How long til Sandy Alderson presses the DFA button?

As well as the Mets have played in this first month of the season, this roster still has some issues related to injuries and underperformance. This team came to spring training better prepared for inevitable injuries and performance struggles than it has in years. The 40-man roster was stocked with Major League quality players instead of just the usual AAAA types at the back end. And it’s a good thing, because the time is nearing when General Manager Sandy Alderson is going to have some tough calls to make.

At present, the Mets have four struggling veterans to contend with. Each is in the last year of their contract and for each there is an alternative in AAA or elsewhere on the roster who is ready to step in and step up. In each case, these players have no trade value and only one has options remaining. These players, if you haven’t guessed, are Matt Harvey, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Reyes and Hansel Robles. Let’s examine them one at a time.

Harvey, seemingly healthy in spring training, has struggled with both velocity and command. He has already been bumped from the rotation and begrudgingly demoted to an undefined bullpen role. Harvey’s recovery from TOS surgery and rehab has been an uphill climb. The team wants him to succeed. But in truth, he’s in the last year of his contract and all indications are that he will not be back next season. He hasn’t earned a multi-year contract and the Mets are certainly not going to issue him a qualifying offer that could result in a staggering overpay of $17 million or more. The best case scenario for Harvey is that he remains healthy and can be effective in the bullpen so that he gets plugged back into the rotation when either Zack Wheeler or Steven Matz inevitably lands on the disabled list. In this case he’ll have an opportunity to regain some value, either to the team, or as trade bait in July. The worst case scenario is that Harvey performs poorly out of the bullpen and lets a negative attitude get in the way, in which case the front office will be forced to cut bait and release the fading star. Yes, they’d owe him several million for the remainder of this year, but, in this case, it would open a roster spot for someone more worthy and set an example by expunging a bad attitude. Hopefully, it never comes to this.

Reyes, another former Mets star, was brought back to play an infield utility role, as well as offer some mentorship to rising star Amed Rosario and bring some speed to the roster. Thus far, in limited action, he’s struggled mightily at the plate and even made a costly error in the field. Last year, Reyes also needed some time to get going, but then had a terrific last third of the season. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait that long. Rosario and Asdrubal Cabrera will need days off and Reyes will be useful as injury insurance and in a pinch hitting role as well. However, if he’s still struggling to find his stroke by Memorial Day, it might be time to cut our losses and give his spot to Gavin Cecchini, who hit really well in spring training and is currently slashing .288/.362/.423 in Las Vegas. T.J. Rivera should also be back with the team by June or so.

Gonzalez, once a Gold Glove winner and perennial .300 hitter is a shell of his former self. He’s lost bat speed, range in the field, and he’s a slug on the base paths. Yes, he had that one grand slam and can still scoop a throw in the dirt, but given how well Wilmer Flores is hitting against righties and improving at first base, not to mention Dominic Smith is healthy and getting on base in Las Vegas, it may soon be time to cut ties with Gonzalez. Since Atlanta is footing most of his salary, the Mets are only paying him the league minimum, so cutting him would be an easy move financially. Cutting Gonzalez would also open the possibility to relieve the outfield log jam some by giving Jay Bruce a crack at first base at least every so often.

As most of the Mets360 faithful know, this writer is no fan of Robles. Manager Mickey Callaway briefly fell under the same spell as his predecessor after Robles had a few strong relief outings. He’s a hard thrower with natural movement on his fastball. When he’s on, Robles can strike out anyone. But, when he’s off he’s a disaster. And he has a knack for giving up home runs at the worst possible time. He cannot be trusted in big spots. He may have a million dollar arm, but like Nuke Laloosh, he’s also got a ten cent head. By that, it’s not to suggest he’s a moron – for all we know, he’s a Rhodes Scholar – but he clearly has lapses in concentration on the mound and that may not be fixable. The bullpen is in good shape and has more than enough depth in AAA with guys like Jacob Rhame, Jamie Callahan and others. The next time we need to make room on the 40-man roster would be the right time to bid adieu to Robles and let him become another team’s problem project.

These four players may all remain Mets for a little while, but probably not for long. Should the Mets make a playoff run this year, it’s hard to envision any of these players on the post season roster. DFA’ing players is not easy. There’s a human aspect to it and there are emotions involved. This is why Alderson gets paid the big bucks. Gonzalez and Reyes have had long and lucrative careers full of highlights and achievements, and the two pitchers will get another shot elsewhere.

20 comments for “How long til Sandy Alderson presses the DFA button?

  1. b
    April 27, 2018 at 9:02 am

    matt will be traded . leave jose alone

    April 27, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Gonzales needs to be urgently done as they are actually starting him so he is doing the most daily damage.

  3. Pete from NJ
    April 27, 2018 at 10:28 am

    I think A Gonzalez might be the first to go. I’m not a judge of bat speed but if it’s true that it is gone, so is Gonzalez. A Gonzalez’s body language seems that he knows it too. Add the question: is Jay Bruce moving to first base opening up a spot for Brandon Nimmo?

