An MMO Fan Shot by Marc (mystere2417)
With vacancies all over the diamond and in the bullpen, and with $70 million in payroll coming off the books in the form of expiring contracts of impending free agents Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Jose Reyes, Rene Rivera, Addison Reed, Fernando Salas, the aforementioned Curtis Granderson and possibly Asdrubal Cabrera with his team option, there are a lot of decisions to be made that will affect the 25-man and 40-man rosters for 2018.
With Dominic Smith and Ahmed Rosario penciled in to man first base and shortstop respectively, Alderson’s focus will most assuredly be trained on upgrades at catcher, second base, third base, center field, and the bullpen, with the outside chance he brings in a veteran starting pitcher as a hedge against our uber-talented but injury-prone rotation.
Of all the obvious positional needs identified, my advice to Alderson is to leave second base alone and prioritize all the other areas of need with 100% of the available funds, for a variety of logical and practical reasons.
Free Agents Flawed
Here is a list of available free agent second basemen this coming off-season without team options: Darwin Barney (32), Andres Blanco (34), Emilio Bonifacio (33), Daniel Descalso (31), Stephen Drew (35), Danny Espinosa (31), Ryan Flaherty (31, Howie Kendrick (34), Eduardo Nunez (31), Cliff Pennington (34). Brandon Phillips (37), Adam Rosales (35), Eric Sogard (32), Chase Utley (39), Neil Walker (32).
It’s unlikely any of those names are spiking your adrenaline level, triggering season ticket sales, or improving our odds to win the World Series in Las Vegas. The only players worth considering as starters are Eduardo Nunez and Neil Walker, both riddled with hamstring issues this season. Of the two, the better player is Walker but the better fit for the Mets might be Nunez. He’s younger, faster, and adds a dynamic element the Mets sorely lack. Neither are great fielders, though, and Nunez will probably be in demand in a thin market.
However, his history is problematic. He has only played more than 100 games once in a season. His career BA is only .277 with a .315/.404/.719 career triple slash. Walker is a productive offensive player who Alderson stole for a severely diminished Jon Niese. This season, Alderson overpaid Walker with a qualifying offer. With a history of back problems and time not on his side, Walker is an unnecessary risk for a long term contract.
Out Of Stock
There has been a lot of discussion about the state of the Mets minor league system. With the imminent promotions of their two highly rated prospects, the depth necessary for trade is non-existent. There are no Michael Fulmer‘s coming up any time soon allowing us to deal from strength. Our best prospects are in the lower minors, years away. It would be wise for the Mets to keep what they have and bide their time in rebuilding the depth of the farm system.
The Cabrera Conundrum
I have to admit I loved Cabrera last season. He exceeded all expectations both offensively and defensively and brought stability and tenacity to the shortstop position and lineup. His leadership seemed to be an intangible in his favor, especially after Reyes joined the club. He even had the gravitas and character to call out Cespedes and make him a better player.
This year is a different story. His defensive weaknesses were exposed and became a liability. His offensive production tailed off more akin to his career norms. Worst of all, his selfishness was on full display when he put his individual contractual situation ahead of the team and demonstrated his lack self-control when he publicly aired his dirty laundry.
Cabrera can still contribute, but he is no longer the right fit for this team. In my estimation, bringing him back sends the wrong message to his teammates, which leaves us two options: 1) Trade him at the deadline; or 2) Pick up the option and trade him over the winter.
Under Our Noses
The Mets have two solid, in-house major league options for second base — T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores. In 92 MLB games, a little more than a half season, Rivera has posted a .312 BA and a .342/.455/.797 career triple slash. He doesn’t walk, he doesn’t steal, but he does hit, and he’s a decent fielder at the position. He’s our starter. If he gets hurt or under-performs, we can take our utility infielder, Wilmer Flores, and make him the starter.
Like T.J., Wilmer doesn’t walk and doesn’t steal, but he does hit and he’s a decent fielder at the position. Defensively, anything that keeps these two players on the right side of the infield is an improvement.
Wilmer’s career BA with a much larger sample size is lower than TJs at .260 with a .298/.414/.712 career triple slash. But Wilmer has improved his BA every year since his promotion so there is more upside there. He’s a fine fallback option.
Let’s put that $70 million in payroll flexibility to good use. Let’s spend it all on our positions of weakness — catcher, third base, center field, and the bullpen. We’ve already got second base covered.
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This Fan Shot was contributed by Marc (mystere2417). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 20,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.