While it might not be the popular move, the New York Mets will most likely field a team on Opening Day 2013 that is extremely similar to the current crop that they are rolling out.
While it would be pleasing for me to search through the class of free agents and insert the best one on the Mets' roster, it is unlikely to happen.
The Mets will be able to upgrade their roster by simply eliminating a few players and replacing them with a replacement-level player.
Will there be a Carlos Beltran type acquisition that propelled the team from a under .500 ball club to the top of the NL East immediately? Not likely, due to financial constraints.
For a team that is mired in a four-year long period of humiliation, there needs to be some improvement soon.
Here are my predictions for the offseason, which would both improve the club while minimally increasing payroll.
This simply must happen in order for the organization to have any sort of credibility.
While it is no surprise that he is not sharing any contract negotiation details, it would certainly be more pleasing to Mets fans if they simply knew that their franchise player was locked into a long-term contract with the club.
I already pointed out all the reasons why the Mets must extend him, now they must make it come to fruition.
In terms of a comparable contract, I would expect something between the contracts of Adrian Beltre and Ryan Zimmerman. They are both long-term deals—five and 11 years, respectively—that guarantee at least $12 million annually.
Wright has a higher career OPS+ than both of them (135 compared to 120 and 112) which means he could command a higher salary than both.
If he truly wishes to remain in New York, he must understand the budget constraints which would prevent them from upgrading the spare parts of the roster if he is earning close to $20 million per year.
Regardless, this will get done primarily because the Mets cannot afford to lose his production.
In 2010, R.A. Dickey was the first player cut in camp on the team that was devoid of capable starting pitchers.
Since that time, he has become not only the most dependable pitchers on the staff but also one of the most successful pitchers in the MLB while shouldering a heavy workload of over 600 innings.
Yes, he will be 38-years-old at the end of the season and relies heavily on one pitch, but he has proven he can sustain this success. And, the Mets desperately need bright spots during this extended period of ineptitude.
If the Mets believe they can get a significant influx of talent by dealing Dickey, they will certainly weigh the options.
The starting rotation is an area of depth and that could be their best opportunity to fill in the barren areas of the roster.
In my opinion, they will not deal Dickey who has a terrific chance of winning the Cy Young Award. He is simply beloved in New York and has become the best story in Major League Baseball outside of Josh Hamilton.
He will likely garner a 3-year-deal worth $42 million.
With the minuscule amount of money spent in the 2011 off season, Sandy Alderson still managed to give out a horrible contract to closer Frank Francisco.
The team did not wish to take on any significant contracts considering that is what put them in this scenario in the first place.
Francisco did record 23 saves, but he also managed to compile a 5.53 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP. I would love for him to be released as soon as possible, but he is due $6.5 million next year, which means he will likely be given another shot to rectify his contract.
Adam Rubin believes that Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez, on the other hand, will not be brought back.
Rauch was a victim of the long ball early in the season, but actually settled in and was an effective eighth inning reliever in the second half. I wouldn't mind having him back in a similar role next season, but he could command a multi-year deal on the free agent market.
The bulk of the bullpen will probably be composed of internal pitching options, such as Josh Edgin, Robert Carson, Bobby Parnell and Jenrry Mejia.
The Mets should bring in a free agent reliever that is able to get strikeouts, such as Joel Peralta, currently on the Tampa Bay Rays.
Josh Thole is currently making less than $500,000 to be the starting catcher of the Mets. That money is not exactly tying up the budget.
At the same time, he is not exactly helping the Mets win.
The level of Thole's production—or lack thereof—is actually hard to comprehend. In 2011, he recorded an RBI every 8.5 at bats. That rate is about double the amount of MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera.
This year, he decided mediocrity was not his thing, so he downgraded to one RBI every 15 at bats. That is roughly the same as Carlos Zambrano recorded in his worst season with the bat.
It should not matter how well he works with R.A. Dickey, he is an absolute dead spot in the lineup. Paying him the major league minimum is actually overpaying.
At 25, he is probably the player that he will be for the duration of his career.
The Mets hoped they were acquiring the Andres Torres of 2009 and 2010 when he recorded an OPS+ of 126 and 122 while being a stolen base threat.
Instead, they received Jeromy Burnitz of 2002.
The trade between the Mets and San Francisco Giants ended up going horribly for Sandy Alderson. While Ramon Ramirez and Torres were not impact players in the slightest form, Angel Pagan ended up leading the Majors with 15 triples and recorded an OPS+ of 120.
Torres is a decent center fielder, but there is no reason to prevent Kirk Niuewenhuis from developing unless a proven outfielder is ahead of him in the depth chart.
There was reason to be optimistic about Chris Young this season, considering his strong showing in his abbreviated 2011 stint with the club.
His status was always a matter of health—as in, if he stayed healthy he would perform.
Well, this season he did stay healthy, but his performance was pretty uneven. He would have periods of time in which he sailed through six before getting lit up in the seventh. He also had games in which he gave up four first inning runs before settling in.
Regardless, he is not young—as his name would suggest—and the Mets have many pitchers with higher upside than him.
Mike Pelfrey is returning from Tommy John surgery. It could possibly be a blessing in disguise for the Mets considering he can now accept a minor league deal and regularly visit the doctors and trainers that are familiar with him.
Prior to his injury, he seemed to finally grasp the idea of working ahead and pounding the strike zone. He can be a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation or as a long reliever to begin the season.
In virtually every job, results determine your fate. Perform poorly and somebody else will gladly replace you.
In baseball, a player like Jason Bay can continue to be paid $16 million while recording a slash line of .165/.237/.299.
There's not much to say about that, and whatever can be said is not positive reinforcement.
If the Mets can find a suitor for Bay, do it in a heartbeat, but anybody will likely force their equally bad-or-worse contract upon the Mets.
Trading him for Vernon Wells is one thing, but he requires an extra year of commitment which the Mets are not looking to take on.
They can do the next best thing, and that is cut ties with the player that was supposed to supply power for the Mets but repaid them in concussions and ground outs to short.
Not a straight up one-for-one deal, but the Mets must be creative this winter in order to improve. I would not be opposed to trading an arm like Jeurys Familia for a player that can improve the team immediately.
After all, this is why you stockpile arms. Some of them fill future needs while others can be traded for current needs.
They must acquire power in the off season, even if it means trading a homegrown player that posted 40 doubles this season.
Murphy simply is not an impact player, and his defense does not fit the mold of valuing strong defense up the middle.
Corey Hart is an established 30 home run outfielder, has been in playoff races and posted nearly a .900 career OPS against left-handed pitchers.
This would help balance out their lineup and benefit the defense as long as Valdespin progresses defensively.
Dillon Gee/Mike Pelfrey
Dillon Gee/Mike Pelfrey
Triple-A Promotion Imminent