Right now is when the Mets need to spend money

As this off-season began, this blogger had a different notion that perhaps the front office might consider punting this coming season. With a stacked Washington Nationals team the clear division favorite and a better free agency class waiting after next season, not to mention some roster uncertainty and a new manager, maybe 2018 wasn’t shaping up to be a go-for-it kind of season. However, given the unusual way the free agent market has been playing out, as well as the impact of a number of trades, the Mets appear to be in an interesting position to strike while the iron is hot.

The Mets have a major advantage being in what is quickly shaping up to be the weakest division of the six. Thanks to the scheduling adjustments under realignment a few years ago, the Mets will play more than a third of their regular season games against lower tier teams. We are scheduled to play 19 games against the Phillies, who yes, have a few interesting players and added Carlos Santana and a few bullpen pieces, but they are clearly still in rebuild mode. We will also play 19 against the Braves, who’ve been busy shuffling around salary but still have more roster holes than a block of Swiss cheese. And, praise the baseball gods, we’ll have 19 games against the currently deconstructing Marlins, a team that had little pitching last year and now just salary chopped the top half of what was a strong lineup. If the Mets can capitalize on those 57 games and go at least 35-22, they can split the remaining games and contend for a wild card.

Outside of the NL East, it may seem like the Cubs and Dodgers are poised to repeat as division winners, but the Diamondbacks, Rockies, Giants, Cardinals and newly reinforced Brewers are all going to beat each other up for a wild card spot. Unless one of those teams adds a remaining elite free agent, none of them is so far ahead of the Mets in talent. And the easier schedule gives us a big edge. The Mets can make that edge bigger by making an aggressive play in this stagnant market.

All the talk has been about which good but not great second or third baseman will round out the infield. But what about a surprise big move like what the Nationals did signing Max Scherzer a few years back. Shock the baseball world (and Mets fans) and grab one of the four big starting pitchers still sitting there. In one move, we solidify the rotation, beef up the bullpen and possibly create some trade bait. Another way to round out the infield would be to sign Jonathan Lucroy. All that new pitching philosophy and proactive training stuff, plus a real Crash Davis to help get the most out of all these arms. Trading for a Josh Harrison or Jason Kipnis or signing a Todd Frazier or Eduardo Nunez checks off the last box, but the Mets need that move plus one more difference maker.

Additionally, as these last precious off-season weeks turn to days, players are going to get antsy. They all say they’ll sit out spring training and wait it out, but baseball history is littered with guys like Stephen Drew for whom that turned out to be a massive mistake. How many are bluffing and want to get their wives off their backs about where they’re going to need to find a home or even where their kids might go to school? The top names like Jake Arrieta and J.D. Martinez might have to settle for five-year deals when they were expecting seven and where does that leave the next tier? Do Lance Lynn and Mike Moustakas settle for three? Does Lucroy settle for two? Many of the usual big spending teams are holding tight to avoid the luxury tax threshold and wait for next year’s class. The Mets could be picking up bargains like a January mall shopper with a fistfull of holiday gift cards.

In addition to the big names still out there, there’s also a long list of guys who might not be All-Stars but would help this team and might come a lot cheaper than we imagined. How about an experienced starter/reliever swingman like Francisco Liriano, or a strong 4th outfielder like Jon Jay or Jarrod Dyson, or maybe another lefty to take the pressure off Jerry Blevins in the bullpen like Tony Watson? And, even though relievers flew off the shelves early on, free agency is still stocked with potential bullpen bounce back candidates who may have to settle for non guaranteed spring training invites.

If we’re not gonna fold, then let’s go all in. This is New York and our fans are hungry for some action.

27 comments for “Right now is when the Mets need to spend money

  1. TexasGusCC
    February 2, 2018 at 10:18 am

    The type of player you are referring to may be Machado or Donaldson. However, who do the Mets have to give up since the cupboard is bare? The Expos for Carter took Youmans and Winningham, both considered good but not elite prospects along with a major league catcher in Fitzgerald and a marginal all-star in Hubie Brooks that could play some SS. The Mets really don’t have that to give up. For Piazza the Marlins took Preston Wilson and Geoff Geotz, both top 100 prospects, albeit barely, and Ed Yarnell. However, they wanted to get rid of Piazza after trading half their MLB team to get him.

