Andre-Ethier1When this season started, everyone pointed to the Mets’ outfield as a major weakness. At the time, everyone wasn’t wrong. Coming out of Florida, the “set” lineup was Lucas Duda in left field, Collin Cowgill in center and a combination of Mike Baxter, Marlon Byrd and Jordany Valdespin manning right. Not exactly a group that will make you forget the power, speed and defense combination of Don Buford/Paul Blair/Frank Robinson from the 1968-71 Orioles or even the starting outfield of the Mets’ last pennant winner in 2000 – Benny Agbayani/Jay Payton/Derek Bell. As expected, the 2013 version stumbled through the first month-to-six-weeks of the season. Sandy Alderson answered decisively. Cowgill was demoted and Juan Lagares arrived. A trade was made for Eric Young, Jr. Byrd hit his way into being a fulltime starter. Suddenly a semi-productive outfield was born. Young brings a speed dimension which had been missing, Lagares totes an outstanding glove and Byrd has become a hit machine.

Only one of them should be starting in 2014.

Marlon Byrd has been nothing short of remarkable this season. He’s hitting well enough that some question the source of his rejuvenation. After all, he did receive a 50-game suspension last season – a season in which he put up a total slash line .210/.243/.245 (a pathetic .488 OPS) — for violating MLB’s anti-PED policy. With all antennae tuned to PED violations this year in the wake of the Biogenesis revelations, it is unsurprising that a recent violator would come under scrutiny. Be that as it may – PEDs or no PEDs – Byrd is having a marvelous year, yes, but one that is unlikely to be repeated. One need only look back as far as the likes of Moises Alou, Jose Vantentin or Shawn Green to see the folly in rewarding a fluky offensive year. As good as Byrd has been, he rides the pine in 2014, unless he finds greener pastures elsewhere.

Eric Young is pretty fast and plays better-than-decent defense, but at the moment he’s still only hitting .250 – if batting average is still your bag – with very little power, a .326 slugging pct. He may finally land at second base, but the organization loves Daniel Murphy too much for that to happen. A more likely spot for him in the future might be the Justin Turner role: a utility guy who can play both the infield and outfield passably enough to spell the starters and maybe pinch-hit.

So if we’re eliminating 2/3 of the outfield in 2014, who are the replacements? Your intrepid columnist expects one to be acquired via trade, the other to be signed as a free agent. Let’s tackle the trade first, with a gaze to the west. The Dodgers have been on a magic carpet ride of a second half, even while battling semi-constant injuries to their stellar center fielder Matt Kemp. His replacement in the outfield has done little to ingratiate himself with manager Don Mattingly or upper management with his sometimes-torpid play. When Kemp returns, this will obviously create a glut in the LA outfield and offer a prime candidate to be moved in the offseason. In one man’s opinion, Andre Ethier will be heading east, most likely in exchange for some young pitching, of which the Mets have the most – think Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell, one of either Jacob deGrom or Rafael Montero and an organizational guy or two for Ethier and an offset to his contract, and/or some international signing slot money.

As for the other spot, the two most desirable free agent outfielders on the horizon are Shin-Soo Choo of the Reds and the Red Sox’ Jacoby Ellsbury. Either would be a welcome addition on the Queens greensward, on both sides of the ball. Both could slot into the leadoff post, both get on base at an impressive clip, both can run ‘em down with the best of ‘em. The choice here is Choo, if for no other reason than he already knows the NL and there would be little to no adjustment period. He also reaches base at a slightly higher clip than Ellsbury — .415 to .356. If he would agree to something around a 4-year/$45 million deal, we could see him patrolling left field at the Citi.

The lineup would look something like this, then:

Shin-Soo Choo – LF
Daniel Murphy – 2B
David Wright – 3B
Andre Ethier – RF
Ike Davis/Josh Satin – 1B
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Juan Lagares – CF
Omar Quintanilla/Ruben Tejada – SS

If they get any kind of production out of first or short, this group might present a reason to print playoff tickets in 2014.

It’s gonna be a fun winter.choo_2013-topps-heritage-580x812

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

52 comments on “Projecting A 2014 Mets Outfield

  • David Groveman

    That deal for Ethier is absolutely awful. The Mets give up too much for a player who isn’t worth his high contract. It’s realistic… but I still hate it.

