How the Mets' Third Base Situation is Shaping Up

How the Mets' Third Base Situation is Shaping Up

by Brian Erni January 10, 2018 0 Comments

Reports regarding the Mets' situation at third base have begun to pick up steam. Here's what we know:

  • John Harper says the Mets could consider a top tier free agent like Mike Moustakas, and the team may be prepared to spend more than everyone originally believed.
  • The Mets have had a dialogue with Todd Frazier, and Andy Martino says those talks have progressed. Frazier is also talking to the Yankees, Kevin Kernan reported.
  • Newsday's Steven Marcus says that a source told him David Wright feels "great," but is not anticipated to be the starting third baseman this season.
  • Sandy Alderson has said repeatedly that Asdrubal Cabrera could start at either third or second base, depending on what corresponding moves the Mets make.

With the information, here's my reading of the tea leaves:

At first blush, Moustakas seems like a pipe dream, but frankly, it might be more realistic than we think. There aren't many teams looking for a third baseman, and if the Cardinals are able to pry Josh Donaldson from the Blue Jays (as they've been trying to do all offseason), there will be even less of a need.

I think Frazier wants to go back to the Yankees, and I think that he's using the Mets as leverage to try to secure a deal he can stomach to return to the Bronx. Since they took on Giancarlo Stanton's mega contract, the Yankees have to watch every penny to make sure they achieve their goal of staying below the luxury tax threshold. But by moving Chase Headley and Starlin Castro, they at least have the position available on the diamond to sign Frazier, who is beloved in the clubhouse, and play Gleyber Torres every day.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Frazier coming to Queens. I just don't think he's as interested in that as heading back to the Yankees.

So I think the Mets have two options here. The first and, frankly, best option is to go all-in on Moustakas. If they are having problems with the asking price, maybe they can work the deal similar to Yoenis Cespedes' first one: a multi-year contract with an opt out early in the term. That way, Moustakas can bet on himself, try to repeat that monster 38-home run season, and enter free agency again in a year or two while he's still in his prime, with some downside guarantee should he choose to opt in. 

There is risk in that option for Moustakas, because the 2018 free agent market is loaded, specifically with a superstar who can play third base (Manny Machado) as well as Donaldson set to be on the market as well (Anthony Rendon and Nolan Arenado are free agents the winter after that). But nothing that we know of has materialized thus far for Moose, so who knows what he's amenable to.

The second would be to press hard on a trade with the Marlins for Starlin Castro. 

I don't blame Castro. I wouldn't want any part of that situation in Miami either. And the Marlins have proven that the bottom line on this offseason is cutting payroll, not necessarily getting quality players back.

I think it's going to be too hard to pry Josh Harrison loose from the Pirates. His deal is too team-friendly, and the Buccos shouldn't be in any real rush to move him, especially if the Mets can't provide a quality package back.

There is no way Jeter and Company want to pay Castro the $22.7 million he's due over the next two seasons (plus a $16 million team option for 2020, with a $1 million buy out). So the Mets should absolutely take advantage of that and work out a deal where they'd probably have to surrender far less for a player who is both younger than Harrison and just as talented.

Let's face it: With the market being so slow to develop for players, the Mets have gotten their wish. Top-tier guys are still just sitting out there, and camps open in a month. Sandy has waited out the market, now it's time to jump in and get aggressive before someone else does.

Prediction: I am going to set myself for immense disappointment, but something tells me that the Mets are more interested in Moustakas than they're letting on, and the market may have created the perfect opportunity to get something done.




Brian Erni
Brian Erni

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