Over the last few seasons, Sandy Alderson has managed the team’s budget with an approach conservative enough to make the Republican party envious. Some love the strategy and some hate it but with each passing sub .500 season, his tactics are becoming increasingly questioned.
Most of the fan base understood the reasoning behind trading away Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey regardless of whether they were in favor of the trades or not. Many fans were frustrated that while prime time free agents and trade candidates were changing home addresses, the Mets were relegated to signing has-beens such as Chris Capuano, Chris Young, Shaun Marcum etc. I also would not doubt that when news of Jose Reyes taking his talents to South Beach made its ways around the Flushing faithful, a quarter of Mets nation temporarily quit their fanhood.
Unpopular as his moves are, I believe there is a positive angle we can all take from this. For the first time in recent memory, the Mets have a clean financial slate to work with. No Bobby Bonilla (sort of), no Mo Vaughn, no Oliver Perez, no Jason Bay. Many fans will point this out as reason enough to make a splash in the free agent waters. There are some intriguing names out there and if they are available for the right price, the Mets should not let past mistakes affect their current judgment.
However, due to a weak free agent class, I am inclined to believe that the price tags for any toys the Mets want this winter will likely not be worth the production they can receive from them. With Hunter Pence setting the market at 5 years/$90 million and Scott Boras representing both Choo and Ellsbury, Boras’ starting point for negotiations will certainly be north of $100 million.
Instead, I see Sandy Alderson continuing his march on the economical route, going after clubhouse veterans and acquiring players that may have fell out of favor with their current squads. I am a strong believer in the buy low theory - when you buy low your return could be significantly larger than your investment. A change in scenery and/or a team’s necessity to move surplus players can lead to some high potential rewards.
Here are some of the free agents Alderson’s assistants may present to him:
Rafael Furcal - SS
Coming off Tommy John surgery, Furcal missed the entire 2013 season. Known for his top tier defense before his injury, Furcal’s ability to perform on the field and at the plate is a huge question mark. Can he get play adequate defense and get on base at a serviceable .325 clip? I have not yet given up on Tejada but I am not sold on him either and Furcal may be the best option to motivate Ruben and serve as insurance for him as well.
David DeJesus - OF
(TBR team option 6.5 mil or 1.5 mil buyout) When the Cubs put Dejesus on waivers in August to shed his salary, the Nationals were the first in line on the waiver list. Figuring that contending AL teams would have interest in his services, the Nats claimed him and promptly traded him to Tampa Bay for Matthew Spann, a C/C+ prospect. Dejesus figures to be a quality 4th outfielder and may have mutual interest with the Mets if Captain Kirk or Matt Den Dekker is traded. Once again, the expectation here would be for Dejesus to provide some veteran leadership and insurance to a young outfield.
Curtis Granderson - OF
Only an injury season removed from back to back 40 HR campaigns, Granderson will hear some interesting sales pitches from just about every team. He will have plenty of offers. The Mets won’t have any advantage bidding for his services but it is not unreasonable to think that he may outperform Choo and Ellsbury next year for half the price.
John Lannan - LHSP
The Long Beach, NY native had mutual interest with the Mets last offseason after being non tendered by the Nationals. He eventually signed a one year deal with the Phillies where he pitched inconsistently throughout an injury riddled year. Before the Nats bought up and bought in their influx of young pitching talent, Lannan was their top starter in 2011. I believe he still has a chip on his shoulder for being left off their opening day rotation just a year later and I would be more than happy to provide Lannan an opportunity to make the Mets team and disperse his rage onto his former teams.
Jason Marquis - RHSP
Another New York product, I believe the Mets were also in discussion with Marquis following the 2011 season. Nothing much has changed since then. He still eats innings and he still pitches as inconsistently as the outcome on a roulette table. Considering the Mets just need to stall till June when two of Montero, Degrom, Mazzoni, Syndergaard, Verrett are ready, Marquis may be the most ideal option as he has experience working as a long man out of the pen as well.
Keep in mind, these should not be the only players that the Mets should seek this offseason, but rather players that could make sense as discount signings.
In my humble opinion, the Mets have too many question marks entering the 2014 season for any acquisitions they make to automatically elevate them to contenders. Other than David Wright, Daniel Murphy and maybe Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, the Mets really have no idea how their players will perform next year. The time to make a splash is when your team has a core that is solid, and when the circumstances allow for it. As of now, I would say neither of those apply. The Mets’ core is far from established and the market conditions are far from friendly. So for the time being, I’m in favor of Alderson being a Scrooge for just another season.