In the end it was a disappointing season. Let’s not lose the fact that they did win 101 games last year. They were a playoff team and an elite team in the Major Leagues. There are more improvements that they could make to bolster the roster. Before they do that though, they have to make decisions with team options and with house free agents. Let’s look at the team options first.

Carlos Carrasco has a team option of $14m. Starting pitching is a valuable asset. There are also three other members of the rotation that could be free agents this year. They should exercise his option to avoid scrambling for another spot in the rotation. They can always trade him later if everything works out and fill up the 5th starter with David Peterson.

Daniel Vogelbach has a team option of $1.5m. Although he is a one-dimensional player he did fill the void for a left-handed batting designated hitter. His inexpensive salary and his .793 OPS makes it very easy to exercise his option.

The in-house free agents will not be so easy. The Mets do not have replacements in their minor leagues to replace these in-house free agents. They don’t have major league assets to trade. They are reluctant to trade their minor league assets for these replacements. Let’s look at the in-house free agents next.

Brandon Nimmo is a really good lead off batter and a plus defensive center fielder. There is no free agent that is a “true” center fielder that could replace him better. He is in the catbird seat in this free agent market. 5/100 would be reasonable but I could see 5/120 in this market. They should sign him.

Edwin Diaz was a lights out closer last year. At 30 years old he should get a multi-year contract. He should be offered somewhere in the neighborhood of 5/81-100 but also do a qualifying offer. They could pivot and sign a different less talented closer and a setup man at nearly the same price and with less years committed. They should sign Diaz because he is still young and can pitch in the New York environment.

Jacob deGrom , when healthy, is the best pitcher in baseball. They should offer him 3/135 -150 to get it done. If he leaves then it will be his personal decision and not the lack of money the Mets offered.

Chis Bassitt had a good season. He has a player option of $19m. If he should refuse the player option, then make him a qualifying offer and then offer him 2/38 with a third year team option. It would be hard to replace his 30 starts and his 181 innings.

Taijuan Walker also had a good season. He is the youngest in the regular rotation at 30. They should offer him 3/42-45 and with a fourth year team option.

If they were to have the same rotation in 2023 then that would be okay. After all, they did win 101 games but it would be difficult to duplicate that mark with four starters at 34+ years old.

Adam Ottavino was their primary set man but he is 38 years old. He made $5m this year. They should offer him 1/6 but no more. It is similar to Aaron Looper situation last year and that worked out fine. He isn’t a priority.

Trevor Williams 1.5 BWAR and was paid $3.9m. He was an integral and valuable part of the pitching staff as a long relief man, a short relief man and a spot starter. They should offer him 2/8 with a third year team option. Because of his roster spot, he would be termed as a fringe player, so he shouldn’t be a priority but he would be useful.

Seth Lugo ($3m), Michael Givens ($3.5) and Tommy Hunter ($1m) were not a problem in the bullpen but they shouldn’t get a salary raise by the Mets either. Trevor May made $7.75m last year. He was overpaid in his Met career. He is only a $3-4m a year relief pitcher going forward. The Mets should pursue other options on the free agent market first. If another team wants to give them a raise then the Mets should bid them farewell and good luck.

Last year, the position of catcher and right-handed batting designated hitter were a problem. They already have an in-house solution for the problem in Fransico Alvarez and Mark Vientos . Vientos had success in AAA so it is now a sink or swim decision. Why have a top prospect in AAA for 1 year and not use him? Alvarez is the future and the offense struggles for the current catchers make the future become now.

The roster should be improved with a 4th outfielder and a left handed set up man. The decisions on team option players and in-house free agents will decide how to move forward in the rest of the off-season.

11 comments on “Decisions, decisions, decisions

  • TexasGusCC

    Wow, look who’s writing! Alright!

    Some other decisions will be the catching and third base situation and how to go younger without being hurt by the growing pains. Also, I feel like JdG will want five years, minimum. Do you go 5/$225, or at least $200MM? That’s the real question, to me. The three year deal is not going to make him feel love.

    • Metsense

      deGrom is an upfront person. Cohen is a straight shooter. He will match the money on any offers but maybe not in years. deGrom had some health issues. deGrom knows that if he healthy in three years then Cohen will give him even more money. The issue isn’t the money. It is a personal decision of where deGrom wants to live.
      Gus, you are a supportive friend and I appreciate your inspiring and encouraging words.

  • T.J.

    Payroll cost aside, I’d be fine with bringing the pitching band back together. While there is risk in their age, I’d hope for more starts from deGrom and more availability from Megill to offset other missed games. They really don’t have many choice with the starters and closer.