    Choo seems the best option but the Mets should be looking at so many other things before Ethier.

    • Charlie Hangley

      You mean like SS and 1B?

      • David Groveman

        Yes, like acquiring a SS who has a bat or at least some speed.

        Texas is in a position where they could possibly be willing to trade an Elvis Andrus.

        Arizona is in a position to trade Chris Owings

        Andre Ethier is so VERY MUCH not the answer

        • Chris F

          I completely agree David. I’d only take Ethier under the condition LA pays half the freight. They need to dump his contract in the worst way. Id toss in some average person as a consolation if required. Ethier is an anchor. Id way prefer them to go after Abreu and solve the OF elsewhere.

          The rumor is that Ellsbury and the Red Sox are made for each other. Neither want to break up. Choo remains the FA of choice for me.

        • Jerry Grote

          with the Mets giving up offense to play Lagares, Andrus is definitely off the table. You can’t commit $15MM a year for the next ten years to a guy with a 684 OPS in the American League (at Texas, no less), who’s main claim to WAR fame is defense.

  • Sean Flattery

    Mets won’t have to give up even close to that much for Ethier. Dodgers have no leverage for a trade, they have a logjam at OF and way to much salary alotted there. Also, no team would agree to a trade for Eithier unless the Dodgers eat a portion of that ridiculous contract.


    Mets track record with free agents is beyond horrible. Players brought in from other major league teams for money that panned out include… Carlos Beltran. Um, Cliff Floyd? Almost everyone else has been a disaster, even if their numbers don’t seem that bad now (think Bobby Bonilla and Eddie Murray). The 1980s Mets were rebuilt by recognizing who was going to be good–and keeping them; they filled the holes by trading the other prospects at peak value. The Mets can’t afford Choo, or even Ethier. They have to find the best value for the best carrot they can dangle. That’s very hard. That’s why when it comes to Mets GMs, there is Frank Cashen and there’s a bunch of other guys who didn’t wear a bow tie. Sandy earns his money now or gets replaced.

    • Charlie Hangley

      Matt, the problem is that isn’t anybody ready to step in. Their OF prospects are either suspended (Puello) or not close to big-league ready (Nimmo, Corey Vaughn). I don’t think anybody’s willing to roll the dice with the group as currently constructed, so improvement must come from without.

    • Name

      Can you name a team with a good track record with free agents? There’s a reason why baseball fans and organizations have fallen in love and gone crazy with prospects. The current system is designed for young players to get underpaid and then they get compensated when they are older and are overpaid.

    • za

      Carlos Beltrán was a great free agent signing. Strongly disagree with you there. I agree that teams can’t be built around free agents but if the right opportunity makes itself available you take it.

  • Reese

    The player to target caught up in the Dodger logjam is AA outfielder Joc Pederson. There is no concern about salary, declining years and he brings a combination of both speed and power. For him I’d consider moving one of the better Mets minor league prospects:

    • za

      Pederson/Lagares/Puello is an OF I could prospect dream about.

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  • Chris

    I would resign Byrd and two free agents: choo for left, Morales for first. Try to make a trade for a SS.

    Line up: Choo, Murphy, Wright, K. Morales, Byrd, D’Arnaud, Lagares, ss

    Obviously I would love a trade for Stanton or Cargo or Bautista but doubt that would happen. If it did then look to resign Byrd as a bench guy.

    • za

      We don’t need Morales at first; it makes more sense seeing which of Duda/Ike/Satin/Flores could play the position. No point in paying a guy waaaay more money who limits your team’s flexibility and costs way, way, way more than alternatives that don’t represent that much of a downgrade at all. Ike’s hit .310/.477/.536 since the break and Duda had a BETTER OFFENSIVE LINE THAN MORALES THIS YEAR. Come on.

      Signing Peralta at SS, Choo in LF, and trying to improve defense while maintaining offense at 2B seems to be the priority right now. 1B isn’t locked in but we don’t need to go outside the organization to fill it.