    The Meta don’t have those ready for MLB trade chips. So, we wait until July and hope some of our better prospects are healthy and come back onto the prospect rankings. In the meantime, Smoker for Zamora?

  2. Steve S.
    February 2, 2018 at 10:51 am

    I think Alderson will sign either Frazier or Nunez and put that free agent at 3B.

    I would like him also to sign either Cobb or Lynn, as well as a good LH reliever.

    I’m OK with the present five OFers and two catchers (with both TDA and KP exhibiting positive signs in the latter part of last season).

    One question is will the Wilpons allow Alderson to move the budget up a bit, rather than down? Perhaps a possible lag in ticket sales will “encourage” them to do so.

  3. February 2, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Matt, I was right there with you until you said Lucroy. Think big, don’t think injury/production reclamation.

    • MattyMets
      February 2, 2018 at 11:33 am

      So far Sandy has made safe, no brainer moves. I’m still waiting for that brilliant trade. Here’s one thought – Dodgers need to shave some payroll to bring back Darvish. Grandal and Ryu are both expendable and clear upgrades and they would cost a combined 14.5mm. I bet one of our two catchers plus a few mid level prospects would get this done.

    • Pete In Iowa
      February 2, 2018 at 1:19 pm

      I think signing Lucroy makes all the sense in the world. TDA has been nothing but — his entire career — the “injury/production reclamation” you are lamenting. I have little doubt Lucroy would be just as good as D’Arnothing on offense and light years better on defense. TDA could then be packaged with Flores and possibly others to bring back a decent pitching return or a good 2B/3B option.
      If upgrading the pitching staff or infield means swapping Lucroy for TDA, I’d sign up for that all day long.

      • February 2, 2018 at 1:59 pm

        If that’s true, at least he’s doing it for a fraction of what Lucroy would make.

        And if you think Lucroy was better defensively than TDA last year, well think again. Lucroy might have been the worst defensive catcher in all of MLB. Let’s look it up. There were 110 catchers and Lucroy ranked 109th in Fielding Runs Above Average with a (-19.5). Meanwhile, TDA ranked 12th with a 7.2 mark. He was nearly three wins better than Lucroy on defense last year.


        • Pete In Iowa
          February 2, 2018 at 5:00 pm

          I’d rather look at a body of work over a career, rather than one year. TDA has consistently been horrible behind the plate and mostly injured throughout his career. The same can not be said about Lucroy. Over 8 years, Lucroy has put up a 20.2 WAR. In five, TDA stands at a 2.0 WAR. Seems like last season was likely an outlier for both players.
          Anyone who has watched the Mets over the past several years knows TDA is a huge liability both with his bat and glove, but since he was a stud prospect it seems everyone has been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for the past five years.
          I say it’s time to cut bait while we can pretty much replace him with a comparable — and very likely better — player and while he may still have some value.

          • February 2, 2018 at 7:53 pm

            Lucroy has his own injury problems throughout his career. And while he’s been better than he was last year, why would you want to spend big money to get a catcher on the wrong side of 30 with an injury history who showed serious decline last year? Isn’t the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez enough for broken down old guys? On a team that already has enough injury questions?

            • Pete in Iowa
              February 3, 2018 at 9:54 am

              Big bucks? I’ll bet Lucroy could be had for 5-7 million on a one or two year deal. That’s less than we’re paying Lagares or Cabrerra.

  4. Pete In Iowa
    February 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Lots of great possibilities to think about Matt. Specifically, I think this would be the best, most impactful move:
    Sign Arrietta. How good would our rotation be with Syndergaard, DeGrom and Arrietta in the top three spots? If any one of Wheeler, Matz or Harvey rebound, it could very easily be among the top rotations in MLB. Whoever don’t make the cut can slide to bullpen, giving us legitimate depth there as well.
    Only question is, will they do any of this? Or merely settle for a Walker/Frazier/Nunez/Harrison stop gap instead. I can always dream, but my money is on them going the low-profile, meek route.

    • MattyMets
      February 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      Pete, I completely agree with you. Back in November I said that I’d rather the Mets sign just Arrieta than 2 or 3 Bruce/Frazier level players. That signing would transform this team.

