Mets Signing of Marcum Linked to Other Moves and Issues

The timing of the Mets’ decision to sign Shaun Marcum to a 1-year contract coincides with Scott Hairston signing a 2-year contact with the Cubs, so perhaps the Mets were waiting until Hairston made his decision before allocating the Hairston money elsewhere. By that logic, the currently undisclosed salary that Marcum is getting should be around $2-3 million plus incentives.

Let’s not make this out to be more than it is. Marcum is a decent mid-to-back rotation starter who has had multiple injury problems in his career. He had shoulder soreness before the 2012 season and missed two months during the season with an elbow problem. He also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009, costing him the entire season. He’s surpassed 195 innings twice in his career in 2010 and 2011. The Mets aren’t expecting him to turn into a horse with 220 innings pitched in 2013. Marcum’s splits on ground balls/fly balls are about even—link—and he relies heavily on a changeup, a slider and command of his cutter. He doesn’t throw hard and never has, but velocity isn’t as important to a pitcher like Marcum as long as his changeup is working and he’s locating well. He won’t surrender a lot of homers at Citi Field. Three-quarters of the Mets’ infield defense is solid; the outfield defense as it currently stands could present challenges for Marcum.

For the Mets, this is a multiply-pronged decision and a wise one. No one can say what they’ll get out of Johan Santana or Dillon Gee rebounding from injuries. The rookie Matt Harvey probably won’t be pushed much further than a maximum of 180-185 innings. If Zack Wheeler is recalled, it won’t be until mid-season. Marcum gives the team needed rotation depth.

The Mets are currently weighing what it’s worth to sign Michael Bourn in exchange for a large chunk of long-term cash and the 11th pick in the first round of the June draft.

When looking at Bourn, several of the same reasons the Mets didn’t want to sign Jose Reyes to a long-term deal apply. Bourn is a speed player who turned 30 in December. Once he begins to lose his speed and defensive range, what good will he do? On the other hand, he’s not injury prone as Reyes was and the Mets had a ready-made replacement for him at shortstop with Ruben Tejada, plus their financial situation is far better now than it was when they plainly and simply couldn’t afford to keep Reyes even if they wanted to. Their center field options are limited to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill and Matt Den Dekker. The club has to look at the upcoming draft and determine which would be more useful, Bourn or the draft pick.

Marcum is a solid signing for the club in the moment, but it’s also heavily connected to decisions yet to be made. Getting him makes it easier to pull the trigger on other moves in the coming weeks.

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  1. #1 by Dave Wakeman on January 24, 2013 - 9:55 pm

    On Bourn, I think that knowing the amount of work that the Mets’ front office has done over the last several years, taking a flyer on Bourn for 3-4 years might not be the worst thing. That is if the contract demands are so outrageous that you simply say WTF.

    In thinking this way, you have to consider that this year’s draft is considered a little lighter on talent than years past and the fact that the Mets should begin to show some results from their salary cutting and rebuilding efforts in the next season or two and are going to need solid, competent players as these young guys continue to develop and, also, as a means to build a bridge to the point when the Mets are active in the Free Agent and trade markets for significant impact players.

    • #2 by admin on January 24, 2013 - 11:01 pm

      My first reaction to Bourn would be no, but if the years drop it would be worth it to sign him. I don’t expect that to happen given his agent, but the market is pretty dry. It’s possible.

      • #3 by Andee on January 25, 2013 - 7:58 am

        I think Boras just got blindsided by the new CBA and what it would mean, and assumed that the same rules applied to getting Bourn and Lohse their megadeals as he did for getting Prince Fielder his: Just wait, there will be one dumb owner who’ll cough it up.

        Not anymore. So far, only two teams — LAA and WAS — have been willing to go without a first-rounder entirely. (ATL loses one for B.J. Upton, but gets a sandwich for Bourn.) Because now not only do you have to sacrifice the draft pick (first round if protected, second if not), you also don’t get the bonus money you’d get to sign that pick. In previous years, you could spend that bonus money on later rounds to catch players who had slipped due to signability concerns; no more.

        So Boras overplayed his hands on both Lohse and Bourn, and both of them will have to settle for a lot less than they thought Mr. Super Genius Agent could get them. The Mets could wind up with Bourn after all, especially if they can get MLB to agree that the spirit of the protected pick rule would be violated by not letting a bottom 10 team have a protected pick. Heck, even if they can’t, he might be worth it, although I’d swallow hard at sacrificing #11 in a deep draft. It’s not like they have any hot outfield prospects coming in the next year or two.

      • #4 by Andee on January 25, 2013 - 7:59 am

        er…”second round if protected, first if not.” My queendom for an edit button.

      • #5 by admin on January 25, 2013 - 1:40 pm

        If the Mets can get that waiver from MLB so they can give up a second round pick instead of a first, I think they’ll be hard after Bourn. Given how Bud Selig’s rules tend to fluctuate, it’s a legit possibility. What these new rules are gonna do is make players who are in the final year of their contracts and on a team that’s going nowhere want to be traded at mid-season so they won’t have to deal with this. If MLB is intent on keeping the compensation rule in effect and make draft picks part of the equation during trades/free agent signings, they should allow clubs to trade the draft picks.

  2. #6 by Ed Rhort on January 25, 2013 - 12:15 am

    If my memory serves me, Michael Bourn strikes out entirely too much for a speedy outfielder with little power. Hence the reason the Braves jettisoned him to free agency.

    • #7 by admin on January 25, 2013 - 2:08 am

      What are you talking about? The Braves let him go because they don’t have the money to pay him. He was great for them last season and before they traded for Justin Upton were still considering making a move to bring him back.

  3. #8 by David Kowalski on January 25, 2013 - 7:14 pm

    The Mets have unloaded a good deal of payroll by shedding five outfielders over the past two years: Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan, Jason Bay, Andres Torres, and Scott Hairston. They are still paying most of Bay’s money in 2013.
    Beltran, Pagan, Torres and Hairston will cost a combined $28 million or so in 2013.

    Jordany Valdespin is listed as an outfielder on tthe roster and he is certainly an option. His versaatility alone pretty much gives him a huge leg up on a roster spot as he can fill in at an outfield or infield spot.

    The whole group from Duda, Neuwinhuis, Cowgill, Valdespin, etc. is basically the definition of “replacement player.” As stated the Mets need two outfielders and the minor league cupboard and free agent market seems bare.

    The most encouraging thought is that Oakland managed to grab two outfielders in Reddick and Cespedes last winter and Alderson and his team come from Oakland so maybe thaey can pull off the same magic.

    • #9 by admin on January 25, 2013 - 9:42 pm

      Valdespin is super-talented, but his discipline is non-existent. Considering what they’re putting out there, they have little to lose by throwing him out there. The Mets will be players in free agency/trades in 2014, but that’s not going to placate the fans and media now.

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