Barajas AND Lopez. C’mon, You Know You Want To…
Posted by JD on February 17, 2010
It looks like the Mets are negotiating with Rod Barajas. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reports that they are making a “hard push” for Barajas, and Jon Heyman of SI.com tweets that it might only be a minor league deal (highlighting how badly the catcher and his agent misjudged the market).
I’ll go on record: I like Omir Santos. I know there’s little rational reason to do so. His defensive reputation is horrible and he’s due for a step back this season, but something about the underdog nature of his story and one totally awesome home run (do you believe in Omiracles!?!) have pulled the wool over my eyes. That being said, I’d give his job to Barajas in a heartbeat. And as excited as I am about Josh Thole’s potential, I’d rather see him get more Triple-A at-bats. A Barajas-Blanco catching tandem is far from ideal, but it’s the best they can do at this point and a decent upgrade over their current crew. Let’s hope they can get it done.
Here’s my follow-up question: why can’t they take a shot at Felipe Lopez, too?
I realize that the money and roster situations are different. Lopez will probably want around $1-1.5 million and a major league deal to sign, which means a spot on the 40-man roster would have to be cleared (I’m looking at you, Jason Pridie). Alex Cora already fills the utility infielder role and is signed for $2 million and it’s doubtful that Omar Minaya (or, more accurately, the Wilpons) would be willing to eat that contract.
That’s the biggest hurdle to signing Lopez: getting management to treat Cora’s contract as a sunk cost. That $2 million is already spent and while $3.5 million* is a lot to pay someone who, in the best case, will be your backup middle infielder, is it really too much to spend? WAR (Wins Above Replacement) says it isn’t. Last year, Cora had a -0.6 WAR (which means he cost the team half a win) while Lopez had a 2.6. To summarize, Lopez was worth 3.2 more wins than Cora. I’m not certain what 1 WAR is worth, but I’m pretty $3.5 million for 3.2 WAR is not a bad deal (and yes, I’m trying not to mention that they never should have resigned Cora in the first place).
*I’m adding their salaries together and assuming that it’s an either/or proposition. God help us if they kept both players on the roster, though you could talk me into it if it resulted in them cutting GMJ.
Now, the possibility remains that the Mets can get Lopez to sign a minor league deal. If it happens, I’ll be first one to credit Minaya for being a savvy buyer. But I’d say that’s still a long-shot: it’s much more likely that I’ll be damning the Wilpons for clutching their purse strings too tightly again.