide.

The batting order could be:

Nimmo
Suarez
Conforto
Cespedes
Smith
TDA
Rosario
Sogard

You can argue that the offense isn’t as good as what the club started 2017 with and that the bottom half could be borderline disaster, depending on what the two youngsters give. But no matter which direction the offseason went, Rosario and Smith were going to be starters and in my opinion the pitching was more of a concern than the lineup and had to be addressed. Besides, I’ll take my chances with two guys who could put up a .370 OBP in the top two spots in the order.

A healthy Arrieta and Syndergaard would mean a huge improvement in the starting pitching. The question becomes who fills the fourth and fifth slots in the lineup. The hope is that Matt Harvey claims one and Wheeler gets the other, freeing up Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Rafael Montero to work multiple innings at a time out of the pen.

Franklin Gutierrez and Hector Santiago were brought in on NRIs, as well as reuniting new manager Mickey Callaway with his former protégé, Josh Tomlin. Gutierrez is an excellent defensive center fielder while the two pitchers have experience in the majors as both starters and relievers.

Arrieta 26 Minor Leaguer
deGrom 9.2 Colton Welker – 3B
Syndergaard 1.9  
Harvey 5.9  
Montero 0.57 NRIs
Wheeler 1.9 Franklin Gutierrez
Familia 7.4 Hector Santiago
Leone 1.2 Josh Tomlin
Soria 9  
Gsellman 0.575  
Lugo 0.575  
Robles 1  
TDA 3.4  
Plawecki 0.57  
Smith 0.555  
Sogard 4  
Suarez 4.4  
Rosario 0.555  
Rivera 0.57  
Reynolds 0.57  
Cespedes 29  
Conforto 0.8  
Granderson 6  
Nimmo 0.575  
Davis 0.6  
   
Wright 20  
Buyouts 3  
Total 139.815

26 comments for “Mets360 GM Project: 2017-18 New York Mets

  1. David Groveman
    November 1, 2017 at 8:59 am

    On the plus side, I thought your price on Arrieta was right and that you correctly played your free agent moves. I’ll also agree that your bullpen is much improved but I wonder if there is enough offense on the team to get the Mets passed the Nationals and re-vamped Marlins.

    • November 1, 2017 at 9:22 am

      Thanks.

      If payroll was the $154 that they had last year, then JD Martinez could have been an option. Or at least at what I expected he would have gone for heading into the sim. No way did I think he was getting $30 million.

      I do believe that cutting Blevins and Cabrera loose to make a big move was the way to go.

      As for the offense, no matter what the Mets did – either here or in real life – that was going to be a question mark because of the unknowns surrounding Rosario and Smith and the injuries to Cespedes, Conforto and expected to TDA

      • Jimmy P
        November 1, 2017 at 12:14 pm

        One note:

        If way to go was releasing Cabrera and Blevins — and I totally agree on Blevins, am 50/50 on Cabrera since it depends on alternative solution to 3B — the way to really go would have been for Sandy to trade them last season.

        I have to believe there would have been some market for Blevins, particularly with him under control in 2018. Mets might have had to go cheap on Cabrera, but any extra money would have helped.

        My point is not to criticize what you did as an imaginary GM. Just to note that by not making those deals, Sandy pretty much guaranteed that he would pick up the options for 2018, probably wasting an opportunity for a larger, more imaginative remake/remodel.

  2. Jimmy P
    November 1, 2017 at 9:29 am

    A good, thoughtful approach. Won’t be enough — but that’s on ownership, not you.

    I missed how much you paid for Arrieta.

    And wondering what you think he’ll get in the real world?

    Amazed that anyone would take Lagares.

    The Flores deal seemed right to me.

    Personally, I’d give up the ghost on Curtis Granderson.

    Tempted at all to extend deGrom?

    • November 1, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Thanks.

      The chart at the end lists all of the salaries. Arrieta gets $26 million. By necessity, we have to do all one-year contracts in this. It’s just not worth the extra effort to determine if 3/$30 is better than 4/$45. So, no extensions. In the real world, I wouldn’t approach JDG about an extension but would certainly listen if his team made the initial offer.

      As for what Arrieta will get in real life, depends if he wants to maximize years or AAV and how much playing for a WS contender means to him. Guess I’d be surprised if his AAV wasn’t over $18

      White Sox were also interested in Lagares, although we couldn’t agree on return.

  3. TexasGusCC
    November 1, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Hurt the offense, but helped the defense. Don’t know how this team will score, but agreed on the pitching overall. Didn’t need to dump Flores, but we’ll enjoy our two runs per game and hope they catch everything hit.

    Two thumbs up on the pitching moves. Do you really think Flores is only worth a middle reliever?

    • November 1, 2017 at 10:42 am

      While I don’t believe the club will manage the 5.7 rpg that it did in May, I see no reason why this club couldn’t match and better the 4.3 rpg it posted last year in September without both Cespedes and Conforto.

      Thanks for the kind words about the pitching.

    • Jimmy P
      November 1, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      I would trade Flores for what I perceived as a quality reliever. Meaning a durable guy who can give me 70-80 innings of consistent pitching in the 3.00 ERA range. A guy with “stuff” to possibly raise it up a notch if everything breaks right.

