Mets general manager Sandy Alderson participated in a Q & A session with season ticket holders earlier today at Citi Field and was asked about speculation on Twitter and blogs regarding Daniel Murphy as a potential trade candidate. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Alderson downplayed the possibility of a trade while offering some words of wisdom about Internet trade speculation:
“Look, we have a real appreciation for Dan Murphy. Murphy is somebody who is an offensive player, who has really done some things this year to improve himself as an offensive player. His on-base percentage is much higher than it has been in recent years. He goes the other way. So there’s no question in terms of this ballpark, he’s been a plus. You know, we talk about all the time: We’re looking for players that are willing to play in New York or can play in New York. He hits in New York. He hits in this ballpark.
“He’s done a nice job getting himself to the point where he plays second base as well as he does. So, you know, I haven’t been on Twitter in a long time. So I know you haven’t been reading my tweets. And I don’t think you’ve been reading them from Terry [Collins] either. So, at this point, do what I do: Ignore Twitter and try to ignore the blogosphere and have a beer when you go home tonight.”
This explains why Alderson hasn’t responded to my tweets regarding trade ideas for Marlins’ outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. I see how it is. You are only hurting yourself, dude.
Alderson burst onto the Twitter scene with a series of entertaining jokes about the team’s finances in the spring of 2012, but the tweets have been few and far between since. His last tweet was in February of this year to encourage folks to vote for Mets captain David Wright as the “Face of MLB.”
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.