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  • Brodie Van Wagenen - Will There Be A Spring Training Surprise?

    Why Passing on Joe Girardi as Manager
    Could Come Back to Bite Brodie Van Wagenen


    Girardi heads to the Phillies while Mets' process rolls on

    by JOHN HARPER
    24 Oct 2020, 12:00 PM ET

    It just seemed so obvious, so logical, even so…easy…to hire Joe Girardi as the anti-Mickey Callaway and give a ready-to-win Mets team the best chance at maximizing its potential in 2020.

    Instead the Mets allowed a division rival right down the Turnpike to hire Girardi and, man, Brodie Van Wagenen better find the next Alex Cora.

    I'm not saying Van Wagenen can't still somehow come out of this looking good, if he does discover the right manager. But for the moment he's only furthered the perception that he thinks he's smarter than everybody else.

    Put it this way: from the fans' point of view, there might be a long way to go here, but the GM just gave up a grand slam in the first inning.

    Not that pleasing the fans should be a prerequisite for hiring a manager, but in this case, when their overwhelming desire for Girardi lined up with so many other more objective reasons to hire him, well, why wouldn't you want to take the lay-up rather than what amounts to a contested three-point shot?

    Because unless they're willing to hire a "bombshell candidate" that will emerge and completely change public perception, as SNY's Andy Martino has reported is a possibility, whoever the Mets hire will be a first-time manager and thus comes with an undeniable risk factor.

    Callaway's failure shouldn't really be part of the equation, yet there's no getting around the fact that his in-game problems, his poor media skills, and his general lack of sophistication loom over this next hire, whether it's Carlos Beltran, Eduardo Perez, Tim Bogar or someone else who does not have significant experience managing in the big leagues.

    In New York, especially, you just don't know how a first-time major league manager is going to handle the scrutiny that comes with the job, never mind how he'll make decisions on the fly in the dugout.

    One of those guys might be another Cora, who proved to be savvy in just about every way as a first-time manager for the Red Sox in 2018, guiding them to a championship in his first season as manager.

    Or he might be another Aaron Boone, who has made a relatively smooth transition from the broadcast booth to the Bronx.

    But Girardi is a proven commodity in New York, having won a championship while managing the Yankees for 10 years and proving to be adept at bullpen management -- which is perhaps the most difficult in-game task these days for a manager -- as well as just about everything else that comes with the job.

    Not that Girardi was without fault. He'll probably never be comfortable in press conference settings, especially after losses, when his intensity at times got the best of him.

    But as long as he wins, the media part of the job doesn't seem nearly as important, as Bill Belichick, among others, has long since proven.

    Whether Girardi's intensity negatively impacts his clubhouse is quite another issue. The Yankees thought it wore on players after a number of years, and that was at least partly why Brian Cashman moved on even after his manager got the 2017 team to Game 7 of the ALCS, opting for a better communicator in Boone.

    At least initially, however, I have to believe Girardi's intensity, as well his well-documented preparation and attention to detail, would have helped the Mets, with their relatively young core, raise their day-to-day readiness over 162 games.

    In truth, the Yankees did have some in-game issues with Girardi's managing, at least during his final season. Sources told me they thought he got a little panicky down the stretch in 2017, using Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman too often with four and five-run leads rather than trusting other relievers, to the point of burning them out by the postseason.

    The point is, any manager is going to be subject to criticism of some sort, so it's not as if Girardi was going to guarantee the Mets win the NL East next season.

    It's just that, well, like so many fans today, I'd like to know why the Mets didn't hire him.

    If it's because they didn't want to pay top-dollar for a manager while still paying Mickey Callaway, that's just foolish. The fan base would have been so jazzed by hiring him that the Mets almost surely would have made up the extra cost in ticket sales.

    If it's because Van Wagenen wants a more collaborative manager, meaning someone who will allow the analytics department to dictate his lineup on a daily basis, that just seems like an ego-driven decision in this era when the new-age GMs don't value managers as much as they should.

    If it's something else, let's just hope it's a good reason.

    Again, I'm not saying the Mets can't make this work. For starters, it's more important that Van Wagenen makes the right moves this winter to make his team better.

    Indeed, if the Mets brought back Zack Wheeler, then went out and signed Anthony Rendon, as well as added a couple of proven relievers, they could sell the fans on just about anybody they want as manager.

    But I don't think that's happening. As such, they sure could use a manager who might win them a few extra games, rather than lose them a bunch.

    Girardi was the best bet. And if he turns out to be that guy for the Phillies, then not hiring him could wind up costing Van Wagenen his job.