    The other three players come later. I think Hansel Robles is safe riding the shuttle to/from AAA. Matt Harvey/Jose have until the all star break to prove their value.

    • April 27, 2018 at 10:39 am

      I agree with Pete.

      Gonzalez – Keith Hernandez in Cleveland update:

      AG – 70 PA .203/.300/.322
      KH – 145 PA .200/.283/.238

      Wow, Keith was really swinging a balsa-wood bat that last season – only 3 XBH. But Gonzalez’ AVG and OBP are right in line.

      • MattyMets
        April 27, 2018 at 10:59 am

        Brian – Keith was taking about that season the other night. He was battling a leg injury that he reinjured and couldn’t get going. Good comparison though and very similar players in many ways.

  4. Steve S.
    April 27, 2018 at 10:57 am

    I wouldn’t give up on Gonzalez just yet, but he should never be in there against lefties (with Flores around) and some righties (with Flores hitting fairly well against them, too). I’d give him another few weeks and that would be it.

    Same for Reyes.

    I’m not sure that Harvey should get an open spot (if it emerges) in the rotation. I’d give Oswalt a chance first.

    Sure hope that Plawecki makes it back soon, too!

    • MattyMets
      April 27, 2018 at 11:03 am

      Steve -Oswalt looked pretty good the other night and he’s progressing well in the minors but he’s behind Gsellman and Lugo in the pecking order as well. I’m glad he’s developing though as Montero is out for the season. Hopefully we don’t need to call on a 9th starter this year but given the track records of Harvey, Wheeler and Matz, who knows?

      • Steve S.
        April 27, 2018 at 11:40 am

        Agree that Gsellman and Lugo are preferable to Oswalt right now, but believe that Callaway wants them to stay in the pen. And he might be right about that.

      • Pal88
        April 27, 2018 at 12:31 pm

        I really hope this is the last time we hear Montero’s name mentioned unless of course it was announcing he was DFAd

  5. TexasGusCC
    April 27, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    It’s not that Gonzalez is useless, it’s “do you have better options”, and at this point the Mets do. The thing that jumps out at me is the many grounders he’s hitting. He reminds me of James Loney at this point.

    They were smart to sign Bruce in order to steal a few games early and not wait til May 1st for Conforto, although he came back early.

    But they are allowing their good start to erode by playing at less than their best, while the Nationals will get healthy and certainly start their ascend. Then, you have two upstart teams in your division that will be problematic all year. Add to this equation that while all teams are going young, the Mets crappy farm system has them going old, so the window next year will certainly be smaller. So the question is, what the hell are they waiting for????????????????

    They play hardball with the pitchers and sit on their hands with their crappy “leaders”.

  6. Chris F
    April 27, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Montero “out for the season” — what a great euphemism! He’s been out for the season…for 4 straight seasons!

    • Pal88
      April 27, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      Top of the DFA list

  7. Steve S.
    April 27, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    I wonder how far Alonso is from helping the Mets at 1B?

    • John
      April 27, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      Very unlikely that you see Alonso this year or the start of next year. Smith will get the first shot platooning with Flores.

  8. Mike Walczak
    April 27, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    The Mets need production and so far, Gonzalez is not delivering it. It is obvious that he is at the end of the road. So, they should cut him now. Reyes has more value in the number if positions he fan play, so his leash should be a little longer.

    Pecking order ? There shouldn’t be a pecking order. The manager should put the pitcher in the rotation who he feels makes the most sense. If that is Oswalt, it should be Oswalt.

    The last ten games have played out luke I thought the season would play out. Syndergaard and deGrom and pray for rain.

  9. Metsense
    April 27, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Bruce should be playing first base and Nimmo the outfield when a RHP starts against the Mets. Nimmo’s 500 OBP should longer be buried on the bench.

    • Mike Walczak
      April 27, 2018 at 9:21 pm

      Amen Metsense

      • TexasGusCC
        April 27, 2018 at 10:00 pm


  10. Gary
    April 29, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    I don’t see what all the excitement about Conforto is. We are a better hitting team with Nimmo in the outfield. Conforto should be the fourth outfielder. He definitely isn’t the one you want coming to bat with the game on the line. There is someone who can be used as trade bait for a catcher.

  11. OldBackstop
    May 2, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    It bothered me a bit that Bruce didn’t get work in spring training at first. I hate how the Mets, especially under Collins, just threw guys around….oh, Jose will play center, TJ Rivera will play left field. Now Bruce, I know, a dozen or so starts at first, but in a competitive season, I hate to throw somebody into a position where they aren’t experienced. Brad Pitt doesn’t understand that there is a certain art to first base.

    That said….I’m tempted to take Wilmer, even with only 50 or so games at first, and write him in as our first baseman for the next five years. He’s still young, but he’s 6’3″ with a shortstop’s glove, and his platoon power is amazing and you could hope that would grow into a well-rounded player.

    Gonzales looks done. Harvey looks done. Reyes I wouldn’t let go yet based on his speed, versatility, and the way he turned it around last year.

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