Friday, December 19, 2014

Tulowitzki to Mets? Time has come for Mets to stop talking, start acting

The New York Mets are in pursuit of Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, at least sort of.

CBS Sports is reporting that the Mets have been in discussions with the Rockies for the All Star shortstop for weeks, but nothing is really eminent in getting done. Both the Rockies and Mets have been throwing names around, and it is believed that Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard would be the blue chip in the deal.

However, finances, concerns over Tulo's injury history and stubborn ownership could be in the way.

"it still feels like they are almost in the early stages with several hurdles to go, including ultimately whether the Rockies-owning Monfort brothers would sign off on such a deal for their beloved superstar shortstop.
Rockies GM Jeff Bridich has consistently said he is listening -- though it is known that Dick Monfort rebuffed an attempt or two on the part of other teams to start trade talks involving Tulowitzki, (Heyman, Jon. CBSsports). 
One of the hurdles might be Tulowitzki himself. He has a no-trade clause in his contract and nobody knows if he would even want to come to the Mets even though they play in New York. The Mets aren't exactly playoff contenders. Heyman went as far as to say that Tulowitzki would approve deals to the Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers and Angels because they are consistent contenders. 
Heyman also added that the finances could be the biggest hurdle in these negotiation, in spite of what players would be involved. 
Here is where the stubbornness of the Wilpon's come into play.  Tulkowitzki is owed $118 million over the next six seasons. The Wilpon's have made it be known that they refuse to pay that much money for any player anymore after watching investments like Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez and Carlos Delgado age poorly over the length of the deal. Not to mention the Mets have been pinching pennies ever since the Bernie Madoff scandal in 2009, and the team has never fully recovered. The Mets payroll was around $89 million last year. Their payroll this year is expected to approach $100 million, but the Wilpon's have refused to go over that threshold. Bringing in Tulowitzki means the Mets are on the hook for a big portion of that contract. 
Another major factor would be Tulowitzki's injury history. Tulowitzki has played in more than 100 games only once in the last three seasons, and missed most of last season with a hip injury. Sandy Alderson may not want to part with his prospects because of such a history. 
That being said it's worth the gamble. 
The Mets need a face that would give them instant credibility, who could change the complexion of this typically sad-sacked franchise. In 1998 it worked when then General Manager Steve Phillips made a trade with the Florida Marlins to acquire Mike Piazza. Piazza changed the nature of that team. The Mets went from losers to contenders almost instantly, falling short of the wild card berth that year. Two years later they were in the World Series against their cross town rivals. 
Granted this version of the Mets has a ways to go before they are even playoff contenders, but bringing in Tulowitzki would be the kind of jolt that could make that happen a lot quicker. David Wright has no protection in that lineup right now, unless one thinks Michael Cuddayer and Curtis Granderson will turn back the clock. Tulowitzki will give Wright the line-up protection he hasn't enjoyed since Carlos Beltran and Delgado were in town.
Here is what the Mets lineup would look like with Tulowitzki:
Jaun Lagares - CF, Daniel Murphy - 2B, David Wright - 3B, Troy Tulowitzki - SS, Michael Cuddayer - RF, Curtis Granderson - LF, Lucas Duda - 1B, Travis D'Arnaud - C. 
Not bat all, even with the inconsistent Duda, and offensively challenged Lagares and D'Arnaud in that lineup. His presence lengthen's the lineup, providing the Mets with more pop, RBIs and average. It makes sense. Not to mention Tulowitzki owns a .438/.534/.833/1.368 slash line at Citi Field in his career, so there shouldn't be as much concern that he is a product of Coors Field.
And what about the finances of the contract? Tulowitczki is owed $20 million a year from 2015-2019, but the contract gets friendlier in 2020 ($14 million) and 2021 ($15 million). 
The Mets Payroll breaks down as follows: (via Baseball reference.com) 
Name 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Signed Players With Guaranteed Contracts (does not include players with options) *6 4 2 1 1 1
Dollars Committed Value of Guaranteed Contracts (no options are exercised and includes buyouts) *$64M $57.5M $35.5M $20M $15M $12M
Contract Options Players with any type of option 1 1
Option Values Maximum value of options if all are exercised $10M $11M








Arb Costs Rough estimated value of all arbitration cases (uses 3-year averages for 1st yr, 2nd,..) †$26.2M $22.64M $32.9M $50.8M $44.9M $36.4M
Other Players Additional Players Needed to Fill 25-man (no options exercised) 13 10 9 4 10 15
Other Costs Estimate of Remaining Players Costs (based on 1-year avg of all pre-arb players) $8.58M $6.6M $5.94M $2.64M $6.6M $9.9M
Payroll (no options) Est. Total Payroll w/o Options (Guaranteed + Arb + Other) $98.7M $86.7M $74.4M $73.4M $66.5M $58.3M
Payroll (options) Est. Total Payroll w/ Options (Guaranteed + Options + Arb + Other) $98.7M $86.7M $83.7M $83.8M $66.5M $58.3M

So the Mets have $98.7 committed for this year, but as the years move on the more they could afford Tulowitczki especially in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Of course this doesn't factor in other free agents the Mets would look to bring in, including signing Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom to the long term contract extensions. How the Mets work out the payroll would depend on how Sandy Alderson, or whomever the GM is in the future, can number crunch. 

The Mets have been taking on water for far too long. They need to make a move that will change this franchise. Alderson and Wilpon have been playing it close to the vest for long enough, and the fanbase is fed up. Just the other day, Alderson said they are likely done shopping after the signings of Cuddayer and John Mayberry Jr. That is unacceptable. This is New York City, the fans expect more than this. 

If the Wilpon's and Alderson expect this franchise to finally hit that 90 win mark, or even 85 wins for that matter, they need to open up the wallets and be willing to take on some risks. Without risks there are no rewards. 

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