A week ago, I laid out a plan for Sandy Alderson to get the Mets into contention as soon as 2014.
Well, hold that thought, Sandy. I have an even better idea.
1) Trade for Ryan Braun.
(Note: In all honesty, I’m not even sure if trading a suspended player is legal, but for this exercise, let’s assume it is.)
Hear me out.
-Braun’s trade value will never be lower. It’s tough to argue this point.
-Braun has worn out his welcome in Milwaukee. An editorial yesterday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called for his release. Now, although the author clearly doesn’t understand how contracts work, I take this as a sign that the local sentiment is heavily anti-Braun right now which could be great news for the Mets.
-The Mets wouldn’t have to pay him in 2013. He is suspended without pay so they won't have to pay him a dollar until 2014 at which time Jason Bay and Johan Santana will be off the books.
-If he gets suspended again, he will face a lifetime ban. This is clearly not optimal but not organizationally crippling either (as compared to an injury or having A-Rod under contract for the next half decade) since they would get out from his contract immediately.
-Braun will be uber-motivated to prove everyone wrong that PEDs are the reason for his success. The guy was the fifth overall pick in the 2005 Draft. He has plenty of God-given talent which PEDs only enhanced.
-He will be underpaid until 2020. He signed a below market deal in April of 2011 which locked him up until at least 2020 with a mutual option for 2021 (Total: 7 years at $113m; 2014- $10m, 2015- $12m, 2016- $19m, 2017- $19m, 2018- $19m, 2019- $18m, 2020- $16m). David Wright and Ryan Braun hitting 3-4 in the Mets lineup for the next seven seasons? Yes, please!
-This is New York. Perform and people forget all your past transgressions. Countless examples of this, namely Gooden and Strawberry and to a lesser degree Raul Ibanez who was never implicated for PEDs but very much suspected while playing with the Phillies.
-We are not talking about a murderer here. Society forgives murderers (see Lewis, Ray); I think we can handle a steroid user.
-Limited backlash. It’s not like the Mets are selling tickets anyway. Who is this going to piss off? We aren’t talking about a Michael Vick-like situation where animal lovers unite to picket Citi Field. There have been dozens, probably hundreds, of steroid users before and plenty more to follow.
-This would make the Mets interesting and must watch TV for the first time since 2006.
-Proposed deal: OF Brandon Nimmo and RHP Cory Mazzoni for Braun. Clearly on talent alone, this wouldn’t work but due to the “extenuating” circumstances, isn’t it worth the phone call from Sandy Alderson to Doug Melvin to find out? The Brewers have been clamoring to get a first round pick back since they lost their 2013 when they signed Kyle Lohse. Nimmo was a first rounder in 2011. He was a participant in the 2013 Futures Game. He has a ton of upside. (Make it convincing, Sandy.)
As much as I would love to see the Mets sign Robinson Cano their best bet to acquire talent is via trade as Flushing has not been the desired destination for top notch free agents since Carlos Beltran signed back in January of 2005. That’s an eight-year drought, going on nine for those keeping the book at home.
As for the rest of the plan, consider it altered, but only a bit.
2) Trade OF Marlon Byrd and RP Bobby Parnell to the Red Sox for INF Deven Marrero and RHP Matt Barnes.
Byrd isn’t fitting into the long term plans but can be paired with Daniel Nava to form an extremely productive platoon. Parnell can slot into either the eighth or ninth innings in Boston. Barnes is having a down year, but he’s striking out well more than a batter an inning and is only two years removed from being a first rounder. He’s also named Matt and from Connecticut. Just saying. Marrero can be a league average second baseman.
3) Trade SP Rafael Montero and 2B Daniel Murphy to the Dodgers for OF Joc Pederson.
The Mets have a surplus of arms (at least as it compares to their bats). Montero can be replaced. The Dodgers exchange a guy who is blocked, for the foreseeable future behind Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, and Matt Kemp (and possibly Andre Ethier if he sticks around) for a nice pitching prospect and a new starting second baseman. Pederson is on pace to go 25 HRs / 40 SBs in AA. Yea, we’ll take it.
4) Figure out a way to obtain SS Chris Owings from the Diamondbacks.
I watched Owings play in the Futures Game and was blown away. He’s got a hosepiece from short, showed great range, and he swings the stick. Love the guy. He’s blocked in the desert by Aaron Hill, Martin Prado, Matt Davidson (Futures Game MVP), and Didi Gregorius. Maybe John Buck is an attractive piece to Arizona as a right-handed platoon mate of the struggling Miguel Montero? Does Buck, Ruben Tejada, and B- prospect for Owings work?
5) Shut down Matt Harvey.
Save the bullets plus tank for a better pick in the 2014 Draft. Keep enhancing the farm system. Carlos Rodon or Jacob Gatewood - who put on a show and a half at the HR Derby - would do just fine.
6) Sign OF Shin-Soo Choo, RP Grant Balfour, and RP Joaquin Benoit in the offseason.
Choo is an on-base machine. Slots perfectly atop the lineup. The relievers can be signed to short term deals as both will be 36 next season. If things go poorly to start 2014, they can be dealt for more assets at the trade deadline. Pretty sure the one-year salaries of Braun+Balfour+Benoit would equal a year of Cano (this is a change from my first plan).
1B- Ike / Wilmer Flores
1B- Ike / Wilmer Flores