Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the Mets are listening to offers for outfielder Juan Lagares. No suitors have been named yet, and Puma adds that a deal may not come to fruition as Lagares is coming off of another injury-ravaged season and is still due $15.5 million through 2019.
Lagares, 28, completed his fifth run with the Mets in 2017. He earned 1.5 fWAR with the club in 94 games, slashing .250/.296/.365 with three home runs and seven stolen bases in 272 plate appearances. While he had a semi-productive season at the plate and on the field, Lagares missed over nine weeks on the disabled list with a lingering left oblique strain and left thumb surgery to repair a fractured joint in his finger.
In fact, Lagares hasn’t seen an injury-free season since his rookie campaign with the Mets in 2013. That could make any potential deal a tough sell, especially as the club would be expected to absorb some of the $15.5 million still left on his contract. Puma points out another three factors complicating future negotiations: the Mets’ lack of depth in center field, the plethora of cheaper, better center fielders crowding the market and the $10 million the club reportedly has left to spend this winter.
Their wish list currently includes a viable second baseman and another bat, and it looks like they’ll have to get creative to make both work. Further reports from FanRang Sports’ Jon Heyman indicate that the team is in no rush to execute a deal for the speedy center fielder and will likely hold out for offers that include some combination of second base, outfield and bullpen options.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Major League Baseball has rejected the MLBPA’s proposal for a 114-game season and said it would not send a counter offer. The league said it has started talks with owners “about playing a shorter season without fans, and that it is ready to discuss additional ideas with the union.”
This should be understood as a game of chicken.
The background here is that the the owners are pretty much locked into the idea of paying players a prorated share of their regular salaries based on number of games played. The players, meanwhile, are pretty much locked in to the idea that the owners can set the length of the season that is played. Each side is trying to leverage their power in this regard.
The players proposed a probably unworkable number of games — 114 — as a means of setting the bidding high on a schedule that will work out well for them financially. Say, a settled agreement at about 80 games or so. The owners were rumored to be considering a counteroffer of a low number of games — say, 50 — as a means of still getting a significant pay cut from the players even if they’re being paid prorata. What Rosenthal is now reporting is that they won’t even counter with that.
Which is to say that the owners are trying to get the players to come off of their prorated salary rights under the threat of a very short schedule that would end up paying them very little. They won’t formally offer that short schedule, however, likely because (a) they believe that the threat of uncertain action is more formidable; and (b) they don’t want to be in the position of publicly demanding fewer baseball games, which doesn’t look very good to fans. They’d rather be in the position of saying “welp, the players wouldn’t talk to us about money so we have no choice, they forced us into 50 games.”
In other news, the NBA seems very close to getting its season resumed.