Heading into 2013, the Mets are an exercise in good news / bad news.
The good news is that they have 11 potential starting pitchers (Niese, Dickey, Santana, Wheeler, Young, Harvey, McHugh, Hefner, Gee, Familia and Mejia). Hard to think of another team in baseball as loaded with SP talent.
The bad news is twofold. First, they have $72 million committed to six players next season. GM Sandy Alderson has said that the 2013 Mets payroll will be ~ $100 million – a target that will be hard to meet, even without any free agent signings. Second, the Mets have strong needs at C and OF, but have no imminent position prospects in their farm system (which is ranked 15th or so, but almost solely on the basis of their pitching). They were 25th in MLB total bases in 2012, and 22nd in home runs. Alderson has already hinted that fans should look forward to 2014 rather than getting too excited about 2013.
So – putting these pieces of the puzzle together – the Mets need to trade an expensive SP (to free up salary space) for an inexpensive C and OF who are under team control for more than one year and who have some upside in their bats.
Jon Niese broke through in 2012, with a 3.40 ERA (3.64 XFIP and .272 BABIP, so apparently not a fluke). He is due $24 million over the next 4 years. Not a fortune, but a lot more than a Wheeler or Familia or Mejia will make.
J. P. Arencibia is currently earning close to MLB minimum, and does not become arb eligible until 2014 (free agent in 2017). 1.4 WAR in 2012, in only his second MLB season.
For the OF, two options. Colby Rasmus had a poor 2012 (1.4 WAR), but he still has name recognition (due to a 3.5 WAR season in 2010) and he is arb eligible through 2014. Or, alternatively, Jake Marisnick was ranked #32 in bleacherreport.com’s top 50 prospects at midseason 2012. Jake turns 22 before the 2013 season starts, and he played at AA in 2012, so he should not be all that far from MLB action. And of course, Jake will be under team control (and cheap!) for a long time.
As Jays fans, we tend to overvalue our prospects (“trade Jake? Unthinkable!”) but with the competition for top, young, controllable SP talent in the league these days you have to give to get.
And yes, I know that we talked Niese to death last offseason, but his April 2012 contract extension and 2012 breakthrough (not to mention the Jays’ strong need for SP) change the dynamics a bit.