As a centerfielder, Sandy Alderson sees Yoenis Cespedes as a square peg

BaronThe 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.

Continue reading

Kelly Johnson returns to the Braves on a one-year deal


Kelly Johnson is returning to his roots once again.

According to a report from’s Mark Bowman, the veteran utility player has agreed to return to the Braves on a one-year deal.

The Braves who originally drafted Johnson in the first-round of the 2000 first-year player draft, brought Johnson back on a one-year contract last season before trading him to the Mets on July 24.

He hit /250/.304/.414 with five home runs and 13 RBI with the Mets in 49 games following the deal, and went 1-for-9 in the postseason as well.

Johnson has played in ten big league seasons with the Braves, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Yankees, Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles.

Tommy Tanous will likely replace Paul DePodesta as head of player development

BaronOn Tuesday, it was announced Paul DePodesta, the Mets head of player development, was leaving to run the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League.

That left a huge void on the minor league side of the Mets organization, as DePodesta led the re-organization of the Mets minor league, player development and scouting system.

Fortunately, DePodesta has been surrounded by some very smart and experienced people who assisted in their re-organization, including Tommy Tanous, Adam Fisher, Ian Levin, Dicky Scott, and more.

And the Mets appear inclined to promote DePodesta’s replacement from within.

John Harper of the Daily News says the Mets are likely to promote Tanous, their current scouting director, to the head of player development and amateur scouting.

Tanous joined the Mets in 2010 as a scout, and was promoted to scouting director after Chad MacDonald departed the organization in 2011. He has overseen the last four drafts along with DePodesta.

This is probably the most logical move the Mets can make, and certainly going with someone in-house who knows the system that’s in place and the people involved in that system is wise as well.

Tanous has spent his time in the organization essentially being the eyes and ears to DePodesta and the rest of the front office from an amateur talent perspective. He has always been at DePodesta’s side at the various amateur showcases, and obviously spends the bulk of his time scouting around the country looking at all kinds of players throughout the year, playing a key role in the decision making process in their draft strategy.

Mets, Orioles involved in discussions to sign Antonio Bastardo

Antonio Bastardo 1 slice

BaronAt the beginning of the off-season, Sandy Alderson said one of the areas he wanted to improve upon was the club’s bullpen ahead of the 2016 season in an effort to create less of a dependence on the starting rotation and create shutdown formula with Jeurys Familia at the end of the game.

But so far this winter, the Mets haven’t done much to address their bullpen with the exception of retaining Jerry Blevins and signing Buddy Carlyle and Jim Henderson to minor league deals.

And Blevins comes with question marks of his own, as he’s coming back from a twice broken left arm in 2015, which limited him to seven games and season-ending surgery in August.

As such, in addition to finding another right-handed reliever, the Mets could be looking at shoring up the left side of their bullpen as well, as Buster Olney of ESPN says the Mets have been in discussions with LHP Antonio Bastardo.

Olney says the Orioles have also been in discussions with Bastardo.

Bastardo had an up-and-down 2015 season with the Pirates in 2015, but was stellar in the second half after posting a 4-1 record and a 2.32 ERA in 34 appearances down the stretch. He was dominant in general, holding opponents to a .188 average overall, but he was especially stingy against left-handed hitters, allowing only 17 lefties to reach base all year which was good for a .138/.233/.215 line.

Bastardo is a flyball pitcher with a low-90s fastball. He used it a lot more in 2015 and shied away from his change-up, which could be attributed to his success considering he saw a modest uptick in velocity during the year. In fact, opponents hit under .150 against Bastardo’s fastball in the second half of the season.

He would be an excellent fit for the Mets, but if the Mets sign Bastardo and both he and Blevins stay healthy, there might not be room for Josh Edgin once he returns from Tommy John Surgery. But certainly a tandem of Bastardo and Blevins on the left side of the bullpen would be among the league’s best, giving the Mets a good problem to deal with once Edgin returns.

There is, of course, the issue of what Bastardo might be able to command in free agency. Teams have clearly been willing to pay a premium for relievers this winter as they emphasize strengthen the bullpen and shortening games. As a result, more and more relievers are getting multi-year deals, including Darren O’Day, Tony Sipp, Joakim Soria, and Ryan Madson.

Those multi-year deals should be able to net Bastardo a multi-year deal for himself, and it remains to be seen if the Mets consider going that route – especially for a reliever – after being seemingly reluctant to give multi-year deals to other players not named Ben Zobrist and Asdrubal Cabrera.

And for now, the Mets are unwilling to give Bastardo a multi-year deal, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Original post: January 5, 8:45 am
Updated: January 5, 9:15 pm

Five right-handed relievers who could fill the Mets need in the bullpen

BaronIn their bullpen, the Mets have Jeurys FamiliaAddison Reed, Erik Goeddel, Hansel Robles, Sean Gilmartin, Jerry Blevins, Jenrry Mejia, Josh Edgin, Carlos Torres, and Logan Verrett under control this winter, with Familia, Torres and Edgin going to arbitration for the first time.

They’ve also signed Buddy Carlyle and Jim Henderson to minor league deals, giving them some extra depth from the right side in 2016.

But one of the Mets goals this winter is to retool their bullpen and create a lockdown formula before getting the ball to Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning.

It stands to reason, as in five games in the World Series, the Mets bullpen gave up 24 earned runs in 51 1/3 innings, allowing 47 hits and 17 walks while blowing all three save opportunities they had, arguably costing them a World Championship in 2015.

Mets blue orange strokeIn the process, the Royals outscored the Mets 15-to-1 in the seventh inning and later in the World Series. The Royals had eight extra-base hits, the Mets had none.

But so far this winter, the Mets have seemed reluctant to buy into the top tiers of the relief market thanks to their unwillingness to sign anyone to a multi-year deal to this point. But given how the market for relievers has evolved and the buyers in the market placing a premium on relievers, the Mets might have to eventually consider a multi-year deal to a reliever if they wish to achieve their goal of creating a dominant bullpen.

The last multi-year contract Sandy Alderson’s front office gave to a reliever was Frank Francisco when they signed him to a two-year, $12 million contract following the 2011 season.

Here is a look at five of the remaining right-handed relievers on the market, and whether or not they might fit the Mets… Continue reading