The Mets addressed their need for a true center fielder by acquiring Jake Marisnick from the Astros for two minor leaguers. Marisnick had a very good year in 2017, when he posted an .815 OPS over 259 PA. Other than that season, it’s been an offensive profile similar to Juan Lagares, with an OPS+ right around 80. Of course, Lagares was significantly worse than that in 2019, so this is likely an upgrade. Defensively, he had a positive DRS (5) and UZR (3.4) in 733 innings in CF last year, making him an upgrade on Lagares in the field, too.
He’s got a little pop – he has 36 HR in in 812 PA over the past three years – and he can steal a base. Marisnick as a fifth outfielder is a great pickup. But if the plan is to play him in a platoon role and have him take away PA from a better hitter on a regular basis, well, not so much. While not as drastic as what was proposed with Billy Hamilton earlier this offseason, the goal should be to minimize his PA. While Hamilton would need to be under 100, Marisnick could be in the 150-175 range. Certainly not the 285 PA that Lagares got last year.
As for what they gave up, it was LHP Blake Taylor and OF Kenedy Corona. If Taylor’s name sounds familiar, he was acquired from the Pirates in the Ike Davis deal. He had a good 2019 (2.16 ERA, 1.095 WHIP in 66.2 IP split among three clubs) and was likely one of the club’s top 25 prospects and odds are that he would have seen time in the Mets’ pen at some point in 2020. Corona’s a lottery ticket, an unheralded international signee who had a productive year in the GULF last season.
Seems like a good trade for both teams. Marisnick has value, especially if used correctly, and fills a definite need for the 2020 Mets. The Astros get two minor leaguers with upside. Hopefully it works out as well as the last trade New York made with Houston, the one that they picked up a player for the 2019 team at the cost of some prospects, with that player being J.D. Davis.
FOR THOSE WHO STAND LONG – Mets fans have been wishing for new owners for quite some time and it looks like there might be a light at the end of that tunnel, with the news that billionaire Steve Cohen is in advanced negotiations to buy a controlling interest in the team. Allegedly, Cohen will end up with 80% of the team, although the Wilpons will stay on in executive roles for the next five years.
History shows that when it comes to selling the team, fans should believe it only when a signed deal is in place. But this time feels different and hopefully the inclusion of the Wilpons continuing a role in the immediate future means this one has a shot of coming true. Still, there seems to be a lot of moving parts and unfinished business to this alleged sale.
Obviously, the biggest issue is how does it work with two popes in the building? Maybe the Wilpons just want to be the ones to receive the trophy should Cohen’s money put them over the top in the next five years. Or maybe they want to be more than figureheads. But another item seems to be the long-term future of SNY, which was not included in Cohen’s acquisition of the team. Back in 2014, Adam Rubin estimated that SNY paid the Mets $52 million annually for the rights fees and the deal was through 2030. Those rights could be much, much more valuable in 2031. Would Cohen set up a new network at that point? Since carriage fees are not included in MLB’s revenue sharing – while rights fees are – it would certainly benefit Cohen to start a new network.
PHILLY POACHES WHEELER – As expected, Zack Wheeler signed his deal before the Winter Meetings, inking a 5/$118 million deal with the Phillies. Allegedly, Wheeler turned down more money from the White Sox, in order to remain on the East Coast. Some are shocked at the AAV of this deal, figuring there’s no way that Wheeler is worth this much money. While he may not be “worth” it, guys at his age with his recent level of success were getting paid, plain and simple. If you’re shocked, you just haven’t been paying attention.
Some speculate that Wheeler in Citizens Bank Park is a disaster waiting to happen. There’s some logic behind that, as the Phillies’ home park is a hitter-friendly one and Wheeler gave up a career-high 22 HR last year. But Wheeler has pitched well in CBP in his career. In seven games there, he’s 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA, including a 2.37 mark in three appearances there in 2019.
RHOMBICUBOCTAHEDRON TIME – MLB expands its roster size to 26 for the 2020 season. And in a corresponding move, teams will be limited to 28 players in September when rosters expand. While my preference would have been to keep the same number all year long, this is a big step in the right direction to end the farce of seemingly unlimited September bodies. The question is how teams will allocate the new roster slot the first five months of the season. Permanent 13-man pitching staff? Three catchers? Designated runner? This gives teams options and hopefully teams will use it to try and win games with a deeper bench, rather than a deeper bullpen.
LOCKING THE DOOR ON LOOGYs – Another new rule for the upcoming season will require pitchers to either face a minimum of three batters or complete an inning before they can be removed. This is a pace of play initiative, aimed at eliminating the Terry Collins special of playing matchups with three or more relievers in a single inning. Ideally, teams would have come to the realization that this was a sub-optimal player utilization strategy on their own, without the need for a rule from above. And teams were heading in that direction. But this will hasten the move for the stragglers. Good riddance and may we never see the likes of Scott Rice, Robert Carson, Tim Byrdak, Scott Schoeneweis and the nameless Eric O’Flaherty ever again.