FREE AGENT JOSE ABREU: Too Rich for Fred’s Blood, or Are the Wilpons Finally Ready to Make a Statement?

Abreu_20130304094807_320_240Jimmy:

Cuban defector, Jose Abreu, will be one of the top free agents in a very thin market this off-season. For the Mets, the slugging first baseman might be the best fit of all, costs considered.

We briefly discussed Abreu yesterday, and it’s a topic that will likely become exhausted by  November. Writes Joe D at his MetsMinors.Net site:

“While posting some of the most prodigious offensive numbers in Cuba over the last four years, even more impressive than Yasiel Puig, Abreu is just now about to enter his prime production years. His potent righthanded bat would be in the middle of any major league lineup and nobody questions that. His impact on the game will be immediate and immense.”

Another t-shirt I stupidly ran out and bought for my poor kid. -- JP.

Another t-shirt I stupidly ran out and bought for my poor kid. — JP.

Of course, for those of us who lived through Kaz Matsui and any number of other disappointments, we know there are no sure things when it comes to players unproven in MLB. There will always be risk, always be busts. In this case, there’s also huge upside.

So what do you think, Mike? Interested in adding a big bat to the middle of the lineup, while solving the first base problem in the process? Does the notion of not trading some of our young pitching appeal to you? Matthew Pouliet at Hardball Talk suspects the contract could ultimately exceed $80 million. It’s only money, right?

Mike:

Although you joke, one interesting facet of signing Abreu is that it is only money. No need to trade any players, or even forfeit a draft pick. Considering the team’s posture during the Bourn negotiation, this should increase our interest.

Jimmy:

As we’ve seen, these pitching prospects go down like flies. It’s not like the organization has that many to spare.

Mike:

I’m not heading down a new road here, so here I go again. Signing Abreu would be a signal to the fan base that the ownership is serious about winning and that they are solvent. It has been years since either of those things have been clear. We hear nonsense about how winning a few more games the rest of the way will invigorate that same fan base. You want to invigorate the fans, make a committed move. Considering our market, how low our payroll has dropped, and our need for a player like this, it’s sad how hard this gets looked at. You mention the bad signing of Kaz Matsui. Yes, sure, that did not work out, the money was virtually a waste. But so what? Stuff happens. We signed Kaz to a three-year deal after the 2003 season and that move killed us so bad we had our only Division win this century, in 2006. We took our losses on Kaz and moved on, as a solvent business does when it has an individual problem. Eventually every move can’t be do-or-die, because you die from the inactivity the associated fear creates. It does not have to be this guy, but soon, very soon, it needs to be a guy. Otherwise the Wilpons should just sell already, before I have to go find them in the parking lot. I’ve done it before.

Jimmy:

Of course, neither of us believe the Mets will do it.

Mets fans are at the mercy of Emperor Wilpon.

Mets fans are at the mercy of Emperor Wilpon.

Mike:

I haven’t seen anyone who thinks we will be involved.

Jimmy:

Following the seasons put up by Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes, I have to compliment Mr. Abreu on his timing. He’s primed for a monster payday with a lot of big spenders bellying up to the table. Teams that want to win. Hard to imagine Sandy Alderson having the stomach for that. Alderson is all about risk management. He likes the safe, three-yard pass, not the long bomb. There’s also a bit of a prude in him, a snobbery similar to Joe McIlvaine’s old disdain for free agency. “Checkbook baseball,” Joe sneered (and Steinbrenner’s Yankees proceeded to take back the city of New York).

Happy times, before Frank Cashen grew tired, lost energy, and handed over the reigns.

Happy times, before Frank Cashen grew tired, lost energy, and handed over the reins.

A lot has been written about the Bay/Santana money coming off the books, but $45 million isn’t what it used to be. They might as well take the old contract, cross out Santana’s name, and write in “Matt Harvey.” Soon enough, with Harvey and Wright, that’s 50% of a $90 million payroll. The New York Mets can’t continue to be outspent by the likes of the Orioles, Braves, Reds, Brewers, Nationals, Blue Jays, DiamondBacks, etc. Meanwhile, revenues are down. It’s time to jump-start the franchise . . . or get out.

Mike:

The New York Mets are a business that receives major subsidies from the City of New York. Whether I agree with that or not, it is fact. A baseball team is also not like McDonald’s, where Burger King is a flat-out competitor. All major league teams are one consortium, and they need each other to profit.

For the people of New York and major league baseball to allow the Wilpons to have three or four years to rebound from Madoff was very generous. Time’s up, they either need to start running this team like the big-market team it is or get the hell out of here already. We know Selig loves Fred, but Bud’s bosses have to be getting sick of this. The Mets being like this is costing every team in baseball real money.

If the Wilpons cannot run this team properly, they need to sell it. There will not be a shortage of buyers. If they were to sell this team, people would never think about our payroll again.

Nobody in their right mind would buy the Mets and run it on the cheap. It’s like buying the worst house in a beautiful neighborhood. The first thing you do is laugh at the dumb previous owner. The second thing you do is invest in the property. Just ask the Dodgers. And one of their investments was in Yasiel Puig, and it is paying off handsomely.

la-sp-yasiel-puig-20130627

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13 comments

  1. blastingzone says:

    As far as past failure’s go, if you don’t have success at first try, try, again!! Because Davis is hitting now(it only took 2/3’s of the year) and he had that
    great 2nd half last year and he will cost a lot less than Abreu, Sandy will go
    with the far cheaper option!! If Davis starts off next year like he did this year
    Sandy will come under a lot of fire!! It just might be that Sandy is thinking
    Flores for first base because of Murphy at 2nd or because of Ike’s recent
    surge Sandy might just trade Murphy and play Flores at 2nd? Either way
    Flores will be playing first or 2nd?

