With Bay signing, Mets put their eggs into one basket, again

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bay red sox swinging.jpgIf there was ever a winter for the Mets to forgo their obsession with stars and improve their depth instead, this was the one. Injuries practically everywhere on the diamond devastated the team in 2009, forcing the team to turn to such non-entities as Angel Berroa, Lance Broadway and Wilson Valdez. It’s certainly true that no team could have survived losing as much of its top players as the Mets did last season, but there was also no reason for a club with a $150 million payroll to have to turn to mediocre Triple-A veterans so early and often.
GM Omar Minaya, though, showed no signs of learning his lesson. Instead of concentrating on the second- and third-tier free agents that were only going to keep getting cheaper as the winter dragged on, he spent $66 million to bring in Jason Bay on Tuesday. The deal could be worth more than $80 million if the option for the fifth year vests.
That is the Mets for you. The club now has five players making at least $12 million per season: Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Bay, Francisco Rodriguez and Oliver Perez. David Wright and Jose Reyes aren’t quite yet there, but they’ll combine to make $19 million next year and $25 million in 2011 before Reyes becomes a free agent.
Will it buy anything more than another fourth-place finish? The team. at present, looks like this:
SS – Jose Reyes – $9 million
2B – Luis Castillo – $6.25 million
CF – Carlos Beltran – $20 million
LF – Jason Bay – $16 million (approx.)
3B – David Wright – $10 million
1B – Daniel Murphy – $450,000
RF – Jeff Francoeur – $4.5 million (approx.)
C – Free agent
OF – Angel Pagan – $1.1 million (approx.)
INF – Alex Cora – $2 million
C – Henry Blanco – $750,000
C/INF – Chris Coste – $650,000
INF – Anderson Hernandez – $450,000
Total: $71.15 million
SP – Johan Santana – $21 million
SP – John Maine – $3.3 million (approx.)
SP – Oliver Perez – $12 million
SP – Mike Pelfrey – $500,000
SP – Jon Niese – $400,000
RP – Francisco Rodriguez – $12 million
RP – Pedro Feliciano – $2.1 million (approx.)
RP – Bobby Parnell – $420,000 (approx.)
RP – Kelvim Escobar – $1.25 million
RP – Ryota Igarashi – $1.25 million
RP – Sean Green – $750,000 (approx.)
RP – Brian Stokes – $420,000 (approx.)
Total: $55.39 million
That’s $126.5 million spent on a team that’s still short a starting pitcher and a catcher. Plus, an upgrade at first base would be nice. The defense takes a hit with Bay replacing Pagan in left field, and it doesn’t look like it will get any better at second base, since Minaya has been unable to find a taker for Castillo.
Fourth place seems just about right at the moment. There simply aren’t any sure things in the rotation with Santana coming off elbow surgery, and while the top of the lineup looks awfully strong, there will also be a lot of quick innings turned in by the bottom half.
Some other thoughts on the Bay signing:
– I don’t think this means Bay needs to be avoided in fantasy leagues this year. While Wright’s decline made it appear as though Citi Field was an impossible home run park for right-handed hitters in its initial season, the stats say it actually helped them. Its home run park factor for right-handed hitters was 110 (with 100 being average), putting it behind only Cincinnati, Colorado, Philadelphia and Houston in the NL. With plenty of strong OBPs ahead of him, Bay should be good for 30 homers and 110 RBI in year one as a Met.
– For that reason, Bay won’t have to worry about being viewed as a disappointment right away. Still, I really think the Mets would be better off playing him at first base, even though it would block a quality prospect in Ike Davis. Maybe we’ll see it in 2011 if Davis disappoints in the minors next year.
– Right now, it’s Fernando Martinez who is blocked. He needed some additional Triple-A time anyway, but he’s now at the mercy of Jeff Francoeur. If Francoeur continues to hit like he did in the second half of last season, he won’t be budged at any point during 2010.

Dodgers acquire Matt Kemp in five-player trade with Braves

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The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.

Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.

Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.