Now that the Winter Meetings have ended, the Mets will try to use the knowledge that they gained regarding trade proposals and free-agent signings in order to improve the team.
The Mets' biggest needs currently include at least one right-handed hitting outfielder, a right-handed hitting catcher and an upgraded bullpen. With the free-agent market not particularly vast, plus the fact that the Mets will only be able to spend a certain amount of money, they will most likely try to make trades in order to fill these holes.
Here are the pros and cons of acquiring five potential winter targets for the Mets.
R.J. White of CBS Sports reported that the Rangers would consider dealing prospect Mike Olt to the Mets in order to acquire R.A. Dickey. The Mets, though, would prefer to get more from the Rangers than just Olt if such a trade were to occur.
Olt is the Rangers' No. 2 prospect behind Jurickson Profar, who will likely start for the Rangers in 2013. He is a third baseman, but he can also play first base and right field. With David Wright at third base and Ike Davis at first base for the Mets, Olt would almost certainly play right field if he becomes a Met.
Olt batted .288 with 28 home runs, 82 RBI and a .977 OPS this past season in Class AA Frisco. He even got called up to the Rangers in early August, but struggled with just a .152 average and five RBI in 33 at-bats. This shows that Olt can certainly hit, but may not be ready for the major leagues just yet. A full season of Class AAA baseball should help Olt develop even further.
Furthermore, Olt could soon become that second right-handed hitting slugger that the Mets desperately need alongside Wright in the lineup. He is young and might turn into a perennial All-Star.
With Olt's lack of major league experience, though, he might not be able to help the Mets' lineup immediately. If a season in Class AAA goes well, he could be ready for a permanent starting job in the major leagues by 2014.
Another concern is that Olt's natural position is third base, so his defensive ability in right field may not turn out particularly well. The Mets have already experienced this kind of situation with Lucas Duda, and the thought of having two potentially defensive challenged outfielders would not be good.
If there are any offensive concerns for Olt, it would be his strikeouts. He had 101 strike outs last season in 354 at-bats. This is a rate he will have to improve on, despite the fact that he also drew 61 walks.
According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, the Mets are trying to get more in return from the Rangers in addition to Olt if they were to trade away R.A. Dickey. Thus, there is a very good chance that center fielder Leonys Martin could be that second hitter the Mets may inquire about.
Unlike Olt, Martin is a left-handed hitter and is more of a speedster than a slugger. However, Martin is also a great contact hitter. This past season in Class AAA Round Rock, Martin batted .359 with 12 home runs, 42 RBI, ten stolen bases, and a 1.033 OPS in 231 at-bats.
Martin was indeed hitting so well that the Rangers promoted him to their major league roster in June after Koji Uehara went on the disabled list. Martin, though, did not sustain his success with the Rangers. He batted .174 with only eight hits and six RBI in 46 at-bats.
Despite his rough stint in the major leagues, Martin is still a top prospect due to his ability to get on base, steal bases and excellent defense in center field. Furthermore, Martin could possibly become the leadoff hitter who the Mets desperately have needed since the departure of Jose Reyes.
Martin's major league numbers from last season were not particularly good, so this could be a concern for the Mets or any other team looking to acquire him. He is also a left-handed hitter, which would only add to the Mets' surplus of left-handed hitters on the roster.
Martin may also have great speed, but his stolen base totals could indicate that he is more of a 20-30 stolen bases per year player than a 30-40 stolen bases per year player, for one. He stole 19 bases between Class AA Frisco and Class AAA Round Rock in 2011.
One need the Mets have to address is the presence of a right-handed hitting catcher on the roster, whether it be a starter or a platoon player.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Mets have already inquired the Blue Jays about their incumbent catcher J.P. Arencibia. With the Blue Jays recently having traded for John Buck, plus the presence of Travis D'Arnaud waiting in the wings, they are very likely to trade away one of their catchers. Among the three, Arencibia will likely be the one who gets dealt.
Arencibia would provide an immediate upgrade behind the plate for the Mets. Since Mike Piazza's last season with the Mets in 2005, the Mets have only gotten one particularly good season from their starting catcher ever since. The one exception was Paul Lo Duca's 2006 season. After Lo Duca regressed in 2007, the Mets watched Brian Schneider, Rod Barajas and Josh Thole, among others, all not produce particularly well at the plate in the past five years.
Arencibia could end this negative trend for the Mets. He hit 23 home runs and drove in 78 RBI in his rookie season in 2011, despite batting .219. This past season, Arencibia raised his average to .233, but only had 18 home runs and 56 RBI. Those numbers may not sound like that of a superstar, but they show that Arencibia is much more capable of being a successful hitter than Josh Thole, for one.
