Category Archives: New York Mets

Marlins trade A.J. Ramos to the Mets

The Miami Marlins continued to sell off key bullpen pieces as they dealt closer A.J. Ramos to the New York Mets in exchange for minor league prospects Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes.

 

Marlins analysis/grade:

A.J. Ramos was just having an average season for the Marlins as their closer, yet the Marlins still got a good return for him as they are getting two quality prospects from the Mets. The main prospect that the Marlins are getting in this deal is 21-year old right-handed starting pitcher Merandy Gonzalez who was the 9th ranked prospect in the Mets farm system. Gonzalez has been outstanding this season in the minor leagues as he is 12-3 with a 1.78 ERA. He is still a few years from reaching the MLB level since he is only in Class A advanced right now, but he has the potential to be a very good starting pitcher for the Marlins. The other prospect that the Marlins received in this trade is 19-year old outfielder Ricardo Cespedes who was the 22nd ranked Mets prospect. Cespedes hasn’t been very productive in the minor leagues as he only has 2 home runs and a .271 average in 4 seasons. Cespedes is a very raw prospect at this point as he still needs to develop some more power or he needs to at least start hitting for a better average. Cespedes does have a strong arm, but that is about the only above average skill that he has at this point. Cespedes is talented, but he just hasn’t developed most of his skills yet and it is unknown whether he ever will. The Marlins did well with this trade as they are getting 2 quality prospects for a relief pitcher that has been average this season. Miami needs some more starting pitching badly and Merandy Gonzalez sure looks like he can be an impact player for the Marlins in a few years.

Grade: A

 

New York Mets analysis/grade:

I’m not quite sure what the logic of making this trade is for the Mets since they have been trying to trade away all of their veteran relief pitchers, but now they are adding one in exchange for two quality prospects. A.J. Ramos is under team control for the 2018 season, so he isn’t just a rental player for the Mets. However, the Mets probably won’t make the playoffs next season either and they could have just kept their own closer Addison Reed for next season rather than giving up prospects to acquire an average closer. Ramos has a 3.63 ERA and 20 saves this season which is decent, but he’s not a better option than Reed or other bullpen options that the team already has. The Mets have been trying to trade away their veteran players this season in order to acquire more prospects. However, this trade just sends the Mets in the completely opposite direction since they are now acquiring a veteran player and giving up too much in return. This trade doesn’t help the Mets immediately and it certainly doesn’t help the team for the future since they are giving up their 9th and 22nd ranked prospects. The Mets shouldn’t have made this trade as it doesn’t help them in any way and they will probably begin to regret it very soon.

Grade: F

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Mets trade Lucas Duda to the Rays

The New York Mets traded 1st baseman Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Drew Smith.

 

Mets analysis/grade:

Lucas Duda was a good starting 1st baseman for the Mets for several years, but it was the right move to trade him now since he is going to be a free agent after the season. The Mets were smart to at least get something in return for Duda before they would lose him for nothing this offseason. The Mets received right-handed relief pitcher Drew Smith who was the 30th ranked prospect in the Rays minor league system. Smith was a 3rd round pick of the Tigers in 2015, so clearly he has some potential to be a good MLB player. Smith also has been outstanding in 3 minor league seasons as he has a career 1.78 ERA and he was recently promoted to Double-A before being dealt to the Mets. Smith has the potential to be a good middle relief pitcher for New York in a few years as long as he continues to pitch well like he has so far in the minor leagues. This is a good trade for the Mets as they open up the 1st base position for outstanding prospect Dominic Smith who could be promoted very soon. The Mets are also getting a very quality prospect for Duda, so this trade makes a lot of sense for New York.

Grade: A

 

Rays analysis/grade:

The Rays have been looking for a full-time designated hitter in order to make their lineup complete as they look to make a playoff push this season. Duda certainly will provide even more power to the Rays lineup as he has 19 home runs this year. The Rays already had enough left-handed batters in their lineup, so it would have been better for them to add a powerful right-handed batter for some more balance. However, Duda will certainly make the Rays lineup much better as he will be a good full-time DH for the team and he can fill in at 1st base if needed. Duda is probably just a rental player for the Rays since he becomes a free agent after this season and the team probably won’t re-sign him, but he should add even more offense to an already deep lineup. The Rays give up their 30th ranked prospect Drew Smith in this deal and he was doing great in the minor leagues and I’m just not sure if giving Smith up was worth having 2 months of Lucas Duda on their team. This is a trade that might help the Rays a little bit this season, but in a few years they might regret making this trade.

Grade: C

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Biggest need remaining for every NL East team

Atlanta Braves – Biggest need: 2nd base

There is no doubt that Jace Peterson will be the Braves everyday starter at 2nd base, but he will need to be more consistent than he was last season. Peterson hit .254 with just 7 home runs last season, so Atlanta will need him to be better going forward. The Braves did add utility infielder Sean Rodriguez this offseason as a backup 2nd baseman. However, Atlanta will have to do something to improve the position very soon.

