Mets general manager Sandy Alderson met with the media yesterday to discuss a host of topics, ranging from next year’s payroll and roster to the health of several key players. Some highlights from his comments and a bit more on the Mets to kick off Wednesday morning…
- Via Mike Puma of the New York Post, Alderson didn’t commit to matching 2017’s Opening Day payroll of roughly $155MM. As Puma notes, the Mets have will see more than $60MM come off the books with Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Addison Reed and Fernando Salas no longer on the roster (plus the potential buyout of Asdrubal Cabrera’s option). Per Alderson, though, the Mets’ payroll was “beyond” expected levels. “So I’m certainly not sitting here and saying, ‘OK, [the payroll] is going to be at least as high this year as it was last year,’” the GM stated, later adding that an “undetermined” portion of the money coming off the books will be reinvested into the on-field product.
- One potential area of need, on paper anyhow, looks to be behind the plate. However, Alderson strongly suggested that Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki are still in good standing with the organization and could be the primary catching tandem in 2018 (link via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News). Alderson indicated that d’Arnaud has improved in terms of some of the “esoteric metrics” that the Mets value, though he didn’t specify in what regards. The 28-year-old d’Arnaud has had a poor season at the plate (.232/.281/.397) and has thrown out just 17 percent of attempted base thieves while turning in slightly above-average framing marks. Perhaps more interesting, though, were his comments on Plawecki. “…I think Plawecki did himself a tremendous service going to (Triple-A) Las Vegas and applying himself and recognizing that he didn’t have to simply accept a backup role going forward as a major-league catcher and that he could work toward the possibility of being an everyday guy.” Plawecki slashed .328/.375/.514 in Las Vegas this year, albeit in a very hitter-friendly environment.
- Via Newsday’s Marc Carig, Alderson also noted that the Mets may be in the market for a veteran starting pitcher to help stabilize the rotation in the wake of another injury-marred campaign for the club’s ballyhooed group of starters. A “Bartolo-type” of starter that can be relied upon for 180-plus innings would indeed seem a logical pursuit for the Mets, and the 2017-18 free agent market will have no shortage of options. Bartolo Colon himself will of course be available, as will innings eaters like John Lackey, Clayton Richard and Doug Fister, among many others.
- Alderson revealed that Michael Conforto’s timeline for a recovery from surgery to repair the posterior capsule in his left shoulder is “roughly six months,” via the Post’s Greg Joyce. That’d put him on track to be ready for Spring Training, although the uncommon nature of his injury makes an exact timeline more difficult to nail down. The GM added that doctors have given no indication that there’s a risk of Conforto needing to alter his swing upon returning: “…[T]he fact that it’s his left shoulder, the fact that it’s his back shoulder when he swings, not his throwing shoulder, according to the doctors, is a positive.”
- David Wright’s status moving forward is “uncertain at best,” Alderson stated, adding that the Mets will have to account for the lack of a definite hot corner option as they enter the offseason (via Carig). Wright, who required surgery to repair his right rotator cuff, is still owed $47MM through the end of the 2020 season. However, 75 percent of that sum is insured while Wright is on the disabled list, so the Mets will receive a sizable amount of compensation from 2018’s $20MM salary if the most recent surgery sidelines Wright for a lengthy period of time. Mike Moustakas will headline a fairly thin crop of free-agent third basemen, and A’s infielder Jed Lowrie figures to be one of several names available on the offseason trade market.
- Right-hander Rafael Montero looks to be pitching his way into the team’s 2018 plans, writes Newsday’s Steven Marcus. Since returning from a demotion to Triple-A, he’s worked to a 4.44 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and a 46.7 percent ground-ball rate in 77 innings. “We said we either see strikes or, you know,” said manager Terry Collins of the message given to Montero when he was last sent down to the minors. “He went down and threw strikes. And he’s come back and he’s done exactly the same thing. When you have good stuff and you throw it in the strike zone, you’re going to get outs.” Montero will be out of minor league options next season, so he’ll need to break camp with the team or else be exposed to waivers.