So Twitter was abuzz with the Ken Rosenthal piece describing a trade between the Mets and Marlins that would have brought Heath Bell and John Buck to the Mets for Jason Bay.
The deal didn’t reach the point of the Mets asking Bay if he’d waive his no-trade clause for Miami; nor is it clear which team backed away.
But the Mets should want to make a deal like this.
Consider that Bay will make approximately $24 million from now until his contract ends after 2013, including 2012 salary, 2013 salary and a buyout of 2014.
Buck will earn roughly another $8 million between his 2012 and 2013 salaries; Bell is owed approximately $20 million through the end of 2014.
So the Mets would take on an additional $4 million, but they’d also have an extra year to pay it off.
Now, if you consider Bay a sunk cost- and there’s virtually no reason not to- the question is a simple one: is a season of John Buck, and two seasons of Heath Bell, likely to be worth $4 million to the Mets?
In Buck, the Mets have less than the ideal catching partner for Josh Thole. He’s right-handed, but actually has a reverse career platoon split, and his 2012 failings have been disproportionately against lefties. In a perfect world, Thole’s backup or partner would mash righties.
Still, John Buck’s lost 2012 has been significantly better than Mike Nickeas’ predictable 2012. He’s a year removed from average offense from a catcher, two years removed from above-average offense for any position. A league minimum catcher will cost the Mets $500,000 or so next year. Buck is a decent bet to provide more value than that.
As for Bell, he is less than a year removed from providing strong closer value. The Mets, you may have heard, have struggled with their bullpen this season. Bell alone, signed for two years, is a good bet to be worth the $4 million; the Mets lack inventory in the system to provide obvious alternatives.
So yes, the Mets ought to make this move if possible. That the nonwaiver deadline has come and gone doesn’t stop either team from doing so; Bay, Bell and Buck all have negative value when compared to their large contracts. It is only in the context of paying $4 million for a season of Buck and two of Bell that they become better than break-even propositions. So no one is likely to claim any of the three.
For the Mets, who need help at both catcher and in the bullpen, let’s hope this one ultimately happens.