Archive for November, 2014

By Steven Inman

Photo courtesy of Newsday

Photo courtesy of Newsday

With Michael Cuddyer now in the fold, the Mets payroll is close to $100 million. It won’t stay at that number all winter as many veterans such as Daniel Murphy, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese could be traded for prospects to save money.

The rival Atlanta Braves are actively looking for a back end starter to give them innings. According to David O’ Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves are willing to listen on any of their young power relievers not named Craig Kimbrel.

The Mets have made it known they are looking for a second left-handed reliever to compliment Josh Edgin in the bullpen and the Braves have an exceptional lefty in Luis Avilan who is still just 25.

So why would the Braves trade Avilan? Well he is coming off a rough year where he had a 4.57 ERA in 62 games. His advanced peripherals (4.24 FIP) don’t suggest he was better than his ERA in 2014. Avilan had an ERA of 2.00 and 1.52 in 2012 and 2013 respectively. The reliever has always been deadly on left-handers though with a .195 batting average against left-handed bats.

Avilan won’t be a free agent until after the 2018 season. With the Braves actively looking for a starter and the Mets looking to dump one, perhaps these two rival teams can match up on a trade.

With Dillon Gee expected to make $5 million in arbitration next year he could be the New York pitcher moved. Gee, 28, won’t be a free agent for two more seasons and could help bridge the gap until some of the Braves young pitching prospects such as Lucas Sims and Jason Hursh are ready. Gee is 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA at Turner Field in six career starts.

Again this is just speculation but it does make sense. Sandy Alderson and new Braves President John Hart won’t be afraid to deal within the division and the Braves plan on dealing from the excellent relief core to add a starter who can give them length in games. That’s exactly what Gee has done when healthy.

By Steven Inman

With the acquisition of Michael Cuddyer to a two-year $21 million deal, the Mets lineup now looks more balanced than it has in a few seasons. The Mets are now likely over budget going into 2015 but if they can just somehow keep Daniel Murphy another season, than this Mets lineup may not be a liability as it has been in the previous few years

Projected 2015 Mets lineupima

CF           Juan Lagares                  Right

2B          Daniel Murphy                   Left

3B          David Wright                      Right

1B          Lucas Duda                        Left

RF           Michael Cuddyer              Right

LF           Curtis Granderson            Left

C             Travis d’Arnaud                 Right

SS           Wilmer Flores                    Right

Again with the rising arbitration cost of Daniel Murphy, who could be up to $9 million in 2015, it is likely that Murphy is on another team next season. However if the team could trade someone else, such as Bartolo Colon’s salary and keep Murphy’s bat in the lineup than they could balance left-right-left-right throughout the entire lineup. It should be very interesting to see the Mets offseason approach in terms of their lineup during December’s Winter Meetings.

Ideally the Mets can still find a starting shortstop, moving Wilmer Flores to the bench and Juan Lagares out of the leadoff spot. Flores is out of options so he will make the 25-man roster regardless.

By Steven Inman images

Shockingly the Mets have made the first move of the MLB offseason by signing outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year contract. The numbers on the deal are not yet known but it is expected to be around $25 million. The Mets will forfeit the 15th pick in the 2015 draft to sign Cuddyer.

This is a desperate move by the Mets. Sandy Alderson quickly established this offseason that Cuddyer was his number one outfield target on the free agent market (in their price range) but Cuddyer is 35 years old and played in just 49 games in 2014.

The Mets moved quickly because they had no interest in getting into a bidding war on Cuddyer who had drawn a lot of interest around the league, mainly from American League teams that could use Cuddyer as a full time DH in the second year of the contract.

Cuddyer has played in big ballparks before in Coors Field and Target Field, but Coors Field did help Cuddyer win a NL batting title in 2013. Cuddyer will likely play right field for the Mets which would move Curtis Granderson to left field. Cuddyer has played 897 games in right field in his career but has started just three in left field.

