Sunday, 10 January 2021

I Don't Think the Mets are Done

 Seems like there are two schools of thought with regards to the Mets and their acquisition of Francisco Lindor; either they're shoving everything to the middle, or they're done with their big acquisitions and are just going to round out the roster, adding a potential bullpen arm and maybe some depth, maybe a 3B.  If we're to believe Andy Martino of SNY, the Mets aren't going to bypass the $210MM luxury tax threshold, and that they'd like to leave a $5-10MM buffer heading in to the season for in-season upgrades, so that would kind of indicate that they're out on Springer unless the price tag drops dramatically, right?  And GM Jared Porter was on MLB Network discussing their offseason the other day and made it seems like they weren't overly concerned about their CF situation, via Ben Nicholson-Smith.

Sounds like a decent situation for the Jays, yeah? Springer is all but signed, just let the ink dry!

But I dunno, something seems a bit fishy to me still.  Porter mentions in the above link that they were mostly concerned about run prevention coming in to the offseason.  Obviously there are a number of ways to address that.  Pitching is the main one, and acquiring a couple nice bullpen arms and Carlos Carrasco is a good start, but adding Lindor and James McCann should help too.  That lineup is still pretty suspect defensively though; I count JD Davis, Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo as all being out of position out there.  Smith is a first baseman playing in left due to Pete Alonso, Nimmo is a corner outfielder playing CF, not unlike Randal Grichuk.  If you wanted to argue that JD Davis isn't too bad at third, I could live, I guess.  Nimmo-Springer-Conforto would make me a whole lot more comfortable if I were a Mets fan though.  

It's tough to say exactly what happens there if the Mets do go get Springer, but the answer is almost built-in if there's going to be a DH in the NL this year (sidenote: How the fuck is that still up in the air?!?).  You can live with Nimmo in CF 30 games a year if Springer plays the rest.  You can live with Alonso at DH on occasion with Smith playing 1B the rest of the time.  It's only an issue if there's no NL DH.

And if there's no NL DH, it's not like the Mets can't find some budget space.  Cots has them at $180MM as of right now for 40-man roster commitments, so adding Springer on a $25MM AAV still leaves that $5MM buffer (Luxury tax is based on the AAV of the contract, not the yearly salary). It's tight, and it doesn't really allow for any further work to the roster, but that gets you to ~$205MM (this all assumes that the arbitration estimates are accurate/close, which after 2020's shortened season, isn't a given).

Of course, with no NL DH, you'd probably want to figure something out with the outfield.  Conforto is set to make $12MM through his final run at arbitration before free agency, so you could argue that you'd make the trade-off of 5 years of Springer for 1 of Conforto, plus whatever he'd fetch on the trade market. Maybe they could attach Steven Matz or eat some of Jeurys Familia's contract to free space, then go grab Brad Hand and George Springer.

And let's not forget that the new Mets owner is apparently the 36th richest person in the USA, and that maybe the luxury tax number doesn't actually mean jack shit, and that maybe they'll just blow right by that number.  We'll see what happens with Lindor with regards to an extension, but he, Marcus Stroman, Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Familia and Steven Matz are all set to be free agents at the end of the year, totalling for ~$79MM in salaries coming off the books (though Robinson Cano's $24MM is back on the books next year, for a net ~$54MM).  That leaves plenty of room for a Lindor extension, among other things, for next year. Going over by less than $20MM only costs money for the first year, and there's nothing stopping them from coming back under that amount after this year, especially with all that cash coming off the books.

I just have a hard time being concerned about an extra $5-10MM in space for in-season upgrades when you could just go get a 4-5 win CF and have him for the whole year.  That's not to say that you can't use the $20MM in space to go make other smaller moves or go find a pitcher if Syndergaard doesn't come back from Tommy John as hoped, or if someone gets hurt along the way or whatever... just don't think Springer is entirely out of the question for the Mets just based on the Lindor deal.

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