Would you trade David Wright and Jason Bay for nothing?

If you were Sandy Alderson and some team outside of the NL East came along and made the following trade offer, would you do it?

Team A gets: Jason Bay and David Wright
Mets get: Some random minor league prospect

Essentially, this trade is a salary dump. Would you give up Wright if it meant getting out from the obligation to pay Bay at least $35 million and more likely $49 million the next three seasons? When you add in the $15 million for Wright in 2012 and the $16 million he would get if they picked up his option – that comes out to an $80 million savings.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the chances of the Mets getting their money’s worth from Bay and Wright the next two/three years is virtually nil. Then when you consider the financial condition of the owners – if this trade did exist it would put Alderson in an extremely difficult position. Already he is being vilified in some corners for allowing Jose Reyes to leave as a free agent. What would be the damage to his reputation among many fans if he bid adieu to Bay and Wright, too?

But Alderson was brought aboard to make the grown-up decisions. It hurts that Reyes left but I think there’s little chance he earns that contract. The history of people earning $100 million contracts is not pretty and it’s not likely to improve with Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard unlikely to earn their newly-minted deals.

So, let’s say Alderson continues to be an adult and agrees to this mythical deal. Where would that leave the 2012 Mets? It would free up $33 million from this year’s payroll and leave the team with only three players signed – Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey and D.J. Carrasco. Of course, now Alderson would also need to add a 3B and OF to his offseason shopping list.

The first problem would seem to be easily solved – have Daniel Murphy play 3B. And trading Bay would allow Lucas Duda to switch to LF, where hopefully his defense would be less of an issue. So, the Mets have a ton of money to pick up a RF. Now, we know the Wilpons are going to pocket a bunch of this cash, but for argument’s sake – let’s say they give Alderson half of the $33 million to put back into the 2012 team and half goes towards paying back MLB (ha!).

So, what RF could the Mets pick up? I’ve got a name for you – how about old pal Carlos Beltran?

The Mets could have a DP combo of Ruben Tejada and Justin Turner, with Murphy at 3B and Beltran in RF. Let’s look at how that offense would shape up, compared to if the Mets had re-signed Jose Reyes and not made our mythical deal, and how that lineup they would produce. We’ll ignore people like Ike Davis, who would be on both versions of these pretend squads. For comparison purposes, I’ll use the 2012 Bill James OPS projections, available at FanGraphs.

Reyes lineup
2B (Tejada) – .656
3B (Wright) – .862
SS (Reyes) – .805
OF (Bay) – .791

Murphy lineup
2B (Turner) – .722
3B (Murphy) – .811
SS (Tejada) – .656
OF (Beltran) – .849

The Reyes lineup is clearly better, at least offensively, but is it $40 million better? Bay, Reyes and Wright would be in the ballpark of $51 million. If you figure $1 million as the combined salary for Murphy and Turner and $10 million for Beltran – then you get $40 million difference between the two teams.

I don’t know what the market for Carlos Beltran is – we’ll find out soon enough. But would a three-year/$30 million offer be enough? If that would get the job done, we would still have $6.5 million in savings from dumping the contracts of Bay and Wright to go towards pitching in 2012. And that’s not counting any money that it would have cost to sign Reyes.

Again, let’s give Alderson half of the money that would have gone to sign Reyes, who gets around $18 million per year from the Marlins, with the Wilpons pocketing the rest. Now Alderson has $15.5 million for pitching to spend as he sees fit.

So, in our pretend universe, the Mets could have Reyes back and nothing but reclamation guys to fill out the rotation/bullpen. Or they could have Beltran, an established closer and another solid pitcher and the Wilpons with an extra $25.5 million (enough to pay off that loan – ha!). The offense of the first team is clearly better. The defense of the second team is better and the pitching, too. I think you could make a case for the Murphy lineup, especially when you factor in that it’s $25.5 million cheaper.

*****

This is just a way to look at value because no team is going to make that trade offer and it’s unlikely that Beltran comes back to the Mets. But while we’re talking about Beltran, I have two more thoughts on the former Met. First, the Mets played their best ball of the season when Beltran and Murphy were in the lineup. They were 43-36 (.544) when both Beltran and Murphy started the game and 34-49 with one or both of them missing.

By contrast, the Mets were 60-64 (.484) in games Jose Reyes started. If we just look at Beltran, the Mets were 50-44 (.532) when he started.

Earlier, I mentioned that it was very rare for a player to be worth a $100 million contract. One of the few to pull off that trick was Beltran. According to FanGraphs, Beltran provided $133 million worth of value over the life of his free agent contract while he was paid $119 million over that span.

Let’s compare fWAR for Beltran and Reyes over the past seven years:

Beltran Reyes
2005 2.7 2.3
2006 7.9 6.1
2007 5.5 5.8
2008 7.6 6.4
2009 3.0 0.8
2010 0.8 2.9
2011 4.7 6.2
Total 32.2 30.5

What do you think the odds are that Reyes provides the value that Beltran did going forward? Mets fans can be sad that Reyes will be playing elsewhere from now on but they should be comforted by the fact that he’s unlikely to be worth what he’ll be paid and the team will not be waiting for the last few years for his salary to come off the books.

And we should use this same time to reflect on what a great player Beltran was for the team.

14 comments for “Would you trade David Wright and Jason Bay for nothing?

  1. rob
    December 5, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I fully agree!
    I had been thinking about this for awhile – Bay only.
    But I believe Wright is worth dumping too!
    I do not agree to bring Beltran back – will soon be over the hill.
    Not worth paying him that kind of money.
    I agree with the rest of the lineup.
    A decent rightfielder can come from trade for Carrasco or farm system.

    • jimmy cee
      December 6, 2011 at 9:50 am

      I totally agree with trading wright. Bad field, bad hit & Murphy would be perfect gap hitter replacement. Leave the fences alone & save even more $$$$ since you already have a park built to suit the team, contact hitters. Don’t get Beltran get speedy outfielder who makes contact & walks. Speed, defense equals better pitching & more interesting team.

  2. angel sosa
    December 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I trade David Wright to Angels for Cam Bedrosian, Ariel Pena and Peter Bourjos. Mets dont have chance the next season to win. Also trade Bay to Reds for Drew Stubbs and Jeremy Horst.
    Bye Jose Reyes…Miami look nice with you in the line up. I time to make some trade….

    • Brian Joura
      December 5, 2011 at 11:25 am

      Would love to have Bourjos on the Mets but I doubt the Angels would do that straight up – much less kick in two other guys in the deal…

  3. AJ
    December 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Understanding this theoretical exercise is just a way of posing a more realistic question regarding the Mets’ rebuilding strategy in light of Reyes’ departure, I say “yes” to the trade. With Reyes now officially gone, I think the Mets should go into full rebuild mode, and not attempt to be covert about it. Bay and particularly Wright could potentially be part of that effort, if they returned to their previous levels of output, but how likely is that? At this point in time, probably the greatest possible part Bay and Wright can play in the rebuilding of the Mets is whatever value they might bring as trade bait. Even at that, they would both need to have strong come-back years to re-inflate their value, much as Beltran did last season.

    This is a cold assessment, I admit. Probably it has something to do with the bitter sadness of seeing Jose Reyes depart. At the start of the ’07 season the Minaya Mets looked like they were tooled for a good run, and instead it turned into a 5-year gauntlet of disappointment and frustration. Enough already.

    Beltran is gone and now Reyes is too. David Wright no longer looks bound for Cooperstown and who knows what will remain of Johann Santana when and if he ever comes back. Jason Bay’s contract is the lingering sour reminder of the empire that never was. It’s time to turn the page.

    REBUILD – embrace the concept. Conceive a new future on the rubble of the recent past.

  4. December 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I’m not so sure you’ve got the right perspective on Bay. From what I saw, and maybe it’s just me, most Mets fan would have dumped Bay on any unsuspecting suitor for 2012 even if we had Reyes, Wright, Pujols, Fielder, Wilson and everyone else. It’s simply a matter that he hasn’t played well and finding a trade partner that will offer anything beyond a C prospect is nigh impossible.

    As for Wright, I disagree with you. Yeah, with Reyes gone there is no reason to half-ass a rebuilding effort. But they do need to keep some talent around, both to keep people coming and so there’s a team to mold the young players around. If you dump Wright for nothing, it’ll just prolong this dismal period in Mets history.

  5. rob
    December 5, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    i would say bay would be better to trade then wright i dont care how much rebuilding we are doing i still want to see a pro team out there not a minor league buffalo bison team.

  6. charles walte
    December 6, 2011 at 7:41 am

    for god sake..DO SOME THING!!!!!! TRADE BAY FOR RELIEF PITCHER
    KEEP WRIGHT FOR 2012

  7. jimmy cee
    December 6, 2011 at 10:07 am

    You forgot about Santana. Get rid of him for good pitching prospect or Peter Bourjos from angels. Get gio gonzales from Oakland for Duda & prospects. Trade Bay & Pelfrey to boston for CARL CRAWFORD. He’s still young & if he plays like before he’s worth the $$$$. Speedy outfield of Crawford, Bourjos, Pagan infield of Murphy, Tejada, Reese Havens, Davis not to shabby. Use money to solidify pitching & bullpen

  8. jimmy cee
    December 6, 2011 at 10:50 am

    how about we trade Wright, Pelfrey & Santana for….. Hanley Ramirez. We save $$$ Marlins spend…makes perfect sense all around. Throw in Tejada for Bonafacio & the Marlins will have wright, reyes, tejada & now us Met fans can root for them although Murphy, Ramirez, Bonafacio, Davis not so bad either.

  9. francisco Melendez
    December 6, 2011 at 11:18 am

    im METS fan from 1962 NEST YEAR ?

  10. December 6, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Personally being a red sox and mets fan, think that by trading Bay and Wright your doing more harm thean good. Look into some of the smaller names in the MLB who can play just as good! And not to mention you pay half the price to get them just saying but you have the 2 players why not keep them.

  11. Metsense
    December 6, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Allowing Reyes to go has reduced the Mets options. If Reyes was still a Met, Wright could have been traded for starting pitching with Murphy taking over 3b, Tejada 2b (and backup ss), Reyes SS and Davis 1b. A more defensive oriented lineup with a starting pitcher to boot. But the Mets have decided to go with Wright as the leader, leaving Tejada at ss, Murphy at 2b so they have a weaker defensive alignment and no upgrade in the starting pitching and a need to fill the roster with a defensive utility infielder that can’t hit. I don’t agree with this direction.
    Bay, in his two years here, has earned the position of platoon OF. The sooner the Mets mgmt. realizes this the faster the team will field a competitive team. Bay, if traded, would cost the Mets to pickup at least 11M of his salary and still have to get an OF for 5M a year. For this reason they may as well keep him and platoon him.
    Many fans are hoping for bounce back years for Bay and Wright because of the fences. Statistical indications are that they are more likely to remain at or regress from their 2011 production.

    • Brian Joura
      December 7, 2011 at 8:24 am

      I think the Mets have to give Bay a shot at full-time action with the new outfield alignment. I’d say the chances of it working are not great — but at this point a 20% shot of something working is worth taking, especially if it results in a guy with a .921 OPS like Bay had in 2009.

      But if we’re in late June and Bay has shown little improvement — then I think the move to the platoon you’re calling for is the right way to go. It helps the team now and in the future, because if he’s a platoon player going forward then the option does not vest.

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