The New York Mets filled another item on their shopping list last night when they signed third baseman Todd Frazier to a two year, $17 million deal. With the team showing little interest in giving a four or five year deal to Mike Moustakas, Frazier was clearly the best choice of the four options the Mets were considering for their infield. Frazier not only brings excellent defense to third, which will help a pitching staff that is less reliant on the strikeout than it was several years ago, but he also provides intangibles and leadership in the clubhouse.
Like the Jay Bruce deal, the Mets also got Frazier for outstanding value, committing just $8.5 million a year for a solid player. Frazier’s arrival ensures that Jose Reyes will be a utility infielder, a much better fit for him at this point of his career, and lets Asdrubal Cabrera play second base, which he indicated recently was his preference. The short term deal also shouldn’t preclude the Mets from going after a longer term option at third next winter, when the likes of Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson will be available in free agency. Machado will likely be out of the Mets’ price range, but Donaldson could be obtainable. Frazier’s reasonable salary could allow the Mets to trade him at that point or shift him over to first base as part of a platoon with Dominic Smith.
The deal, assuming it is evenly split over two years, brings the Mets’ payroll close to $145 million. That doesn’t include Zack Wheeler’s arbitration figure, which should be determined in the coming days. Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon indicated a few weeks ago that the team’s payroll could be about $10 million less than the 2017 Opening Day figure of $155 million, and they are in line with that right now. General Manager Sandy Alderson’s initial offseason checklist is now complete, and he has handed out $73 million in guaranteed contracts, which is more than most of the sport has done in this ice cold free agent period.
This team is fine and could contend for a Wild Card spot if their pitchers stay healthy, but the Mets have an opportunity to boost their chances even more by continuing to take advantage of the value available in this market. The Mets could use another starter for their rotation to provide more depth, and there is no reason they can’t walk away with a quality arm on a one year deal like Jason Vargas or Jaime Garcia. Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb could also be in play on a reasonable multi-year deal. The Mets could also use another bullpen arm, preferably a second lefty to take some pressure off of Jerry Blevins. Adding those two pieces could add another $10-12 million to the payroll, putting the Mets at roughly the same figure they had a year ago while putting a more complete product on the field.