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PORT ST. LUCIE , Fla. (AP) — Just a few hours after Jacob deGrom threw his first practice pitch of spring training, the NL Cy Young Award winner let everyone know the score.He hasn’t received a long-term contract offer from the New York Mets and isn’t sure he will before opening day.“I honestly have no clue. There hasn’t really been many talks,” deGrom said Thursday. “But that can change in one phone call. I just don’t really know.”The 30-year-old deGrom is set to make $17 million this season and is under club control through 2020. If he doesn’t get a new deal this spring, however, he didn’t rule out limiting his 2019 workload to protect his personal future.It’s an idea that was floated by his agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, in a recent memo to major leaguers during a second consecutive slow free-agent market. If teams are so hesitant to sign accomplished veterans because they come with wear and tear, maybe players should take measures themselves to assure they stay fresh.“I think that’s going to be a discussion that’s going to have to be had with my agents,” deGrom said, wearing a blue and orange Mets cap following the club’s first scheduled workout for pitchers and catchers. “I’m going to have to sit down with them and really see what they think is best for me moving forward.“You play this game ’cause you love it and then, you know, you have an opportunity to look out for your family and your future. So I think, just, you have to see what’s right for you to do.”Adding to it all is the bizarre fact that new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was deGrom’s agent with CAA before switching sides at the bargaining table last fall.Van Wagenen insisted he’s not worried about deGrom taking a seat to save his arm.“I don’t anticipate any concerns,” Van Wagenen said. “We want to protect Jacob deGrom as much as Jacob deGrom and as much as his agents want to protect him because he matters to us not just during the regular season but his impact is even more important for us in October. So, as far as managing workloads with or without an extension, we’re going to make sure that the player’s health is considered.”The developing saga has already commanded much of the attention as the new-look Mets open camp with an improved roster and playoff aspirations. Teammates have spoken out in support of the humble deGrom getting financially rewarded for his consistent excellence on the mound, and the sides set an opening-day deadline for striking a deal so talks don’t create a distraction during the season.New York opens up March 28 in Washington, and manager Mickey Callaway drew laughs from reporters when — unprovoked — he made a point to announce deGrom (quite obviously) would get the ball.If no contract agreement is reached by then, discussions could always resume next offseason. As of now, at least“There’s been plenty of conversations but no offers exchanged,” Van Wagenen said. “I have no doubt that the two sides will know each other’s positions, if nothing else, by the end of camp, and hopefully we’ll be on the same page.”It was Van Wagenen — on the pitcher’s behalf — who suggested last July the organization should consider trading deGrom if it wasn’t planning to commit to him long-term.“That was just I think him trying to get something moving,” deGrom said with a sheepish smile. “We had heard the possibility of us talking and it’s never gotten anywhere. So, I think it was just trying to get the ball rolling and seeing what was happening and seeing if I was in this team’s future plans and not just right now.”A two-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom reiterated how much he loves playing in New York and wants to stay. He’s made it clear he’s interested in signing a multiyear contract now rather than testing free agency.Of course, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and his father, owner Fred Wilpon, would be the ones approving any lucrative deal.So what are the Mets waiting for?“Jacob is 100 percent a part of our future now and hopefully for years to come,” Van Wagenen said. “Offers and contract negotiations can be complicated processes. It needs to have analysis done on the club side Reggie Jackson Jersey , it needs to have analysis done on the player’s side. We are still going through our considerations on the club side and once we have those done, we’ll obviously communicate some of that information to the player and his agent.”Last month, deGrom and the Mets agreed to a $17 million, one-year contract to avoid arbitration — a raise of $9.6 million over his 2018 salary.“I think first and foremost we wanted to get the arbitration, one-year number resolved,” Van Wagenen said. “You never want to create contention between players and the team they play for, so that was a real priority for us.“That goodwill hopefully now is shifting over to the next phase of our process,” he added. “Everybody knows that Jacob deGrom is great. Everybody knows that Jacob deGrom deserves to be handsomely rewarded for his performance.”After leading the majors with a 1.70 ERA in 217 innings last year, deGrom was a runaway winner in NL Cy Young Award balloting. He went just 10-9 with 269 strikeouts in 32 starts, receiving little support from a fourth-place team that finished 77-85.