If the season were to end right now, the Mets would have the 12th overall (unprotected) pick in next June’s draft. The Mets are one game behind both Philadelphia and Toronto for what would be the last protected pick.
The draft pick issue has been discussed ad nauseam over the last week or so. For the record, I’m for the team sacrificing the draft pick if the player they sacrifice it for is worth it and the contract he demands isn’t outlandish.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson weighed in on the matter yesterday while speaking with Mike Puma of the New York Post. Said Alderson:
I don’t view the draft-pick situation as relevant to what we’re doing here. We’re trying to win every game we play. We’re trying to build the credibility of the franchise and that goes beyond where we’re picking in the draft.
Some people took the above quote to mean that Alderson will give up the pick if it isn’t protected (and the player he desires warrants it). Some people took the above quote to mean that Alderson is slyly giving himself a built in excuse to not pursue some of the top free agents. Me? I took it at face value. It’s a non-answer.
The quote Alderson gave yesterday didn’t answer the question. He answered whether or not he’d rather win games or have a higher pick in the draft. Nowhere in his answer did he address how having an unprotected pick would impact the offseason. Guess what? It might not matter.
Today over at MLB Trade Rumors, Tim Dierkes put together a piece on the players who are likely to receive qualifying offers after the season. Any player who receives and rejects a qualifying offer before signing with another team via free agency will cost the team that signs him their first round pick (unless, of course, that pick is protected).
Dierkes noted that there were only nine players who received qualifying offers after last season, and that this year’s qualifying offer is likely to be roughly $14 million dollars. In a poll on MLBTR, there were only seven players who voters thought had a 50 percent or greater chance of being given a qualifying offer. Those players?
Robinson Cano’s demands are outrageous, and Brian McCann isn’t someone the Mets will be targeting. While many Mets fans (myself included) would love to see Carlos Beltran come back, pretty much everyone with a source believes the chances of that are close to nil.
That leaves us with four free agents who fall into the messy criteria: likely to receive a qualifying offer, and likely to be of interest to the Mets. Those players are Choo, Ellsbury, Granderson, and Pence. Of those four, I think only Granderson is on the bubble as far as getting a qualifying offer is concerned. The other three are all but locks to receive one.
In all likelihood, the Mets will be looking to add a shortstop and starting pitcher from outside the organization. Whether they have a protected pick or not, that pursuit shouldn’t be impacted. Additionally, the team is said to be interested in trading for a young, impact outfield bat. The pick situation obviously wouldn’t impact that effort either.
This will likely come down to whether or not the Mets are both willing to match the demands and perhaps sacrifice a pick for either Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, or Hunter Pence. Ellsbury will probably want to remain a center fielder, and has been beset by injuries over the last few seasons. That may take him out of the equation and leave only Choo and Pence as free agents who interest the Mets and would cost them their first round pick in the event it’s unprotected.
There are fans who will scream bloody murder for the sake of it in the event the Mets don’t sign one of Choo or Pence. They’ll cite built narratives, “cheapness” and the “failed Alderson regime.” That’s their right.
Frankly, I don’t know if I’d guarantee Choo or Pence what they’ll command even if the Mets didn’t have to sacrifice their first round pick to get it done.
I expect the Mets to spend a significant amount of money this offseason, and I expect them to be active as far as the trade market is concerned. If that means they’ve signed one of Choo or Pence in addition to other moves, fine. If it means they’ve signed players who will command less guaranteed years, that’s fine too.
However, for all of the analysis and discussion that’s been going on lately, where the Mets pick may not have any impact on which free agents they pursue.