Miami Marlins – Biggest need: Shortstop

Adeiny Hechavarria is a shortstop that makes incredible defensive plays often, but his offense has certainly been a weakness throughout his MLB career. Hechavarria hit only .236 with 3 home runs last season so he is definitely an issue in the Marlins lineup. He doesn’t hit consistently and he doesn’t hit for much power as well. The only reason that he is the Marlins everyday shortstop is because of his defensive abilities. Miami needs some more depth at the position either way and it isn’t worth starting Hechavarria just for his defense since he is a liability offensively.

New York Mets – Biggest need: Catcher

The catcher position was a major weakness for the Mets last season especially after their starter Travis d’Arnaud was injured for a large portion of the year. d’Arnaud wasn’t a great option anyway for the Mets as he hit only .247 with 4 home runs in 2016. The Mets have solid depth at catcher, yet they need to find an upgrade at the position over d’Arnaud.

Philadelphia Phillies – Biggest need: Right Fielder

Philadelphia has a big need in right field as they have two inexperienced players that will compete for the starting job in 2017. Roman Quinn is the projected starter in right field right now, but he has hit only .263 in 57 career at-bats. Aaron Altherr has more experience than Quinn, but Altherr is a career .212 hitter which isn’t very promising. Either way, it is a mystery as to how Quinn or Altherr will perform with the starting right field job. The Phillies need to sign a veteran right fielder to a 1-year deal in order to provide a temporary solution to the position.

Washington Nationals – Biggest need: Closer

The Nationals let go of closer Jonathan Papelbon after he had a poor season in 2016 and the team was confident that they would be able to sign a top free agent closer. However, all of the top free agent closers are now signed and yet the Nationals still have a need for a closer. The Nationals’ options at closer are running out and it appears that they’ll have to find a closer from their roster. Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, and Sammy Solis are all candidates to be the team’s closer in 2017. However, none of those guys seems like a very good option especially for a team that has world series aspirations.

Mets bring back Cespedes on a 4-year deal

The New York Mets had confidence that they would bring outfielder Yoenis Cespedes back and that exactly happened on Wednesday as they re-signed him to a 4-year/$110 million contract. Sure, it is a lot of money to give out to a player and there is obviously a lot of risk to this deal, yet it is a great signing for the Mets. We all know how good the Mets starting rotation is and don’t expect that to be any different next season. However, the Mets offense has really struggled to score runs consistently especially with David Wright injured. Yoenis Cespedes was the only consistent offensive option for the Mets last season as he hit .280 with 31 home runs. If the Mets didn’t re-sign Cespedes, then New York’s offense would have been a complete mess. The Mets needed to bring Cespedes back so desperately that they were willing to pay him a ton of money in order to get a deal done. The main concern about this deal is that Cespedes is 31 years old, so his production could decline really soon. However, until he shows signs that his production will decline then this is a tremendous signing for the Mets even though they had to spend a lot of money to retain Cespedes.

Grade: A+

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Free Agent that every NL East team should re-sign

Atlanta Braves – A.J. Pierzynski – Catcher – 2016: .219 avg. and 2 home runs

Sure, A.J. Pierzynski isn’t a very productive offensive player anymore as he is about to turn 40 years old in December. However, Pierzynski offers something more valuable to the rebuilding Braves and that is leadership to all of the young players. Atlanta probably won’t be in a position to compete next season, but the Braves should consider re-signing Pierzynski to be their backup catcher just to provide a veteran leader for the team.

Miami Marlins – Mike Dunn – Relief Pitcher – 2016: 3.40 ERA

The Marlins bullpen hasn’t been very good in recent years, but the one relief pitcher that has been consistent for Miami is Mike Dunn. He had a 3.40 ERA last season as a setup man for the Marlins and he is one of the most underrated players in the entire MLB. It won’t cost much at all to re-sign Dunn and without him the Marlins bullpen will be awful. Also, it’s not easy these days to find quality left-handed bullpen arms like Dunn, so letting him leave in free agency would be a major mistake for Miami.

New York Mets – Yoenis Cespedes – Outfielder – 2016: .280 avg. and 31 home runs

I don’t know where the Mets would be without Yoenis Cespedes because he basically carried the entire offense with 31 home runs last season. Cespedes is the only consistent offensive threat that the Mets have right now, so if they lose him this offseason then their offense would be a complete mess next season. Cespedes surely will ask for a ton of money in free agency, but the Mets need to do anything it takes to try and re-sign him.