    Drew's Sig

  • #2
    it isn't just that the Phillies hired what seems to be the best candidate that the Mets had interviewed....it's the fact/perception that the Mets seem to be dragging their feet, while both of the A+ type of proven candidates signed with teams that knew what they wanted and pounced once given the opportunity...Callaway was gone before the Phils phired their manager, and might have even been gone before the perennial under-achieving California Angels of Anaheim located somewhat in the vicinity of Los Angeles fired their guy....yet, both the Angels and the Phils, announced a new manager while the Mets are still trying to figure out how to form a huddle....I'm not even sure that BVD can adjust his underwear without having all 3 of the Wilkatz approval...if the Mets were invited to a convention, not only would they think it was a clown convention, but they would send their worst mimes to represent their clowns
    Last edited by saxon; 24-Oct-2019, 11:02 PM.

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    • #3
      Brodie Van Wagenen on Offseason Plans


      By Connor Byrne
      11 Nov2019. 10:28 PM CDT

      Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who’s in the early stages of a crucial second offseason on the job, spoke to reporters about the team’s winter plans Monday. The club’s on the heels of an 86-win season, its third in a row without a playoff berth. There are obvious need areas on the Mets’ roster, then, but it’s up in the air how aggressive they’ll be this offseason with seemingly limited spending room under the budget of owners Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon.

      Infielder Jed Lowrie and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes are among the players clogging up New York’s payroll. Injuries prevented either from factoring in much or at all in 2019, but they (Lowrie – $9MM and Cespedes – $29.5MM) are slated to occupy almost $40MM of the Mets’ payroll next season. Lowrie at least logged some playing time in September, meaning he should be good to go at the start of 2020. However, Lowrie won’t have “a normal offseason considering what he went through last year,” according to Van Wagenen, who noted the Mets have “continued to try to diagnose what Jed’s issues were that kept him out this season” (via Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News). But signs point to the Mets rolling with Lowrie, Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis as their third base options in 2020, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. On paper, that’s a capable trio, and with Robinson Cano at second base and Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto as the Mets’ top two corner outfielders, it would make sense for Lowrie, McNeil and Davis to share the hot corner.

      The ongoing presence of Cespedes further complicates the picture in the outfield, but as Van Wagenen said last week, there’s still no indication as to whether he’ll be able to play next year (via Tim Healey of Newsday). Cespedes, the Mets’ highest-paid player, missed all of this season because of ankle issues. If the Mets were sure Cespedes would miss at least 60 days next year, they’d be able to recoup 60 to 70 percent of his money by way of insurance. For now, though, the team doesn’t seem to have any idea as to whether Cespedes will significantly weigh on its payroll going forward.

      Regardless of what happens with Cespedes, it seems center field should be a priority for the Mets this offseason. The Mets tried Juan Lagares, Nimmo and Conforto there to underwhelming results in 2019. Lagares is now a free agent after the Mets declined his club option, while Nimmo and Conforto are likely better cut out for corner roles. Indeed, the Mets want to improve their defense in center, per Van Wagenen. Problem is that free agency’s not loaded with obvious solutions at the position, while the best trade candidates at the spot (Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte and Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr.) earn fairly expensive salaries. That’s without adding in the assets they’d cost to acquire, and it’s worth noting Marte’s coming off a poor year as a defender.

      Aside from center field, Van Wagenen cited pitching – both rotation and bullpen – as well as backup catcher as areas the club could address in the coming weeks (Twitter links via Mike Puma of the New York Post, Healey and Thosar). The Mets have one of the highest-profile free-agent starters in the game in Zack Wheeler, whom they issued a $17.8MM qualifying offer. While they’d like to re-sign Wheeler, it’s entirely possible he’ll end up out of the Mets’ price range, which would leave them with a still-enviable top of the rotation in Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz. The team lacks depth after that foursome, though Van Wagenen pointed to David Peterson, Walker Lockett, Chris Flexen and Corey Oswalt as in-house options. If you’re a Mets fan who’s unexcited about the majority of that group, that’s understandable. But Peterson, MLB.com’s seventh-ranked Mets prospect, at least carries some intrigue. The 24-year-old, a 2017 first-round pick, reached the Double-A level this season and notched a 4.19 ERA/3.19 FIP with 9.47 K/9 against 2.87 BB/9 in 116 innings.

      As for the Mets’ bullpen, it’s no surprise they’re interested in bettering a bunch that largely fell flat this year. The Mets were aggressive in trying to bolster the unit last offseason, evidenced by the acquisitions of Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson. But Wilson was the only effective member of the trio, and given that the Mets could move either Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman to their rotation, their relief corps looks like an even bigger concern at the moment.

      While it’s unclear how the Mets will configure their pitching staff next year, it seems their hurlers will primarily end up throwing to Wilson Ramos. The veteran catcher was yet another of the Mets’ headline-grabbing pickups from last offseason who may not have delivered as hoped in 2019. But despite his defensive deficiencies, the 32-year-old Ramos did record yet another fine offensive campaign. With $9.25MM owed to Ramos next season, it seems the Mets will continue to ride with him behind the plate and seek a defensively sound complement to place behind him.

