With around a month to go until the Mets begin Spring Training in February, it seems as if most of the projected major league roster is already set.
Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and David Wright will continue to start in the infield, while the pitching rotation will be led by Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Johan Santana and Dillon Gee.
The Mets' catching situation will depend on whether they want to bring recent addition Travis D'Arnaud to the major league roster on Opening Day or have him start the first month or so in the minor leagues. If the Mets opt for the latter, John Buck should be the Opening Day catcher.
The Mets' bullpen will very likely include Frank Francisco, Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin, Robert Carson, Jeremy Hefner and Jeurys Familia. The final bullpen spot could be determined from a future free agent signing or during Spring Training.
The Mets, though, have two major issues they still need to figure out in the next few weeks. For one, they now need a fifth starter to round out their rotation and to provide additional depth. They also need to decide what their outfield will consist of and whether they will sign or trade for better outfielders than the outfielders they currently have.
The Mets' Opening Day outfield would currently consist of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter. The Mets should continue to look towards making improvements toward upgrades in the outfield.
Here are three potential deals that the Mets could still make before Spring Training begins.
The Mets clearly need not just another outfielder, but another right-handed bat that has power. A familiar face would provide exactly what the Mets need.
That would be veteran outfielder Scott Hairston, who was a Met for the past two seasons. In 2012, Hairston hit 20 home runs and drove in 57 RBI in a part-time role. He hit very well against left-handed pitching and provided the Mets with a second right-handed power bat behind David Wright.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, Hairston is currently seeking a two-year contract. He had been signed to consecutive one-year contracts with the Mets in 2011 and 2012.
After being a platoon player for most of the 2012 season, Hairston became an everyday starter down the stretch, due to both his own performance and the lack of hitting from other Mets' outfielders.
Fellow ESPN columnist Wallace Matthews reports that the Yankees are still interested in Hairston, but may not want to commit to a multi-year contract with any player as they are trying to get their payroll under $189 million for 2014.
However, Jon Heyman of CBS tweeted that the Yankees don't look to be as interested in Hairston, compared to before. If that is the case, then the Mets will almost certainly re-sign Hairston in the next few days.
Scott Hairston would fill a huge need for the Mets if they ultimately bring him back, and if Heyman's sources are correct, then a return to the Mets would be inevitable.
Now that R.A. Dickey is a member of the Blue Jays, the Mets need a fifth starter to round out their rotation. They will more than likely try to sign a veteran free agent pitcher to a one-year contract. Among those remaining free agent pitchers, Carl Pavano sounds like a potential match.
Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger tweeted that the Mets have been in contact with Pavano. Pavano has been one of the more underrated pitchers in the league for the past few years and could be a steal if the Mets sign him and he pitches well.
Pavano began his career in the National League while playing for the Expos from 1998-2002 and for the Marlins from 2002-2004. He had some success early on, but it was as a Yankee that Pavano's career temporarily fell apart.
Pavano made 26 combined starts from 2005-2008 for the Yankees and missed the entire 2006 season with injuries. In fact, injuries also limited him to just two starts in 2007 and seven starts in 2008. All in all, Pavano's time with the Yankees became something he and the Yankees would probably prefer to forget.
Pavano, though, manged to resurrect his career by winning 14 games in 2009 with the Indians and Twins and then by winning 17 games in 2010 with the Twins. He was not as solid in 2011 and only made 11 starts in 2012. Nonetheless, his track record should still be good enough for him to redeem himself again this season.
The fact that Pavano could be playing in New York again should have no relation to his time on the Yankees, because the Mets are a different team, and playing for each team is not exactly the same. The Yankees' players tend to face more pressure because of the expectations that they and their fans have for them every year.
The Mets have high expectations as well, but it is not to the same degree as with the Yankees. Thus, assuming Pavano will pitch poorly with the Mets just because he pitched poorly with the Yankees would not be a fair claim. Furthermore, injuries limited Pavano's performance with the Yankees more than his own performance.
Pavano could become a Met in the next few weeks and would be a good fit for a relatively young pitching staff. In addition to his own performance, Pavano could be a great mentor for Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. Pavano has been in New York and knows what it feels like to experience the highs and lows of pitching in New York City. As a result, he could help the Mets' younger pitchers deal with various aspects of baseball.
The Mets' bullpen could use at least one addition for the 2013 season. The Mets had the second worst bullpen ERA in all of baseball in 2012, so a new face could help to possibly reverse the trend.
Anthony DiComo of MLB.com has reported that the Mets plan on adding at least one veteran reliever before Spring Training. There are quite a few options still out there for the Mets to choose from, but no reliever in particular has been linked to the Mets so far.
Notable current free agent relievers include Scott Atchison, Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Chad Durbin, Kevin Gregg, LaTroy Hawkins, Matt Lindstrom, Will Ohman, Manny Parra, Chad Qualls, Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, Jose Valverde and Brian Wilson.
All of these relievers have had success in their careers, with Capps, Cordero, Gregg, Lindstrom, Rodriguez, Soriano, Valverde and Wilson all having significant experience closing. This is something the Mets should pay attention to in light of Frank Francisco's struggles in 2012.
Some of these pitchers like Soriano could be too expensive for the Mets to afford, but if any of them could get signed for one year at the right price, the Mets should definitely take advantage in order to really improve their bullpen.
The Mets' starting rotation is good enough that those starters deserve a solid bullpen to protect their leads and to get them their wins. The Mets won 74 games in 2012 and the bullpen's performance certainly held them back from winning more games.
Either a new closer or a new set-up man alongside Bobby Parnell would help the Mets a lot in the late innings. It could even be the difference between an 80-win season and an 85-win season. The Mets have not had a winning season since 2008, and a winning season in 2013 would be a huge step in the right direction.