Evaluating Asdrubal Cabrera and the departed Mets

As the 2019 season approaches, what remains of Sandy Alderson and the officials who worked beside him is subsiding. The current regime has made a flurry of moves, turning over the roster and front office with new faces. Alderson, who took a leave of absence for the Mets last season, was often criticized for his inactivity in the markets- this can be assessed by looking back at the 2018 preseason through trade deadline.

During the preseason, fans were debating the values of newly signed contracts, however there was little in terms of departures occurring. Turnover remained low, as administration believed in the constructed roster. Amid a disappointing 2018 season, the Mets started to sell some of their stock. This began with Matt Harvey to the Reds, which would be Sandy Alderson’s last major league transaction as GM. Veterans, former core pieces and longtime minor leaguers, among others, make up the list of departed Mets – this collection of talent is forever linked to Alderson and the replacement front office trio.

Tyler Pill, P: Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers

Departure: Elected free agency on November 6, 2017.

2018 stats:

TEAM LEVEL W L ERA G GS IP SO WHIP
3 teams Minors (AA-AAA) 3 6 5.36 23 14 82.1 57 1.59

Review: The departure list begins with pitcher Tyler Pill, who was drafted in the fourth round of 2011. Pill made his debut in May 2017 after spending six years in the minors. Appearing in seven games that season, Pill started three of them and was 0-3 with a 5.32 ERA before being shut down for the year after arthroscopic surgery on his elbow.

In January, 2018 Pill signed a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks. He was later traded to the Dodgers for cash, where he worked to AAA. Pill has not been missed as his figures haven’t improved since his time with the Mets. It remains to be seen if the 28 year old can contribute to a major league team.

Travis Taijeron, OF: Los Angeles Dodgers

Departure: Elected free agency on November 6, 2017.

2018 stats:

TEAM G PA HR R RBI BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
Dodgers (AAA) 87 318 11 40 44 10.4 % 34.6 % 0.271 0.352 0.468

Review: Taijeron was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 draft by the Mets and was honored as an All Star four times throughout his minor league career. He made his debut in August of 2017; in 26 games for the club, he failed to showcase power that he’s known for and was overmatched by major league pitching.

In November 2017 Taijeron signed a minor league contract with LA. Taijeron spent 2018 in AAA, where he appeared in 87 games between the outfield and, for the first time in his minor league career, first base. Perhaps this was a strategy by LA to get his bat in the lineup given the quality and quantity of major league outfield talent on their roster. Taijeron had the same minor league production in LA’s system that he had in New York, with a high K% and ISO. At 30 years old, no longer with on a contract, one would figure that his chances of consistent major league playing time are slim.

Josh Edgin, P: Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals

Departure: Elected free agency on October 4th, 2017.

2018 stats:

TEAM LEVEL W L ERA G IP SO WHIP GO/AO
2 teams Minors (AAA) 4 3 3.56 47 43 64 1.44 1.71

Review: Edgin, a former 30th-round draft pick, is best known for his breakout 2014 season with the club where he posted a 1.32 ERA over 47 games. Although he showed effectiveness against both righties and lefties, Edgin was predominantly used against the latter. After recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2015, Edgin was never the same pitcher. Throughout his career with the Mets, Edgin had a 3.49 ERA and an 8.1 K/9 in 129 innings.

Edgin signed a minor league contract with the Orioles and in May of 2018, opted out of the contract, and was released. He quickly signed with the Nationals where he spent the remainder of 2018 with their AAA affiliate with moderate success. The 32 year old reliever could provide organizational depth for a Nationals club with a poor bullpen track record.

Tommy Milone, P: Washington Nationals

Departure: Elected free agency on October 26th, 2017.

2018 stats:

Team W L G IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 GB% HR/FB ERA FIP
Nationals (AA) 0 0 1 2 9 4.5 0 33.3 % 0.0 % 0 2.83
Nationals (AAA) 7 4 20 109.2 9.27 1.97 0.9 35.2 % 7.9 % 4.19 3.31
Nationals 1 1 5 26.1 7.86 0.34 2.39 27.8 % 15.6 % 5.81 5.1

Review: During a 2017 season riddled with injuries to their starters, the Mets claimed Milone off waivers from the Brewers. Milone was part of 12 pitchers to start a game for the Mets that season, and failed to provide any resemblance of support. Across 11 appearances, Milone pitched to the tune of an 8.56 ERA and was prone to giving up the long ball. As expected, Milone’s usage was limited to a fill-in piece and he was let go.

From there he returned to the organization that drafted him – the Nationals. He found himself starting games for Washington down the stretch of a lost season – including a nine strikeout, seven inning win over the Mets. The 32 year old journeyman will likely try to hook on to another major league club in 2019 to provide some fill-in starts.

