The Mets Begin to Clean the 40-Man Roster

The Mets began the process of purging players from their 40-man roster last week. At  the moment, including players on the 60-man disabled list, the Mets have 44 players on the 40-man roster. Those 60-man DL guys will start counting against the 40-man roster after the World Series. The deadline to add prospects to the 40-man roster to protect prospects is November 20.

Guys are either protected from the Rule Five draft three or four times. Players who are  younger than 19 years old on June 5th before signing their first contract are protected four times while those who are 19 or older are protected three times. So, any college draftees from the 2010 draft are Rule 5 eligible for the first time this year.

 

The Mets 40-Man Roster Position Breakdown
23 pitchers
3 catchers
10 infielders
8 outfielders
44 Total

Last week, the Mets outrighted RHP Greg Burke and LHP Sean Henn; neither were claimed. Meanwhile, the Dodgers claimed Mike Baxter while the Angels grabbed LHP Robert Carson.
The hard-throwing Carson has not figured out how to retire Major League hitters.In 33 inning in the last two years, he’s run a 13/11 K/BB ratio and allowed 11 homeruns on his way to a 6.82 ERA. His fastball is 93-95 and his slider is mostly 85 ish (82-88 per Brooksbaseball), but he has been less than the sum of his parts thanks to command troubles.

In 155 PA in 2013 in his age 27 season, Baxter hit .189/.303/.250 with zero homeruns. Sure, he’ll always have “The Catch” in Johan Santana’s no-hitter in 2012, but it’s looking more and more costly. He disclocated his shoulder on the play, and according to Kristie Ackert in the NY Daily News, “some in the organization feel that Baxter never recovered his power after that injury.” There’s little question that his isolated slugging percentage of .061 was his worst in his three seasons as a Mets.

 

There are seven more pitchers on the 40-man who are eligible to be free agents:
David Aardsma, Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano, Frank Francisco, Aaron Harang, LaTroy Hawkins, Daisuke Matsuzaka

When these seven walk, the Mets’ 40-man roster will slim down to 37. That’s a start.

 

Prospect Additions
The Mets have relatively few must-add players this winter. The only three givens to me are:
1. Jacob deGrom - RHP who throws a low-mid 90s power sinker and ended the year in AAA. Adopted a curveball as his primary breaking ball in 2013. Still has a chance to start, but likelier a reliever in the end.
2. Jeff Walters - Fastball/Slider RHP who had a strong year out of the Binghamton bullpen. Will start 2014 in AAA Las Vegas and should make his MLB debut sometime in the warm part of summer.
3. Steven Matz - LHP stayed healthy for the first time in 2013 and made major strides. There’s no way the Mets let a lefty who can touch 96 get away.

Adding those three players would take the Mets back up to 40 players. So, if the Mets want to add any other players via the Rule 5 draft or free agency or a trade, they will have to drop more guys.

Adam Rubin suggested last week that in addition to the four players who were already waived, Scott Atchison, Zach Lutz, Andrew Brown and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are most at risk. I would add Jordany Valdespin and Hansel Robles to the list of guys who should be worried about their 40-man roster spots.

 

Prospects On the Bubble Outside Looking In
Luis Cessa – Really nice season for Savannah in a-ball, but is his combination of low 90s fastball, slider and changeup special enough for a team to carry out of a-ball? Highly doubt it.
Cory Vaughn – Auditioning for a roster spot in the AFL. I believe he’s not an everyday big leaguer. Perhaps he’s a platoon player/bench bat.  We discussed that at more length a few weeks ago.
Bret Mitchell - Missed 2012 after hip labrum surgery but had a nice 2013 out of the Savannah/St. Lucie bullpen throwing 90-94 sitting 92-93. Still, 22 walks in 30.2 innings in the FSL signal that he’s not ready for a MLB 40-man roster.
Aderlin Rodriguez – left unprotected a year ago, Rodriguez hit .260/.295/.427 in 62 games for St. Lucie before hand/wrist injuries ended his regular season. He’s unlikely to be protected or drafted.

 

Worrying about the 40-man roster for a team that finished 2013 at 74-88 seems almost to miss the point. If the Mets are going to improve the squad for next year, they will need to replace the players they have with ones who are better. (That’s top-grade #analysis, right there.)

In that case, change is good. So, do the Mets have the ability to spend in the free agent market? Can they be creative in the trade market?