The 2014 offseason has been touted as an important one for the Mets. Besides the impending free agent and trade scenarios for the New York Mets, the team also needs to reshape its 40 man roster. The Mets entered the offseason with a full 40 man roster, which is typical, but the Mets also have eight players on the 60 day disabled list, who do not count towards the roster limits. The Mets also have a handful of interesting prospects they want to keep away from Rule V draft eligibility, and they'll need to clear space to add them as well. The Mets started the cleanup yesterday by removing four players, including Mike Baxter and Robert Carson, from the 40 man roster. Here is a look at how the situation should break down going forward.
The Mets are currently carrying 36 players on the 40 man roster.
Impending Free Agents: David Aardsma, Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano, Frank Francisco, Aaron Harang, LaTroy Hawkins, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Johan Santana
The Mets have eight players eligible for free agency this winter, including a host of relievers. Players will only count towards the 40 man roster if they are re-signed to major league contracts, and the Mets likely won't offer major league deals to many in this pool. The Mets are expected to decline Santana's 2014 option, making him a free agent and ending his Mets' career. The most likely player to come back on a major league deal is Hawkins, who was a valuable member of the Mets' bullpen this season. The Mets could also bring back Harang or Matsuzaka on a one year deal to provide rotation insurance, but either guy could sign a minor league deal and have to earn a 40 man roster spot out of spring training. The same is true for any relievers sans Frank Francisco, who the Mets have no intention of bringing back. Assume the Mets go down to 29 on the 40 man roster here.
Players on the 60 Day Disabled List: Ike Davis, Josh Edgin, Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner, Jenrry Mejia, Bobby Parnell, Scott Rice, Johan Santana
All of these players are on the 60 day disabled list, meaning that they do not currently count towards the 40 man roster. The Mets will need to add back any players they want to retain back to the 40 man roster or waive them. Aside from Santana, who we covered above, the Mets will likely keep all the pitchers mentioned above. Davis is an interesting case, as the Mets could consider non-tendering him as he is facing a tricky arbitration figure this year and has started back to back years slowly. We are operating under the assumption Ike stays around for one more year, so the 40 man roster goes up to 36 for the Mets.
Minor League Prospects:
The good news for the Mets is that their next two top pitching prospects, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, do not need to be added to the 40 man roster this winter to be protected from the Rule V draft. The bad news is that the Mets have a bunch of prospects in the next tier that they need to add to the 40 man this winter to protect them from the draft. The biggest names appear to be pitchers Jacob DeGrom, Steven Matz, Jeff Walters, and Greg Peavey as well as outfielder Cory Vaughn. The Mets may not choose to keep all of these players on the 40 man roster, but DeGrom and Matz should be added at the least.
Players on the Bubble:
Assuming the Mets add back at least three prospects, the team's 40 man roster sits at 39 before any external additions are made. That won't fly for the Mets, who are looking to re-shape their roster this winter. Fortunately for the Mets, there are several more players who could be removed to clear space. One guy who should be cut is the controversial Jordany Valdespin, whose on field talent has been overshadowed by his off field issues. It is surprising the Mets didn't cut him in September after his steroid suspension concluded, but he is probably living on borrowed time. Another notable name who could be in jeopardy is outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Nieuwenhuis entered the season as the team's starting center fielder, but he was passed on the organizational depth chart by Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker. The Mets also snubbed Captain Kirk for a September callup, which is never a good sign. Given that the Mets have a similar young player on the roster in den Dekker, who also has a better glove than Nieuwenhuis, his days could be numbered with the Mets.
Others who could be cut from the roster include reliever Scott Atchison, outfielder Andrew Brown, catcher Juan Centeno, and infielder Zach Lutz. None of the position players truly made an impact on the big league team in 2013 and could easily have their spots filled by new additions. Atchison is arbitration eligible, but he is 37 years old and missed time this season due to various injuries. Atchison could still be brought back, but he could also be non-tendered to make room for a younger bullpen arm.
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