Wilmer Flores - Non-tendered by the New York Mets Photo Credit: SNY

Mets: Distracted Brodie Keeps d’Arnaud, Sends Flores Walking – Huh?

It looks like Brodie Van Wagenen can’t rub his tummy and pat his forehead at the same time. Distracted by the Cano deal, his non-tendering decisions are bewildering…

Brodie Van Wagenen was smack in the middle of consummating a blockbuster deal with the Seattle Mariners on Friday when the clock struck midnight, and MLB was calling to remind him that his list of players who would not be granted a contract for 2019 was due.

Okay, okay says Brodie, hold on, I’ve got ’em for you. And there you have the likely scenario that explains how the Mets end up keeping Travis d’Arnaud while handing Wilmer Flores his walking papers. At least I can’t think of another way this could happen with a mark attached as a good baseball decision.

While neither player is a difference maker in how the Mets season plays out, there is a vast difference in the value attached to each player that shouldn’t be overlooked when making these kinds of decisions. Did the Mets, for instance, ignore the fact that d’Arnaud has averaged a mere 65 game appearances over six seasons with the Mets?

Moreover, did Brodie Van Wagenen overlook the fact d’Arnaud is coming off season-ending surgery after playing in only four games in 2018? This, while Flores has been on the field an average of 100 times a season, and it could have been more if he was given more starts. Or did Van Wagenen consider that virtually every time you looked up last season, Wilmer Flores was delivering a game-winning hit (10 across his career – Video).

This was a hasty decision made by the Mets, and unfortunately, there is no reset button in baseball. There is also no crying in baseball, but this has little to do with Flores being a fan favorite at Citi Field or the on the field crying episode which made Flores a YouTube sensation.

No, my friends, this probably has more to do with the almighty dollar. You see, Wilmer Flores would have cost the Mets $9 Million. Travis d’Arnaud, on the other hand, was paid $3.5 million last year while occupying the DL. Arbitration eligible again, d’Arnaud figures to get a “years of service” reward, to put him somewhere around $5 million for the 2019 season.

First grade Math puts the savings for the Mets at $4 million. Thus, this is a business decision, not a baseball decision made by Van Wagenen and Co.

Four million dollars will not bring Manny Machado in to play third base for the Mets. A mid-level reliever – perhaps. But clearly, that amount is not a difference maker for the Mets or any other team in the league.

On The Future Of Jeff O’Neil

After hemming and hawing, Brodie Van Wagenen removed Jeff McNeil from the Cano deal. In doing so, however, he opened up a can of worms for Mickey Callaway to deal with. Having Cano as the regular second baseman leaves McNeil – where? Here’s a snapshot of McNeil’s days as a minor-leaguer and the positions he played:

Jeff McNeil, Positions played in the minor leagues Source: Baseball Reference
Jeff McNeil, Positions played in the minor leagues Source: Baseball Reference

It would appear that Callaway would want McNeil’s bat in the lineup as often as possible. However, with the exception of four games played at third last season, in all the rest he was the Mets second baseman. More than likely, McNeill will need a tune-up at several positions beginning in Spring Training, before Mickey Callaway can feel comfortable using him as a super-sub.

Sadly, part of the fallout from the Cano deal sees McNeil displaced, especially following his .329 batting average and very respectable .852 OPS. Scrappier, they do not come in baseball. So, here’s hoping McNeil will fight and claw his way into the Mets lineup – just to say – There, I told you so.

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball

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