      The Mets are undoubtedly in for a fascinating offseason. The club’s not short on talent, but there are clear flaws at the same time. If Van Wagenen doesn’t find a way to repair them, and if the Mets miss the playoffs yet again, it’s possible they’ll be on the lookout for a new GM a year from now.

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      • #4
        Team Needs:

        Starting Pitcher (if Wheeler is not resigned)
        Center Fielder (preferably right handed)
        Bullpen (at least two)

        Backup catcher is 4th priority, IMO.

        Lots for Mr Fancy Pants to do, and unless Fred, Jeffy Boy and Kitty Katz pry open the wallets, we are not improving.

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        • #5
          per the other thread, if the mets are truly budding up against the luxury tax, then pick one...

          as for the BP, Can't blame the Wilpons, the opened their wallets last season for that and BVW and those people are still on the team.
          For CF, there are no FA options and it's not the Wilpons fault the Mets have emptied their entire farm in previous trades.
          And for SP, see that lack of farm replenishment for a 5th starter position...

          For once, I'm not in on the Wilpons blame wagon.

          Comment


          • #6
            Van Wagenen Hints at 3 Pitching Plans for Mets


            by Anthony DiComo @AnthonyDiComo
            15 Nov 2019, 12:38 PM EST

            NEW YORK -- It’s all about pitching. A Mets team that has historically relied on its arms in good times and bad will continue to do so in 2020. But which pitchers? How much of the same? While remaining characteristically coy, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen dropped some hints this week at the General Managers Meetings. Including ...

            1. Mets could fill their rotation hole from within
            Zack Wheeler is gone, having rejected the Mets’ $17.8 million qualifying offer. It seems relatively unlikely that he will return, for two reasons. One, rival teams are going to be lining up for the services of a starting pitcher who has logged 377 2/3 innings, 374 strikeouts and a 3.65 ERA the past two seasons. To bring back Wheeler, the Mets are going to have to outbid half the league.

            Two, the Mets are a little less than $20 million shy of Major League Baseball’s 2020 payroll luxury-tax threshold. There’s no guarantee they’ll stay under it given the relatively light penalty for a one-year splurge, but history suggests the team will do everything possible to keep its payroll -- a number that includes the salaries of David Wright and Yoenis Céspedes, large portions of which the Mets are recouping via insurance -- under the luxury-tax limit of $208 million. That means signing Wheeler would eat up most or all of their remaining funds, with nothing left to address the bullpen, the outfield or other areas of need.

            There’s certainly a chance that Wheeler could still return. But a more likely scenario has the Mets shopping in cheaper starting pitching aisles. Van Wagenen said at the GM Meetings that the Mets would even be comfortable not adding a single starter, bumping either Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman -- or both -- to the rotation.

            2. Thor isn’t going anywhere
            Van Wagenen said it at the outset of the offseason, declaring -- unprompted -- that Noah Syndergaard will be a Met in 2020. He said it again on Thursday, noting he’s rebuffed teams that have come calling about the right-hander.

            “We have made it very clear that we’re not going to engage on Noah,” Van Wagenen said. “We have received inquiries, but we have been proactive in letting people know that what I said publicly back earlier this summer, and again in October, that he’s going to be with us going forward.”

            The Mets’ rotation will consist of Jacob deGrom, Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz. The only question is who slots in fifth.

            3. Díaz is critical at back end of 'pen
            This becomes even more pronounced if Lugo shifts to the rotation. Reading the tea leaves of Van Wagenen’s GM Meetings statements, the Mets are going to make adds to the bullpen, but not necessarily ones of enough prominence to supplant Edwin Díaz from the closer’s role. Lugo could do that, but not if he’s a starter. Justin Wilson could steal some saves, but not in everyday situations.

            For the bullpen as a whole to improve, it is imperative for Díaz to post something much better than the 5.59 ERA he did in 2019. He has a plan in place to do so, involving extra bullpen sessions and slider work this winter in Puerto Rico. New manager Carlos Beltrán, a fellow Puerto Rican, considers mentoring Díaz one of his top priorities.

            As for adding to the bullpen, Will Smith -- one of the top relievers on the market -- is already off the board, having gone to the Braves on a three-year deal. Plenty of enticing options remain, including Chris Martin, Drew Pomeranz and Will Harris. But as in the starting pitching market, competition will be fierce, and the bullpen market isn’t nearly as strong as it was a year ago. The Mets’ surest path to bullpen improvement starts with Díaz and Jeurys Familia.

            Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

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            • #7
              Offseason Outlook: New York Mets


              by Jeff Todd
              19 Nov 2019, 9:43 AM CDT
              The needs are clearer than the means for the Mets as they enter a critical second offseason under GM Brodie Van Wagenen. Guaranteed Contracts
              • Jacob deGrom: $130.5MM through 2023 (includes $20MM signing bonus, due in two installments on 1/2/20 and 1/4/21)
              • Robinson Cano: $81MM through 2023 (excludes $15MM of remaining obligations owed by Mariners)
              • Yoenis Cespedes: $29.5MM through 2020
              • Jeurys Familia: $22MM through 2021
              • Jed Lowrie: $13MM through 2020 (includes $4MM in remaining signing bonus obligations)
              • Wilson Ramos: $10.75MM (includes $1.5MM buyout on $10MM 2021 club option)
              • David Wright: $9MM through 2020 (excludes estimated $3MM covered by insurance proceeds)
              • Justin Wilson: $5MM through 2020
              Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)Free Agents
              The Mets play in New York, as you may already be aware. But the club’s payroll in recent years has not quite matched its top-of-class market size … a fact you’re also likely familiar with if you’re reading this post. As we sit here today, the Mets are already committed to spending as much as or more than they have have in recent seasons, when they have seemingly operated with fairly clear budgetary restrictions.
              So, the Mets are tapped out, right? They can try to move money via trades, but that would mean parting with useful players and/or prospects. Tapping into the talent pipeline would be awfully tough to swallow after having already cleared out some of the farm’s most promising youngsters over the past year in other swaps. It seems like a predicament.

              Why, then, are we reading articles throwing around concepts of re-signing Zack Wheeler, landing a similarly spendy replacement, risking a good chunk of change on rehabbing reliever Dellin Betances, trading for Mookie Betts, etc? Does Van Wagenen have freedom to pursue such high-priced players or is he limited to value-for-value swaps that don’t add to the team’s existing payroll commitments?

              There’s no answer here. It’s all a mystery. The team wouldn’t want the market to know its precise plans, so that’s sensible enough. But it makes it awfully difficult to assess the offseason possibilities and all but impossible to guess some of the key pieces that’ll be available to new skipper Carlos Beltran.

              On the one hand, we’ve not been given reason to believe that the Mets organization is on the verge of a big payroll boost. The team seemed in position to do that sort of thing previously — on the heels of a surprise World Series appearance, say — and didn’t really surge in spending. On the other, Van Wagenen actually responded to questions about the $208MM luxury tax line in a manner that suggested it wasn’t completely absurd to ask about. His answer didn’t exactly indicate that the Mets would be ramping up to that level — “if the luxury tax threshold becomes something we have to consider, then we will talk about it at that time” — but the top baseball ops officer could have taken the opportunity to temper expectations and it seems notable that he didn’t.

              While we don’t know for sure what financial means the Mets will have to address their needs, we do have a pretty clear idea of what the roster gaps are. And it’s also not hard to identify a few big-league pieces that could be utilized in lieu of prospects to help swing deals. First baseman Dominic Smith is the most obvious candidate to be moved after showing well with the bat but being eclipsed entirely by a large white bear (also known as Rookie of the Year Peter Alonso). And bat-first utilityman J.D. Davis could also be dangled in some scenarios. More on him below. We shouldn’t overstate the value of these players. Smith only had a brief showing last year due to injury; Davis rode a .355 BABIP. Both are limited on the basepaths and in the field. But they’re useful pre-arb performers with clear surplus value who’d hold clear appeal to a good number of rival organizations.

              It’s also rather easy to see where the Mets could stand to improve. Let’s start in center field. With the end of the Juan Lagares era, and the failure of the other players brought in last season to supplement/challenge him, there’s a void up the middle. The preference is not to utilize Michael Conforto and/or Brandon Nimmo there, at least in a full-time capacity, so the optimal outcome is to secure the services of a full-time center fielder with a fall-back of getting a right-handed-hitting part-timer to platoon with those existing lefty bats.

              Those two paths also play into the question whether Davis ought to be dealt or retained. If the Mets end up with a CF timeshare, then there should be more plate appearances left for Davis to pick up in the corners. But if the Mets find a regular to play in center, then perhaps Davis won’t have as many opportunities as might be preferred in the corner outfield. It’s easier to deal him in that case, perhaps even as part of the swap for the desired center fielder. The Mets could backfill with a low-cost, righty-hitting veteran to serve as a fourth outfielder … or try to dig up the next Davis in another trade. It’s worth pausing to note that Yoenis Cespedes remains a hypothetical candidate to return, though it remains utterly unclear whether and when that might happen. If the Mets have secret cause for optimism on Cespedes, perhaps that also tips in favor of a Davis swap.