  4. MattyMets
    November 1, 2017 at 11:22 am

    I like the pitching staff. Gutsy move going after Arrieta and I see Soria as an upgrade over Ramos. Bullpen and defense appear improved, but I’d like to see another bat. I know it’s tricky with salary limitations. My biggest beef with the roster you assembled is that Hansel Robles is still on it. I have slowly and methodically developed a pathological dislike for him. I fall short of using the word hate only because he’s never harmed me or my family.

    • November 1, 2017 at 11:34 am

      Yeah, I toyed with the idea of non-tendering Robles. At the end of the day, what established reliever were you going to get for fewer dollars that had the ability to go multiple innings?

      Hopefully, being used in a more sensible way, in lower-leverage situations, will help him. But, sure, fingers are crossed here.

  5. Jimmy P
    November 1, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Okay, I’m going to try to say this carefully, realizing that I’m stepping into treacherous waters.

    Disclosure: I’m a 56-year-old white guy.

    Thinking of Robles, I personally find there’s a type of Spanish-speaking player that I find very hard to read. I don’t feel like I understand him. I mean, the surface that I see suggests a very shallow player, one without a lot going on inside his head, but I wonder if that says more about the cultural/language divide than about the actual enigmatic man in the Mets uniform.

    Who is Hansel Robles? I basically have no freaking idea.

    • DED
      November 1, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      I think he’s a guy who has, at minimum, a shaky command of his mechanics. When he hits the groove he can be hard to hit; otherwise ball is all over the place and he gets hammered.

      Robles is not easily readable but I doubt it has much to do with his ethnicity. Maybe he has physical limitations that restrict his ability to repeat his motion, as Hideo Nomo was said to have had. Anyway, it’s there.

      • Jimmy P
        November 1, 2017 at 2:53 pm

        I think if I could hear him interviewed, get a better sense of him as a person, it would be easier to like and understand him. Maybe baseball and the media can do a better job moving forward to cross that language barrier. I’d read translated interviews or watch subtitled videos.

        Again, I find myself not liking him all that much.

  6. john fenyar
    November 1, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    What would you consider trading with the Dodgers to get Puig and Adrian Gonzalez. They have a surplus of OF, and might be open to dumping Gonzalez for 1 year while our 1B gets some more seasoning in Las Vegas. Puig could be a head case, but could play CF or RF while Conforto heals – then take over in CF.

    • November 1, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      You’re asking the club to take on $31.5 million in salary. I just don’t see that happening and that’s without whatever the Dodgers would want in return.

      • Jimmy P
        November 1, 2017 at 2:05 pm

        Not a fan of Puig at all. And Gonzalez seems done. Zero interest in helping out the Dodgers with this one.

  7. Paul Festa
    November 1, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I’d love to see Arrieta on the real-life Mets. One can dream.

    • Jimmy P
      November 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      I think his addition would address a lot of issues.

  8. Steevy
    November 1, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    I do hope Alderson can and will deal Lagares like you did.Can’t hit,can’t stay healthy,overpaid.Bad combo.

  9. Eraff
    November 1, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    26 Million for Jake… wow.

  10. Pete from New Jersey
    November 1, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    I basically agree with everything written above. Yet three things stand out. 1) As a fan, cutting ties with Wilmer hurts, I understand the reality but there’s still pain. 2) Starting pitcher is a massive need but I’m not impressed with Arrieta’s down year plus age. Lance Lynn perhaps is more cost effective. 3) Handel Robles has a bewildered look on his face caused perhaps not knowing where his pitch is headed. He stays here hoping he finds himself instead of on another team.4) New infielders who are athletic was a need and filled by looking outside the box.

  11. NormE
    November 2, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Brian,
    WS I think you did something very important. You brought a fresh perspective to the job. While I may not have agreed with everything you did, I thought it was a healthy approach to the problem.
    I would have preferred to trade Blevins. Same for Robles ( though there was probably no market for him).
    I like your infield and I’m glad you didn’t go in the market for another mediocre catcher. However, Realmuto would have been nice (just dreaming).

    • November 2, 2017 at 11:11 am

      Thanks NormE

      I did not explore the trade market for Blevins very much – think I offered him to one team. Partly due to time constraints and partly because I thought his contract would make a trade either unlikely or unproductive for me, as I’d either need to take salary back or kick in cash.

      David did offer me Realmuto but I didn’t want to spend assets to upgrade a position I was somewhat comfortable with when I felt there were more pressing needs elsewhere.

  12. Chris F
    November 5, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Nice job Brian. I think you did a solid job here given real life and exercise constraints.

    I am particularly happy to see investment in a front line starter. The idea we need a Dickey or Colon is peposterous. A look around the NL east should quickly ideNtify thAT Situation.

    I also like the Sogard pick up. I would be in that business for sure. Sure he’s coming off a good roll, but I think he’s a quality major leaguer. I dont understand Grandy at this point, who is a pretty poor player now, but he is a good egg in the clubhouse to be sure. Worth 6M$? I guess he’s your critical “glue guy” with no one else on your list to fill that. We see every year that person is critical to success, Im just not sure hes the guy I want…more a WS winner for me makes sense.

    • November 6, 2017 at 8:08 am

      Thanks Chris.

      Granderson had a .775 OPS last year and an .815 mark with the Mets. I don’t see how you can call that “pretty poor.” Given the injury concerns around Cespedes and Conforto, I wanted a fourth OFer that I was comfortable getting 400 ABs and Granny fit that bill.

      I think a case could be made that I should have gone cheaper at 2B and primary set-up man and used that money to get a starting OF in the Bruce or better camp and used Nimmo as the fourth OFer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: