Hmmm… there was probably a better pun to be made there. Oh well, moving on.
I’m among the minority of Mets fans that, even after his 2011 season, still liked Angel Pagan. I could certainly understand why so many other Mets fans were frustrated with him. But I never understood the logic behind the non-tender rumors (a subject I went into some depth about in an earlier piece). Debating with other Mets fans about Pagan’s value and why I thought a non-tender made absolutely no sense probably made me a stauncher supporter of Pagan than I would have otherwise been. So late last night, when I heard that Angel Pagan had been traded to the Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez, my initial reaction was disappointment. Followed by sleep.
In the light of day, however, the trade doesn’t bother me so much. I remind myself that Pagan wasn’t, in fact, non-tendered, which was the move I was most concerned about. Angel Pagan will be a free agent next fall and is not the type of core piece that a rebuilding franchise (like the Mets) should go to great lengths to keep around. He’ll also make something in the $4.5-5M range in arbitration, which for a cash-strapped team (like the Mets) isn’t exactly cheap. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that he’s a good player who will have a big year in 2012, and I still think that he got a disproportianate amount of grief from Mets fans, but I can see the value in moving him.
The return on the trade is helpful for the Mets. In Andres Torres, they get a player who has actually been more valuable (per fWAR) than Pagan over the past 3 years. Even ignoring defense (Torres’ forte), they’ve been reasonably comparable hitters over the past 3 years. Torres will be 34 on Opening Day, while Pagan will be 30, so I don’t buy that Torres will be a better hitter than Pagan in 2012. But it’s not unreasonable to think that he will be adequate with the bat. And defensively, while I don’t think Pagan will be as bad as he was in 2011, Torres is flat-out superb. That’s particularly important when you’ve got an average fielder in left and a statue in right. Taking my own pro-Pagan biases and expectations out of the equation, it’s not hard to view Torres for Pagan as a lateral move for the Mets. Especially when you consider that Pagan is likely to make some $2M more than Torres in 2012 and that Torres is under Mets control for 2013, while Pagan is a free agent at the end of next season.
The real bonus here, though, is that the Mets got a second player from the Giants, RHP Ramon Ramirez. The 30-year old reliever has bounced around the league since making his debut for the Rockies in 2006. He’s posted an ERA under 3.00 in each of the last 4 seasons, he’s got decent K and BB numbers, and he’s been very durable, appearing in at least 66 games in each of the past 4 seasons (he ranks 5th in MLB in appearances over that period). Although we all know how much the durability tag was worth when the Yankees acquired Pedro Feliciano last year. Still, Ramirez, who will make something in the $2M neighborhood in 2012 (his final arbitration year before free agency), will be an asset for a Mets team that struggled to find a winning combination in the pen last year.
Ultimately, the trade helped shore up an area of concern (the bullpen), and didn’t create any gaping holes. Losing Pagan makes the leadoff spot a little more unsettled, but as a believer in the virtual irrelevence (or at least overratedness) of lineup construction, this isn’t a major concern for me. The trade also rid the Mets of a player who (despite my appreciation) was reportedly unpopular with the team (reports I take with a healthy dose of skepticism) and definitely unpopular with the bulk of the Mets fanbase. Bottom line: I still think that for the 2012 season, Pagan will be the best player involved in this trade, but it’s a move that made sense for the Mets to make.
If you’re interested in Major League transactions, rules, and procedures, or if you just want to know which Mets have options left and what picks the Mets will get for Jose Reyes, be sure to check out tpgmets.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @tpgMets.