  • TexasGusCC

    The best option at this time, seems to be Beltran and Ellsbury. They will not cost any talent, and Elsbury should have similar money to Choo. Do not want Ethier, as I would rather keep Byrd than get Ethier. As for Choo, if the money is right for up to three years, sure. Otherwise, Ellsbury for us. A little extra bonus coverage on Choo:

    • za

      Would be amazing if the Cards decline to offer Beltrán the QO – he’d consider resigning with us after seeing the rebuild in action and I’d rather sign Beltrán and not give up a pick than sign Choo and give one up.

      • za

        Can’t edit but wanted to add that Beltrán on the roster would also help serve as a bridge for young Latin players like Lagares, Flores, Mejía, Puello, etc – I really do think that he would have been the guy to knock some sense into Valdespín.

  • Billy Watson

    I would see if we can do a massive deal with Colorado, try for Tulo, Cargo, Cuddyer, starting the offer with Mejia, Wheeler, Murphy, Nimmo, Robles, Tapia, Cecchini, and throw in Valdespin and Duda, and see if that would be enough
    I think that team would be good enough to go to the world series
    Lineup would be imposing with Lagares, d’Arnoud, Wright, Tulo, Cargo, Flores, Cuddyer, Davis with Puello or Vaughn to take over for Cuddyer in 2015 if he departs as a FA
    Rotation Harvey, Niese, Gee, and competition from Degrom, Montero, Syndergaard, Mazzoni shows we have plenty of depth

  • Metsense

    The Mets need two corner outfielders in 2014. Choo, Ellsbury, Pence,Beltran will all receive qualifying offers so a #1 draft pick and draft pool money will be lost. Choo would be the only one that I would consider at that cost and according to the Cincinatti Enquirer the bidding starts at 4 years/60 M. Do you think Sandy goes in for that one? I don’t.
    Nelson Cruz could be signed for 2-3 years at 10M per or Byrd is the next best OF free agent so that appears more likely. The other corner will be in trade. Please not the Ethier trade you proposed. Reese is right about Pederson and during the course of the winter I hope Sandy makes a trade for a top prospect OF but for 2014 he also needs to trade for an established player with Byrd-like #’s.

    • peter

      I can’t see why we as fans continue to pursue players with juiced up statistics. Why would you give Cruz a reward of 10 million for using PED’S? We have our own players suspended for the same violations and you want to sign another user? Sends the wrong message to those who don’t use. What would Cruz numbers be without the the drugs? SA doesn’t need that headache. Two is enough.

  • Josh

    You’re kidding, right? The Dodgers would be begging to give Ethier away to anyone who can pay his salary. Thank Jebus you’re not the GM of this team! We’d be DOOMED!

  • peter

    the Mets would be inheriting 69 million over the next 4 years plus a 2.5 million dollar option. Might as well offer Ellsbury 90 million for 5 years and get both. You put Lagares in left and have a dynamic outfield that can cover gap to gap. use your surplus of young pitching in a trade for a first base man. Maybe Trumbo from the Angels?

    • Jerry Grote

      I’d love a trade for Trumbo, and I think the better team we line up with is the Angels. We have young, cheap talent. They have a payroll problem.

      The Sox will give Els a 7 year deal, minimum, at $18-20M per. He’s out.

      Ethier. I’m betting you can have him at 4/$40MM, by time the Dodgers have paid their share. Maybe 4/$45. Don’t give up a lot in talent – Murphy, and maybe Torres or Turner – and get an outfield position covered. Resign Byrd.

      Trumbo at 1B, Flores at 2B, Ethier at LF, Byrd at RF, Lagares in CF, Wright at 3B, TDA at C. You haven’t fixed SS, but … whatever. No team is perfect.

      • za

        If we’re trading with the Angels, the guy I’d rather have than Trumbo is Bourjous. In reality, he’s not that much of a drop at all from Ellsbury offensively or defensively, and that would still be one hell of an outfield. Him with Choo or Beltrán and Lagares would be more than solid, and we’d have enough roster flexibility if Puello pans out.

  • Jim OMalley

    Ellsbury is a little fragile.

  • Brandon Young

    Choo has one of the top 3 arms in baseball, he would be great and play in RF.

