Mets have 3 primary needs to fill ahead of the Winter Meetings

Gaylord Entertainment Marriott

BaronIts only been five weeks since the last time the Mets played a baseball game, but the club has spent those five weeks looking for ways to get over the top of the mountain and win the 2016 World Series, exactly 30 years after their last championship.

They will begin to do so at the Winter Meetings which technically begin tomorrow morning at the at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Mets are already projected to have a $92-95 million in payroll for 2016 with players currently under contract, projected salaries through arbitration, and players earning the league minimum. That’s all without adding new talent.

And the Mets need to add and replenish some of the talent lost on the big league roster.

2015 Winter MeetingsYoenis Cespedes, Jerry Blevins, Eric O’Flaherty, Bartolo Colon, Bobby Parnell, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard, and Daniel Murphy are all free agents.

The Mets added OF Brandon Nimmo, RHP Seth Lugo, and RHP Robert Gsellman to the 40-man roster in late November to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, which takes place Thursday morning at the Winter Meetings. They did not protect Matt Bowman or Wuilmer Becerra, so they could conceivably taken in the Rule 5 draft by other teams.

The 40-man roster currently stands at 39.

The Mets have already signed RHP Jim Henderson, RHP Stolmy Pimentel and infielder Ty Kelly to minor league contracts, but have yet to sign anyone to a Major League deal this winter.

That could change this week, as team insiders insist they will be active in their attempt to fortify the roster this week in Nashville.

DePodesta Ricciardi Ricco WilponHowever, the front office will be missing a key presence to their contingent in Nashville this week, as Sandy Alderson will stay in New York as he undergoes treatment for cancer.

Instead, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon will join assistant GM John Ricco, manager Terry Collins, Vice President, Player Development & Amateur Scouting Paul DePodesta, and special assistant JP Ricciardi as the continent for the Mets at the Winter Meetings.

The Mets have identified three primary needs as they head to the Winter Meetings, with hopes their activity can lead to solutions as they look ahead to Spring Training.

Their goal is to lengthen their lineup by improving their contact rate, reducing their strikeouts, and lengthening their lineup with a greater ability to get on-base.

They also want to create a lockdown formula in their bullpen, and improve their overall defense behind their championship-caliber starting pitching, the latter they hope will make them more efficient and lengthen their outings.

Here’s a look at how the Mets hope to reach those goals this winter… Continue reading

Mets keeping tabs on Daniel Murphy, in case they don’t sign Ben Zobrist

Herrera Murphy Zobrist


The Mets have made it quite clear their top free agent target is Ben Zobrist this winter.

But the Mets can’t rule out the possibility of Zobrist signing elsewhere, especially at least ten teams interested in his services and the possibility he could command a contract outside of the Mets comfort zone in terms of years.

So, the Mets have a couple of contingencies to Zobrist, in the event he chooses to sign with another club.

Assistant GM John Ricco said on Friday the Mets have been in contact with the agents for Daniel Murphy, and could consider exploring a new contract with him in the event they are unable to procure Zobrist’s services next season.

Ricco has also said previously they’d be comfortable having Dilson Herrera as their Opening Day second baseman next season if they are unable to sign any of their free agent targets this winter.

The Mets could also consider signing or trading for a shortstop if they are not able to acquire a second baseman.

Whatever the Mets end up with, Ricco insists the club has the ability to escalate their payroll to accommodate the roster, if needed. Continue reading

Mets expected to make a ‘legitimate bid’ for Daniel Murphy

Daniel Murphy 1 slice


Last Friday, Daniel Murphy rejected the Mets one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer, which granted the Mets a compensation pick in the 2016 draft if he chooses to sign with another team.

But the Mets evidently aren’t planning on letting Murphy go without listening to what they have to say about a long-term offer.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the Mets expect to make a, “legitimate bid” to retain Murphy.

Rubin says there are people in the organization who believe Murphy might consider the Mets, although it remains to be seen how much of a discount Murphy would be willing to take as he compares whatever the Mets intend to offer to offers from other suitors.