“I think that Jacob’s season last year, we’re probably never going to see anything like it again in our lifetime,” Callaway said. Welcome to the first installment of the If I were Billy Eppler series, where HH writers explicate the transactions for their desired Angels offseason. Previous editions by various authors can be..."Welcome to the first installment of the If I were Billy Eppler series, where HH writers explicate the transactions for their desired Angels offseason. Previous editions by various authors can be found here.In order to rosterbate responsibly, guidelines for the series are as follows.For the luxury tax payroll, the $145 million calculated by Cot’s contracts is the amount of present obligations for the 2019 season (use the Tax Tracker tab). Cot’s is chosen as it is the most reliable, publicly available source. The luxury tax threshold, which owner Arte Moreno has indicated as the spending limit in years past, is $206 million for 2019, leaving almost $61 million to be played with. Or does it? Read Rahul’s post here to see how he came up with the $28.5M number that we all try to stick to for these scenarios.As for proposed offseason moves, MLB Trade Rumors’ free-agent predictions and FanGraphs’ crowdsourced contract estimates are to be used as baselines for any free-agent signings.Trades must be as realistic as possible. One popular tactic among baseball fans on the internet is offering a bunch of players you don’t like in exchange for some you do. In reality, that’s not how trades actually work, so that’s off limits.Finally, if an arbitration-eligible player is to be involved in a transaction, MLB TR’s arbitration projections are to be used to calculate the player’s luxury tax implications since final arbitration numbers are not yet in.Got it? Let’s go.My offseason priorities1. Pitching, pitching, pitching2. Find another 2B/3B option3. Find a competent MLB catcher4. Acquire a real 1B to take bulk of dutiesSP: Charlie Morton (2 years, $30 million)The Angels have three starters (Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs and Jaime Barria) who look to have guaranteed rotation spots for 2019. Shohei Ohtani’s Tommy John Surgery knocks him out for 2019, creating a huge need for impact starting pitching. Charlie Morton fits that mold. The Angels sign a quality starter who ranks 17th in ERA (3.36) and 20th in fWAR (6.3) over the past two seasons. In the process, Houston is dealt another blow with Dallas Keuchel currently being a free agent and after learning that Lance McCullers Jr. will miss all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Given that Morton will be 35 in November, the Angels might be able sign him to a short-term deal with a higher AAV.That age doesn’t particularly worry me given he’s a bit of a late bloomer and has seen his velocity increase in five straight years. His 95.7 mph average fastball last year was a career high as was his ERA (3.13) and strikeout percentage (28.9 percent). This is a legitimately good starter who may come at a cheaper cost due to his age. SP: Kyle Gibson (1 year , $7.9 million)With one year of club control left, Gibson isn’t going to fetch a huge return, especially at a projected $7.9 million salary. That behooves the Angels, who are in need for a short-term play for 2019 and aren’t inclined to move big prospects yet. Gibson is coming off a career year at age 30, posting career highs in fWAR (2.8), ERA (3.62) and strikeout percentage (21.7 percent). Like Morton, Gibson has some late-bloomer qualities to him. Gibson boasted a career best 93 mph average fastball last year and was one of the handful of pitcher to throw five pitches (Four-Seam Fastball, Sinker, Curveball, Slider, Change-Up) at least 10 percent of the time. Gibson’s Statcast profile is encouraging, showing some positive trends that would lend the Angels a quality starter for 2019. Proposed trade:LAA gets: RHP Kyle Gibson and $2 millionMIN gets: OF Michael Hermosillo and RHP Joe Gatto RP: Jordan Lyles (1 year, $1.5 million)Lyles, owner of a career 5.28 ERA in 768 2/3 innings, doesn’t appear to be anything special but hear me out. Lyles started to ditch his slider in favor of a curveball, the latter of which generated a 29.2 whiff percentage and limited hitters to a .319 slugging percentage last year. On top of it being one of the hardest curveballs in baseball (83.5 mph), the pitch also gained more vertical depth last year. Lyles threw that curveball 28.7 percent of the time last year and he’d arguably benefit from using it more. Ditch the slider and change-up and let Lyles strictly throw his 93-95 mph fastball and curveball exclusively. Allow him to focus on his strengths and simplify his repertoire and there may be a valuable pitcher here. On top of this, Lyles has the ability to start games, is only 28 years old and had his $3.5 million club option decline by Milwaukee, meaning his price likely won’t be high. There is some hidden value here and fits the mold of a low-cost bullpen acquisition for Eppler. Catcher: Tucker Barnhart (3 years, $9.75 million+ $7.5 mil club option)The Angels are starved for catching talent and Barnhart would represent a fairly big upgrade. 