Now that Jason Bay has packed his bags and is heading out of town, Mets fans are hoping that the Mets will use some of that deferred salary to lure in one of the big name free agent outfielders this winter.
Mets fans are like wild horses with the latest news, and Sandy Alderson is the rider yelling “Whoa! Slow down there Mets fans."
The big free agent signing that Mets fans have in mind is definitely not Scott Hairston. But, in Adam Rubin’s latest update on ESPN, one gets the picture this is exactly what Mets may be doing. When Adam asked about whether Bay leaving town makes it more likely for Hairston to be re-signed, Alderson replied “it probably enhances Scott’s chances of coming back.”
Sorry Mets fans, the visions of spending some of that deferred money on a big name free agent are fading fast.
Scott Hairston is a nice piece of the puzzle, but the Mets already have enough fourth outfielders. In fact, it’s all they have.
The Mets have an opportunity to do some serious rebuilding now that they have freed up money from the Jason Bay contract. They also have no shortage of teams lining up as suitors for R.A. Dickey's services. Hairston should be an afterthought at this point. Hairston’s name should only come up if the Mets have an extra $5M lying around after they make some other significant off-season signings and moves.
The first thing the Mets have to address is the reliability of the bullpen. They need to bring in an arm like Ryan Madson, or Jonathan Broxton. The second thing the Mets should look at is the outfield situation. They can do this via free agency signing or through a trade for Dickey. The third and least important thing the Mets have to address is the catching situation.
There is a lot of value in the free agent market this offseason. If you figure the Mets had roughly $15M to spend before Bay’s release, you now have to assume that somewhere around $10-15M in additional funds freed up (assuming the money owed to Bay is deferred over a course of four years—the terms have not been released yet). That means the Mets may have up to $30M to spend this off-season, and the ability to sell high on Dickey coming off his 20 win campaign. The Mets have an opportunity to become competitive again, and fast.
The problem is that Lucas Duda is the starting left fielder, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis is still the main option in center field. Add in the fact that Hairston is now likely to be re-signed, and it sounds like the Mets will be in the same boat as they were in 2012. And we all know what happened to that boat—it sunk.