  • Ruben DeJesus

    Why is Wilmer Flores not mentioned in the starting lineup. I would have him over Murphy any day. Murphy can serve as a super sub/pinch hitter. I would love to see Flores at SS and keep Murphy at 2nd. We need to do something at 1st base and shortstop.

    • za

      You’d love to see Flores at SS? The guy’s a consensus 1B/DH and *might* be able to start at third for a contender. SS he is not.

  • SL

    You don’t trade top prospects for over the hill never weres. Ethier will most assuredly NOT be a Met next year, unless it’s for a back end of the rotation guy like Gee or even Torres. Of course, with the Dodger’s pitching, it’s unlikely they’d do that.

    Shortstop is the critical position. Tejada has played himself out of a job and if his performance wasn’t enough, apparently his attitude has cemented that. Quintanilla is a serviceable backup middle infielder IF he could play 2b.

    The answers there depend on their view of Nimmo and if he is the eventual answer.

    My guess is Davis won’t be back either, unless he accepted a not too dissimilar salary to this years.

    The outfield will come from the minors. If Den Dekker can hit at all, and Kirk N with a full years at bats (which he’s never had) make a very good to great defensive outfield with Byrd as the fourth and possibly Young as the 5th and a good switchhitting alternative off the bench.

    The young prospects ANYONE except Harvey could go for a big name. A Stanton or the like.

    Flores projects at 2b IF he can turn the double play in the big leagues but we have to see him there this year to trust he can do it next.

    His bat actually projects him eventually at a corner spot but that depends on Wright and his aging process and what Dominick Brown turns out to be.

    • za

      A number of comments:

      Nimmo is an OF, not an SS, and at would make his presence felt in the Majors in 2015 at the very earliest.

      Domonic Brown plays for the Phillies. Dominic Smith, our 2013 1st round pick, is playing rookie ball and is years and years out.

      There is only one Stanton. There is no “or the like”.

      I really hope the outfield doesn’t come from the Minors, unless both Den Dekker and Puello explode. Nieuwenhuis is a AAAA player at the very best and the Mets are better with him in AAA, not on the big league club. It would be much nicer going into next year with at least 1 solid OF addition.

  • peter

    Just a thought. With the new television contracts going into effect 2014(50 million per team)and with about six playoff contending teams in need of an outfielder and finally with SA method of waiting for the demand to drop I don’t see the Mets signing anyone of significance this off season. So I guess the only course of action would be a trade. But where to start? Are we to hope that Ike can regain his swing? Or that Reuben Tejada has the determination to be the player he is capable of being? What about the bull pen? What’s the point in spending millions of dollars on offense if the team cannot hold a lead?

  • Eric S

    Who needs Ethier or Choo? In two years the Mets’ outfield will be three out of these four players: Juan Lagares, Matt den Dekker, Cesar Puello, and Darrell Ceciliani. They will be the fastest outfield in the major leagues and every single one of them has the potential to hit .300 with a fair amount of power. Just take a look at their minor league careers.

    • za

      Out of those 4, only Juan Lagares has ever played in the Majors. He is a Major League CF on his glove alone and won’t have to hit much to justify his spot. The problem is that we can’t have three of him out there. If Den Dekker can hit a bit, at least enough for a platoon, I’d like to see him with Lagares in the OF alignment. Puello’s a guy who put up numbers to dream on but he still needs to prove himself first at AAA and then in the Majors, and it may be years before he realizes his potential IF he ever realizes it. Ceciliani can’t walk, has no power, and is putting up a .330 OBP with a sub .400 slugging in AA. He likely won’t even make the Majors.

      I agree on not wanting Ethier but Choo would be a huge upgrade and a much surer bet than any of the guys you mention, including Lagares.

  • Dan Stack

    Like the names being tossed out for an upgrade in the OF, with the exception if Either. I want him under no circumstances.

  • Jerry Grote

    I’m not so sure Choo represents a signficant upgrade over Ethier … especially at the dollar amount you will have to pay. If you look at the last four years, the Dodger’s put up about 3.4 WAR per 650 PA. Choo is at 4.4 per 650 PA.

