The hot stove is heating up. We’re finally starting to hear rumors about players that may interest the Mets, so now it’s time to pick those rumors apart.
As Danny Abriano pointed out in his recent article, some of the information out there is contradictory (even coming from within the same publication). However, that’s what makes it fun, right? The Mets have been tied (or untied, depending on the source) to Shin-Soo Choo and Norichika Aoki. The players are somewhat similar (and they’re both 31 years old), so it’s unlikely the Mets would bring in both. But which is a better option? Let’s look at 3 reasons why Aoki may be the better fit for the Mets.
1. Money: Choo is likely (according to reports) to command around $90-$100 million for 6 years. This would equate to approximately $15 million per season (on the low end). And as we know, that amount would be about 35-50% of what the Mets can spend on additional payroll. Aoki is signed for one more year, at roughly $2 million. Aoki is arbitration eligible in 2015, and cannot be a free agent until 2018.
2. Production: As is mentioned above, the two players are somewhat similar statistically (though Choo has been in the U.S. longer). Last year, Aoki’s triple slash was .286/.356/.370. He stole 20 bases, and was caught 12 times. Aoki walked 55 times. Against left-handers, the left-handed-hitting Aoki hit .339, while hitting .264 against right-handers. Choo’s triple slash last year was .285/.423/.462. Choo stole 20 bases, and was caught 11 times. Choo walked 112 times. Against left-handers, the left-handed-hitting Choo hit .215, while hitting .317 against right-handers. What we see here is that Choo hits for more power, and gets on base more often. However, he struggles against left-handed pitching, while Aoki’s splits are more even (ironically better against lefties). Are Choo’s statistics worth $13 million more per year than Aoki’s? To me, they’re not.
3. Method of acquisition: To get Choo, the Mets will need to sign him as a free agent. That means they’ll lose their second-round draft pick, and some slot money. They’ll also likely be in a bidding war with a few teams. To acquire Aoki, the Mets will have to trade with Milwaukee. Interestingly, the Brewers are said to be seeking left-handed power at first base. The Mets have 2 such players to offer, in Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. Trading one of them would mean that the Mets are dealing from a position of surplus, and also clearing a spot on the roster (they don’t need Davis, Duda, and Josh Satin on the same roster).
It may turn out that the Mets acquire neither Aoki nor Choo. However, either player could play right field, and possibly lead off (depending on the construct of the roster come opening day). If the Mets were to acquire one or the other, I’d take Aoki, understanding that Choo may be a slightly better player all around. What really matters is what Sandy Alderson thinks.
How about you? What do you think?