Any day now, Jeff Wilpon can bring the hammer down on Van Wagenen saying – no more! But two players can be squeezed in with a fight that makes sense.
According to Baseball Reference, the New York Mets player payroll for 2019 stands at a little less than $156 million, with no other hits coming except for additions to the roster. This is a slight increase from the $154.6 million they began the 2018 season with.
So basically, Brodie Van Wagenen has given the Wilpons a wash from last year to this year, while still managing to make the Mets a better team on paper than they were at this time last year.
For Van Wagenen, a rookie still trying to feel his way around the Met’s organization, it’s likely he sits there thinking, “Damn, we’re good. But are we good enough? And maybe if I could just…” add a player or two, then we’d really have something here.
The question, of course, then becomes whether or not he’s built up enough “juice” to take on the Wilpons – or should he accept his blessings and fly under the radar – at least until the July trade deadline when everyone will have a better feel for where the Mets season is going?
But there’s another avenue for Brodie Van Wagenen to proceed on. A bold strategy for Van Wagenen should be to deal first with the elephant in the room and the $29 million owed to Yoenis Cespedes for 2019.
He can accomplish projected savings by convincing the Wilpons to pull the “David Wright Card” by hiding Cespedes for the duration of the upcoming season with an assortment of various ailments, nearly all of which are likely to be real (anyway).
In this way, the Mets can negotiate a settlement similar to the one they just managed with the insurance company covering David Wright. Even if the settlement is a mere $15 million of his salary, guess what? If the Wilpons are willing to take the gamble (are you kidding me? – long live Bernie Madoff), an outlay now will be returned later.
The next question becomes what Van Wagenen can offer the Wilpons regarding players who can help the Mets – now? I have two candidates, but the first one will require the Mets to trade Todd Frazier and his $9 million salary for this year. This should take Van Wagenen all of about fifteen seconds unless he’s looking to steal a player or two to pad his resume.
Attention moves now to Marwin Gonzalez, the Ben Zobrist of his generation. Gonzalez is a healthy .300 batter who can play all infield positions and fill in the outfield at left and right (fields). Presently, he commands the attention of a number of teams, and as a result, he will not come cheap.
The market value tool on Spotrac is calculating a four-year, $71.77 million for the super-utility player, or about $17 million per year. But subtracting Frazier’s $9 million, this leaves a net of $8 million for the Mets to cover, while increasing the total payroll to about $164 million for 2019, should the signing be executed.
Next up is starting left-handed pitcher, Gio Gonzalez, who is also a free agent the Mets have recently been linked to. Traded by the Nationals to the Brewers last season, the Milwaukee team decided to let Gonzalez hit the market with no apparent effort to re-sign him.
Gonzalez has been paid $12 million for the past three seasons, and he has done nothing to increase his value over that span. However, he is a serviceable pitcher, i.e. not a thrower, who can help the Mets, and perhaps even be one of those lightning in a bottle catches every team looks for.
For the Mets though, Gonzalez is a better bet over perennially injured and inconsistent Jason Vargas as the fifth starter for the Mets. Entering this season at age 33, it is a safe bet that Gonzalez is looking more for years than annual dollars. Therefore, a three-year offer for $33 million at eleven per should be enticing.
For the Mets, their payroll would now climb to $175 million, a healthy sum when compared to 2018. But, and here’s the ammo Van Wagenen might use – the Mets committed payroll for 2021 stands at only $99.3 million. No doubt, the impending free agency of Jacob deGrom in the same year, and the final year of Noah Syndergaard‘s arbitration threaten that sum.
But if the Mets indeed are a team trying to win now by making a breakthrough before deGrom and Syndergaard (potentially) walk, then the above scenario should make sense, even to the Wilpons.