On Thursday night, the Giants announced they had signed free agent OF Denard Span to a three-year contract.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network said the deal was worth $31 million over those there years.
The Mets had been linked to Span during the early part of the off-season, but in late December signed another left-handed bat in Alejandro De Aza with the intention of using him in a platoon with Juan Lagares, ending the possibility of a pursuit for Span.
The Mets apparently had concerns about a long-term engagement with Span, presumably because of the health risks he comes with at age-32. That’s understandable, considering he is coming off August hip labrum surgery, his third procedure in the last year.
Span was reportedly willing to workout for interested teams near his home in Tampa, Florida this month, and that was an indication other interested parties are concerned about Span’s health as well, and are weary of meeting such demands.
But it’s surprising the Mets wouldn’t at least watch Span in some baseball activities before jumping the gun on De Aza, who seems like he should have been a mid-to-late January signing anyway.
If he is healthy, however, Span is a catalyst for the top of a lineup, and certainly would’ve been a better fit in center field than De Aza, who has played three games at that position since the 2013 season and was always a below-average defensive player at that position.
And Span has shown to be a winning presence, as the Nationals were 36-25 with him in the lineup in 2015, and 47-54 when he did not play.
Span doesn’t draw a lot of walks, but he makes contact, has first-to-third speed, and when he’s healthy, can be counted on for 200-plus total bases thanks to his ability to take advantage of big ballparks with his triples speed. Acquiring Span would have gone a long way towards improving the team’s on-base percentage, and it would’ve allowed Curtis Granderson to be moved towards the middle of the lineup as well where his power could be much more valuable, and could help account for the loss of Yoenis Cespedes.
Contact rates and on-base percentage something the Mets have strived to improve upon this winter, evident by their pursuit of Ben Zobrist before he went to the Cubs, but haven’t really accomplished in their offensive acquisitions to date.
The Mets payroll for 2016 currently stands at about $109 million, which includes players currently under contract, those earning the league minimum, and the high-end salary projections for arbitration eligible players.
While that figure is unquestionably below-market, that payroll figure is approximately the same as it was by the end of the 2015 season for all players on the 40-man roster, according to Cots Contracts. But it’s also approximately seven percent higher than their Opening Day, 2015 payroll.
And as Sandy Alderson noted on Thursday afternoon at the New York Athletic Club, their payroll is significantly higher than it was two seasons ago, and stands to grow even higher in 2016.
“Our payroll at the end of 2014 was $85 million, $86 million all-in,” Alderson explained. “I would suspect this year we’ll end up at $115 or so, or maybe higher than that, $120. That’s a $35-million increase in just two years.”
When the Mets escalate their payroll to the General Manager’s projection is unclear. Is that figure a budget set ahead of Opening Day? Is that their all-inclusive payroll for the season, including players they call-up and acquire throughout the season?
With requirements still unfulfilled on the bench and in the bullpen, it remains to be seen how that is truly defined.
The results of the 2016 Hall of Fame election are in, and for Mike Piazza, he is now officially a baseball immortal.
Piazza was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Ken Griffey Jr. on Wednesday evening, the Hall of Fame announced.
Piazza received 83 percent of the vote. 75 percent of the vote is required for entry into the Hall of Fame.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Piazza said Wednesday night. “I just want to say thank you very much to all the writers for their support. It’s just overwhelming. I’m very honored and I’m a huge student of the game as far as the history of the game so this is just something for me that really words can’t describe.”
Griffey received 99.3 percent of the vote, surpassing Tom Seaver (98.7 percent) for the highest percentage in baseball history.