Mets: Daniel Murphy’s decision will set offseason in motion


Retooling the Mets this offseason won’t be easy — the process never is. But Daniel Murphy’s decision regarding whether or not to accept the Mets’ one-year qualifying offer should set the offseason in motion.

Teams never know when they’ll get another opportunity to play in a World Series, which is precisely why many (media and fans alike) implore organizations to seize the moment when presented with just that.  To this organization’s credit with respect to the 2015 season, they tried, and the effort was appreciated.

That said, this was only the Mets second playoff appearance since the Wilpons took over full control of the club.  Otherwise, it’s been 15 years since the Mets last lit the hot stove this late in the year, which is too long a stretch, and precisely why ownership and the front office need to expand their vision of the future.

That doesn’t mean abandoning their standard operational philosophy.  It simply means upper management needs to continue stepping up their game.  And why not?  They reset their own bar.  By their own timetable, the Mets’ rebuilding process has ended.   Competing for Wild Cards or a division flag have been trumped.  Moving forward, they now need an evolved comprehensive strategy specifically tailored for a return trip to next year’s Fall Classic.

By that, I mean refraining from entering the free agent market with such haste as they did last off-season when signing Michael Cuddyer, then waiting till the run on quality relief pitchers ended before swooping in for February’s leftovers as they did in each of the previous two off-seasons.

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A more representative plan is also in order, meaning a regression in financial policy will not do.

Focused on their outstanding debt issues while Sandy Alderson capably served as their front man, the Wilpons understandably reduced themselves into mere background figureheads for the better part of the last five seasons. There’s been no escaping the Mets/SNY dire finances.  Much of their debt has been refinanced many times over and stands poised to hamper operations for years to come.

July 31, 2015, however, was the day ownership finally stepped out from behind the proverbial curtain to reset the course of its own enterprise.  Ownership must now stand their ground, and translate July’s conviction into consistent forward moving action.  It’s called building upon success – requiring a spirit I’m sure their lenders and creditors would even find agreeable.

Sandy Alderson was quick, however, to offer a preemptive warning shortly after the World Series ended when he linked payroll right back to attendance again.

To that effect, Citi Field attendance figures continued trending positive after bottoming out three years ago.

  • 2009 – 3,168, 571 (5th of 16).
  • 2010 – 2,559,738 (8th of 16).
  • 2011 – 2,352, 596 (9th of 16).
  • 2012 – 2,242, 803 (11th of 16).
  • 2013 – 2,135,657 (13th of 15).
  • 2014 – 2,148,808 (13th of 15.)
  • 2015 – 2,569,753 (6th of 15).

The uptick from 2013 to 2014 was modest at best, and hardly enough to plan an off-season around.   Let’s just say it was enough to pay for Michael Cuddyer.  This year, however, fans posted Citi Field’s second highest attendance figure.  Winning the National League pennant will likely spark another measurable increase in next year’s attendance – with the extra revenue generated from an incremental ticket increase to boot.

Unfortunately, the business of baseball is never that straight forward.  Much of Sandy Alderson’s off-season strategy hinges on Daniel Murphy‘s decision to either accept or decline the club’s free agent qualifying offer.

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By Mets standards, the $15.8 million dollar figure set by MLB is prohibitive, but logic dictated the Mets risk extending Murphy an offer.  To date, no major league player has ever accepted, opting instead to enter the open market, which in turn would reward the Mets with a compensatory pick in next June’s amateur draft.

Murphy’s decision is due by the time baseball’s general managers meetings wrap up on Thursday.

If accepted, the Mets will have a 31-year old known commodity, but for nearly double what he earned in 2015.  In that scenario, our fan hopes will largely remain the same – that he out-hits his defensive and base-running liabilities.  If accepted, the Mets would also be afforded another season with which to further develop prospects Dilson Herrera, Amed Rosario, and Gavin Cecchini.  Add Wilmer Flores to the mix, and the Mets can potentially mix and match their next 2B/SS combo in time for 2017.

In either event, once Murphy renders a decision the Mets can then get on with settling their final 40-man roster which must be submitted by November 20 in advance of the December Rule-5 draft.

The free agency market will begin percolating with activity shortly thereafter.

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I’m waiting to see how many slots Sandy Alderson leaves available, if any, in order to accommodate potential acquisitions not already listed on the Mets 40-man roster.  It is then, I feel upper management will partly reveal their off-season ambitions, and financial capabilities (prior to arbitration factoring into their overall 2016 obligation).

Mets eligible for free agency:

Jerry Blevins, Tyler Clippard, Eric O’Flaherty, Bobby Parnell, Bartolo Colon, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Yoenis Cespedes, and the aforementioned Daniel Murphy.