Are the Mets really nosin’ around in the bargain bin?

As we learned last week, there’s little transparency when it comes to the Mets’ payroll budget. Is GM Sandy Alderson just shrewdly waiting out the market or are his hands fiscally tied by ownership? If we consider the later scenario, then top free agents like Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez and the three hitters from Kansas City are all a pipe dream. But the Mets still have roster holes to fill, so let’s take a look at some potential bargains, shall we?

First Base
Coming off a great year and with age and Scott Boras on his side, Eric Hosmer is looking for something in the neighborhood of a 6 or 7-year contract north of $120 million. That’s not a neighborhood the Mets are likely to visit this off-season. So far Carlos Santana (3/$60mm), Yonder Alonso (2/$15mm), Mitch Moreland (2/$13mm) and backup Matt Adams (1/$4mm) are off the board. Still left are a number of solid, if not All-Star caliber options, including ancient players like Adrian Gonzalez, Adam Lind, Mark Reynolds and Mike Napoli, human strikeout machine Chris Carter, and our old friend Lucas Duda. The one name that seems like he could be a reasonable get is Logan Morrison. He’s 30, coming off a very strong season and can play some corner outfield as well as first base. Problem is, how much will it take and is this a high enough priority with Dominic Smith on board and other more glaring needs to address?

Second Base
If the Mets want a one year stop gap there are plenty of options available both via free agency and trade. Guys like Brandon Phillips and Howie Kendrick come to mind. However, as the Mets already have Asdrubal Cabrera penciled in as a one year stop gap with no one waiting in the wings, wouldn’t it make more sense to fill the keystone with someone with a little more staying power? Free agency features mostly guys who are old or not that good. Everyone loves Neil Walker, but he’s 32, has missed time with back injuries and looking for a multi-year contract. No thank you. Better options are on the trade market and that’s why Alderson has been working the phone lines to see what it will take to get Jason Kipnis or Cesar Hernandez.

Third base
Mike Moustakas is the big fish here, and word is, with the Angels and Giants now out of consideration, his asking price might drop. Despite coming off a 38-home run season, interest in Moose has been tepid and with good reason. Take a closer look at the back of his baseball card. In seven big league seasons he holds a lifetime slash line of .251/.305/.425. Sure, 38 home runs sounds great, but consider that his second highest season total was 22. Is he an upgrade over the Wilmer Flores/Jose Reyes/T.J.Rivera trifecta we trotted out last year? Sure he is. But he’s clearly not worth near the 5-year/$90 million contract that some outlets have projected he’ll command. Unless that number drops to like 3/$48, the Mets should steer clear of the Moose. NJ native Todd Frazier is still available. On the plus side, he’s a good fielder by every metric, a great clubhouse guy and can hit some home runs. He can also play first base if needed. There’s a lot to like. But, consider that he’ll be 32 when the season starts and his batting average has dropped four consecutive years. Other free agent options are mostly hasbeens who would have been great pick ups three or four years ago and Trevor Plouffe who’s still relatively young but seems to be in free fall. On the busy trade market, Evan Longoria is already off the market and it would take a haul of top prospects that we don’t possess to even enter a discussion about two stars not worth mentioning here.

There are a few free agent outfielders who’d make a lot of sense for the Mets. A return of Jay Bruce would give us an outfielder/first baseman and middle of the order hitter. Lorenzo Cain would give us an every day centerfielder and lead off hitter. However, both are looking for four year deals and, unless Alderson surprises us, we’re not likely to see either in Queens this summer. The good news is that there are a lot of good depth guys available if the Mets seem intent on giving Juan Lagares one last shot at owning centerfield. Guys like Jon Jay, Austin Jackson, Jarrod Dyson, Cameron Maybin, Ben Revere and others are there for the taking and won’t cost much. There are also some veteran guys looking to reestablish value like the two Cargos – Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Gomez.

Starting Pitchers
Forget Darvish and Arrieta and Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb will probably be out of our price range as well. A number of other options are already off the board, but free agency still includes a few interesting depth guys like Andrew Cashner, Jaime Garcia, Francisco Liriano, and Chris Tillman. Edinson Volquez is coming off Tommy John surgery and won’t be able to pitch until late in the season, but maybe the Mets could offer him the type of deal that Minnesota gave Michael Pineda? That way we’d have a bulldog ready to go in 2019 when Matt Harvey is likely to be gone.

Just spit balling here of course, but for a franchise with a lot of holes, no top prospects to trade, little money to spend, and no appetite to rebuild, it’s going to take some ingenuity to be competitive again. In the meantime, it’s the holiday season so, what better time is there to wish for a pleasant surprise? I’ve asked Santa Claus for Lorenzo Cain and Jake Arrieta, but something tells me there’s a better chance of waking up Christmas morning to a Maserati in my driveway with a big red bow on it.


