New York Mets: Biggest Storylines of the Offseason
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was hired by the organization to help rebuild the franchise and get back in contention for the National League East title.
Unfortunately, after a few seasons with Alderson at the helm, it's been much the same story.
New York has finished fourth in the division in four straight seasons and there is still a lot of work to be done in order for the Mets to place higher.
While it was understood that the Alderson era would be a process, a lot of questions still remain as to the direction of the club and the quality of the work he's done.
This offseason will prove vital for the Mets, as Alderson is going to have his hands full with a bunch of critical decisions to make.
Here are the biggest storylines for the Mets this offseason.
David Wright's Contract Situation
The Mets knew this offseason would be critical, if only due to the decision they would have to make concerning All-Star third baseman David Wright.
The team picked up the club option for Wright, and while talks are "ongoing," nothing close to a legitimate deal has surfaced.
Alderson expressed a desire to try and get an extension done quickly, but that has not occurred:
"Perhaps it was a little unrealistic on my part that we got something done [earlier]," Alderson said. "But I think it was important for me to emphasize that we were going to get going early in order to avoid any speculation about a Jose Reyes-type approach to this. In that sense, it was probably a good idea to emphasize speed, but unrealistic to expect this was all going to be concluded quickly." (via Newsday)
The expectation now is that a deal will get done between the two sides, but the question is: How much will it cost the Mets?
It may be fair to say that Wright is looking to surpass what Ryan Zimmerman agreed to with a six-year, $100 million extension, while the Mets are treading cautiously through this negotiation, due to their limited finances.
Wright certainly deserves to be paid, but are the Mets willing to pay him?
How the Mets handle this negotiation will go a long way in determining where this club currently stands, as well as how long it will be before they are once again considered contenders.
R.A. Dickey Could Win the Cy Young and Then Be Traded
While there is optimism surrounding David Wright's contract situation, the same cannot be said for R.A. Dickey.
The 38-year-old knuckleballer is coming off a remarkable season, the best of his career. The Cy Young Award finalist is certainly deserving of the honor, but he could wind up winning it and then be traded.
Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com, is reporting that trading Dickey is a very possible outcome because "his value is never going to be any higher."
The Mets have a lot of questions to answer with this team, including the outfield, the bullpen and the catcher position. Trading Dickey could address some of those areas.
The strength of this team is starting pitching, but Dickey is a big reason for that. It cannot be understated what a great year he had in 2012.
Take him out of the equation and the Mets are left with Johan Santana, who has injury concerns and is at the tail-end of his career.
Jon Niese is steady, but will never be better than a No. 3 pitcher. Matt Harvey is the future, but will he hit a wall in 2013? Dillon Gee has health concerns of his own, and Zack Wheeler will most likely be called up mid-season.
Dickey is the best the Mets have, and while trading him could essentially bring pieces back that will help the future development of the organization, the short-term chance of winning automatically goes out the window.
It will be interesting to see how this situation develops, but a resolution may take some time.
Ike Davis Is Going to Be a Met
Toward the end of the season and into the offseason, a lot of questions were swirling around whether the Mets were going to trade Ike Davis or not.
Well those questions can stop, as Joel Sherman of The New York Post has reported that Davis will not be going anywhere and will be the Mets' first baseman in 2013.
One of the big reasons New York is keeping Davis is his ability to hit home runs. His 32 home runs led the team last season and he will hopefully increase that number this coming one.
It did not make sense for a team so desperate for power in the lineup to market Davis in a potential trade, but all of that can be put to rest. The real question is whether or not the Mets keep faith in their budding star moving forward.
Even as Davis struggled at the beginning of last season, when there was talk that he would be sent down to the minors to fix his swing, the team gave him the opportunity to stay. They were rewarded with his tremendous surge in the second half of the season.
If Davis were to struggle again, will the Mets be similarly patient, and if not, what effect will this have on his production?
The potential is there, but there was also a reason why Davis was rumored to be moved this offseason.
We won't know how this will pan out until the season starts, but hopefully the Mets will be rewarded a second time for keeping a player with his potential.
Who Is Going to Play in the Outfield?
It's never encouraging when a general manager jokes about the state of the outfield like Sandy Alderson did.
“Outfield? What outfield? We’re probably gonna have to bring the fences in another 150 feet!” (via New York Daily News)
The fact of the matter is that the Mets do not have an outfield, and while Jason Bay was not going to help much in that position, it only made matters worse when both sides agreed to part and go their separate ways.
Bill Madden of the New York Daily News says that this situation is concerning, and that the Mets are going to have a very difficult time securing players for those positions.
Alderson joking about the matter makes it even worse. Either the man has a odd sense of humor or he already knows that no matter what kind of moves he makes, they really are not going to be of any significant impact.
This will continue to be a problem area for the Mets in 2013.
Getting rid of Bay did allow the Mets some short-term financial relief, which could help bring back Scott Hairston, but even that seems unlikely now.
Trades seem like the only option the Mets have to acquire the outfield help they need, but that also means giving away a player of significance like R.A. Dickey or Jon Niese.
Either way, Alderson can laugh about this all he wants, but when reality sets in, his approach better be more serious than what he has indicated up to this point.
Who Is Going to Pitch out of the Bullpen?
The bargain-shopping approach to finding pitchers for the bullpen failed miserably for the Mets.
Last offseason, Alderson signed Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch and traded for Ramon Ramirez.
Each of those acquisitions fell short of expectations.
It is not expected that the Mets will bring back Rauch and Ramirez, as both are free agents this offseason.
Whether the teams likes it or not, Francisco will be back, unless someone has mercy on the club and takes the beleaguered reliever off New York's hands.
Alderson's approach will likely be the same this offseason: trying to find whatever is left from the scrapheap of free agency.
What the Mets should do is turn to some of their young arms and allow them to develop in the big leagues.
Guys like Robert Carson, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia should just be turned loose in the bullpen for a full season and be evaluated that way. If the Mets do not plan on contending anytime soon, why not?
It makes sense right? They are cheap alternative options, something the Mets sorely need.
These guys can get more experience pitching in the majors, while the Mets can continue to monitor and evaluate their progress.
Instead of shelling out another $3.5 million for a Jon Rauch, use that money for other areas of need, like the outfield or catcher spots.
Unfortunately, that is just one opinion and Alderson ultimately has the final say, so continue to expect more signings like Greg Burke in the near future.