    • I think the overwhelming majority of Mets observers feel that Fred/Sandy will pass on Abreu. And many also suspect that Ike Davis will the be first baseman next season. But neither of those perceptions address the relative merits of each decision.

      Here’s the thing, for me, the word I keep coming back to: Squander. I don’t want the Mets to squander the opportunity in front of them. It’s been a wobbly passage, with some mistakes and missed chances along the way, but the Mets are poised to make a significant jump next season. A real shortstop. Some production out of first base. Another hitter in the outfield. Continued improvement in the pen. The courage to move forward with Montero/Syndergaard sooner, rather than later.

      This team could win. They really have that chance. What’s the record since Wheeler came up? Last I looked, it was something like 31-24. Super 2 made far too much of an impact on the team’s fortunes. Can they possibly make that same mistake again, as a matter of policy? We watched half-measures squander the peak years of Beltran, Reyes, Wright. I hate to see the same be true for Matt Harvey, etc.

      This club has a chance to do something special, beginning next season. It is time.

  2. IB says:

    “His impact on the game will be immediate and immense.” ???

    Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. The blogosphere echo chamber doesn’t know any more than I do what this kid will do, or what his contract will be.
    You mention Kaz Matsui. Well, after Hideki, he was a sure-fire all-star. Could hit, steal, won Japanese Gold-Gloves. He was a complete bust as a ML shortstop.

    There’s just no way of knowing for sure how talent will translate. Proven over and over and over.
    But, I agree with 2 Guys, they need to show the fans they not just blowing smoke up our asses again, and if (big if) they think this kid is good enough, take the risk, go for it, all in.

    • I agree, I thought Joe D get a little excited there. Do you remember the nefarious war that went on between the Red Sox and Yankees in the hope of signing Jose Contreras? He was supposed to be the answer. We don’t know and it’s crazy to talk about any of these guys as a sure thing. He’s already talked about as a sub-par defender. But where is the move that comes without risk? Signing Jacoby Ellsbury? Giving big money to Shin-Shoo Choo? There’s an element of gamble every time you step up to the table. That said, I do think that MLB has gotten much, much better at assessing foreign players. Darvish, Puig, etc. And essentially, that’s what we’re asking from the organization. Pony up, step up. From a business perspective, it’s time to invest and start treating this NY franchise like the jewel — and potential cash cow — it really is. There’s a fortune to be made, and parades to witness. Think big!

  3. RAFF says:

    Regarding Abreu— If I was in his shoes- I’d look for a short deal – 1-3 years years- tops, at $10MM or more per- with a big opportunity to really cash in if he’s the kind of player everyone thinks he is… At 26-27, if he takes a long term deal of 6-7 years now, he misses the really BIG potential long term deal payday.

  4. Eric says:

    The over evaluation of specific past FA moves is ridiculous!…… look at what the Braves did this year with “over paid” talent. You can shine a light on each individual move, and conclude FAILURE–except for the FACT that they’re in first place for the 15-20th time in the past 25 years!—and by a WIDE Margin!

    It’s reflective of the fact that the Braves are WELL RUN that they make moves…they make mistakes…they make ROOM…they make Competition for AB’s and Innings. They cut losses when they need to..they move on…they move forward–Tommy Hanson, Francouer, Jurgins, Escobar–Good moves, bad moves…THEY MOVE!!!! THEY DECIDE.

    The long evaluation that IS Ike Davis’s career needs to move on…..it may bite you…it may not.

    The question is whether and when and IF these guys will decide they’re playing to win. You have some hot arms—you have a couple of useable players. You need a professional LH Bat….at the very least. You need to GET ON THE CLOCK—-the SQUANDERING here is the fact that Harvey and Wright are NOT forever—build it out NOW.

  5. IB says:

    Couldn’t agree more

  6. RAFF says:

    FYI> Reading Reports that Ex-Boston Ex Japanese Pitching Phenom Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka is joining the Mets- straight to the Big Ball Yard in Flushing… Dice-K & DIce-Clay BOTH used to have pretty good HEAT… Not sure either has much left…

  7. Alan K. says:

    Besides the obvious question as to whether the Wilpons are willing or able to spend what it takes to sign Abreu, there is the question of whether past experience have make the Wilpons risk adverse to the point that they’d take a calculated gamble on Abreu. I think the Mets are praying that Ike shows enough signs of life so they can justify passing on Abreu. Right now the Mets are in the position where they are ready to go the next level, and both the Wilpons and Sandy have said that they have the money to spend. The Mets are facing a moment of truth this coming off-season.

  8. RAFF says:

    Does anyone know whether there is any minimum term to the contract which a team can offer to Abreu? Also – after this initial contract, would he immediately become a Free Agent? As a guy who is coming from a country where he couldn’t earn “spit” – I think there’s a chance that he might make himself avail. on a 1-2 year deal— This would eliminate the exposure/risk to a team seeking his services, and it might get more teams involved in the chase… So, if a team had to offer $10-12MM, for only a year or two— It would raise the number of teams competing for him, It would raise his annual salary, and it would also afford him with the ability to complete the year or two- pocket $10-25MM- prove his worth at a higher level of pay, and still be able to maximize his value at 28-29 years of age in Free-Agency. Any insight on this?

    • Michael Geus says:

      Once he is signed I believe he is like any other major league player, under team control for six years. His only leverage besides arbitration would be now, I doubt he would want a shorter deal.

  9. [...] first discussed Cuban free agent Jose Abreu in depth on August 22, 2013 in a post titlled, “Free Agent Jose Abreu: Too Rich for Fred’s Blood, or Are the Wilpons Finally Ready to Make a [...]

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