Philadelphia Phillies – David Hernandez – Relief Pitcher – 2016: 3.84 ERA

Philadelphia seems closer to contention than they were at this time a year ago. However, for this team to contend again then they will need a quality bullpen to be successful. The issue was that the Phillies didn’t have a very reliable bullpen in 2016. David Hernandez was a bright spot in the Phillies bullpen as he had a 3.84 ERA for them in 70 games. He has been a very consistent relief pitcher the past few years and he likely won’t cost much to retain. Hernandez is a veteran middle relief pitcher that can provide some stability to the bullpen and Philadelphia would be silly not to bring him back for that reason.

Washington Nationals – Wilson Ramos – Catcher – 2016: .307 avg. and 22 home runs

Ramos had by far the best year of his career last season as he hit .307 with 22 home runs for the Nationals. However, a late season torn ACL really is the one reason that the Nationals could have some concern re-signing him since he might never be close to the same type of player again. Either way, it is extremely difficult to find catchers that are as talented offensively as Wilson Ramos is. Also, Washington doesn’t really have another catcher that they could replace him with. Ramos is in the prime of his career and the Nationals should do anything to re-sign him despite the uncertainty regarding his knee injury.

Neil Walkers accepts Mets qualifying offer

New York Mets 2nd baseman Neil Walker will be returning to the team in 2017 after he accepted the Mets qualifying offer which is a 1-year deal worth $17.2 million. Walker had a really solid season last year for the Mets as he hit .282 with 23 home runs. However, back surgery ended his season in late August and it created some uncertainty as to whether the Mets would extend him a qualifying offer. I was really surprised that the Mets did offer him a qualifying offer because of the uncertainty with his health after back surgery. They probably could have signed him to a cheaper multi-year contract anyway this offseason. However, it was a really smart move for Walker to accept the qualifying offer since the fact that he would have draft pick compensation as well as the uncertainty after his surgery, then teams would have been really hesitant to sign him. The Mets would have been a mess without him at 2nd base, so I agree that they should have re-signed him this offseason. However, he probably wasn’t worth the amount of money that he received with the qualifying offer and New York should have used their leverage to negotiate a multi-year deal for a cheaper annual price. Either way, Walker will have to prove himself again in 2017 and the Mets did the right thing by re-signing him, although they shouldn’t have given him a qualifying offer.

Grade: C-

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Predicted landing spots for the Top 10 Free Agents

The 2016 free agent class is filled with great closing pitchers, but other than that the free agent market is rather weak especially with starting pitchers. Either way, here are my top 10 free agent rankings and where I predict that they will land this offseason.

  1. Yoenis Cespedes – Outfielder – Former Team: New York Mets

It isn’t a shock that Cespedes opted out of his contract with the Mets considering that he is in line to receive a big long-term contract that is surely going to be worth more than $100 million. Cespedes has tremendous power as evidenced by his 31 home runs last season for the Mets. However, he isn’t the type of player that can carry a team on his shoulders, so he’ll likely land with a contender this offseason. The Yankees could make a strong push for Cespedes since they always want to make a big splash in free agency. However, the Mets will have an awful offense without him and they’ll likely do anything to re-sign him which is why he’ll likely return to the Mets despite the many offers that he’ll receive.

Prediction: Returns to the Mets

2. Edwin Encarnacion – 1st baseman/Designated Hitter – Former Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Edwin Encarnacion struck out a lot of times last season, but he proved why he is a dangerous hitter as he hit a whopping 42 home runs along with 127 RBI’s. He can play a decent 1st base, but at 34 years old he is most likely to be a full-time designated hitter. I don’t see a return for Encarnacion to Toronto after they just signed Kendrys Morales. However, the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros are all in the mix for a big-time middle of the order bat like Encarnacion. Boston is a team in need of a designated hitter after the retirement of David Ortiz and they have the money to be able to pull a deal for Encarnacion off, so ultimately he will land with the Red Sox on a 2 or 3-year deal.

Prediction: Signs with the Red Sox

3. Justin Turner – 3rd Baseman – Former Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Justin Turner is a really good 3rd baseman that just happens to really benefit from a poor market at the 3rd base position. He has always had a good batting average, but he took his offensive abilities to the next level last season with 27 home runs for the Dodgers. Also, he is an average defensive 3rd baseman, so that adds to his value even more. The Braves, Padres, and Giants are teams that will have interest in Turner. However, the Giants seem like the team that will challenge the Dodgers the most for him. Turner could get around $15-20 million per season and the Dodgers have the money and the desperation in order to re-sign him.

Prediction: Returns to the Dodgers

4. Kenley Jansen – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen is one of the top closers in MLB and yet he is only 29 years old, so he could be in line for a substantial long-term deal this offaseason. He is a hard-thrower and he has a cutter pitch that rivals that of Mariano Rivera. Also, he has had consistent production in recent years including last year when he had a 1.83 ERA and 47 saves for the Dodgers. There are many teams interested in Jansen and the Dodgers would certainly would like him to come back. However, the Cubs have a need for a closer since they don’t seem like they will retain their closer Aroldis Chapman. Chicago could use a consistent closer like Jansen that can pitch multiple innings especially in the postseason.

