The Mets have done a lot of their heavy lifting this offseason with the multitude of moves Brodie Van Wagenen has made to try and make a run at the NL East title in 2019.
However, the Mets cannot stop here. They need to keep the foot on the gas pedal and keep making moves to better the team in 2019. While a pursuit of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado is what most fans would want, we all know the Mets are not going to sign someone of that magnitude.
With that being the case, there are still ways to sure up this team’s holes that remain and while it might be considered “going the cheap route,” it doesn’t have to mean going the bad route.
My payroll idea leaves the Mets’ number floating in the $160 million range pending the arbitration numbers for various players on the roster.
Sign Marwin Gonzalez (Four Years, $44 million)
So my plan for the team starts with the acquisition of this super-utility player. My reasoning for this is that with Yoenis Cespedes set to return by the middle of the year, the team really should be acquiring someone that can play another position upon his return.
Gonzalez, 29, does that better than anyone, with his best position last year having been left field where he recorded 6 DRS. He played at least one inning at every position except for catcher and pitcher.
This signing would give the Mets so much flexibility in how they construct their lineup on a day-to-day basis and serves as an incredible insurance policy in case someone on the team were to get hurt.
He will not come cheap, though, and will be the last major free agent signing making $11 million in 2019 (four years, $44 million total) which is right in between what Jon Heyman of Fancred and Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors predicted he would get on the open market.
His .247/.324/.409 slash line with 16 home runs and 68 RBI isn’t spectacular by any means, but his versatility is just too valuable to ignore to go along with the fact he is a switch hitter. Mickey Callaway could have a lot of fun setting up a lineup with Gonzalez and Jeff McNeil every day.
Trade Kevin Plawecki for Mark Canha
So this one was actually something I suggested the team should pursue a few days ago when I wrote about the best trade fits for Plawecki.
As I explained in the article, this move could work because of the fact that Canha simply has no role on the Oakland Athletics, but could actually help fill a need for the Mets.
Canha, 29, hit .249/.328/.449 with 17 home runs and 52 RBI to give himself a 113 wRC+ and 2.0 WAR last season. He also has the ability to play all three outfield spots and first base.
Plawecki, 27, hit .210/.315/.370 with seven home runs and 30 RBI last season to give himself a 93 wRC+ and 0.6 WAR. The catcher would give the A’s a starting catcher, though, that they currently don’t have at a projected cost of $1.3 million next season, according to MLB Trade Rumors. The backstop is also under control through the 2021 season, making him useful to the team for years to come.
As of now, the team is set to have Josh Phegley start at catcher, which would be a terrible mistake given the fact he had an atrocious .599 OPS in 2018. The other option for them, internally, would be to let Chris Herrmann start, who has never been able to hold onto an everyday catcher job.
The Mets would, by projection, pay about an additional $800K by making this deal with Canha expected to get $2.1 million in his first year of arbitration. He is also under control through the 2021 season.
Welcome Warren and Diekman To the Pen ($8 million in 2019)
A left-hander is atop their wish list and Jake Diekman could represent a great value pickup for the team. The 31-year-old had a rough year last season as he had a 4.73 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and 66 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings pitched.
However, a deeper look into the numbers suggests he might not have been as bad as the traditional stats show. His FIP was 3.74, which is over a run lower than his ERA and more in line with his career number of 3.30. That would suggest he could be a solid bounce-back candidate.
On top of it, his season didn’t take a downward spiral until he was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks in July as he had a 3.69 ERA up until that point. After that, his ERA was 7.53 for the remainder of the season.
Diekman can handle left-handers, though, and has held them to a .638 OPS throughout his career and has had no problems with righties either, with a .680 OPS for them. Based on Heyman’s projections, he gets a one-year, $3 million contract.
Meanwhile, the next move will be to add a multi-inning reliever with Adam Warren fitting the bill on a two-year, $10 million contract, making $5 million in 2019.
Warren, 31, appeared in 47 games last season, tossing 51 2/3 innings with a 3.14 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 3.93 FIP, and 52 strikeouts between the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners. However, he threw as many as 131 1/3 innings in a season back in 2015, making him suitable for this type of role.
Bring in Santiago as Insurance ($2 million)
Hector Santiago represents an insurance policy as well as an addition to the bullpen for the Mets.
The 31-year-old had a 4.41 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 5.09 FIP, and 103 strikeouts in a 102 innings last season split up between starting and relieving.
Santiago, meanwhile, was much better as a reliever in 2018, limiting his opponents to having a .740 OPS against him in that role. The left-hander is by no means a savior for this team, but at $2 million he is an investment worth taking to protect the rotation and avoid having to use Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen, or Zach Lee.
Make Some Minor League Depth Signings
To round out the roster, the team should take a flier on a few minor league deals with potential upside.
The first one that fits, for me, is Cameron Maybin, who would serve as insurance for the Mets in case Juan Lagares were to get hurt. Currently, the team has no true center fielders other than Lagares, and that is something they need to protect themselves with by signing Maybin considering Lagares’ long injury history.
Another minor league signing would be Miguel Gonzalez who underwent shoulder surgery in July last season after making only three starts. However, he is a year removed from tossing 156 innings and making 27 starts, thereby making him a worthwhile gamble on a minor league deal as depth.
My last one would be Drew Storen, who was not particularly good in 2018 with a 4.45 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 4.88 FIP, and 48 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings pitched. He is nothing special at this stage of his career, but is worth a gamble with no guarantees given his ERA of 3.45 across eight seasons and the fact he was once a closer who recorded 29 saves in a season as recently as 2015.