Orioles decline option on Nick Markakis

The Orioles have officially declined the $17.5 million option on OF Nick Markakis for 2015, and will pay him a $2 million buyout (Oct. 30).

Markakis, who turns 31 in November, hit .276 with a .342 OBP and .386 slugging percentage this past season.

It’s not yet known whether or not the Orioles will make a qualifying offer to Markakis. If they do, Markakis will be attached to draft pick compensation for teams without a protected pick.

The Mets and Giants are among teams expected to look in to OF Nick Markakis, according to Boston reporter Nick Cafardo (Oct. 20).

The Mets had interest in Markakis and other Orioles last winter, when the two sides frequently checked in with one another, according to MetsBlog’s Matthew Cerrone (Oct. 20).

The Orioles are interested in re-signing Markakis (Oct. 9), though they did recently decline his $17.5 million option for 2015.

Markakis, who has played 147 or more games in eight of his nine big-league seasons, hit .276 with 14 HR this season, while playing right field.

In a MetsBlog poll last week, 83 percent of more than 7,700 voters said the Mets should not look to give a three-year deal to Markakis (Oct. 16).

maggieMaggie Wiggin: Markakis is an interesting candidate. He fills an area of obvious need in right field (though his defense has been a question mark lately due to his poor range) and he has the potential to provide a solid bat. I say “potential,” because his 2013 season was terrible and, while he bounced back in 2014 (with reduced power), it’s reasonable to worry about what trajectory he is on as he begins his age 31 season. That said, if he can put up an OBP anywhere near his career .358 mark, he would be a huge upgrade at leadoff for the Mets. I would balk at signing him to a three-year deal, especially with a draft pick attached, but if he’d sign for two years and an option, I think it’s a good match.>> Read more, plus reaction from Michael Baron and Brian P. Mangan.


Why isn’t Gil Hodges in the Hall of Fame?

Gil Hodges is among the 10 names on the Golden Era ballot to be reviewed and voted upon Dec. 8 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced today.

Hodges was named to eight All-Star Games in an 18-year big league career as a first baseman with the Dodgers and Mets, winning three Gold Glove Awards and leading the Dodgers to seven National League pennants and two World Series titles.

As a manager, he led the 1969 Mets to a World Series title.

erniBrian Erni, SNY.TV Contributor: Every year, I hope that Gil earns what I feel is his proper spot in Cooperstown and, thus far, I’ve been disappointed. Admittedly, most of my impressions of how dynamic a manager Hodges was comes from reflective stories from my father, but what he was able to accomplish in 1969 remains one of the most stunning miracles in sports. Add to that his imposing offensive presence on the great Dodgers teams of the ’50s (including the 1955 club that won the World Series) and I think his resume speaks for itself.

sadavatarJohn P.C., Reader of MetsBlog: I know everyone’s up in arms about Mike Piazza not being in the Hall of Fame, but to not have Hodges in is disgraceful. During his time, he was unbelievable. Six pennants, he won the first three gold gloves, held the title of most home runs by a righty, and coached the Mets to a World Series.  All of this before age 47 when he died. I know Vin Scully has been trying to push to get him in, but to no avail. Instead of being the Hall of Very Good players, which it has become, it should be the extremely elite and Hodges was one of them.

Wilmer Flores is Sandy Alderson’s best option at SS

mangan avatarBrian Mangan: FanGraphs projects that Wilmer Flores will hit 14 HR and 68 RBI in only 475 at bats next season, making him the fourth best player on his team next season.

It might be a stretch to say he’ll be better than Lucas Duda, but I do think he will provide plenty of positive value to the team.

David Wright 649 159 18 74 117 .275 .348 .433 .780 .342 -0.4 0.5 4.2
Travis d’Arnaud 536 123 18 65 83 .254 .315 .429 .745 .326 -0.1 -3.0 3.2
Juan Lagares 618 147 8 52 123 .256 .298 .360 .658 .292 -0.2 11.7 2.6
Wilmer Flores 511 121 14 56 67 .255 .296 .401 .696 .306 0.0 0.0 2.1
Lucas Duda 623 126 24 76 149 .235 .334 .420 .754 .333 -1.6 1.2 2.0
Daniel Murphy 584 150 9 53 79 .277 .320 .393 .712 .314 0.9 -7.6 1.7
Curtis Granderson 608 118 22 64 147 .223 .315 .400 .715 .319 0.3 -3.1 1.4
Ruben Tejada 264 58 2 20 38 .246 .318 .323 .641 .287 -0.3 0.4 0.7

These projections over the course of a full season would be somewhere closer to 17 HR and 80 RBI. I’d take that from my shortstop. By the way, this projected line is almost identical to expectations for Asdrubal Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Brad Miller.

