With the start of free agency less than a month away, the New York Mets have a lot of work to do to improve their roster. The team has several clearly defined needs on offense and could use extra arms in the starting rotation and bullpen, but luckily for General Manager Sandy Alderson there are a lot of players out there who could fit the club's needs. The Mets have money to spend, and both Alderson and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon have indicated the Mets will add several players from outside the organization this winter. Here are some of the top free agents the Mets could pursue this winter.
OF Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds:
Choo will without a doubt be the biggest ticket item the Mets pursue in the offseason. Alderson is reportedly a big fan of the Cincinnati outfielder, who hit .285 with 21 home runs, 54 RBI's, 107 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases this season. Choo would fit in well in an outfield corner for the Mets, and could slide in either as the team's leadoff hitter or a sixth place hitter due to his versatility. Choo's skill set will make him highly desired in the market, and he is expected to draw the attention of several teams. Choo's market was likely set by the five year, 90 million dollar extension Hunter Pence inked with the San Francisco Giants last month. The Mets appear willing to only give Choo a commitment of that length, but if the price goes too high (Choo is represented by Scott Boras) the Mets could look elsewhere.
OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox:
The other big time outfielder in the free agent market is Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury hit .293 with nine home runs and 53 RBI's this season and also swiped 52 bags. Ellsbury, 30, is a few years removed from nearly winning the American League MVP and will likely get the second biggest contract in the market (after Yankees' second baseman Robinson Cano). While Ellsbury is very talented, his injury history is a concern. Ellsbury has missed significant time in three of the past four seasons, and given the Mets' history of injury issues they will likely stay away from him.
1B Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox:
One guy who could be a good fit for the Mets is Boston first baseman Mike Napoli. After concerns over a hip condition forced Napoli to take a one year deal last winter, he will re-enter the market in position to secure a multi-year deal. The 31 year old Napoli had a strong season at the plate, hitting .259 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI's. Napoli also made a smooth transition to first base after spending the first half of his career split between catcher and designated hitter, further increasing his value. Napoli would be a good fit for the Mets, but the Red Sox figure to make a strong bid to retain him. Either way, Napoli should expect a phone call from Alderson at some point.
SS Stephen Drew, Boston Red Sox:
The Mets will likely take a long look at Boston's pending free agents because a lot of them fit the team's needs. Another player who fits the mold is shortstop Stephen Drew, who hit .253 with 13 homers and 67 RBI's for the Sox. The Red Sox will likely let Drew leave this winter to clear a spot for top prospect Xander Bogaerts, and Drew could be a good two year stopgap for the Mets. Given the lack of quality shortstops on the market and a number of teams in need of help at the position, the Mets will likely face some competition for Drew. One team to watch here is the Yankees, who will likely look to pick up insurance at the position given Derek Jeter's uncertain future and Alex Rodriguez facing a year long ban for steroid use.
OF Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees:
Granderson is an interesting free agent case this winter. Granderson had his contract year wrecked by injuries, but they were not signs of a player breaking down. Granderson missed over half the season after getting hit on the hand with a pitch twice, resulting in a broken wrist and a broken finger. Granderson hit only .229 with seven home runs and 15 RBI's as his season never really got on track. Granderson has never had injury problems before, and he is only a year removed from two consecutive 40 home run seasons. Granderson could be a good option for the Mets if they are priced out of the top tier outfielders as his power swing shouldn't be hurt by playing in Citi Field.
The Mets could look across town again and look to secure the services of Phil Hughes to fill a hole in their starting rotation. The Mets can only count on three starters (Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, and Dillon Gee) heading into the winter, and the Mets would like to secure a veteran starter or two to fortify the rotation until Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard are ready. Hughes had a rough 2013 season in the Bronx, going 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA before getting yanked from the rotation in September. With the Yanks prepared to move on, Hughes will likely look for a short term deal to boost his free agent value in a few years. The Mets could take a shot on Hughes, who should benefit from a move to the pitcher friendly National League and Citi Field. Hughes' home and road splits suggest getting away from Yankee Stadium would really benefit him. Hughes pitched to a 6.32 ERA and gave up 17 home runs in 78.1 innings at home, while pitching to a 3.88 ERA and surrendering only seven homers in 67.1 innings. Hughes should consider coming across town, but given his negative experience here the California native may look to settle on a team closer to home.
SP Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants:
Lincecum is another man who has cost himself a lot of money with inconsistent performance this season. After being one of the most dominant pitchers in the game for the last five years, Lincecum had an awful 2012 season and didn't fare much better this year. Lincecum finished the season with a 10-14 record and a 4.37 ERA. Lincecum threw a no-hitter this season and showed flashes of his dominant self, but his inconsistency drove the Giants crazy. The Giants are reportedly negotiating to re-sign Lincecum, but if he hits the open market the Mets could give him a look. Lincecum may look for a one year contract to boost his value for next winter, and coming to pitch in another pitcher friendly park could help him out. Lincecum would also bring some buzz to the franchise which is hurting for star power without Matt Harvey next season.