              So, the options in center … like many teams, the Mets make an ideal fit for Starling Marte of the Pirates. He isn’t cheap, but isn’t so expensive ($11.5MM in 2020 with an option for 2021) that the Mets can’t figure it out. The Bucs have previously chased after MLB-ready pieces rather than prospects, which suits the New York situation. We don’t know if the Pirates will deal Josh Bell, but if they do, Smith would make an awful lot of sense as a target. Trouble is, there ought to be rather intense competition on Marte. And there’s a new front office regime in Pittsburgh, with a shifting mandate that may favor more drastic action.

              Rental piece Jackie Bradley Jr. will cost similarly in salary (a projected $11MM) and quite a bit less in return. It’s easy to imagine Ender Inciarte as a fit if the Braves go in a different direction … and decide to deal in their division. Perhaps Manuel Margot would be a nice compromise if something more can’t be done and the Padres decide to move on. He’s priced fairly ($2.1MM projected) as a platoon candidate with some hopeful upside remaining. There isn’t a regular option in free agency, unless you believe in incoming Japanese star Shogo Akiyama. He’s a left-handed hitter who doesn’t seem to have captured the Mets’ interest. Brett Gardner is likewise a lefty bat. The Mets could turn to Cameron Maybin or another righty-swinging part-timer on the open market.

              That’s really the bulk of the work on the position player side. Most of the 4-through-6 infield time ought to be accounted for between Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Robinson Cano, and Jed Lowrie — at least, supposing Lowrie can come back from the mystery issues that derailed his first season in New York. Luis Guillorme represents a utility option. Davis can play third base if he remains on hand, though metrics (DRS, especially) have panned his work there. It’s worth noting that top prospect Andres Gimenez is on the rise. He’s just 21 years of age but could crack the majors if he makes strides at Triple-A and there’s a need. You can certainly imagine a bit of supplementation for this group, perhaps in the form of minor-league signings, but the Mets can be rather confident in what they have.

              It’s debatable whether that same confidence ought to extend behind the dish, where veteran Wilson Ramos remains a capable hitter and questionable defender. The opposite is true of reserve Tomas Nido. Van Wagenen has indicated he’s not inclined to pursue a major shakeup at the catching position — “we expect to go into the season with Wilson Ramos as our guy” — but will be “in the market looking for backup options.” The Mets could revisit talks with Yasmany Grandal after just missing him last year, but that’d be quite a surprise given those comments and the other, more pressing needs. Expect the Mets to look at the many lower-cost veterans available this year to shore things up behind the plate.

              If it was as simple as adding a center fielder and a few complimentary pieces, the budgetary constraints wouldn’t be as worrisome. But the Mets also need arms. The starting staff has four pieces in place but needs several more, particularly given the health scares that some members of the group have had in recent seasons. It’s quite unlikely that the Mets will lure Wheeler back or replace him with an equivalently valuable player — again, unless there’s a much bigger budget to work with than we know. Van Wagenen had names to cite when asked recently about rotation depth. And to be sure, hurlers such as Chris Flexen, Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt, and recent first-rounder David Peterson do represent near-term options. But it’s tough to rely upon those hurlers for significant contributions, particularly with a full rotation spot as yet unaccounted for. There has been some talk of stretching out Seth Lugo (and also Robert Gsellman), but it seems likely the team will hope Lugo can reprise his excellent relief work from 2019.

              Van Wagenen knows that, which is why he has cited a need to improve in the rotation. It’s likely the Mets will try to land multiple pitchers capable of gobbling up innings. New Jersey product Rick Porcello would be the sort of durable bounceback candidate who’d make sense, though he doesn’t figure to be particularly cheap. There are options at every price point on the market this year. No doubt the Mets will be among the many teams prowling patiently as a high-volume class of free-agent starters seeks contracts.

              The pen is obviously a need as well. Last year’s unit was one of the worst in baseball. There’s not much choice but to hope that Edwin Diaz figures things out. He could push Lugo back into setup duty with a big spring. Those two hurlers and lefty Justin Wilson will likely make up the key late-inning trio. Jeurys Familia is also going to be given every chance to find his form, though he’s likely destined for a lower-leverage spot to begin the year. Robert Gsellman is another hurler who is looking for redemption. Among the depth options, Paul Sewald stands out. He doesn’t get many swings and misses but got solid results in a brutal Triple-A environment and turned in a 22:3 K/BB ratio in his 19 2/3 MLB innings.

              There’s certainly room to improve here. You could argue for two significant additions. But the budget crunch will make it tough to take risks in this area. It’s understandable that some fans would like to see New York native Dellin Betances make a dramatic cross-borough move. But if dollars are tight, that’s a big risk to take. A return for Jersey boy Brad Brach, who was solid late in 2019, would seem more realistic. Fortunately for the Mets, there’s an abundance of solid relief arms that should be available for fairly modest commitments.