    Should they lose Nimmo, it will get interesting. I can accept expecting more offense from the additions of Alvarez, Vientos, and Baty to lengthen the lineup. They do need Nimmo and they need bullpen depth from outside the organization. I’m not sure where Cohen draws the spending line.

    • Metsense

      I don’t think Cohen will draw a spending line. He’ll spend what it takes.

  • NYM6986

    Perhaps a rookie owner mistake not starting to lock up Diaz, Nimmo and McNeil and some others during the season. Would love the rotation to return but I’m feeling Jake wants out otherwise he’d just say to Cohen here’s what I want. It would be refreshing if he’d say, you know, you’ve paid me a lot of money while being injured so let’s get it done at some fair, obscene, but fair.
    Nice post Gene.

    • Metsense

      Thanks NYM6986. My rule of thumb lock up the players *the front office wants* 1.5 to 2 years before free agency. At that time the player hasn’t earned so much money and is hungry for the larger payday and the security and doesn’t smell free agency yet. Two years ago Nimmo was a poor defensive centerfielder. He wasn’t very durable in 2019 or 2021. Diaz was alright in 2021 but he wasn’t an elite closer either. I can’t blame the Mets for locking them up before 2022. Now Cohen has to pay a fair price and compete anyone and both players smelled free agency and a big paycheck last summer.

  • ChrisF

    Nice article Metsense. I think what youve penned out is certainly within the bounds of baseball reason. There is a lot to the “keep the band together” more or less given how well the team performed in 2022.

    Your plan does highlight something TJ alluded to: payroll.

    Using sportrac’s base payroll info for the 2023 commitments at ~230 M$, the adding of the numbers along the lines you write about add to about 150M$ (in loosy goosy numbers), making a OD payroll in the vicinity of 380M$. I happen to think that number (if not those exact personnel) will be pretty close to reality. I also do not see a way around that unless you bank everything on unproven youngsters from the ranks and hope for the best.

    Regardless whether this mark seems reasonable or not, it does emphasize that with so many players clocked for FA at the same time, the costs will be extraordinary just to tread water.

    • TexasGusCC

      Chris, there’s no way he goes that high; $320MM-$325MM? Possibly. Yesterday Rob Manfred said baseball as a whole made just under $11B in total revenue. I don’t know how factual that is, but that leaves about $365MM per team. Expecting the Mets to be higher, say $425MM, what about other costs besides player payroll? If there really is $230MM committed after arbitration, then DeGrom is leaving, or the roster will have lots of youth on it. Also, the highest the Dodgers went was $286MM.

      • ChrisF

        Here is the bottom line for 2023 payroll for the Mets with no FA:
        Proj. Tax Payroll (Active + Est. Arb + Est. Pre-Arb) = $234,952,939

        So what do you do? The alignment of poor protecting the future with long term contracts and FAs coming due puts Cohen in a hard spot.

        Why pay Max 43.3M$ just to be an 81 win team?

        A numbers guy like Cohen wouldnt need to be a genius to know what the future commitments would look like for years in advance. Futhermore, he said he want a WS opportunity in 5 years while protecting the long term health of the pipeline. The only way that gets solved is by spending money.

        As I previously wrote, Cohen made clear he wants to be the dodgers East. That wont come cheap. In the first 3 years after Boehly took over the Dodgers payroll went from something like 115M to 270M. Thats how the Dodgers managed to keep the youth and build a winner (also being good in player development).

        So, what Metsense put on paper does not sound unreasonable at all, but one needs to realize even treading water wont come cheap. Welcome to the grown ups table Steve Cohen. Now that you are here, its too late to be concerned about what you wished for.

        I think a competitive Mets team will have a payroll right about at 380M – plus or minus 15M.

    • Metsense

      This isn’t the Wilpon Mets anymore. For the Astros to get good they had to tank for a few years and accumulate their minor leaguers. It must have been hard for their fans. Cohen is doing it with another approach. He will spend the money for the free agents and make the team very competitive. In theory, he will also accumulate minor leaguers to sustain a winning franchise in the future. In the beginning Cohen will not make a profit but the winning will offset some of the cost in attendance, merchandise sales and TV revenue. The Met brand will be thought of as a winning brand. To make money you have to spend money and Cohen has the money to do that.
      Thanks for the compliment Chris. We seem to be on the same page.

  • ChrisF

    235 base
    45 degrom
    20 nimmo
    20 diaz

    That is 320M alone, without a complete rotation or pen.

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