The Mets 2020 “To Do” list is extensive. Some things can wait, while others dictate action now. Here’s an ordered checklist Brodie must act on…
Everyday Mets fans may or may not have a grasp on how exciting and significant the baseball offseason is. This piece is aimed at educating fans on major decisions Brodie Van Wagenen; the Mets General Manager will be making in the next days, weeks, and months.
Every one of these decisions is crucial and will have a determining effect on the Mets team that is fielded in 2020.
Note: At almost 1,400 words, this is much longer than anything I usually attempt. So you might want to bookmark the page, using it as a reference periodically over the next few months.
Priority One – The Mets Manager
There are no deadlines for hiring or firing a manager. The Padres, Cubs, Angels, and Royals are already in the market to find a new manager for the 2020 season
Common sense, though, suggests that sooner is far better than later if a team is mulling the replacement of their current manager. And so it is as Brodie Van Wagen and Mets ownership consider the fate of Mickey Callaway.
Reports in several New York newspapers predict an announcement as soon as Wednesday. Callaway has fled to his home in Florida where he will learn of their decision.
If by some slim chance, Callaway is retained, the team will likely fly him back to New York for a press conference, and the Mets 2020 season will be off and running.
In terms of fluidity for a team with a core of players who are bent on doing damage in the NL East next season, keeping Callaway makes the most sense. At the same time, though, Mets fans, by and large, have not taken a liking to Callaway.
Either way, Brodie Van Wagenen must take action yesterday. When Callaway was hired, he was given the advantage of three months to do his prep work before the beginning of Spring Training in mid-February. A new manager (if one is coming) needs the luxury of the same.
Here’s a link to some background to the question I published on September 29 that takes a look at the pros and cons of Mickey Callaway.
Priority Two – The Qualifying Offer
The “Qualifying Offer” rule is designed to give teams one last chance to retain a player who has reached free-agency status. On the flip side, the rule provides the player who is extended an offer a final chance to avoid what has lately been a volatile free-agent market and one that is not necessarily advantageous to the player.
The Mets have five days after the World Series to make a qualifying offer of $18.3+ million for the 2020 season to starting pitcher Zack Wheeler if the team is going to receive compensation if he signs with another team as an unrestricted free agent.
Players have an additional ten days to accept or decline qualifying offers
The price of qualifying offers for Major League Baseball free agents will be $18.3 million this year. That figure is up from $17.9 million last year and $17.2 million the year before.
The process is time-intensive for both Wheeler and the Mets – and there are no do-overs.
Wheeler’s decision (if he receives an offer) weighs heavily on his future. Remember that word compensation mentioned in the first paragraph?
MLB rules state that if Wheeler declines the offer, the team he eventually signs with forfeits their first-round draft pick to the Mets, automatically reducing Wheeler’s value in the marketplace.
The question for the Mets is this. Is Wheeler worth $18 million for one year? I’d put the answer this way. If the Mets believe they are well within the grasp of an appearance in next year’s World Series, then yes, go for it. Otherwise, use Wheeler’s money to work on the bullpen.
Priority Three – The Mets 40-man Roster
November 20, 2019, is the deadline for clubs to turn in their 40-man reserve lists with the names of players who will be protected in the Rule 5 draft. Players who were drafted out of college in the 2016 draft, or those drafted out of high school or signed as international free agents under the age of 19 in 2015, are eligible.
The rule is a good one because it protects a player from being held hostage by a team forever.
According to MLB.com, Brodie Van Wagenen must decide on protecting these four players or risk losing them in the Rule 5 draft. Luis Carpio SS, David Thompson 3B, Ali Sanchez, C, and Patrick Mazeika C.
As a shortstop, Carpio is blocked by Amed Rosario for the next decade and therefore is expendable. Mazeika deserves consideration, however, mainly due to the expiring contract of Wilson Ramos after the 2020 season.
The numbers for Mazieka at Double-A Binghamton show modest improvement. If his upside continues, especially his power numbers (16 HR, 69RBI), with a promotion to Triple-A Syracuse, he could be ready to take over the catching in 2021.
In sum though, none of these players jumps off the screen as someone the Mets must protect.
Bookmark this link to follow Mets transactions (additions and subtractions to their 40-man roster) throughout the offseason.
Priority Four – Mets Arbitration Players
The arbitration process is part of the contract between owners and players. Pushed for by the Player’s Association, it is designed to give “deserving” players a raise during the final three of the six years in which their team controls them before they reach free agency status.
Don’t worry too much about all that, but take a close look at the table below. These are the players who are eligible for arbitration with the Mets this year.
Note: For a better view of the table, click here. If you save the link in your favorites, you’ll be able to see dollar amounts filled in as the offseason moves along.
The process itself is simple. The player sends a number to MLB while the Mets blindly do the same. Usually, there is a considerable gap between what the player thinks he’s worth versus what the team puts forth.
There is time provided for the two sides to negotiate a settlement, the same as you might see in a civil lawsuit. But not a lot of time. If the two parties cannot agree, a panel of arbitrators decides each case. Usually, this part of the process takes place in early February.
These are either/or decisions, and the arbiter must pick either the player’s number or the team’s offer.
I won’t take the time here to look at each player individually. But I did offer some possibilities in an article published earlier this week.
Summing Up And Useful Links
That’s the gist of it, but it’s only the beginning of the action awaiting Van Wagen and the Mets before Spring Training begins.
The offseason is prime time for trade talks between teams. Even if a deal isn’t consummated now, often the talks lay the groundwork for the real deal to occur at the trade deadline next July.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has the broadest range of access to team personnel. Recommended then is MLB Rumors as a link to bookmark and check on once in a while. Usually, the rumors are well-sourced by writers for MLB. This is the link for the Mets MLB Trade Rumors page, but you can follow other teams as well on the same page.
And finally, there is the Class of 2020 Free Agents, who hit the market immediately following the World Series.
The Mets are expected to have a moderate interest in engaging in this market, despite the number and varied talent presented this year.
Everything here is about $$, and how much a team has to spend, together with how much they willing to pay on what can be a costly endeavor.
In keeping with that theme, you may want to scan an article I published earlier this week, explicitly tackling the Mets budget as a tool to predict their involvement in the free-agent market this year.
There are several “Free Agent Trackers” out there, but the one I like is provided by Spotrac – because they fill in the blanks as each player is signed and for how many years and dollars.
Enjoy the offseason and don’t hesitate to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions. I’ll do my best to get answers for you.