              In MLBTR’s ranking of the top fifty free agents, we guessed the team would come away with a fifth starter (Ivan Nova) and useful veteran reliever (Craig Stammen). New Yorkers were not especially excited by this — though, to be fair, they were much more upset at our equally ho-hum predictions for the Yankees. There’s no question the Mets can and quite arguably should do more. It’s a tough division, but they’re trying to compete and the window is certainly open. And, yeah, it’s New York.

              Substituting out Nova and Stammen in favor of Cole Hamels and Will Harris just might make the difference … and would almost certainly cost an extra $12MM or more in 2020 salary alone. Bringing back Wheeler and adding multiple relievers would be even better … and yet more expensive. We just don’t know how the organization will behave this winter. But we’ll soon find out.

              [New York Mets depth chart | New York Mets Nationals payroll outlook]

              MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams. Click here to read the other entries in this series.

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              • #8
                Six Things for Mets Fans to Keep an Eye on at MLB's Winter Meetings

                Building pitching depth is a must

                by Anthony McCarron
                7 Dec 2019,| 10:00 AM ET


                Sure, you're hyped for some Mets free agent or trade action at the upcoming Winter Meetings. But unless the club pulls off a surprise blockbuster move, the most newsworthy Mets stuff coming out of San Diego might be the first public appearance by a club bigwig since the announcement of sale negotiations with billionaire Steve Cohen.

                When Brodie Van Wagenen steps in front of cameras and reporters, there will be lots to discuss, far beyond how to fix that horrid bullpen.

                We'll see what Van Wagenen says. It's one of six Mets things to watch at the Winter Meetings.

                Meanwhile, the Mets have plenty of roster work to do, too, especially if they believe an 86-76 team that's already lost Zack Wheeler to a division rival can have a say in the National League playoff picture. Wheeler and his new Philly teammates are gearing up and the Braves have already added talent.

                Here's a look at five other things that should be on BVW's San Diego checklist:

                Pitching in

                Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Wheeler and Steven Matz all made at least 30 starts last season - only 55 other pitchers across baseball also accomplished the feat. That quartet plus Jason Vargas and Marcus Stroman combined to make 154 of the Mets' 162 starts (95%). Rotation health and durability is, obviously, precious. It's also not guaranteed. In addition to adding a Wheeler replacement (Rick Porcello, perhaps?), the Mets need to start brewing rotation depth, too, just in case.
                Penning a solution

                The bullpen, of course, is all tied in to their rotation work. Maybe Seth Lugo shifts to the rotation and the Mets plaster the 'pen with arms. One thing is clear - simply hoping for bouncebacks from Edwin Díaz and Jeurys Familia is no relief plan, so expect the Mets to at least continue legwork on bullpen help at the meetings, even if they don't come home with a finished relief corps. Blake Treinen, Josh Hader and Dellin Betances are some of the names with sizzle factor. Do any figure into Met plans?
                The Defense (better not) rest:

                In the release the Mets put out following the acquisition of Jake Marisnick, Van Wagenen acknowledged improving the Mets' glovework is in the offseason plans. Thank goodness. Center was a spot the Mets could upgrade, and Marisnick, a fleet flycatcher with one of the best throwing arms in baseball, qualifies. We should hear from Van Wagenen on how the club plans to deploy Marisnick. Is he the starting center fielder? Marisnick has a career OPS of .635 against righties and .701 versus lefties.

                Does acquiring Marisnick mean the Mets are done in center? Another vital tidbit we need to hear from Van Wagenen - what are his other plans to enhance the defense, since that is always a nice complement to nifty starting pitching?

                Yo, what's up?

                We saw the BP video (thanks, Endy!) before it was taken down. What did it mean? Back at the Carlos Beltrán press conference, BVW said it was "too early to tell" if Cespedes will contribute next season. Any further clarity now? If Cespedes can play, that sure is a lot of outfielders clogging up Citi Field, which might mean, well, see the next category.

                A Brodie surprise?

                The move that probably defines Van Wagenen's tenure so far is the stunner that brought Díaz and Robinson Cano to Citi Field in a trade that cost, among others, highly-regarded prospect Jarred Kelenic. With a bunch of outfielders and perhaps a need to move contracts to use the money elsewhere, maybe Van Wagenen has another out-of-the-box move coming.

                Could they attach cheap, attractive players such as Dom Smith or J.D. Davis to Jed Lowrie or Familia, as The Athletic has suggested? Would any other team want to take on the contract of Familia or Lowrie? Van Wagenen and his lieutenants are creative. They may have to be.


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                • #9
                  https://twitter.com/jack_hendon99/st...94519956623360

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                  • #10
                    This thread has been crickets for some a while, time to evaluate. BVW entered the off season with the budget up against the Luxury Tax which, of course, hinders a GM. Job 1 - CF trades two low level prospects for 28 yr. old Jake Marisnick with 1 yr of control. Marisnick will likely be at 3 M in arbitration.

