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New York Mets offseason challenge: How to spend $40 million

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Fans of David Wright of the New York Mets line up for a game between the Mets and the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on September 29, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Fans of David Wright of the New York Mets line up for a game between the Mets and the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on September 29, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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What would you do if you were hired as the general manager for the New York Mets and they gave you $40 million to spend?

You are the newly appointed GM of the New York Mets. Fred and Jeff Wilpon give you complete control over the team with a budget of $40 million to add to the current payroll. You have a real chance to turn this organization around. What moves do you make?

First, some basic rules:

  • Your added payroll cannot exceed $40 million
  • You must balance current needs with future needs
  • Your moves must be realistic

These are the moves I plan to make in order to turn the Mets into a postseason team:

Non-tender:

  • d’Arnaud: $3.7M
  • Flores: $5M

Sign:

Free agents alone will cost $48.5M. But, I’ll save $8.7M by non-tendering d’Arnaud and Flores. Therefore, I remain below the $40M threshold with $200K left over to spend on erecting a statue of Bartolo Colon hitting a home run off of James Shields outside the main gate.

25 man roster:

Starters:

Rotation:

Bullpen:

Bench:

Why it works

Grandal will represent the best offensive catcher the Mets have had in over a decade (2006 Paul Lo Duca, anyone?). And, despite his affinity for passed balls, he is actually a well above average catcher as far as defensive WAR, runs saved, and caught stealing percentage.

We find value by signing reliable pitchers coming off down years that look like they could be good for the next couple of seasons before their arms fly off.

This is always a gamble but I expect three out of four of Eovaldi, Miller, Brach, and Wilson to return value equal to that of their relatively cheap contracts. After all, Signing Craig Kimbrel isn’t necessarily a win no matter how well he performs if you have to pay him $20M a year, right?

Why isn’t Peter Alonso mentioned? Give it a few weeks. No shame in playing the service time game. He’ll be their starting first baseman no later than a month into the season once the Mets secure an extra year of control and Bruce, Conforto, Nimmo, or Lagares (Or all four) inevitably get hurt.

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The bullpen will have the perfect formula for success. Three lefties (four if you include Daniel Zamora in Triple-A), depth in the back-end, and competition at the front-end consisting of all hard-throwing righties will ensure above average production.

Meanwhile, the bench has a backup catcher in Plawecki and a right-handed pinch hitter rivaling Wilmer in TJ Rivera. Dom Smith will be our resident lefty who subs in perfectly at first base or in the outfield, and Luis Guillorme is the perfect defensive substitution/contact hitter the Mets need off the bench.

There is no clear-cut outfield substitution because to put it simply, anyone can play outfield. An injury or substitution of any outfielder will result in Jay Bruce moving to a corner spot and Dom Smith taking over at first. No problem.

The starting lineup and rotation are pretty straightforward so not much explanation needed. Vargas will get some starts but he’ll begin in the bullpen until something changes.

Jeff McNeil slots in at second base after proving he is more than capable of handling the position in 2018.

McNeil will win a batting title and steal home in game 4 of the NLDS, pushing a game 5 that the Mets will lose in the bottom of the 13th inning when Hansel Robles (acquired for league minimum at the all-star break) comes in and gives up a leadoff home run to Wilmer Flores (now having a breakout season on the Dodgers).

Reasons it won’t work

Yasmani Grandal recently rejected his qualifying offer which would subject the Mets to forfeiture of their second highest draft pick as well as $500,000 from their international bonus pool money just for signing him.

This added baggage makes Grandal’s contract financially cheaper but may scare Mets brass into avoiding him altogether.

This also may not work because the same potential for injuries exists. Injuries feel like a lame excuse at this point but there is no denying the Mets have been unlucky.

If the Mets can stay even moderately healthy during the 2019 season they can compete with a payroll only slightly above league average without having to give up any worthwhile prospects in trades.

Am I missing anything?

Three catchers the Mets should consider adding. Next

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This post was inspired in response to a similar Rising Apple article written by Judy Kamilhor.

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