    Newsflash: you aren’t signing a 4.5 WAR guy, in a limited market, to a $15MM a year deal. Nick Swisher got that much, and his established four year production was 2.9 per 650.

    I don’t know the specifics of that last year in the Ethier contract, but if the Dodgers can get the 2014-2018 years of that deal down to $10M per … without giving up much more than a Montero … its go time. And I hate Ethier.

  • peter

    To Eric S- It doesn’t bother you that Puello is suspended for PED usage? Have we become so immune that cheating is acceptable until you get caught? How good is Puello without the drugs? How long has he been taking them? The Mets need to do their due diligence before promoting him any further. Can’t even trade him in a package deal since his market value is so low. den Dekker needs to cut down on his strikeouts. At the rate he’s going, in a full season in Las Vegas he’ll have close to 160-180 strikeouts. Don’t forget PCL ballparks tend to inflate hitters averages.

    • za

      Drugs, shmugs. I like Muno and I like Byrd. I like Puello, too. If they can play and never get caught, I couldn’t care less whether they are or aren’t on PEDs.

  • peter

    With that line-up Jerry Grote whoever plays shortstop doen’t have to hit so long as they play solid defense you can carry a light bat. Like when Tejada first came up.

  • Willis

    Ethier for that package? Yikes. Sandy would be run out of town.

    And, as several posters have already remarked, the Mets cannot possibly lose a draft pick and the attendant slot money to sign a FA that gets a qualifying offer.

    So, I’m thinking that the Mets might add a lesser OF (De Aza?) in a trade and spend the bulk of their resources (talent/$) on a SS – Andrus makes some sense because of the contract (which is why he’ll be available) and the advent of Profar. Personally, I don’t love a move for Andrus but at least he is a sure fire defensive asset who could pick it up again with the bat.

    It’s going to be a challenging and interesting offseason for the Mets. They’ve developed plenty of assets but still have several major holes.

    • za

      I’d love to see Schierholtz in a Mets’ uniform. We could platoon him with Andrew Brown and have plus offense and plus defense while spending peanuts and not losing a draft pick. Couple that with Puello’s emergence, and you’ve got a stew going.

      • peter

        Za-I just posted a comment to Billy Watson. So I’ll ask you the same question. It doesn’t bother you that Puello was using PED’s? No big deal? Ooops! Got busted! It’s okay we can project him in the starting line-up as if nothing ever happened. It’s just a bump on the road! Have we become that immune to cheating that we give up our core values for the sake of becoming a winner? What kind of message are we sending to the other minor league players in the Met farm system. It’s okay to use just don’t get caught!

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  • Billy Watson

    worst case scenario, Lagares flanked with a competition from Brown, Puello, Den Dekker, Vaughn,Nieuwenhuis, Young

    Corey Hart is a cheaper FA to consider (especially since he can play 1B)

  • peter

    Billy Watson-I keep asking the same question. What happened to integrity? I keep seeing so many Met fans include someone who has caught using PED’s and it’s as if it’s no big deal? How long has Puello been using illegal drugs to inflate his numbers? I haven’t read or heard a comment or even an apology from him. Just turn the page and keep going as if nothing ever happened. I have traveled on several occasions to the Dominican Republic. You would be shocked and amazed as to what you can buy over the counter that would require a doctor’s prescription here in the States. Before you start to think I am a racist I am Spanish as well.

  • Billy Watson

    fine lets kick out every player that stole signs, used a corked bat, or a spitball. Cheating is a part of baseball, let him serve his suspension and see what kind of player he can be.

  • peter

    Big difference between stealing signs and using PED’s don’t you think? How long has he been using? We hated Barry Bonds for what he did. But when it’s one of our own, we defend him to the death. How much of a role has his use of these drugs played in his development? Can we at least get an explanation from him? Rather odd you haven’t heard anything from his agent or from Puello himself.

  • Billy Watson

    funny thing is Selig saw PED’s in the 50’s in the Brewers clubhouse….it was when records were being shattered people cared….

  • peter

    ? And you this for a fact because…

  • Billy Watson
  • peter

    I was just wondering if PED’s existed in the 50’s?

  • Billy Watson

    greenies were known in baseball, but steroids were first tried in 1937

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