                    Marisnick has a DRS of 32 over 3 seasons, his Fangraph UZR is 15th of 26 with 1500 inn. 2017-19. 9th in Rng., 18 Arm and 13th Fld. Bat hasn't played, but has 36 Hrs in 800 PA over 3 seasons.

                    The loss of Wheels to FA and the Phillies required a replacement or weaken the BP by putting either Lugo or Gsellman in the rotation. BVD only didn't weaken the BP he brought in M Wacha 28, a low risk (3 M) with high reward potential. 2018 Wacha was 8-1 with a 2.47 ERA in early June. The next 2 starts were poor 7.2 IP allowing 9 ER and 4 HRs. An oblique ended his season. 2019 was a complete fail with Hit, Hrs, BB up and K's down, the motivation to return to success is there.

                    Also added to the rotation was Rick Porcello 30, coming off a poor season. 3 seasons removed from a CYA Porcello is, like Wacha, motivated to turn his career around. Another low risk at 10 M with the high reward potential.

                    Although the BP is loaded with capable pitchers Van Wagenen brought back Brad Brach for 850 K and a 1.25 M player option for 2021. Brach 34, over a 5 year period mostly with the Orioles pitched 351 inn. in 315 appearances...a heavy workload. He also excelled with a 2.89 ERA and 33 SVs. Last year was the price for that work load, but with fewer IP Brach could be ready for a throwback performance.

                    Van Wagenen is not the typical GM and as such exists outside the box. Inorder to create some wiggle his budget BVW went after Cespedes contract under which he was guaranteed 58.5 M. Without opposition Cespedes agreed and the MLBPA signed off to reduced salaries for both 2019 and 20. For this season Cespedes is guaranteed 6 M along with a lengthy list of inducements which add to his bottom line.

                    No block buster signing, yet I think that BVD has positioned the Mets to compete in the NLE with the Nats, Phillies and Braves.

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                    • #11
                      agreed - I think BVM did a really solid job with what he had. Personally, I give demerits for the Wacha AND Porcello signings (Addressed on other thread), but otherwise, he attacked the holes, didn't further diminish the farm, and is putting faith in what should have been a playoff capable roster in 2019 to bounce back to form. Had he not been bogged down by the Cano contract which pushed him against the luxury tax while simultaneously giving away two of his best prospects, he might have had more room for magic, but his poor 2019 off season is no ones fault but his own.

                      The Stroman deal looks like good intuition at this point considering the price of starting pitching through the off season. All the more reason to get that ball rolling with Thor/Matz/Stroman or anyone else they might want to extend who has already hit their arbitration eligible years.

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                      • #12
                        I give demerits for the Wacha AND Porcello signings (Addressed on other thread)
                        After signing Wacha, I'd have preferred they used this 10M on a more proven BP arm.
                        Legitimate preference given the past season, however there does seem to be a abundance of RPs who have a Schizoid Personality Disorder...Mike Pelfrey went on that rollercoaster ride for several years... and as described by Blood Sweat & Tears (Spinning Wheel) What goes up must come down or maybe that was Issac Newton who pre-dates BS&T.


                        We had the pieces; Diaz, Familia, Lugo, Wilson and Avilan all capable and proven assets. We have added Brach and Betances potentially creating a shut down monster of a BP if UP and stay UP.

                        ..

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                        • #13
                          FYI - Avilan is not on the 40 man roster. He was granted free agency on 10/31/2019.

                          https://www.baseball-reference.com/p...sactions_other

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                          • yogi8
                            yogi8 commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Didn't catch that, but Avilan was one of those capable RPs that failed. Prior in the 3 last seasons he was very effective with a FIP of 2.87 and a whip of 3.33 driven by his less than stellar BB.

                            Beyond that there was much to like; a K % of 27.7 (MLB Avg -21.1), BA against .236 (.253), Hr/FB 3.9 % (8.7%) and an Inherited Runner scored of 21%.

                            After his performance last season including elbow soreness as a result of bone spurs, Avilan may be deserving of another look. On the IL from 5/3 to 7/5 he returned and pitched well as the Lefty One Out Guy in 34 appearances (21 IP) 2.95 ERA 6.8 H/9 and a 2.11 BA.

                            However, with the dumb ass rule change...the LOOGY may now be found only in the Smithsonian on display with the Dodo Commissioner

                        • #14
                          3 Moves That Should Still Be On Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen's Agenda

                          The time has come for more trades

                          by Danny Abriano
                          6 Jan 2020, 1:15 PM ET


                          The Mets have made some notable additions this offseason and should be better off for them. But while their ceiling is high, it's hard to put them on the same level as the Braves and Nationals. It's also hard to believe that they're done making moves.

