The dominoes are starting to fall. Doug Fister. Mike Minor. Tyler Chatwood. Dee Gordon. Any one of these guys could have helped the Mets, but that last one really stings. The Mets “expressed interest in Gordon,” but clearly we got beaten to the punch here. When you have multiple holes to fill and reportedly only $30 million or so to add to the payroll, you have to be aggressive and smart. You have to be shrewd enough to trade for a player in his prime making just $10 million who fills both the holes at second base and in the lead-off spot. Gordon was up for grabs as the Marlins are desperate to shed payroll. All it took was three prospects and the Mariners got him and additional international pool money to help them go after Shohei Otani. The Mariners, lest we forget, already have a superstar second baseman in Robinson Cano and a speedy leadoff hitting shortstop in Jean Segura (who this writer also lobbied for a few years ago) but they saw an opportunity to put two speedy rabbits in front of Cano and fellow bopper Nelson Cruz (who we also could have gotten some years back). Kudos to Jerry DiPoto. That’s how an aggressive and shrewd general manager operates.
Meanwhile our big market team that was in the World Series two years ago is throwing about names like Adam Lind while hoping Jay Bruce, Neil Walker or Addison Reed will come back on the cheap. Even if we land all three, that puts us back where we were last year and how’d that work out? We have a new manager, new coaches and we need some fresh talent and ideally, some fresh legs. Bruce still makes sense as he solidifies the outfield and middle of the order while providing assurances at first. But who bats leads off, plays second and is available either in free agency or possibly via trade? Cesar Hernandez is an interesting name that came up in rumors this past week. Just 27, he’s coming off a season with a .373 OBP and he can steal a few bases too. Jonathan Villar is coming off a disappointing year but set the world on fire in 2016 with a .372 OBP and 62 steals. He’s only 26.
The Mets have been linked to other second baseman like Walker, Ian Kinsler, and Jason Kipnis, but none is a true leadoff hitter. Perhaps if the Mets went with Lorenzo Cain instead of Bruce in the outfield it would make more sense to consider one of these options, or even Todd Frazier at third. There are plenty of options remaining for Alderson to consider as we approach the winter meetings.
Here’s one far flung, crazy idea. Instead of divying up that $30 or so million on three or four good but not great players, what if we got one star and made a few smart signings to fill in at the margins (say, Jon Jay, Joe Smith). Remember a few years back when the Nationals were already loaded with homegrown young pitchers yet shocked the world by signing Max Scherzer to really solidify their staff? What if the Mets followed suit and locked up Jake Arrieta? Combined with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard we’d have a playoff caliber rotation that would rely less on the bullpen and require fewer runs to be scored. Plus we’d have the luxury of moving say, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo to the bullpen and using one of the other starters to trade for say, a leadoff hitter. Maybe it’s crazy and surely TexasGus or Jimmy P will hate it, but this is the type of outside the box thinking this team needs right now. Come on, Sandy, put on your thinking cap.