Last week we ran a poll at Mets360 asking which player you would least like to see traded. With 404 people voting, here were the results:

Ike Davis – 55%
David Wright – 28%
Daniel Murphy – 6%
Ruben Tejada – 6%
Lucas Duda – 5%

I figured that Davis and Wright would be the top two, but I’m surprised at the order and shocked at the spread between the two. I’m also a bit surprised in the spread between Davis and Duda. Davis is much better defensively than Duda but it’s far from clear which one is the better hitter. Here are their major league numbers:

ID – .271/.357/.460 in 750 PA
LD – .273/.347/.468 in 439 PA

Davis seems to be the better overall player, due to his glove plus the fact that he is a year younger. But it would not surprise me in the slightest if Duda ended up as the better hitter. These numbers so far are extremely similar, but Duda’s are brought down by what he did in his brief time in 2010 (.676 OPS) while Davis’ are pulled up by what he did in his brief time in 2011 (.925 OPS).

As fans, we always assume that hitters will come back as good as new from injuries. And most of the time this turns out to be true. But how many people out there figured that Davis would miss the rest of the year when he went down with an ankle injury in May? Adding to the surprise is that the injury did not require surgery. As fans, should we assume with normal confidence that Davis returns and is healthy and able to play at the level he did last year?

With a full season under his belt, Sandy Alderson has had the time to evaluate his team up close and personal. Hopefully he has come to the conclusion that he needs to do some serious tinkering to the roster as it currently exists. Let’s look at the trade value of the five players mentioned above:

Davis
Pros – Top notch fielder, bat appeared to take a step forward in 2011. Has great power and could easily develop into consistent 30-HR hitter. Pre-arb player
Cons – Coming off an injury that took much longer to heal than originally anticipated. Much uncertainty over the type of offensive player he will be.

Wright
Pros – Has a track record of being one of the top hitters at his position for 7 years. Would probably benefit by a trade to another organization, where he wouldn’t have to be the face of the franchise.
Cons – His defense is an issue and his strikeouts are something of a concern. His salary at $15 million for 2012 is no longer cheap and limits the teams that could potentially acquire him. If traded, his 2013 option becomes voided, so acquiring team has him for just one season.

Murphy
Pros – Can handle both 1B and 3B. Good contact hitter who could handle batting anywhere in the lineup. Pre-arb player.
Cons – His last two years have been truncated due to season-ending injuries suffered in the middle infield. Does not have the power you would want from a 1B.

Tejada
Pros – Can handle both 2B and SS. Was essentially a league average hitter (96 OPS+) as a 21-year-old middle infielder in 2011. Pre-arb player.
Cons – Limited track record in both the majors and minors. Has virtually no power and is not a fast runner.

Duda
Pros – Posted a 136 OPS+ in his first extended look at major league pitching. Had an .854 OPS versus LH starters last year. Pre-arb player
Cons – By UZR/150 he was the worst defensive outfielder in the majors in 2011 with at least 300 innings played. Not a highly-regarded prospect (7th-round pick) prior to his 2010 breakout.

Most trade talks do not heat up until after the World Series, so it’s not surprising that we have not heard much hot stove action yet. However, there are reports that the Rockies are very interested in acquiring Wright. They have the need at 3B and with Troy Tulowitzki around he certainly would not become the team’s savior.

But can they afford him?

In 2010 the Rockies had a franchise-high $84.3 million payroll and last year it was at $82.3 according to Cot’s. Colorado already has $61.1 million allocated to 2012 payroll for 12 players. If they add Wright and his $15 million, that would leave 6-8 million dollars left for 11 players to fit in the 2010-2011 payroll mold. Both Seth Smith and Dexter Fowler are arbitration-eligible for the first time and are likely to see significant increases to their minimum-wage type contracts of 2011. The Rockies have three other players besides Smith and Fowler that are arbitration-eligible and they have four other players who are free agents.

For the Rockies to fit in Wright, they will likely have to bump their payroll over $85 million and probably nearer to $90 million, unless the Mets agree to send money in the deal. And that’s with filling in with minimum wage players. Alderson has shown a willingness to include cash, as he sent $4 million to the Giants in the Carlos Beltran trade and an estimated $5.9 million to Milwaukee in the Francisco Rodriguez deal.

In the Beltran deal, they were essentially buying Zack Wheeler. In the Rodriguez deal, they were doing whatever it took to get out from under his 2012 option. Would Alderson be willing to do it again for a player he claims that he does not want to deal? It’s possible, but I would not go so far as to say it was likely.

And that’s why it seems doubtful to me that Wright will be dealt in the offseason. Alderson has said that the Mets are not shopping Wright which seems to mean that he will look to acquire full value in any deal for him. With Wright coming off an injury-plagued season, along with his current contract status, it seems unlikely that the perfect storm of team with a need for a 3B, a team with salary room to pay him and a team willing to meet the Mets’ asking price all comes together at once.

The contract status of the four other players, all pre-arbitration, should make them more attractive to other teams. They all have questions for sure, but then again so does Wright. And would you rather pay a king’s ransom for a guy like Wright, who now comes with back issues and that you control for just one expensive year, or would you rather have a Duda or Tejada, who you can control for five inexpensive years, and seemingly acquire for less of a cost?

The other four players listed do not have the track record of Wright. But this is why teams have scouts and number crunchers on their staff. Is Tejada for real? Can Duda continue hitting in the majors? These risks should be calculated without great difficulty by professional teams. We’ve already seen this risk calculated by fans, who by a nearly two-to-one margin prefer that they keep Davis over Wright, regardless of track record.

It figures to be a fascinating offseason for the Mets. It may be a tough one to swallow for fans, as the possibility exists that the team could lose Jose Reyes to free agency and Wright via trade. But however things shake out, this will be the year where Alderson firmly puts his stamp on the team. Fans have been happy to this point with the job Alderson has done. Let’s see if they say the same thing on Opening Day 2012.

One comment on “Mets fans prefer to keep Ike Davis over David Wright

  • Metsense

    Ideally, and I repeat ideally, the choices are Duda or Davis at 1B. Wright or Murphy at 3B. Duda playing the OF is difficult and Murphy doesn’t have enough power for 1B but would be fine at 3B. Tejada is only expendable if Reyes signs and quite honestly I think Valdespin or Havens is their future internal 2B by 2013. Therefore if Reyes signs Tejada could be expendable and Turner could keep the seat warm for a year. So no matter what, 2-3 offensive players should be traded and hopefully the starting pitching and bullpen could be upgraded. This also leaves a hole in RF and LF (which needs a left handed bat to platoon with Bay). The Mets have also targeted CF as an upgrade. Too many holes, too little money, not enough trade chips. Alderson has got his work cut out for him.

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