The 2020 New York Mets lineup
1) Lindor (ss) (S) (26)
2) Bryant (3B) (R) (28)
3) Betts (Cf) (R) (27)
4) Alonso (1B) (R) (25)
5) Conforto (RF) (L) (27)
6) Cespedes (LF) (R) (34)
7) Cano (2B) (L) (37)
8) Ramos (C) (R) (32)
Average age: 29.5
Average age 1-5: 26.6
1) deGrom (32)
2) Matz (29)
3) Stroman (29)
4) Hendricks (30)
5) Clevinger (29)
Average age: (29.5)
Average age if the Met has the same rotation from 2019: 29.4
*All ages are for the 2020 season
How we get this done:
Mets trades: Jeff McNeil
Boston trades: Mookie Betts
Let’s get to the ugly part first. Yes. We love Jeff McNeil. His grit, hustle and determination. His skill with the bat. His work ethic. And his ability to play well at several position is a huge asset.
And they will love all of those same things in Boston.
As much as we love McNeil, he’ll be 28 in April. He’s been injured most
of career in the minors. He’s missed time this past season dealing with the residual effects of those numerous hernia surgeries. He went on the Injured List 2 other times for unrelated injures.
McNeil is great. But how many more seasons can you honestly expect greatness from him? 3? 5? Maybe.
Mookie Betts is a top 5 player in all of baseball. He is an impact bat, and gold glove caliber in centerfield. He’s a game changer. He’s an MVP candidate every year.
One year left
Yes, Betts is in the last year of his initial contract. So it’s a big risk for one year. On top of that, Betts will probably get between $25 and $30
million in salary through arbitration.
That $30 million will certainly hurt. And it probably pushes the Mets over the luxury tax threshold for the first time ever. But there is significant data that shows teams could see as much as a 10% boost in a player’s performance the final year of his contract. Sandy Alderson pointed to this during Jay Bruce’s final contract year.
Next offseason, the Mets can extend Betts the Qualifying Offer, which he will most certainly reject. The Mets would get a compensation pick when he signs elsewhere, then can use that pick to help replenish the farm system after the moves they make this offseason.
These compensation picks are how teams can bring more new talent into the minors (and eventually; hopefully the majors) year after year. Between the potential for an added boost to performance, and the compensation picks, we feel players with one year left on their contracts provide a tremendous opportunity on the trade market.
We’re all in on Betts for McNeil
This is a bold move, and has both long and short term implications. The Mets need to replace Wheeler in the rotation. Drafted in the 3rd round by the Mets in this years draft, Matt Allan is a big time arm. But he was drafted out of high school, and it could be 3-5 years before he breaks into the majors.
Clevinger is eligible for arbitration for the first time for 2020, and is under control through the 2022 season. He’s projected to make $4.5 million in 2020, and should slit nicely into the Mets high powered rotation.
In 2019, Clevinger had 169 strike outs in just 126 innings. He is a high strike out pitcher, that fits in with the Mets mold. His 1.05 WHIP and 2.49 FIP in 2019 are equally impressive.
Lindor is one of, if not THE top shortstops in the game. He’s a 40 doubles, 30+ homerun, 20+ stolen base type, while playing gold glove defense at short.
He is in arbitration, and under control for 2 more years. He’s projected to make $16+ million in 2020. Another big price tag for the Mets. The Cleveland Indians don’t believe they can sign Lindor long term, which is why he is available on the trade market.
The New York Mets hoped Amed Rosario would be a Lindor type offensive threat. But it’s hard to see Rosario putting up the power numbers that Lindor does. Rosario still takes too many at bats off, and doesn’t seem to have the baserunning skills that Lindor possesses as well.
Adding Rosario and Dom Smith gives Cleveland quality players with more time under control. And Matt Allan is the high end talent they need to move Lindor. This also paves the way for Andres Gimenez (just wait) or Ronny Mauricio to take over short stop for the Mets in 2022.
The Chicago Cubs trade:
NY Mets trade:
Kris Bryant’s grievance against the Chicago Cubs over them manipulating his service time his rookie season was finally heard last month. A decision isn’t expected for month, and while the Cubs are completely guilty, it’s hard to see the ruling going against them.