SP Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds:
Arroyo is a pitcher who is very good at one thing: eating innings. Arroyo has pitched at least 200 innings in eight of nine seasons since 2005, and the one year he didn't reach that mark he pitched 199 innings. Arroyo has adapted well to the National League, and with a shakeup on the horizon in Cincinnati Arroyo's future is uncertain. Arroyo is reportedly seeking at least a two year contract, which is not an unreasonable request for a 36 year old who went 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA in a hitter's park last season. Arroyo is someone the Mets could target if they are willing to commit to a starter for more than one season, but the organization's philosophy on starting pitching hasn't been made clear.
SS Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers:
Peralta is hitting the market at an interesting time in his career. Peralta hit .303 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI's for Detroit before missing the last 50 games of the regular season serving a steroid suspension. The Tigers welcomed Peralta back for the playoffs and he has been clutch so far, but his future in Detroit is far from guaranteed. The Tigers acquired slick fielding shortstop Jose Iglesias at the trade deadline and he is only 23 years old, so the Tigers will likely move forward with him. The Tigers also don't have the flexibility to bring Peralta back as a DH considering they need to keep the spot open for Victor Martinez, so he could be an option for shortstop needy teams this winter. The Mets could bring the 31 year old aboard, but they may prefer Drew simply to avoid the association with steroids and the risk of having Peralta be a failed test away from a 100 game ban.
OF Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers:
Cruz is in a similar position as Peralta entering free agency, minus Peralta's post season success. Cruz hit .276 with 27 home runs and 76 RBI's before being suspended, and the Rangers allowed him to play in their tiebreaker game against the Rays. Cruz went hitless in that game and the Rangers were eliminated, leading to speculation about whether the Rangers will cut ties with the 33 year old outfielder. It remains to be seen how the market will shape up for Cruz, who is in the second tier of free agent outfielders along with the likes of Curtis Granderson, Michael Morse, and Carlos Beltran. The same concerns the Mets would face with Peralta could also steer them away from Cruz.
OF Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals:
The rumors of Beltran potentially returning to the Mets have been circulating over the last few weeks, and they do make some sense. The 36 year old outfielder has found the fountain of youth with the Cardinals, hitting .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBI's this season. The Cardinals will likely let Beltran walk this winter to make room for top prospect Oscar Taveras, so Beltran will likely seek a short term contract. The Mets could use a short term solution for one of the outfield spots to allow time for their top prospects to develop, so a reunion could make sense. Beltran has indicated publicly he could return, but there are two factors that could work against his return. One factor is his decreasing range in the outfield, which Mets personnel have reportedly noted could be a challenge in Citi Field. Another is Beltran's desire for a World Series ring, and he could look to latch on with a contender if the Cardinals don't win the title this fall.
OF Marlon Byrd, Pittsburgh Pirates:
Of all the players on this list, only Beltran and Byrd have proven that they can have success in New York. Byrd was a surprise success for the Mets this season before getting dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August. Byrd has publicly raved about his time with the Mets and thanked General Manager Sandy Alderson for giving him an opportunity to play postseason baseball for the first time in his career. Byrd finished his comeback season with a .291 average and career highs in home runs (24) and RBI's (88). Byrd has also indicated he is open to returning to Flushing this season, and the Mets should strongly consider bringing him back under the right circumstances. The right circumstances, in this case, involve a deal that isn't too crazy (Byrd is 36) and making sure that he isn't the top upgrade offensively. For instance, if the Mets signed Shin-Soo Choo to play left field they could bring back Byrd to play right as a cheaper measure than adding a Granderson or Cruz. The Mets can't, however, just re-sign Byrd and pronounce their offensive problems fixed. The Mets struggled to hit with Byrd in the lineup this season, and bringing him back and hoping for improvement from players already on the roster simply isn't an option.
You need to satisfy your competitive drive, so why not beat our experts in fantasy football. At FightClub, our official Fantasy Football partner, you can change you team weekly and win cash. Get a free $5 credit when you sign up and try them out. And each week, Sports Media 101 will sweeten the pot and award the player with top points an extra $25. Match-up and show them how good you are. Can you handle FightClub?
Your man cave is your home field advantage for every game. When the game is on the line, you should be able to look around and be reminded of the great moments you've watched unfold in that very room! MJR Sports Integrity offers a wide range or team and player-specific memorabilia that can do just that and take your game day room to the next level. Find your inspiration at MJR Sports Integrity and will your team to victory!
- New York Mets Should Be Active in Trade Market This Winter
- Dillon Gee’s Turnaround Gives New York Mets Options
- New York Mets Need to Show Fans Commitment to Spending Money This Winter
- FightClub.com, Now the Official Fantasy Football Game of Sports Media 101; Sign-Up Free, Win Big
- Will Marlon Byrd’s Renaissance Make Him Trade Bait for New York Mets?
Short URL: http://sport-ne.ws/12jl