  5. Metsense
    February 2, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Matt, an excellent point that the Mets have an opportunity to capitalize on their weak division and contend for a wild card spot. They should sign one of the four top free agent pitchers and solidify the rotation even if it is the only thing they do. The signing would also strengthen the bullpen because one of the starters would then slot in to the relief corp. It was the pitching injuries and inconsistency that sabotaged 2017. The 2018 offense will not be as strong but the pitching should keep them in the game. It would be their best chance for a wild card spot.

  6. Mike Walczak
    February 2, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Good article. We are all saying the same things, second or third baseman, starting pitcher and bullpen help. As I have said a thousand times. Let’s shake it up. How about Whit Merrifield and Danny Duffy to the Mets for Nimmo, Oswalt, Guillorme and Flores.

  7. BK
    February 2, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Lance Lynn would be a good fit for this pitching staff. The Mets should take advantage of this depressed (collusion?) market and sign him and trade for Josh Harrison.

  8. Dalton Allison
    February 2, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Lance Lynn would be a fantastic addition to the rotation providing much needed depth.

    • MattyMets
      February 2, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      I like Lance Lynn too but don’t get your hopes up. I have a feeling that while they might have to settle for 3 or 4 year deals, he and Cobb are still gonna get paid. They have to wait for one or both of Arrieta and Darvish to come off the board first. Those four guys might be out of reach but even Jason Vargas would be good for us.

    • Steve S.
      February 3, 2018 at 10:40 am

      True, and Calloway is talking about going to a six-man rotation.

  9. al
    February 2, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    fill in 2b 3b with josh harrison eduardo nunez good speed at the starting lineup at catching jonathan lucroy he will be perfect with the pitching staff and a pitcher innings eater like lance lynn lets get rollin

    • February 3, 2018 at 8:06 am

      Josh Harrison is owed $10 million plus this year and comes with a buyout for next year.
      Eduardo Nunez – Let’s call his contract $8 million
      Lucroy – Let’s call his contract $7 million
      Lance Lynn – Let’s call his contract $15 million

      So, we just add $40 million to the payroll (after already adding $16.5 million for Bruce and Swarzak) and we’ll be set.

      • Steve S.
        February 3, 2018 at 8:41 am

        So let’s say the Mets payroll right now is about $140 million. Let’s deduct the $15 million that insurance will pay when it kicks in for David Wright (very likely). Now, let’s sign Nunez and Lynn for $23 million. The Mets payroll would be about $148 million. And sign a decent LH reliever for another $5 million or so to get us up to $153 million. Done!

        • February 3, 2018 at 9:30 am

          The problem is that Jeff Wilpon has already said they don’t treat the Wright insurance that way.

  10. Mike Walczak
    February 3, 2018 at 4:39 am

    Lucroy will be playing in his age 32 season. Last year he hit 6 HR and had 40 RBIs in 480 AB. TD/Plawecki combo had 19/70. Lucroy would be a complete waste of money.

    If you could have one gift under the tree, who would it be ?

    For me, it is Lance Lynn.

  11. Eraff
    February 3, 2018 at 7:23 am

    who’s more loved and over rated on this Board?……Lucroy or Guillorme?

    • February 3, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Good question.

      The worst thing that happens with Lucroy is you pay him more money than TDA and Lucroy performs just as bad (or worse) than he did in 2017.
      The worst thing that happens with Guillorme is he doesn’t get past Triple-A

      The best thing that happens with Lucroy is you sign him and he stays healthy and he bounces back to 2016 production and you get a nice return on your investment for a year or two. After which you pay him market rate or he leaves.
      The best thing that happens with Guillorme is that he becomes 2007 Luis Castillo with significantly better defense. And you control him cheap for half a decade.

      I’d say the downside is worse for Lucroy and the upside is better for Guillorme.

      To answer your question – I don’t know who’s more loved. But I know who’s more overrated.

  12. al
    February 3, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Mets starting lineup for 2018
    1. Nunez
    2. Harrison
    3. Conforto
    4. Cespedes
    5. Bruce
    6. Gonzalez
    7. Lucroy
    8. Rosario
    Speed & Power In The Lineup

  13. Eraff
    February 3, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    yeah…I’d spot out Avoid on Lucroy, As for LG…he’s a very happy wait and see

  14. Chris B
    February 5, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    “signing a Todd Frazier or Eduardo Nunez checks off the last box, but the Mets need that move plus one more difference maker.”

    One box checked. Sign Arietta to check another big one.

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