I’ve been reading a lot of negativity about the Wagner deal, but I want to make a few counterpoints. I was initially mad at this too, but then I gave it more thought.
The two draft pics are crux of the negativity regarding this deal. I think draft picks are very important as well, but the value we’re placing them on might be too high.
More importantly, the chances of attaining two picks, or even one, is unrealistic in the current baseball climate.
Wagner wants to close next year. The majority of the teams looking for a closer who will take a risk on a 39 year old coming off Tommy John are unlikely to be big market teams. They’re likely to be teams near the bottom of the standings, who can afford to take the health risk at the position.
Add that to the rumors that he wants to be near his Virginia home, and you’re looking at either Baltimore or Washington signing him. Which means the Mets get a supplemental 1st round pick since the acquiring team’s #1 pick will likely be protected.
The other issue is……..will it even get to that point?
The biggest negativity on Omar this year is he hopes for the best, and oftentimes the opposite happens. He hoped Tatis can duplicate ’08, that Murphy can play left field, that Church will provide solid lineup protection, that Delgado will repeat the 2nd half of 08, that Oliver Perez will get it, that Maine will be fine coming off a new type of shoulder surgery, that Niese can take the 5th spot out of spring training, that Pelfrey can duplicate his 2nd half without succumbing to the Verducci Syndrome, that Putz can regain his old form, etc, etc, etc.
So in the case of Wagner we have 3 Optimistic Points to acquire a single pick, let alone two first rounders:
A. That Wagner will suffer NO setbacks in the next month and be completely healthy for the offseason.
B. That he’ll continue to pitch at a high level worthy of a team banking on a 39 year old as a closer.
C. That a team will value Wagner so much that they will be WILLING TO FORFEIT THEIR OWN DRAFT PICKS.
Do you really see a team, especially a low-market team that is cash strapped and needs the pick more than the Mets do, losing the pick just to sign BILLY WAGNER? I’m sorry, but that’s just crazy in this current baseball economy. Most teams would just trade for a set up man or sign a Type B free agent.
So the Mets will be on the hook for Wagner’s salary for about $5-6m after arbitration, + an addition $3.5m for this year. The Nets didn’t save $3.5m, they saved $8.5 to $9m. It’s less likely they were going to get any better prospects this winter at $5-6M trying to trade him, and they’d still have that much less to use for free agents. Also, has anyone thought that the $3.5M may end up going to sign the Latin American signings?
So you got the Red Sox willing to take the $3.5m, and take a chance on everything going right for Wagner to get the picks, and help the depth of the Mets farm a bit. GRANTED, it’s not a big help, but it is help nonetheless.
I would love to get those picks too, but i just don’t see a scenario where that would happen. You’re looking for too many things to go right. And in a year where everything goes wrong, sometimes a sure thing is better than risking it all and getting nothing.
Update: An addendum to the points above.
Ken Rosenthal points out that the Sox would have to pay $8.4M if the Sox offer arbitration. That financially will likely be the most money Wagner can possibly see this offseason. It’s very possible the Sox won’t offer it and risk having a power struggle with Wagner and Papelbon. However, the Sox may decide to keep him, have him close while they wait for closer prospect Josh Bard to develop, and either deal Papelbon or move him to the rotation.
Buster Olney says Wagner is expected to get multi years offers IF he finishes well. (Not a sure thing coming off TJ surgery). Mlbtraderumors.com points out that as a Type A free agent and a deep closer market including Jose Valverde and Trevor Hoffman, Wagner may have the same issues getting signed as Juan Cruz did this past offseason.
Posted by Robert Z