Thanks, as always for your questions! Remember, you can also pose your inquiries to our writers during any of three weekly chats: myself on Tuesdays at 2:00pm CST; Jason Martinez on Wednesdays at 6:30pm CST; and Jeff Todd on Thursdays at 2:00pm CST.
Do you think the Mets should go hard after Mike Moustakas in the off season? What kind of an offer could land him? — Mike O.
At this point, as sad as it is to say, I don’t see how the Mets’ front office can head into 2018 under the expectation that they can get any notable contribution out of David Wright. (That’s all the more true after today’s news that Wright’s rehab assignment has been halted after he experienced shoulder pain.) Viewed through that lens, Moose makes sense as a somewhat reasonable on-paper target for the Mets, who don’t have an upper-level third base prospect that’s forcing his way into their plans.
The Mets do, however, possess quite a few infield options. Even if they don’t retain Asdrubal Cabrera beyond the current season, the Mets have both T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores as third base options in addition to Wright. I don’t know that spending on a top-of-the-market third baseman is going to be in the cards for a Mets club that perhaps still hopes to get something out of Wright next season and has at least two capable MLB alternatives already on the 40-man roster.
I’d currently peg Moustakas to land a five-year deal worth $90MM this offseason, and that’s a pretty heavy commitment given the current structure of the Mets’ roster. Moose’s on-base issues — he sports a career .305 OBP — may also give Mets GM Sandy Alderson pause.
While the Mets have a long-term need at the hot corner, I’d imagine they’ll be looking at other areas of need first in free agency. The bullpen, perhaps an outfielder (depending on Michael Conforto’s eventual diagnosis), some catching help and even some rotation stability to provide insurance in the wake of this year’s injuries all seem like more pressing needs.
What sort of contract is Carlos Gonzalez likely to get? Something befitting his newfound mediocrity like 3/15? Or a 1-year make-good deal for $5M or so? How much do you think he lost by not agreeing to an extension last offseason? — Allan H.
I can’t see Gonzalez and agent Scott Boras taking multiple years at a low annual rate. A one-year deal is going to be their best bet heading into free agency. Recent examples of former star-caliber players that have had poor seasons and signed one-year pacts have shown that a one-year, $5MM deal may be beneath Gonzalez, though. Carlos Gomez signed a one-year, $11.5MM contract with the Rangers this offseason. A much older Matt Holliday got $13MM on a one-year deal (albeit coming off a better year at the plate).
I’d expect Gonzalez to sign for one year in the $10-14MM range in hopes of cashing in on a rebound season and looking for a much larger payday next winter. He’ll play next year at the age of 32 and would be 33 when seeking his larger contract if all pans out well, but that’s not too old for a corner outfielder to earn a solid contract.
I don’t know what the Rockies were offering him this spring, though I do recall chatting with Jeff Todd at the time and expressing surprise that the Rox were even interested. I’d have capped an offer to CarGo in the Josh Reddick range (four years, $52MM) at the time, and in retrospect, even that looks like it would’ve been a marked overpay.
Kevin Pillar is a great, Gold Glove type defender but has a mid 80’s OPS+. With Teoscar Hernandez, Anthony Alford, Dwight Smith Jr., and Dalton Pompey ready for MLB time and Pompey and Alford easily center fielders, when does Pillar become expendable (ie our 4th OF) or get traded? — Johnny M.
For starters, I’m not sure where the notion that Pompey is ready for MLB time comes from. Pompey’s OPS in Triple-A last year barely scraped .700, and he’s been limited to 49 plate appearances this season due to injuries. He’s not pushing Pillar for a job anytime in the near future. Hernandez is likely to get a look as a potential everyday corner outfielder in September and next year, and I’d imagine that Alford will be presented with a similar opportunity.
Smith was left unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft twice and went undrafted both times. He’s put up solid but unremarkable numbers in Triple-A this season — .270/.344/.393 — and is less than two months from his 25th birthday. That doesn’t make him too “old” to be a future contributor by any means, but it’s important to note when gauging his overall ceiling. If any one of Hernandez, Pillar, Alford and Smith is going to be destined for fourth outfielder duties, I’d imagine that it’d be Smith.
Pillar’s bat isn’t great, but he’s one of the best defensive players on the planet. He’s been worth nine to 11 wins above replacement over the past three seasons (depending on your preferred version of the stat) based largely on the strength of that glove. Pillar shouldn’t go anywhere.
Is it too soon to abandon all hope on Yoan Moncada becoming the next Cano? How many perennial all stars struggle this mightily at the MLB level before becoming 3+ annual WAR players? Who is a comparable player with a similar history? — David C.
Moncada is barely 22 years old. It’s not uncommon at all for a player that young to come up and struggle immediately. Mike Trout hit .220/.281/.390 through his first 135 PAs as a rookie. Byron Buxton was labeled as a “bust” by many earlier this season when he opened the season 4-for-49 (and struggling in earlier MLB action), but he’s hitting .276/.336/.455 since April 25 and .333/.370/.657 since the All-Star break. There are dozens of other examples of players that came up and performed extremely poorly early on. If anything, early struggles should be the expectation as opposed to immediate stardom. (We are not worthy, Rhys Hoskins.)
For all of Moncada’s struggles, he’s still getting on base (.328 OBP, 15.5 percent walk rate) and showing some power (three homers, six doubles, a triple, .168 ISO). Strikeouts are probably always going to be an issue for him, but 140 plate appearances of struggles don’t prove he won’t eventually be a quality MLB regular. He won’t ever win a batting title with this level of swing-and-miss in his game, but there’s no reason to give up on him right now.
However, in terms of being “the next Robinson Cano,” it’s best to just get that notion out of your head right now. Moncada was likened to Cano because his swing looks similar and he’s going to play the same position, but Cano is an outstanding contact hitter and has only K’ed at a clip greater than 15 percent in one season. Moncada doesn’t need to be the “next Cano.” Have some patience, let him be himself, and enjoy having his talent.