Well, it’s been a quiet week for the Mets- something you ought to assume will be the case moving forward. Jose Reyes met with the Marlins, and a radio station in Miami is reporting he’s nearly signed, though consider me skeptical until it actually happens. Not that I think he’s going back to the Mets, but I think other teams could jump into the bidding as well.
But the Mets will look to improve at the margins, and that makes Chicago’s decision to make Gavin Floyd available an intriguing one for the Mets.
Remember, in 2011, the problem wasn’t offense, believe it or not-the Mets were sixth in the National League in runs scored. They were 13th in ERA. And that’s playing half their games in pitcher-friendly Citi Field. So the gap was actually larger than the raw stats indicate.
The tremendous Joe DeMayo of St. Lucie to Flushing proposed a swap of Angel Pagan for Gavin Floyd, with the Mets adding a marginal prospect to get the deal done (DeMayo had Fernando Martinez or Darin Gorski as suggestions). I’m not sure that gets the deal done, but let’s suppose for argument’s sake that it does. Where does that leave the Mets?
Well, Pagan, who made $3.5 million in 2011 and is arbitration-eligible, would probably make around $5 million in 2012. Floyd is under contract for $7 million in 2012, with a $9.5 million team option in 2013. This strikes me as a bargain rate for someone whose xFIP numbers have been remarkably consistent over the past three years (3.64, 3.69, 3.73) while making 30 starts in each of the past three seasons. Floyd turns just 29 in January; he’d be a tremendous fit in a rotation that badly needs more stability. In Floyd, Pelfrey and RA Dickey, the Mets would have three starters with strong durability track records. That helps alleviate the potential late-season fade of Jonathon Niese, questions about Johan Santana’s ability to return, and a complete absence of other options beyond that (Dillon Gee is the “unidentified leading brand” in every comparison commercial you’ve ever seen of pitchers).
The problem is, to paraphrase Casey Stengel, without Pagan (or even the recently-outrighted Jason Pridie), balls hit to center field will produce a lot of inside-the-park home runs. So it behooves the Mets to actually field a center fielder as well. (No, Jason Bay won’t do.) If they add $2 million in salary with Floyd, can they also afford to bring in a center fielder who is close enough to Pagan’s level to make it a worthwhile upgrade?
Depends, I suppose, on how much you think Rick Ankiel is going to get on the free agent market. Ankiel’s 2.1 WAR last year outdid Pagan’s 0.2, with the lion’s share of Ankiel’s value coming on defense, and Pagan’s defense deflating his value considerably. If Pagan reverts even partially to 2010 form, he’s a much better player than Ankiel has ever been. If he is past his sell-by date, there’s little difference.
If Ankiel can be had for, say, one year and $2 million-he signed for $1.5 last winter- then the Mets would be paying $9 million for Floyd + Ankiel in this scenario, rather than $5 million for Pagan. They may not have Reyes money, but a chance to upgrade in this manner would be useful.
And if they really can’t spend a dime, this scenario evens out by non-tendering Pelfrey, who is likely to make around $5 million in arbitration as well. The upgrade in the rotation would me real, if minimal- Pelfrey is a consistent 4.4-4.5 xFIP pitcher. So if the idea is that Pagan/Ankiel is a wash, the Mets come out slightly ahead.
But if they are dropping from Reyes to Ruben Tejada, they need to come out more than slightly ahead in a bunch of areas just to break even with last season- when they were 77-85. So here’s hoping they can add Floyd without subtracting Pelfrey.