31 comments for “Are the Mets really nosin’ around in the bargain bin?

  1. BK
    December 22, 2017 at 9:49 am

    While I’d prefer signing Hosmer and trading Dom Smith to fill other needs, I’d be OK with Adrian Gonzalez for a year at 1B if I thought the Mets would use the cost savings elsewhere – maybe Cain, maybe one of the SPs. But it’s obvious that Sandy and/or the Wilpons do not have the intention to do anything significant to improve the team.

  2. MattyMets
    December 22, 2017 at 9:52 am

    More news about the Wilpons and lack of budget broke since I wrote this piece. But I’m left with some questions:

    1- Did the Wilpons suddenly lose a lot of money at the casino or something? Because the Madoff thing is in the rearview, they just got a $50MM windfall for the streaming video thing, another $15mm in insurance money for Wright, plus all the savings from the mid-late season salary dumps. Despite all that, they want to drop payroll another $20mm from last year?!
    2- Is this all news to Sandy? If not, why wouldn’t he have said anything before the winter meetings?
    3- Why did Sandhy waste precious payroll flex on Cabrera, Blevins and Swarzak? Why wasn’t he have been more aggressive at the winter meetings to try to shed payroll? Why not DFA a single arb eligible player?
    4- Why did Alderson renew his GM contract if he knows he’s handcuffed?

    I’ve never been so confused as a Mets fan.

    • Metsense
      December 22, 2017 at 11:43 am

      And to add to your confusion, they just signed Omar Minaya has a special assistant to the general manager. They appear to be a team with no direction.

      • Steve S.
        December 22, 2017 at 4:59 pm

        And don’t forget that Terry Collins will also be around doing something. Fred Wilpon is always sticking his nose in it—just not opening his wallet much.

    • TJ
      December 22, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Without any of us being party to conversations, we are all guessing. That said, my suspicion is that Sandy thought he had more payroll funds at the end of the 2017 season but the rope has shortened since then, likely due to sticker shock, weak ticket sales, and the reality striking the owners that the other teams truly competing for 2018 playoff spots are going to outspend the Mets to do so. Taking in all the available information in the public forum, my other suspicion is that the Wilpons are using windfalls and profits from the Mets in order to re-establish equity that they thought they had with Madoff, and/or investing in other real estate projects like the Belmont arena. In any case, they are still asking their fans/customers to pay top 8-10 MLB prices for a product that will be bottom half payroll, and maybe bottom third payroll.

  3. Mike Walczak
    December 22, 2017 at 11:37 am

    See what happens when you wish for something. You get Omar Minaya.

  4. BK
    December 22, 2017 at 11:42 am

    As if this offseason wasn’t embarrassing enough for Mets fans –

  5. Mike Walczak
    December 22, 2017 at 11:43 am

    I have a radical idea. Since the Mets are cutting payroll and really aren’t looming to improve th team, why not go into a full rebuild.

    They could get an absolute hual for Syndergaard, deGrom and to some extent Cespedes.

    Thoughts ?

    • Chris F
      December 22, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      Im 100% on board. Rebuilding would actually be doing something.

    • TJ
      December 22, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Frankly I’ve been thinking the same. We Met fans have dealt with way more losing than winning. A tear down is no guarantee of winning, for sure, but at least it reflects a plan and building towards something. If they are going to field a team with a $130-$150 million payroll and several flaws, I’d actually be a much happier fan if they dealt their highest marketable assets for as many young prospects as possible, and played kids at every position. Then, the ownership could lower ticket prices significantly so the pricing better reflected the product and the stage the team was in.

  6. Eraff
    December 22, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    News is that Omar is Back with the Team as a Special Assistant.

  7. Mike Walczak
    December 22, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    The Mets are cutting their payroll by 20 million. Doesnt seem like they are going to make any real improvements to the team.

    So, I have a radical idea. Why not rebuild right now.

    Syndergaard, deGrom and Cespedes would bring back a huge haul of really good prospects.

    Thoughts ?

  8. IB
    December 22, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    I’m so sick of Alderson’s oh-so-clever “I’m the smartest guy n the room”
    press conferences I can’t even tell you.

    Slightly off subject, did any of you catch the Times article today
    about Eddie Kranepool? Among other things it will give you a sense
    of what an entitled prick (pardon the language) Jeff Wilpon is. What
    a mess being a Met fan has become.

    Eddie’s the gentleman of gentlemen. Short story – friend of mines father
    was on his last days. The family somehow got in touch with Kranepool’s office and asked him if he could visit him in the hospital – Dad was a Huge fan.
    Kranepool, a complete stranger, went out of his way to visit the old man.
    Amazing amazing, amazing.

