New York Mets: 4 Decisions Awaiting Them in the Offseason
The New York Mets' season, which began with promise, ended in a fourth-place finish and a mess in Queens that needs to be cleaned up.
The Mets are clearly in a state of transition, but have locked themselves into a few bad contracts that have severely hindered this stage of the rebuilding process. Instead of being big players on the free-agent market this offseason, GM Sandy Alderson stated that the Mets' No. 1 priority is retaining their own stars.
New York's National League team has many decisions upcoming this offseason. While some are very small, some will have franchise-defining implications.
1. How Big Should R.A. Dickey and David Wright's Contract Extensions Be?
Dickey and Wright are the Mets' two most important players. Wright is their unquestioned leader on offense, while Dickey commands the pitching staff. Both have one more year remaining on their contracts (assuming their team options are exercised) and both have incentive to be Mets for life.
Wright because he has always been a Met, and Dickey because Queens is the place that his career was resurrected.
However, neither has been signed to a contract extension yet. Unless the Mets want to tear the structure of the team down and start over in rebuilding, something Sandy Alderson has claimed he doesn't want to do, Dickey and Wright need to be re-signed.
This offseason, to eliminate distractions and secure the core of their team, the front office should agree to almost anything Wright or Dickey's agents ask them for to ensure that they play for the Mets next season.
2. What to Do with Jason Bay
Three years ago, the Mets signed Jason Bay to a terrible four-year $66 million contract. Bay's skills were diminishing, although not so clearly in the tiny and short-walled Fenway Park.
After hitting 21 or more home runs in his preceding seven seasons and topping 30 dingers five times, Bay has only hit 26 total in his past three seasons. He has one more year left on his contract, after which the Mets can buy him out of a fifth year.
The question becomes, should the Mets eat his contract this season, or should they take on most of it and try to deal Bay to another team? Should he even get regular at-bats justified by his inflated salary?
These are just a few scenarios and questions that Alderson has to be asking himself about his $66 million man.
3. Re-Sign Mike Pelfrey?
The Mets' rotation was shaky to say the least in 2012. Aside from R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana was inconsistent, Chris Young and Jon Niese were unreliable, and Pelfrey got hurt. Rookie Matt Harvey showed promise, but has a long way to go before leading a winning MLB rotation.
The Mets non-tendered Pelfrey already this offseason, meaning that they will skip arbitration and he will go straight to free agency. The Mets clearly think he will not earn his arbitration value (roughly $5-6 million) on the open market due to recovery from Tommy John surgery.
If he does get attention from teams looking for a long-term investment, however, Pelfrey could move out of the Mets' price range on a back-loaded contract. This would create a serious void in New York's pitching plans for the future and could force them to deal for another reliable arm to ensure that prized prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are not overworked. (You can add the weak-armed Johan Santana to that list as well.)
4. How to Piece the Outfield Together
The Mets' outfield as it currently stands (before free agency) has Lucas Duda in left field, Andres Torres in center field and Scott Hairston in right field.
The organization has clearly lost faith in Duda after he spent considerable amounts of time in Triple-A working on his swing. Andres Torres will be a free agent, leaving a gap in center field, and New York will likely have to offer Hairston his market rate plus a guaranteed full-time role if they want to retain his services.
One of them can be replaced with Mike Baxter, but the Mets do not have a lot of in-house utility players to take these spots. They will probably let Torres walk and re-sign Hairston because of his power at the plate.
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