All of this has lead to some pretty bad blood between Bryant and the herald Cubs front office, and makes it very unlucky he will re-sign with the Cubs when he’s a free agent after the 2021 season.
Bryant, who set a first year arbitration record in 2018, made $12.9 million last season. He is projected to make as much as $18.5 through arbitration for 2020.
In 4 consecutive years, Bryant won the college player of the year award, minor league player of the year, Rookie of the Year and MVP. He’s been the best player at his level for a very long time. Adding him adds a second MVP type to the lineup that now would also feature Betts, Alonso and Conforto.
Adding Almora adds depth to the team. He would take over the roll of Juan Lagares in years past.
Kyle Hendricks makes $12 million in 2020, and is signed through the 2023 season, with an option for 2024. This is a long term solution for the rotation, and provides extra stability in case Marcus Stroman leaves as a free agent after this season. He is a dependable starter, making 30+ starts 4 of the last 5 years, and has a career ERA of 3.14.
Mets fans will miss Noah Syndergaard, no doubt. Kyle Hendricks is the more reliable starter, minus the big personality.
Mets fans will also miss Brandon Nimmo. There is no doubting his work ethic, attitude, and his ability to get on base. Again, look at his age. While 27 in March isn’t exactly old by any means, is Brandon really someone to build around? Will he still be a productive centerfielder in 3 years? If these series of maneuvers are all done, having Betts in center makes Nimmo expendable.
We’re pretty pretty confident that Mets fans will like Mookie Betts and Fransisco Lindor’s smiles plenty enough, to make up for the lose of Nimmo.
We really like the idea of adding star players, who have one or two years left on their contracts. You get the benefit of high level players, playing for that top, long term contract, and you get the compensation picks when they leave via free agency. Think what it could mean to a team’s minor league system to have a couple of extra picks in rounds 2 or 3. Look at what the Mets did in this last June’s draft to see the type of impact players you could add with those picks. In these moves, the Mets are adding significant talent, without completely destroying their minor league system.
Win now. Win later
–Brodie Van Wagenen
The qualifying offer and compensation picks will probably change with the new CBA after the 2022 season. So it is best to work it and try to take advantage of it now, while you can. The team that does this the best, is at a tremendous advantage.
With these deals, the Mets would have an infield of Bryant, Lindor, Cano and Alonso for the next two seasons. That could be the starting infield at the All-Star game (maybe 3/4ths).
The rotation would also be locked down and set for years to come. The only question would be Marcus Stroman, as he pushes towards free
agency after 2020.
The Bad news
As you can see, there are a few roster spots left open. We figured the few remaining bench spots would be taken by league minimum salary players.
We also know that the Mets need to add AT LEAST two quality MLB relief pitchers. Those will probably cost between $7 and $15 million each.
Running conservative numbers, and not including the open bench spots, and the RPs, we have the payroll at over $225 million. This would be higher than any team’s payroll in 2019. It obviously crushes any Mets record payroll.
It’s also well over the first luxury tax threshold, and threatens the second threshold as well. These means more money and more penalties.
Would the Mets (or any team in 2020), spend $250 million in payroll and luxury tax?
There are some ways around all this. Jed Lowrie and Jeurys Familia will make over $21 million combined in 2020. To say they contributed nothing to the team in 2019 is an understatement. If the Mets could somehow move these 2, and their full salaries, even if it’s for low level minor league players or international slot money, it could give the Mets enough flexibility to make all of this work.
We know we traded away some fan favorites. And we still think the best way to build a team is to grow the core. But it’s equally important to realize who exactly is in that core.
For the Mets, that core seems to be Alonso, Conforto and deGrom. While Nimmo, McNeil and Noah all could make up parts of that core as well, there are red flags for each of them.
It’s also important to recognize that the times of MLB players spending 10-12-15 years with one team is quickly coming to an end. The aging curve hits baseball players hard. While there are some exceptions, somewhere between 30 to 32 measurable and significant drops in performance occur. That is why it is important to get the most out of players while you can.
Tell us what you think.
Is this totally crazy?
Not crazy enough?
What are the missing pieces?