Citi Field is difficult to play for newcomers so it makes sense to put the outfielder in right where he is most comfortable. Cuddyer is a very poor outfielder but could also play first base for the Mets against left-handers.

If Cuddyer is healthy than the Mets are getting a bat at fair market value, but he is turning 36 in March. The Mets were desperate for a bat with power and Cuddyer’s ten homers last season in just 190 at bats. Another appealing aspect of signing Cuddyer is for a power bat, he doesn’t strike out much.

The Mets clearly believe they are contenders with this move but they are now likely at their budget and will have to move Daniel Murphy and or a starting pitcher to add another bat such as a shortstop.

Did the Mets make the right move signing Cuddyer or is this a panic pick?

By Steven Inmanimages

The Mets have interest in White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez according to CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine. Ramirez, 33, hit .273 with a .305 OBP along with 15 homers and 74 RBI in 2014. The Mets would love to add a shortstop along with a right-handed bat to the lineup so it should come as no surprise that the Mets were among the teams to check in on Ramirez.

Ramirez has spent his entire seven year major league career with the White Sox and has $10 million owed to him in 2015 along with a $10 million option for 2016.

BrokeMets wrote about how Ramirez would have been a very nice option for the Mets at short about a year and a half ago. Now, not as much as Ramirez is 33 years old and will cost a pretty penny in prospects since so many other teams such as the Yankees and Dodgers will be looking for a shortstop this winter as well.

The Mets aren’t going to get away with simply offering Dillon Gee for Ramirez, the White Sox are going to want a top pitching prospect from the Mets to pry away the 2014 All-Star. The White Sox don’t have an internal option to replace Ramirez at short so they don’t have to trade him.

Plus with the Mets already over budget, before signing any player to a major league deal, Ramirez’s ten million owed in 2015 has to also be a factor.

By Steven Inmanimages

The Mets enter the offseason in dire need of another bat, preferably for the outfield to go with Curtis Granderson who can play either corner as well as the gold-glover Juan Lagares.

The team strongly liked Michael Cuddyer for that role in the outfield but he was offered a $15.3 million qualifying offer. It isn’t known yet if the former All-Star will accept such a deal with the Rockies (he absolutely should) but either way, the Mets are now out of the running for the 2013 NL batting champ. The Mets would have to give up the 15th overall pick in the 2015 draft for any player that rejects a qualifying offer which at this time the team is unwilling to do.

The team is much more likely to engage in a trade for an outfielder but Sandy Alderson and company are highly reluctant to trade top pitching prospects such as Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz for a bat.

One player, who will appear on the trade market this winter and can be had for little more than salary relief, is Dodgers OF Andre Ethier.

Ethier, 32, has played with the Dodgers for his entire 9-year career but is coming off his worst season as a major leaguer. The outfielder hit .249 with four homers and 42 RBI in 380 PA last season. He mainly came off the bench and barely played in the second half of the season. With Joc Pederson looking ready for full time work in the Dodgers outfield as well, L.A. may not even have room for Ethier on the bench.

The two-time All-Star would have been traded years ago if it wasn’t for his large contract. Ethier is due $53.5 million over the next three seasons plus a $17.5 million vesting option for 2018. The Mets, along with the rest of baseball won’t touch that contract but if the Dodgers were willing to pay a hefty total of that to free up a spot on the roster; Ethier would make a fine left-handed outfield option for the Mets.

New General Manager Andrew Friedman has no attachment to Ethier and could be looking to dump him elsewhere before the calendar year ends. He certainly wouldn’t cost a top prospect like Syndergaard or Matz.

Ethier is definitely an upgrade in left field for the Mets who got virtually nothing out there for a majority of the season. Plus Ethier has hit double digit homers in eight of his nine big league seasons. He is young enough (33 in April) to be a bounce back candidate at a discount.

But Is Andre Ethier enough of an upgrade for the Mets outfield?