So the New York Post pointed out the silver lining, should the New York Mets fail to sign R.A. Dickey and David Wright to long-term contracts.
The team would presumably trade one or both, and if that money didn’t just go back into ownership’s pockets, but got reinvested into the 2013 team, it was posited by multiple baseball officials that it could go toward outfielder Cody Ross.
Allow me to express skepticism that this would be a Mets target.
Ross will turn 32 on December 23. He is coming off of a 113 OPS+ in 2012 for the Boston Red Sox, but he’s been a 107 OPS+ hitter for his career. And he isn’t likely to have found some new level of ability at age 31; he’s probable to decline from here, though the lack of strong outfield options means that contending teams looking to add some outfield pop will probably bid him up to a 2-3 year deal at significant money. MLB Trade Rumors, for instance, expects Ross to get at last $6.3 million per season (his 2011 salary) for multiple years.
Now, do the Mets need outfield help? Sure. They have no reasonable starting outfielders under contract for 2013, and most standard defensive alignments call for three of them. But Ross is, essentially, a 1-2 win player. (You want to be generous, call it a 3-4 win advantage over what they’d be reduced to playing in the outfield with the personnel on hand.) They were 74-88 last season, and will only have the money for Ross if they deal Wright or Dickey, taking them into the high 60s, assuming everyone else returns. Even that sells them a bit too high; Scott Hairston, who was worth roughly the same as Ross last season via Wins Above Replacement, probably cannot be retained if Ross is acquired.
So the question becomes this one: exactly what is the point of an expensive, multi-year deal for Cody Ross? I see the point of keeping Wright and Dickey; it means a difference for the 2013 team that no free agent is likely to make up. (Let’s leave aside the significant PR benefit for a moment, though it is there.) I also understand the point of trading either of them, since this team doesn’t look ready to win, and they need an infusion of young talent.
But Cody Ross? Really? It doesn’t help much in 2013, and a multi-year deal for Cody Ross’s likely decline years could actively hurt when they want more flexibility in 2014 and beyond. It could be beyond, too: outfield help is scarce, and plenty of teams have money to spend this offseason.
All of this is a long way to a significant point: the Post cites other baseball sources beyond the Mets, but not the Mets. My guess? The Mets see it differently. And if they don’t, they should.