The Mets also must consider Murphy against players such as Ben Zobrist, a player they’re reportedly interested in and would likely serve as a replacement to Murphy.

From a strategic perspective, it could be worth letting Murphy sign with another team and replacing him with someone like Zobrist, who is more versatile – albeit older – and is probably the better all around player to Murphy. That way, the Mets would get the extra draft pick and two before the second round of the draft.

But then there are the sentimental reasons to retain Murphy. He has been very public in his desire to stay with the Mets, and he has done whatever he has been asked to do and embarrassed himself in the process in an effort to help the organization. He’s also a proven success story in New York, and the Mets know he can produce in the postseason as well.

That begs the question why – if the Mets were seriously interested in a long-term engagement with Murphy – they would wait until he’s a free agent to consider a new deal.

Then again, it could also be a way to create leverage in negotiations for Zobrist or other candidates to fill the void left by Murphy.

Of course, if the Mets retain Murphy, they would not receive a compensation pick in the draft. They need to consider that as part of their strategy, plus consider the implications it would have on Dilson Herrera, who would be a man without a position for the foreseeable future.

If the Mets sign Murphy back, presumably they would look to sign a shortstop and build more depth specifically left side of the infield. That doesn’t necessarily exclude Zobrist, as he could play shortstop (and other positions) and second base when Murphy needs a break.

However, Zobrist has played more games at second than he has at any other position and it’s clearly his most comfortable position, so what happens with Murphy and the Mets could certainly have an impact on what happens with Zobrist and the Mets.

Trades and free agents the Mets might consider this winter to upgrade their infield

Herrera Desmond Zobrist Ramirez


–Originally posted November 8, 2015–

With what is the likely departure of Daniel Murphy, the Mets are faced with a choice on how to proceed at the position, either by filling their need internally or going to the markets and looking for a solution either in free agency or trade.

But the Mets might also need to consider bulking up at shortstop, especially if they decide to fill their need at second base internally.

Simply put, the Mets middle infield defense was utterly dreadful in 2015.

How bad was it? If the Mets had even league average defense at those two positions, it might have been enough to win the World Series.

Mets shortstops were tenth in the league with a 2.9 WAR, largely being carried by their offense as they were 26th in the league with a -9.0 ultimate zone rating (UZR) and dead last with -26 defensive runs saved (DRS).

That along with -10 DRS from Mets second basemen – fifth worst in the league – and a 2.9 UZR – 15th best – make for a dire need to upgrade their middle infield defense in general.

They could also stand to get a little more right-handed/versatile at the plate to limit a weakness late in games and force the opposing manager’s hand with their bullpen more often.

Here’s a look at how the Mets might choose to upgrade their middle infield… Continue reading

Daniel Murphy declines the Mets $15.8 million qualifying offer

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The deadline to either accept or reject a club’s $15.8 million qualifying offer came and went on Friday afternoon, with only three players accepting their club’s bid to retain them for the 2016 season.

Neither of them was Daniel Murphy, according to multiple reports. If he had accepted it, Murphy would have gotten more than a $7 million raise over his 2015 salary if he had accepted.

Only Astros OF Colby Rasmus, Dodgers LHP Brett Anderson and Orioles C Matt Wieters accepted their qualifying offers in 2015, becoming the first ever to do so since it was introduced in 2012.

The Mets – at the very least – can now choose a number of paths in order to upgrade their middle infield, a necessity both offensively and defensively for 2016.

As for Murphy, made the logically sound business choice to decline the qualifying offer.

By accepting it, he would have done so when his value is at an all-time high. He put together a season in which eight of his career-high 14 home runs tied or gave the Mets the lead. He then hit seven postseason home runs, helping to carry the Mets past the Dodgers and the Cubs and into the World Series.

So Murphy will remain on the open market and the Mets will automatically receive a compensation pick after the first round of the 2016 amateur draft in June if he signs elsewhere.

The Mets could still conceivably workout a long-term deal with Murphy. He has been very public in his desire to stay with the Mets. If that happens, the Mets would not receive a compensation pick in the draft. Continue reading