2018 was a step back for Barnhart where he saw a decline in throwing out runners (decrease from 56 percent to 24 percent), got on base less and hit for less power. Add in his usual poor pitch framing and it led to a mediocre season. However, Barnhart was still worth 1.1 fWAR thanks to competent offensive production (89 wRC+) at the position and decent defensive skills. Barnhart will only be 28 next year, is signed to a very nice deal and has a track record of strong defensive skills and competent offense. Plus, have you seen the current state of catchers? It’s not pretty. Even if his defense has fallen back a bit, Barnhart would represent a sizeable upgrade and there aren’t a whole lot of other options available. Barnhart is young, fills a long-term hole and is one of the better projected catchers for 2019. Proposed trade:LAA gets: C Tucker BarnhartCIN gets: LHP Jose Suarez and OF D’Shawn Knowles1B/2B/3B: Daniel Murphy (2 years, $14 million)With Albert Pujols in decline and dealing with injuries, along with Shohei Ohtani’s uncertain timetable for returning to hitting, the Angels need a legitimate bat to slot in at first base and possibly designated hitter. Enter Daniel Murphy. Murphy will be 34 on Opening Day, dealt with a knee issue most of last year and saw a steep drop in production but it’s worth noting he ran a 126 wRC+ over the final three months. There’s no guarantee the knee injury was either responsible for the down year nor will it go away in the future but if Murphy bounces back, he’s a huge value signing. Murphy was legitimately one of the best hitters in baseball from 2016-2017 Glenn Hubbard Jersey , running a .334/.387/.569 line and the ninth best wRC+ (145). His poor defense has pushed him mainly into a first base role but he could handle designate hitter duties, along with some second base (and possibly third base) duties for the Angels, filling in for Zack Cozart and David Fletcher when needed. The Angels need a legitimate MLB option to compete with Albert Pujols for first base at bats and a healthy Murphy could fill that role. Murphy really struggled versus lefties last year, meaning Pujols can handle duties versus left-handed pitching. OF: Lonnie Chisenhall (1 yr, 2 million)Had Chisenhall not been hampered by a calf injury last season, he would’ve been in line for a bigger deal. As it stands, he only played in 29 games but he was very productive, hitting .321/.394/.452 with 0.8 fWAR in that small sample. Chisenhall owns a career 104 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching, handles all three outfield positions and can probably play some third base like he used to prior to 2016.Chisenhall was a steady one-and-a-half win player from 2014-2017 and represents a solid bench bat who can handle his own when he’s thrust into a starting role. This is a potential bargain signing. Non-Tenders: Matt Shoemaker ($4.3 million), Hansel Robles ($1.3 million)Non-tendering Shoemaker is tough given the injuries he’s gone through recently but $4.3 million for a 32-year-old pitcher with very few innings and little success over the past two years is tough to justify. For a team thin on pitching depth, this could be unwise but the club can find a similar option for a lower price on the market.Hansel Robles is a justifiable non-tender given his price and lack of production. He throws hard and misses bats but his poor command and home run tendencies make him a fringe MLB option. Eppler finds guys like this all the time and given the amount of bubble guys on the pitching staff, this is an easy choice. The total offseason expenditure is $30.1 million. This would bring the team’s Opening Day payroll to $176.4 million for luxury tax calculations, not including benefits.I took an opportunistic purview to the offseason, which means the team should absolutely make moves to compete in 2019 but not make crippling short-sighted moves by moving big prospects for short-term plays. My scenario adds a few impact starting pitchers for 2019, another bullpen piece to create some competition, a long-term everyday catcher and a potential impact bat that steals plate appearances from an aging Albert Pujols. In any case, here are the team’s depth charts.Projected lineup vs. RHP Kole Calhoun, RFDaniel Murphy, 1BMike Trout, CFShohei Ohtani, DHJustin Upton, LFAndrelton Simmons, SSZack Cozart, 3BDavid Fletcher, 2BTucker Barnhart, CProjected lineup vs. LHP Andrelton Simmons, SSMike Trout, CFShohei Ohtani, DHJustin Upton, LFZack Cozart, 3BKole Calhoun, RFAlbert Pujols 1BDavid Fletcher Rickey Henderson Jersey , 2BTucker Barnhart, CBench:Albert Pujols/Daniel Murphy, 1B/DHJose Briceno, CTaylor Ward 3BLonnie Chisenhall, OF/3BStarting rotation:Charlie Morton, RHPAndrew Heaney, LHPKyle Gibson, RHPTyler Skaggs, LHPJaime Barria, RHPBullpen:Ty Buttrey, RHPBlake Parker, RHPJustin Anderson, RHPJose Alvarez, LHPJordan Lyles, RHPCam Bedrosian, RHPOther options: Keynan Middleton (injury), Noe Ramirez, Taylor Cole, Felix Pena, Nick Tropeano (injury), Hansel Robles, Alex Meyer (injury), Parker Bridwell SummaryIn this scenario, the Angels are spending a pretty hefty amount this offseason but many of the moves are for short-term additions, creating payroll flexibility for the future while putting a better team on the field in 2019. Clearly, the Angels biggest need is pitching and the club addresses that here, adding a legitimate top 30 MLB starter (Morton), a solid #4 starter (Gibson) and some bullpen depth (Lyles). On top of the pitching issue, the club needs to add a legitimate big league catcher and some infield depth, namely at first base. Tucker Barnhart is a solid addition to catcher and his youth/club control makes him a long-term play. Daniel Murphy is a big depth addition given the downfall of Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani’s uncertain timetable for his return to hitting.
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