Chasen Bradford, P: Seattle Mariners

Departure: Selected off waivers on January 19th, 2018.

2018 stats:

Season Team W L G IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP GB% ERA FIP WHIP
2018 Mariners (AAA) 0 0 7 6.2 5.4 0 0 0.238 47.6 % 0 2.55 0.75
2018 Mariners 5 0 46 53.2 6.37 2.35 1.51 0.279 46.6 % 3.69 4.99 1.28

Review: Bradford was drafted by the Mets in 2011 and worked his way through the minors to a debut in 2017. That year, over 27 games, he sported a 3.74 ERA along with his usual above average GB%. Bradford has three pitches – a slider, fastball and sinker – and while he doesn’t have great stuff, he’s been able to get outs wherever he pitches. In January 2018, the Mets designated Bradford for assignment to make room for Adrian Gonzalez, where he was swooped up by the Mariners.

Bradford had an unusually low GB% and gave up more fly balls last year, however he was still effective and performed well enough for Seattle. Bradford is currently on the Mariners 40-man roster and will be fighting to remain with the major league squad in spring training. His arm has shown flashes and it will be interesting to see if he can take the next step into a prominent relief option.

Josh Smoker, P: Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers

Departure: Traded to the Pirates for Daniel Zamora on January 31st, 2018.

2018 stats:

TEAM LEVEL W L ERA G IP BB SO WHIP
2 teams Minors 3 2 3.38 42 45.1 16 50 1.35
2 teams MLB 0 0 8.59 8 7.1 7 4 2.45

Review: Smoker, another 2017 call-up, was known for having an above-average fastball velocity. A first round draft pick by the Nationals, Smoker signed with the Mets in 2015 and made his major league debut a year later. In two years with the club he never quite established himself as a reliable option. Over 71.2 innings for the team, Smoker compiled a 5.02 ERA and an 11.7 K/9.

Smoker was traded to the Pittsburgh where he pitched 32 games for their AAA affiliate and had a brief stint in the majors He was then claimed off waivers by Detroit – his 2018 season bounced around AAA with stints at the major league level, producing subpar results. In September he was released by the Tigers.

Matt Reynolds, 3B: Washington Nationals

Departure: Purchased by the Nationals for cash on February 12th, 2018

2018 stats:

Team G PA HR R RBI AVG OBP SLG
Nationals (AAA) 86 355 4 55 29 0.265 0.355 0.424
Nationals 12 14 0 1 1 0.154 0.214 0.154

Review: Reynolds was drafted as a shortstop in the second round by the Mets in 2012. His minor league numbers are inflated by a high BABIP and time in hitter friendly Las Vegas. Reynolds was promoted to New York in 2016 but didn’t hit well enough in his time with the club, sporting a .652 OPS over two seasons. Reynolds played third base for the Nationals amid a disappointing 2018 season. Destined as a typical Quad-A player, he will likely never contribute to a major league club.

Matt Harvey, P: Cincinnati Reds

Departure: Traded for Devin Mesoraco on May 8th, 2018

2018 stats:

TEAM LEVEL W L ERA G IP BB SO WHIP
Reds Majors 7 7 4.50 24 128 8 111 1.25

Review: The Mets entered the 2018 season confident in their starting rotation. After four starts to the season, Harvey was removed from the rotation and sent to the bullpen, where he showed obvious signs of frustration. The Mets, who had put up with the drama and lack of production in the past, cut ties with their dormer All-Star, sending him to the Reds for Devin Mesoraco in a swap of impending free agents.

Harvey improved his performance after the trade, with a 4.33 FIP compared to 5.68 in New York. His K/9 also went up a point to 7.8. After all of the hurdles and self-inflicted wounds, the Harvey rising once again would certainly make for an amazing story. The Angels signed Harvey to an $11million contract and must believe that he will perform above 1.0 WAR for the season. In a vacuum, perhaps Harvey can be a competitive fourth or fifth starter, but he may not be worth the additional side effects. Mesoraco was a solid reclamation project and showed signs of power, while working well with the starters. But ridding the team of Harvey is a benefit to the overall operation and allows the team to move forward productively.

Jeurys Familia, P: Oakland Athletics

Departure: Traded to the Oakland Athletics for Will Toffey, Bobby Wahl and international bonus slot money.

2018 stats:

TEAM LEVEL W L ERA G IP BB SO WHIP
Athletics Majors 4 3 3.45 30 31.1 14 40 1.21

Review: Familia seemed an obvious target at the trade deadline, providing relief depth for a playoff-bound team. He worked as a closer for the Mets, with a 129 ERA+ and K/9 over 9.0 in 2018. Familia, like his other trade-deadline counterparts, was an integral part to previous Mets playoff teams and holds the Met’s single-season saves record. The trade to the Athletics was a disappointing return for most Mets fans, but perhaps the offers were not quite there. Familia was used as a seventh-inning man for the Athletics down the stretch and was performed consistently to his Mets tenure. The Mets must have taken notice to his consistency, as they inked him to a three year deal in the offseason. All-in-all, the rental of Familia netted the Mets two prospects and international slot money. Wahl was traded for OF Keon Broxton, who figures to help the club as a defensive center fielder with power potential. Toffey is the Mets 21st ranked prospect on MLB.

Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B, SS, 3B: Philadelphia Phillies

Departure: Traded to the Phillies for Franklyn Kilome on July 27, 2018

2018 stats:

Team G PA HR R RBI AVG OBP SLG
Phillies 49 185 5 20 17 0.228 0.286 0.392

Review: Cabrera is at the core of a successful Mets postseason run, including some memorable moments. Originally serving as their shortstop, he made headlines when he complained about being relegated to second base. His start to 2018 was All-Star caliber, but he tailed off in performance after the trade to Philadelphia; his OPS+ dropped to 80 which is 48 points less than with New York. The Mets were able to cash in on his veteran presence, hot bat and infield versatility by trading him to the Phillies for pitching prospect Kilome, who is a top five prospect for the Mets. The Phillies were hoping for a spark, and instead got a diminished return. Cabrera did not provide the offense that Philadelphia needed, as they petered out of playoff contention.

Cabrera recently made some noise when he insinuated on Instagram that he was interested in returning to New York, though the Mets had other ideas. In a year where they are looking to compete, the Mets have turned over their infield with new faces. In the meantime, Kilome is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2019 season after posting a 4.18 ERA and 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio with Double-A Binghamton. Kilome adds to the Mets farm system and is one of the better moves of the post-Alderson administration. Cabrera has recently signed with the Rangers on a 1 year/$3.5m deal.

It was a relatively low turnover but, given that the Mets were able to deal impending free agents for usable pieces, the front office seem to have done well in this regard. Over the next few seasons we’ll continue to track players by their history within the team and the administration that brought them in. While we enjoy the 2019 season and shiny new toys, we’ll be compelled to check in on Jarred Kelenic every once in a while or catch the occasional Jay Bruce HR highlight. Only time will tell if the players on the other side of deals will prove unneeded or part of a developmental gap for years to come. The Brodie Van Wagenen era is on the clock.

9 comments for “Evaluating Asdrubal Cabrera and the departed Mets

  1. Name
    January 29, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Ironically you missed Erik Goeddel, who in my opinion had the best success of all the recently departed Mets.

    Had an outstanding 0.79 ERA in his first 22.2 IP last season. It was the Mets who first roughed him up on June 24th with a 3 ER appearance which lead to him struggling for another month before he succumbed to some sort of injury

    • Chris B
      January 29, 2019 at 11:42 pm

      Good catch – It looks like the Dodgers used Goeddel in a full inning of the sixth, seventh or eighth. His splits against lefties are better than righties, with a good amount of usage against both. This could have something to do with his splitter. He’s currently a free agent.

  2. January 29, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    That’s a long list of mediocrity there Chris! I had high hopes for Josh Smoker and he showed some flashes down the stretch in 2016. Losing Bradford could hurt later, but I am willing to bet he’ll be exposed as time goes by.

    Remember Alderson’s “plan?” I really wonder what that was all about. Especially with the release of Cecchini yesterday. I am glad Sandy’s health is improved, but in reality he wasn’t a very good GM.

    • Name
      January 29, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      Actually, you should be hoping this list sucks. Otherwise, that means the Mets made a mistake and should have kept the player.

      • TJ
        January 29, 2019 at 7:16 pm

        True. Seeing Turner and Murphy added to tht list would turn my stomach a bit. Overall though, it’s mostly AAAA guys.

  3. Artie
    January 29, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Wow, no wonder the Mets have stunk up the joint the past three seasons!

  4. MattyMets
    January 29, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Chris – kudos on a really nice post. Josh Smoker is an interesting case to me of a guy who hit the ceiling hard. A lefty with nothing but a good fastball can go far but you need a reliable secondary pitch to make it in the show. He never developed one and his fastball, while good, is not unhittable. Even Aroldis Chapman and Billy Wagner needed to develop wipeout sliders.

    • MattyMets
      January 29, 2019 at 7:37 pm

      Btw, if anyone plays MLB 9 Innings, there’s a glitch that gives Josh Edgin a 107 MPH fastball. He’s unhittable!

    • Chris B
      January 30, 2019 at 12:22 am

      Thanks Matty – looking forward to contributing to Mets360. Josh Smoker’s will come and go and we’ll have to hope to catch lightning in a bottle every now and then. The Mets should look at what the Astros and Brewers have accomplished with their ‘pens. Guys who can be inserted into any inning or situation before a dominant closer shuts it out.

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