As I demonstrated on MetsBlog last week, teams can win with essentially any combination of players with any combination of strengths. Forget the molds, forget the stereotypes, you can win with Derek Jeter’s poor defense and you can win with Brooks Robinson’s bat. Given the option, I’ll take a great fielders, like Keith Hernandez at first or Ozzie Smith at shortstop, but you can win with an offensively-minded Flores just as well as you can win with defensively-minded Juan Lagares.

Is there a chance Flores might be giving something back defensively up the middle, as opposed to Ruben Tejada or some veteran, defense-first guy? Sure. But this hypothetical veteran shortstop, even if he fits “the mold,” either isn’t going to be an upgrade, or won’t justify the cost to acquire him in dollars or prospects.

Flores deserves to start at shortstop because he’s the best shortstop that the Mets have, and could easily be the better option when compared to realistic acquisitions. Furthermore, he hit .260 with a .300 OBP, .420 SLG and 5 HR in 46 starts from August 2 to the end of the year, proving he’s capable of taking ownership of the job.

Brian Mangan is an attorney who lives in New York City. His writing can be found at The Read Zone. Follow his Mets-related thoughts on Twitter: @brianpmangan

Dillon Gee

The cost of Dillon Gee, who may get traded this winter

Mets RHP Dillon Gee can expect a $1.3 million raise and a total salary of $4.9 million in 2015, based on calculations by Dan Masi and Jesse Kantor from Pace Law School (ESPN NY, Oct. 29).

MLB Trade Rumors projects Gee will earn slightly more at $5.1 million (MLBTR, Oct. 14).

Gee struggled most of the year with a strained right lat muscle, tossing just 137 1/3 innings. He had a 2.73 ERA through the first eight games of the year before going on the disabled list. Returning in early July, he posted a 4.78 ERA over his next 14 games and finished the year overall with a 4.00 ERA and 1.245 WHIP.

miniMCavatarMatthew Cerrone: I still think Gee and Jon Niese are far more likely to get traded this winter than Bartolo Colon.

It’s not that the Mets don’t like Gee and Niese. It’s that they are younger, make reasonable money, they’re under contract and easier to value. Also, if the Mets are looking to get back usable, quality talent to help now, Gee and/or Niese, plus a young arm and position prospect, are more likely to make that happen than Colon. I say Gee, mostly because he makes less money, he’s not left handed like Niese, and my hunch is he’s more valuable to other teams than the Mets, who have an excess of pitching for the first time in decades.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Free agency started today at 9 a.m.

MLB’s free agency began today at 9 a.m, the day after the final out of the World Series.

The Mets have an exclusive five day window to negotiate with their only free agent, Daisuke Matsuzaka, after which he can negotiate with other interested teams. Bobby Abreu, who is also eligible, announced his retirement at the end of the regular season.

Matsuzaka reportedly considered returning to pitch in Japan last winter. He is expected to do the same again this offseason.

In terms of free agents that may interest the Mets, possible outfield targets could include Michael Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Yasmany TomasAlex Rios, Nick Markakis, Nori Aoki, Jonny GomesColby Rasmus, Michael Morse, Chris Denorifa and Ryan Ludwick; as well as infielders Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, Hanley Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio, Ben Zobrist, Mike Aviles, Clint Barmes and, yet again, Stephen Drew.

MLB teams also must decide in the next five days whether to make a one-year, $15.1 million qualifying offer to their eligible players. Players extended an offer have 12 days to accept or decline. In the event a player accepts, he returns to his team with that fixed salary. If the player declines, any team that signs him will lose its highest available draft pick in the next amateur draft.

Teams can begin signing free agents on November 4.

Daily News: Vic Black and volunteer crew spruce up Staten Island school

Vic Black and a crew helped create a baseball diamond and other improvements at a hight school that took in 17 feet of water during Hurricane Sandy. The playground is still shuttered because of potential sinkholes >> Read more in the Daily News.