Defensively, Arencibia has played well behind the plate. He had a .993 fielding percentage in 2011 and a .994 fielding percentage in 2012.
Despite his power, Arencibia has been quite a strikeout threat for the last two seasons. He had 133 strikeouts in 443 at-bats in 2011 and 108 strikeouts in 347 at-bats in 2012. Striking out in 25-30 percent of all at-bats is never good, and his low walk totals (36 in 2011 and just 18 in 2012) illustrate another aspect of Arencibia's game that he will need to improve.
Not only are Arencibia's strikeouts and walks both concerns, but both have not helped him have a great OBP either. Arencibia's OBP in 2011 was .282 and his 2012 OBP was even worse at .275. Any OBP below .300 is not considered good, and Arencibia will really have to improve this in order to become a better hitter.
While catchers are often not expected to provide a lot of speed on the bases, Arencibia has just two stolen bases in his career. This means that he has little or no speed to add to a lineup.
Defensively, Arencibia's fielding percentage has been great, but he has struggled with throwing out attempted base stealers. Arencibia threw out only 24 percent of attempted base stealers in 2011, but did improve enough in 2012, with 29 percent of attempted base stealers thrown out.
Although the Mets would be more likely to get Arencibia in a potential trade with the Blue Jays, catching prospect Travis D'Arnaud still remains an option. However, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Blue Jays would probably try to avoid trading D'Arnaud to the Mets for R.A. Dickey. Nonetheless, D'Arnaud is still out there and could be traded.
D'Arnaud profiles as a better hitter overall than Arencibia. In 2011, he batted .311 with 21 home runs, 78 RBI and a .914 OPS in Class AA New Hampshire. However, D'Arnaud only played in 67 games for Class AAA Las Vegas in 2012, but still hit .333 with 16 home runs, 52 RBI and a .975 OPS.
D'Arnaud has already shown that he can get a lot of hits at the plate. He had 123 hits in 2009, 132 hits in 2011 and 93 hits in 2012. By the time he is in the major leagues, D'Arnaud should become one of the better offensive catchers and with above average power.
Defensively, D'Arnaud is similar to Arencibia with a high fielding percentage, but he also has a low percentage of attempted base runners thrown out. D'Arnaud appeared in two games at first base this past season, which shows that he is somewhat versatile.
D'Arnaud is younger and projects to be a better player than Arencibia. Because of that, the Mets would almost certainly have to give up more players or prospects to the Blue Jays in order to acquire D'Arnaud. With the Mets' farm system and major-league talent both not particularly deep, D'Arnaud could very well be the person who the Mets simply can't afford to have.
D'Arnaud is also another high strikeout threat, when considering the 100 strikeouts he had in 2011. His walk totals have never been particularly high either, but unlike Arencibia, D'Arnuad's OBP has never been below .300 in a full season.
Another catching option in the trade market could be Jarrod Saltalamacchia of the Red Sox. The Red Sox, though, now have both Mike Napoli and David Ross on their roster, even though Napoli will probably be the Red Sox' regular first baseman in 2013. This plus the presence of Ryan Lavarnway on the roster means that Saltalamacchia will almost certainly get traded this offseason.
According to Sean McAdam of Comcast Sports Network New England, when the Mets and Red Sox were discussing a possible trade regarding R.A. Dickey, Saltalamacchia was almost certain to be included if a trade had occurred during the Winter Meetings. However, he then stated that the Mets felt that they could get a better catcher, either through a trade or from the free-agent market.
Nonetheless, Saltalamacchia is still a trade option for the Mets.
Saltalamacchia would provide more power and run production for the Mets than Josh Thole ever could if the Mets were to acquire him. He is coming off a career season in which he hit 25 home runs and drove in 59 RBI. He is also a switch-hitter, which increases his value even more, because it would eliminate the need for a strict platoon of any kind.
Defensively, Saltalamacchia is decent behind the plate. He had a .991 fielding percentage this past season. He can also play first base adequately.
While Saltalamacchia did have a breakout season with his power this past year, he is a very similar hitter to J.P. Arencibia in quite a few ways. Saltalamacchia's 59 RBI were very low for someone who hit 25 home runs in a season. He only batted .222 and had a .288 OBP. Furthermore, his 38 walks and 139 strikeouts were not particularly good either.
Saltalamacchia only has one stolen base in his entire career, which shows that he has almost no speed on the bases. Behind the plate, he threw out only 18 percent of attempted base stealers in 2012, which was a big decrease from the 31 percent of attempted thrown-out base stealers he had in 2011.