                          Brodie Van Wagenen made a very necessary (if still a bit risky) bullpen addition by signing Dellin Betances. Rick Porcello has also been added to the starting rotation. By also adding Michael Wacha, the Mets have six starting pitchers for five spots -- a good problem to have. The only move of note on the offensive side of things was trading for Jake Marisnick, whose addition was more about his defense in center field than anything.

                          With just over a month to go until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, the Mets' payroll for luxury tax purposes is roughly $195 million. When you factor in the additional money Yoenis Cespedes will receive if he is on the Opening Day roster or on the IL for a reason other than his ankle, that number rises to about $200 million -- $8 million shy of the luxury tax threshold.

                          If the Mets want to put themselves in better position between now and Opening Day and/or give themselves more wiggle room to spend during the season, there is more work to be done. There is also the presence of a few players on the roster who would be better off elsewhere in 2020.

                          Here's what should still be on Van Wagenen's agenda...

                          Trade for Starling Marte

                          No, you're not having deja vu. This is another call to trade for Marte, who has been connected to the Mets most of the offseason and who the Mets and Pirates have had trade discussions about.
                          No, the Mets should not trade Brandon Nimmo in a deal for Marte. This should be about adding Marte, using him in center field, and sliding Nimmo to left field.

                          If the Mets feel Marte's defensive slide last season was an aberration, he is the perfect fit for center field -- a spot where the Mets don't currently have a full-time player who profiles best there defensively.

                          The complications with Marte are currently the Pirates' asking price and his contract, which will pay him $11.5 million in 2020 and has a team option in 2021 worth $12.5 million. Pittsburgh can hang onto Marte and try to deal him during the season. But if he gets hurt, they could be left holding the bag. Translation: They should be itching to trade him now, and the price has to be dropping a bit.
                          The Mets adding Marte without clearing salary would put them over the luxury tax threshold, and it's very hard to see that happening. So they also need to...

                          Trade Jed Lowrie

                          Due to a string of injuries that kept him out the majority of the season, Lowrie was more of a myth in 2019 than an actual baseball player. And he counts for $10 million against the luxury tax in 2020, during what is the second and final season of the contract he signed last offseason.

                          The Mets are set when it comes to their starting infield, so Lowrie -- if healthy -- has no place there.

                          When it comes to the bench, if the Mets carry five players on it, it should shake out something like this:
                          Yoenis Cespedes, OF
                          Jake Marisnick, OF
                          Luis Guillorme, INF
                          Dominic Smith 1B/OF
                          Tomas Nido, C

                          The Mets could always carry Lowrie instead of Guillorme if Lowrie is still here, but they should be doing everything they can to deal him and as much of his salary as possible. Even if they can only clear $5 million or so off the books, it could still be worth it. It all depends on what kind of sweetener the Mets would have to throw in to get a team (Rangers?) to take Lowrie off their hands.
                          This takes us to Dominic Smith.

                          Earlier this offseason, I was pretty adamant that the Mets should trade him -- simply because I didn't think there was much of a role for him in Queens in 2020 and beyond. In other words: If there was value to be had for Smith, cash in.

                          But with the Mets not having a true backup first baseman and with Smith able to at least fake it in the outfield, maybe the smarter play is to hold onto him for now unless a trade is too good to pass up.
                          Find a catcher to pair with Wilson Ramos

                          It seems that the Mets want someone more reliable than Tomas Nido as their backup. And with Ramos' injury history, it's a smart plan to upgrade at catcher.

                          Robinson Chirinos made a shade under $6 million in 2019 and profiles as a starter, having played in 114 games last season for the Astros. So adding him might be a pipe dream due to monetary and playing time issues.

                          Beyond Chirinos, there isn't much out there. So if the Mets hope to upgrade from Nido and give themselves a hedge against a Ramos injury, Van Wagenen might have to get creative.


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                          • #15
                            From what I have read, there isn't much of a market for Lowrie with Salary reprieve and the idea of creating two holes on my bench to be filled with Guillorme and "to be named later" doesn't thrill me. If the Rangers (or anyone else) want Lowrie, then pay him at least the 5M of his 9M salary, no sweetener necessary. If other teams don't want him even for that, then keep him. This isn't a 5 year, 20 million contract we're trying to get out from under. This is a 1 year 9M deal, it is what it is, and if we need to cut him and eat the money, then chalk it up to a rookie GM mistake. But don't compound it by giving away an pre-arbitration guy that has proven he can hit off the bench.

                            Rosario is going to play 150-160 games this season if he can stay healthy. So your bench shortstop is really there for emergency only. Between Lowrie and McNeil, they can "figure it out" and for anything longer you always have the potential to call up Guillorme. Don't waste a bench spot on a guy that can't hit and is going to start less than a handful of games.

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