    Compare to the dregs that run ths team.

    • TexasGusCC
      December 22, 2017 at 11:22 pm

      IB, Kranepool may be a truly great guy and I can’t dispute that. But, it was written two days ago that he went up to Fred Coupon in front of many people and told him that he has no idea how to run a team.

      • IB
        December 23, 2017 at 11:01 am

        That’s Fred’s version. Kranepool said it unfolded differently. My money’s on Eddie.

        • TexasGusCC
          December 23, 2017 at 12:36 pm

          The writer who wrote it, who escapes me now but I think it was DiComo or Puma, said he witnessed it. All I know is what’s out there, and I try to sift through it.

          Kranepool is a fine gentleman, and the perception may be different from his view, it’s hard to argue that Coupon knows what he’s doing. This morning it comes out that the miserly Fred Coupon had enough money to get in on the building of the new Coloseum in Elmont, but not enough to get a starting pitcher.

  9. Eraff
    December 22, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    If the Mets were to begin a re-build, deGrom for Clint Frazier and Glyber Torres would be a fantastic trade

    • Mike Walczak
      December 22, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      I don’t think they would get both. With Headley and Castro gone, Torres is a necessary piece, but I like the thought.

  10. Mike Walczak
    December 22, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Lets make this fun.

    Syndergaard to Toronto for Vlad Jr and Marcus Stroman
    deGrom to the Yankees for Clint Frazier and Chance Adams
    Cespedes to the Cubsfor Ian Happ
    Matz and Familia to the Giants for Tyler Beede

    You would be building a team around

    Vlad Jr


    Hey, its a better strategy than we have now.

    • alan friedman
      December 22, 2017 at 10:10 pm

      You must be nuts… are gonna trade our two top pitchers who will give us 7 plus innings most nights. Since Mickey Callaway was hired to do the job of fixing the problems of the rest of our 5 innings and done staff we need to see whether he succeeds along with his new pitching coach Dave Eiland. If they are successful and Cespedes and Conforto return to form we are contenders.

      Instead of gutting the team….you are better off being patient and waiting to see what else is going to happen. Sandy Alderson is not done and despite all the rumors from the media….no one can determine how much money he can spend but he will not be pressured by the media or fans who think they know better. I truly believe that he will sign another hitter to help protect Cespedes and Conforto.

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

      • TexasGusCC
        December 22, 2017 at 11:23 pm


      • Mike Walczak
        December 23, 2017 at 6:28 pm

        You are darn right. Syndergaard and deGrom would bring a huge haul of top level major league ready prospects. Add them to Conforto, Smith and Rosario, they would field an excellent team in 3 years.

        The problem is, the Mets need pieces to go out win. They are going after the pieces and seem ok with not being a top team.

      • Mike Walczak
        December 23, 2017 at 6:31 pm

        If Alderson signs another hitter, it will be a marginal question mark.

  11. Jim OMalley
    December 22, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    This off-season is infuriating. A complete rebuild would make sense if the idea was that they can’t win it now so “let’s build for the future”. But that would imply that part of the team’s goal was to eventually win a world championship. Its not. We’ve already determined that their goal is only to “not lose money”. So why hire a special assistant if the General Manager’s marching orders are to not do anything?

    • Mike Walczak
      December 22, 2017 at 6:45 pm

      I can’t believe that their bug move was to bring back Minaya as an assistant.

  12. Jim OMalley
    December 22, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    All the proposed trade or Free Agent signings have no bearing if the team has no interest in improvement (either short or long term). The owner’s goal is not “to win”. It’s to “not lose money”.Therefore, no meaningful transactions will occur. These lead to the “Ramos for a second baseman” discussions.

    • December 23, 2017 at 9:23 am

      I’m in strong favor of trading Ramos for a second baseman, although I wish the target was Dozier instead of Kipnis.

      • Mike Walczak
        December 23, 2017 at 6:29 pm

        I would add to the Ramos deal to get Dozier. Much rather have him than Kipnis.

  13. TexasGusCC
    December 22, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    A couple of days ago I mentioned that Fred Coupon seems to have something against Alderson – be it the articles or forcing out his BFF, Bozo the Manager. Well, on Thursday it was Jeff who had the nice things to say about Alderson at the press conference for Alderson’s new contract. Conspicuously, Fred Coupon was missing. Now this from MLBTR:

    ‘Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the move was not well-received within the organization’s front office (all Twitter links). Owner Fred Wilpon’s fingerprints are “all over” Minaya’s return, per Carig, adding that many in the Mets front office had some “serious reservations” about the decision.’

    Can there be a friendly family disagreement going on?

  14. Mike Walczak
    December 23, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Bartolo the Great wants to come back.

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