2012 burning question: New York Mets

From earlier today, in my New York Mets season preview

Burning Question
Should the Mets keep blowing their team up by trading Wright, Santana, and Jason Bay, or use those guys as a core to build around?

Here’s the deal with the Mets. David Wright has a club option for 2013 at $15 million. Jason Bay is due $16 million in 2013, and has a $17 million club option in 2014. Johan Santana is under contract for $25.5 million in 2013, and has a $25 million club option in 2014.

Those are some really, really huge numbers. The Mets have $41.5 million committed to two players in 2013, and that could go up to $56.5 million depending on Wright’s option. Santana and Bay are the only players that the Mets could have under contract in 2014.

GM Sandy Alderson has pretty much succeeded in paring the Mets payroll down to a manageable level, with the exception of these three players. What should he do with each?

David Wright is still a potential cornerstone, despite his myriad of injuries. He won’t turn 30 until after the 2012 season, and already has racked up 39.3 career fWAR. But last year, Wright missed 60 games due to a stress fracture in his back, resulting in a career-low .772 OPS. I think the Mets’ decision on Wright will hinge solely on his 2012 season. Prior to 2011, his lowest career fWAR in a full season was in 2009, when he posted 3.6 fWAR. This was the first year that Citi Field was around, and Wright struggled in the then pitchers paradise before rebounding to 4.0 fWAR in 2010.

When he’s healthy, David Wright is one of the best third basemen in baseball. He’s generally a bad defender at third though, and may need to move off the position soon. The Mets have a guy who looked like a franchise first baseman before getting hurt last season in Ike Davis. If the Mets decline Wright’s option, and he’s willing to accept a deal somewhere in the neighborhood of three years, $30 million, I think the Mets should bring him back….just not as the face of the franchise like he’s been billed for years.

As for the other two players…I say that you try to get them out of town as quick as possible. Bay has been an absolute disaster since becoming a Met after the 2009 season. He’s missed 106 games over the last two seasons, and his best OPS in those two seasons was .749 in 2010. He has just 18 homers. He’s been worth 2.2 fWAR. Plus, he turns 34 late in the 2012 season. Bay is not a franchise player at this point in his career. When he was with the Pirates five years ago, he was a potential franchise player. In 2012, he’s not.

That brings me to Santana. With the Twins, he was the best pitcher in baseball. Over four seasons in New York, he hasn’t scratched the surface of that potential. He’s getting paid over $20 million a season, and in his four seasons as a Met, he’s been worth 10.9 fWAR, missing all of the 2011 season after shoulder surgery. Santana has only started 30 games once in his Mets career, and that was his first season back in 2008. His strikeout rate has gone down, and his walk rate has gone up in each of his seasons with the Mets. When healthy, he’s still a pretty good pitcher…but he’s not the dominant player he was during his prime with the Twins. He also turned 33 yesterday. Santana’s best years are behind him, and if the Mets can find anyone to bite on his contract, they really should.

Overall summary: if you really want to build around any of these players, it should be Wright. But that’s only if he stays healthy. Sandy Alderson’s job with the Mets is just beginning.

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About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.