Prediction: Signs with the Cubs

5. Aroldis Chapman – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Chicago Cubs

Chapman is extremely difficult to hit at times because of his 100+ MPH fastball that hitters can’t catch up to. He proved valuable for the Cubs in the postseason as he could pitch multiple innings and he handled the workload well. Also, his 1.55 ERA and 36 saves last season was extremely impressive. The Cubs could be interested in a reunion with Chapman this offseason. However, the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees, and Nationals all could make a significant push to sign him. Any of those teams could make a case to sign him, but ultimately I believe the Washington Nationals will pull it off. Washington won’t re-sign Jonathon Papelbon after his terrible 2016 season which means the team has a need for a big-time closer like Chapman. Washington seems one piece away from being a world series contender and Chapman could be the guy to finally get them there.

Prediction: Signs with the Nationals

6. Ian Desmond – Shortstop/Outfielder – Former Team: Texas Rangers

Nobody rebuilt their free agent value more than Desmond did this past season as he hit .285 in 22 home runs in his one season with the Rangers. He has played shortstop most of his career, but he was an everyday center fielder for Texas last season. It is his powerful bat that teams desire, yet his position versatility will certainly help him as well. The Indians, Astros, Rangers, Orioles, and Braves all will have interest in Desmond. I could certainly see him returning to the Rangers or even bolting for the Astros or Indians. However, Baltimore seems like the team that could make the strongest push for Desmond. The Orioles don’t necessarily have a need in center field or at shortstop, but Desmond did play some left field last season and the Orioles have a big need at that position. I don’t see Desmond replacing Adam Jones in center field, yet Desmond could be an upgrade at shortstop or in left field for Baltimore.

Prediction: Signs with the Orioles

7. Mark Trumbo – Outfielder/Designated Hitter – Former Team: Baltimore Orioles

Mark Trumbo smacked a whopping 47 home runs last season which majorly improved his free agent value for this offseason. He does bring a lot of offensive ability and he was a starting outfielder last year for the Orioles, but his limited defensive capabilities make him a likely candidate for a full-time designated hitter job. There won’t be too many teams interested in him this offseason as basically only the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Braves are in the mix. The Orioles could try and re-sign him and Trumbo would likely come back, but the question is if Baltimore really wants him back that much. The Blue Jays are certainly a team to watch out for because they like power bats and they have a need at both right field and 1st base. Trumbo could play either of those positions and he would be a good signing for the Blue Jays because he is a solid middle of the lineup hitter.

Prediction: Signs with the Blue Jays

8. Dexter Fowler – Outfielder – Former Team: Chicago Cubs

Fowler is a tremendous leadoff hitter because of his tremendous speed and ability and to get on base. He had a solid year with a .276 average and 13 home runs for the Cubs which puts him in line to get paid a pretty good contract. The Cardinals, Rangers, White Sox, and Braves all could have interest in Fowler this offseason. However, I don’t really see him leaving the Cubs. He seems to like playing for Chicago and they won’t be the same team without him leading off their lineup.

Prediction: Signs with the Cubs

9. Mike Napoli – 1st baseman – Former Team: Cleveland Indians

Mike Napoli really helped his free agent value by proving that he still has tons of power as he hit 34 home runs for the Indians last season. He also is a terrific defensive player which will help give some confidence to teams about signing him. Toronto, Minnesota, and Seattle could have interest in Napoli on a short-term deal. However, Indians manager Terry Francona has a good connection with Napoli and the team will likely have a lot of interest in bringing him back. His offensive consistency is a little bit concerning, but I don’t see much of a scenario where Napoli leaves Cleveland.

10. Mark Melancon – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Washington Nationals

Mark Melancon doesn’t have the power arm that Jansen and Chapman have, but if you look at the stats Melancon has been just as productive as those guys have been in recent years. Melancon had a 1.64 ERA last season and 47 saves with the Pirates and the Nationals and the Dodgers, Nationals, Giants, and Diamondbacks all could have interest in him. The Nationals probably want to sign either Jansen/Chapman since they are younger and they are harder-throwing closers. However, I believe the Giants could make a strong push to sign Melancon. It’s no secret that the Giants bullpen was terrible last season and it’s also no secret that the Giants are going to try to sign either Jansen, Chapman, or Melancon to fill their closer’s role. I can’t really see the Giants spending outbiding the Nationals, Dodgers, and Cubs for Chapman and Jansen, so it appears they’ll be stuck signing Melancon and I’m sure they’re fine with that.

Prediction: Signs with the Giants

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