Word comes this morning from New York Post writer Josh Kosman that New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have made their biggest move of the off-season. Thanks to an increase in franchise value as a result of the record sale price of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012, Wilpon and Katz had no difficulty finding banks willing to refinance a loan weeks ahead of the due date of a $250 million principal payment.
The new loan still has to be approved by Major League Baseball, but with Fred Wilpon’s good friend Bud Selig still in charge, that’s likely to be a formality.
What this means: Wilpon and Katz, who might have been forced to sell the team if the refinancing negotiations went badly, will continue to own the Mets for the foreseeable future.
The payroll will continue to hover around its current range, and Sandy Alderson (or whoever takes over for him if his contract is not extended) will have to continue to look to the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays for a blueprint to possible success. Not ideal, but not quite completely hopeless.
Projecting Juan Lagares
Fangraphs has an interesting piece by Jeff Sullivan on what we can expect from Juan Lagares this year. I don’t pretend to understand how all of the fielding stats are calculated, but for once the conclusion doesn’t really require it.
Lagares’ value in 2013 came almost entirely from his defense – his spectacular range and his 15 outfield assists. Common sense says that Lagares is not likely to have as many chances to throw out runners now that the rest of the league knows his arm. So while there is still some value in this deterrent factor, it’s not as great as short-circuiting rallies by turning baserunners into outs.
Sullivan would still play Lagares over Eric Young, though:
Lagares really might not be able to hit enough, because as good as he’s been in the field, he’s been that good for two-thirds of one season. Sure does still seem better than Eric Young, though. And I sure do hope people keep trying to run on him, because as much as I believe in regression to the mean, I’m most fascinated by those who refuse to do it, and we can’t be sure it’ll happen to Juan Lagares until or unless it happens.
Stephen Drew, still unemployed
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman has an update on free agent Stephen Drew, who is still unsigned with less than a week to go before spring training games start.
According to Heyman, the Mets were willing to give Drew approximately $9.5 million for one year. He’s obviously hoping for a better deal after turning down a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, but it’s unclear if that’s coming.
While I think it would be reasonable to give Drew a second year – and maybe even an option for a third – it does make more sense for the Mets to take one last look at Ruben Tejada than pay Drew at the level that agent Scott Boras still seeks.
You can follow Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff on Facebook or Google+, see my photos on Flickr and Instagram, and follow @Paul_Hadsall on Twitter, where I talk about about a variety of things in addition to baseball.