Baseball's annual Winter Meetings have wrapped up at the Dolphin Hotel at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando yesterday, and the New York Mets have to feel good about what they accomplished. The Mets entered the meetings fresh off completing their contract with outfielder Curtis Granderson, and walked out of it with a brand new top of the line pitcher. Many media outlets have declared that the Mets were one of the winners of the winter meetings, and Mets 101 agrees with that sentiment. We will look back at their goals coming into the meetings and look at how they did in Orlando.
1. Improve the Starting Rotation: The Mets came into the meetings looking to upgrade their rotation, and they accomplished their goal in a big way (no pun intended) when they inked Bartolo Colon to a two year deal. Colon, who is coming off a stellar season with the Oakland A"s, was clearly the starter who had the best year available on the market and the Mets scored a coup when they scooped him up. Colon's deal may look a little pricey given his age, but the Colon deal is a better value than deals given out to Ricky Nolasco (four years, $47 million), Phil Hughes (3 years, $24 million), and Jason Vargas (four years, $32 million) this winter.
Adding Colon also gives the Mets the best chance to replace most of Matt Harvey's production in 2013. Alderson stated at the meetings that 2014 is about winning, and the addition of Colon backs up that statement. Colon will now slot in with Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler at the top of the Mets' rotation, strengthening a unit that had two open slots entering the winter. The Mets still need to figure out a fifth starter, but they will likely hold a camp competition for that spot. The Mets would like to have Jenrry Mejia earn the job in spring training, but look for them to add a veteran or two in the Aaron Harang/Daisuke Matsuzaka mold to compete for the last spot.
2. Deal Ike Davis or Lucas Duda: Both guys are still here, but that is largely due to the Mets concentrating their efforts on adding Colon to the rotation. With that deal getting sealed on Wednesday, the Mets increased their efforts to deal Davis going forward. The market shook out in favor of the Mets when the Seattle Mariners snagged two of the top options for first base by signing Corey Hart and trading for Miami's Logan Morrison.
The Mets have been focused on dealing Davis to either the Milwaukee Brewers or Tampa Bay Rays, with the Pittsburgh Pirates lurking on the periphery. The Mets have been asking for young pitching in return for Davis, a request which has been balked at by both the Brewers and Rays. One baseball executive, however, termed the Mets' requests for Davis as reasonable. Alderson has said that he is not in the business of giving players away, so the Mets are expected to hold out for the best deal for Davis. A key player in the Davis talks could be James Loney, a player of similar ability who is on the free agent market. Loney could either re-sign with the Rays or go to Milwaukee or Pittsburgh, leaving the loser in a position to be forced to settle for Davis.
3. Look for a Shortstop: The Mets also have been looking for a shortstop at the winter meetings, but the options at the position are slim. The top free agent on the board is Stephen Drew, but he is expected to eventually return to the Red Sox on a short term deal. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Mets are looking to acquire a young shortstop via trade. The Mets are likely to look to trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have a surplus of young shortstops on their roster. The name to watch here is Didi Gregorius, who hit .252 with seven home runs and 28 RBI's in 2013. Gregorius would be a tremendous upgrade at the position. If the Mets can't swing a deal they may add a veteran backup such as Cesar Izturis and hope that Ruben Tejada can regain some of his 2012 form.
4. Add to the Bullpen: After adding Colon, the Mets' next free agent acquisition will likely be a reliever. The Mets are looking to fill the void LaTroy Hawkins left in the bullpen and are looking for relievers with experience closing games. The Mets have reached out to John Axford, Chris Perez, Kevin Gregg, and Mitchell Boggs among others. The Mets are clearly concerned about Bobby Parnell's recovery from neck surgery, and adding a veteran reliever could ease the pressure on Parnell and Vic Black early in the season.
So far this winter, the Mets have spent 87.5 million dollars on free agent contracts, a drastic increase from the five million they spent last winter. The Mets have lived up to their promise that they would spend money to improve their roster, but they aren't done yet. The Mets have a few glaring holes still on the roster, and could really use another impact bat for the middle of their order. If the Mets can snag that bat in a trade, they could push for a Wild Card berth in 2014. At the least, the Mets have begun to move in the right direction.
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