Friday, December 04, 2015

Mets Offseason Plans

The Mets should sign Ben Zobrist. They should give him the 4th year, and pay up to $80M if they have to.

Here's why:
He's a great player. His last six full seasons he had a WAR above 5 in 5 of them. That's outstanding, MVP-level production.
He's exactly what the Mets need. He's a good contact, high on-base guy who could and should bat second for the Mets.
He can play several positions, including the Mets biggest need (second base), but he can also play third base to give Wright a rest, and the outfield to give Conforto and maybe Granderson a day off against tough lefties.

But Paul...
He's old. Yes, he's 34 now and would be 38 by the end of a 4-year contract. But his skills, on-base, versatility, are not skills that erode as quickly with age. Though his drop-off in defense last season is concerning, he has always been a great defender.
Shouldn't a $15-$20 million a year man hit home runs? No! Didn't you watch the playoffs? The game is changing. The Mets are built around pitching and defense. They play in a big park and they need to tailor their offense to it as well. Contact hitters who can reach base are what the Mets need.
Don't you hate paying a lot of money for free agents? No! The efficacy of spending money on free agents, especially older ones, is entirely dependent on where your team is on the win curve. If your team is likely to win fewer than 80 games, it's unlikely one player would make any difference. Even improving from 80 to 85 wins accomplishes basically nothing, you still miss the playoffs. But the Mets were so close to winning it all last year, that one player could make a huge difference. And that's why the time to spend is now.

Other possibilities:
Jason Heyward:

Great player. Fantastic. Some team will likely give him $200 million over 10 years, and they will probably be happy to do so, and the deal will work out. But I just don't think that's the best option for the Mets, because I think Conforto, Lagares, Granderson is a good enough outfield.

If somehow the Mets did get Jason Heyward, I wouldn't object, I just can't see it happening.
Carlos Gonzalez:
I heard talk about the Mets trading Matz and Nimmo for him. That is absolutely insane. In three of the past four seasons he was 760 OPS or worse on the road. And CitiField is worse than the average park. Plus, he's frequently hurt.

Ian Desmond:
From 2012-2014 he had a WAR of 4 or better in each season. That's great. For a shortstop. Sign him up. But he fell to 1.7 last year. Would you really want to spend $60 million over 4 years on a guy who wasn't better than Wilmer Flores in 2015? Wouldn't the extra $15 or $20 million be better spent on Zobrist?

Dexter Fowler:
This is exactly the type of player the Mets should not go after. Last year was the best year of his career. Before this season he had never been higher than 2.3 in WAR. In his 2 non-Colorado years his OPS was 774 and 757. Which is fine, but not so much better that its worth the downside, which is taking away playing time from developing young players like Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and eventually Brandon Nimmo.

Denard Span:
Similar thoughts apply to Denard Span, except his is a better player than Fowler (though they are fairly similar) but he is recovering from an injury. The Mets haven't had too much luck with injured players on the wrong side of 30.

The Mets need a couple but I am not really sure who is available and at what price. But I think they really need to sign a couple of hard-throwers.

Bottom Line:

The Mets need to spend responsibly and deploy their resources (money) where it will have the most impact, ie filling the biggest areas of need. The Mets must resist the temptation to spend a lot of money to make minor improvements over their existing players (at first base and in centerfield). I want the Mets to sign Zobrist and a couple of relief pitchers for around $100 million, or $30 million per year, roughly the salary that is coming off the books anyway.

These young Mets proved they were championship caliber last season and now is the time to make practical improvements to make the 2016 Mets a serious World title contender without impacting their ability to add and develop more young players to help the Mets win in 2017 and beyond.

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