Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
Nelson Cruz signed a one-year, $8 million deal, 16 weeks after the Mets gave Chris Young a one-year, $7.5 million deal, leaving some Mets fans to wonder why Young and not Cruz…
Here’s why: 1) Cruz was asking for a five-year, $80 million when Young signed on Nov. 1, and most reports indicated he could get it; 2) the Mets aren’t psychic, nor own a crystal ball; and 3) Cruz and Young have had similar overall production at points during the last few years.
That said, “This is not a ‘gee-whiz, if we just waited’ moment for us,” Sandy Alderson said Saturday (Star-Ledger, Feb. 22). “We’re happy with Chris Young.”
I realize critics will see jumping the gun with Young, who had a weak 2013 in Oakland, in contrast to Cruz’s 20+ home run potential and his one-year deal with Baltimore. But, that wasn’t the market in November. It’s easy to look back and say, ‘Pass on Young, sign Cruz for roughly the same deal.’ But, had you offered Cruz a one-year, $8 million deal in November, you would have been laughed at. In fact, the crew at FanGraphs.com – which is usually very good at projecting future contracts – predicted in December that Cruz would eventually sign a three-year, $32 million deal.
The argument, instead, has nothing to do with Young. It’s about Cruz today and whether he’s worth $8 million for one season. And, of course he is. Why didn’t the Mets sign him? I don’t know, other than they already have four people competing for the outfield, and they probably figured Cruz’s 3.9 WAR the last few years just wasn’t worth adding to the mix.
In the end, Cruz is a below-average, one-dimension player, who is a total butcher in the field, which would have become more glaringly obvious in Citi Field.
In short, as FanGraphs.com’s Dave Cameron said in December, after doing a statistical breakdown and valuation of Cruz, “Run away, interested teams… Give anyone else your money. It will be better spent than giving it to Nelson Cruz.”
On the other hand, Cameron later wrote about Young, “He isn’t a sexy addition, but this is the kind of solid low cost move that smart teams are making these days. If you just focus on what Young can’t do, you’ll ignore the fact that what he can do has value, and $7 million for what he brings to the table is one of the off-season’s better bargains.”
The Mets clearly see eye to eye with Cameron. Hopefully they’re right…