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Sandy Takes a Necessary Risk
In typical Mets fan fashion, I panicked once I saw the contract extended to Chris Young. I was initially down on the move, but after a day full of internal struggle, I saw the light; this is exactly the kind of move Sandy and his gang needed to make.
Allow me to set the scene: 2014 has long been dubbed the year we return to grace. The Mets would leap into the realm of legitimacy on the backs of their young arms and the supposed upcoming payroll flexibility. For the optimistic Mets fan, it was not hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then, like a slap to the face, came the Harvey nightmare, and for a moment, everything in my Mets world went dark. When I finally moved passed that bump in the road, it was time to look ahead towards 2014 and beyond.
I try not to get too emotional during the offseason. With all of the rumors floating around from unnamed team sources and media members, the offseason is filled with highs and lows.
The budget for player acquisitions is supposedly locked somewhere in the 25-35 million dollar range, so the Mets have to be careful when allocating their funds.
Recent rumors floating names like Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, and Carlos Gonzalez make the signing of Chris Young even more sobering. Initially I was shocked to see Sandy allot a decent portion of his budget to a career .235 hitter coming off a dismal campaign in Oakland, but after reading up on the move, I accepted it for what it was: a necessary risk.
The Mets may be on the cusp of turning their fortunes around, but as they are currently constructed, they are in a different class than teams like the Cardinals, Dodgers, Tigers, Rangers, Giants, and so on. So with their current roster, a somewhat limited budget, and a healing Matt Harvey, how can the Mets make noise in 2014, while also positioning themselves for a sustainable run starting with a healthy Harvey in 2015?
For starters, they must take a leap on low risk, high upside guys just like Chris Young. Because they seem to be a handful of players away, Sandy must make the absolute most out of the resources he has to work with.
Sandy emphasizes payroll flexibility. A big part of that idea is to stagger the larger contracts. By doing this Sandy assures himself he is never locked into the same group of players, and he knows that a decent chunk of change expires at the end of each year. If Sandy were to go out and sign Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz, and a Jhonny Peralta, the Mets would be stuck with these players going forward, through the good and the bad. Ideally, Sandy will add players with the hope that they will contribute to the next Mets contender.
The tricky part of this is that the current Free Agent marketplace is loaded with guys on the wrong side of 30. Players can be productive through their 30s, but historically, players start to decline at that stage of their career. Younger players are obviously more expensive than the aging players, and for this reason the Mets might not be able to add a young-ish, impact player that makes big league dough under the current budget.
To get back to the Chris Young move, the Mets needed to take this risk to even the playing field with the aforementioned ball clubs. By signing Chris Young to a low risk, high reward deal, Sandy may have freed more money to allocate on a player that he believes will help this club for the next few years.
This idea follows the notion of quality over quantity. Instead of signing two decent players to play the corner outfield spots, Sandy signed a “cheap” upside guy to man one corner, and he will hopefully use his remaining resources to bring in a legitimate player that he can rely on going forward for the other corner. If Chris Young falls on his face and fails to return to his former All-Star level, we move on with the other slugger, and Young’s contract expires. But if the stars align and Chris Young is reborn under the bright city lights, CY and the legitimate bat Sandy adds will go a long way towards closing the gap between the Mets and the elite clubs this season.
To rebuild a baseball roster, a general manager must play the odds and take a few measurable risks. A GM has to be realistic about the current state of his franchise. If the Mets were to add Granderson, Cruz, and Peralta Mets fans everywhere would rejoice… until they start complaining in 2016 about how old these players are and the wasted window for contention. Could the Mets make the playoffs if Sandy added these players to our current core of Mets? Sure. But if you ask me, I would much rather maintain flexibility.
If the Mets are able to add a legitimate piece in the outfield and a reliable player at shortstop to the club this offseason, signing Chris Young is exactly the type of upside move to maintain a balance between 2014 upside and future payroll flexibility for 2015 when the Mets will have Harvey. Once again, signing Chris Young may allow the Mets to add to their core going forward without locking them into the same aging club. This will be a perfect move IF Sandy can add a legitimate piece for the future with the money he saved on taking a risk.
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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader, Greg Talbot. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 22,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.