Shin-Soo Choo is going to be one of the more underrated free agents on the market this offseason, but that doesn't mean teams won't be lining up for his services.
Rumors have already swirled about the Chicago Cubs pursuing Choo in the offseason, according to CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney. Now, the New York Mets are reportedly eyeing Choo this offseason, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
A second Mets source said that the team liked Choo—this is no state secret, as the Cincinnati outfielder has a .425 on-base percentage this year (.389 career), with 20 home runs—but are not interested in engaging in a crazy bidding war for the 31-year-old Scott Boras client. Basically, the Mets really like the player, but are comfortable turning elsewhere if the market outpaces what they expect (this is an unsurprising public position).
With that said, would Choo be a smart signing for the Mets rebuild or would it just be a waste of money?
Will the Mets Compete?
The biggest question the Mets front office has to answer is whether they will be competing for the playoffs or not.
A lot of factors go into this, but the biggest one is the status of ace Matt Harvey.
Harvey has a visit to Dr. James Andrews scheduled for Monday to seek a second opinion on his right elbow, according to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin. Although he hopes to avoid undergoing Tommy John surgery, the fact remains that it's still an option.
If it is, then that will seriously hinder the team's ability to compete.
Nothing against Zack Wheeler, but he won't be able to carry the pitching staff by himself. The Mets would have already been in a precarious position with Wheeler and Harvey at the top of the rotation. Now you take one out and it becomes even more troublesome.
Had all of this been happening after the 2014 season, there would be a little more confidence with Noah Syndergaard coming up to the big leagues.
So if that's the case when it comes to the rotation, is it worth it for the Mets to pursue Choo knowing they might not have the chance to compete for another year or two?
Waiting in the Minors
Another fact the Mets have to consider is what they have waiting in the minors for the outfield.
Currently, the starting outfield at the big league level comprises of Eric Young Jr., Juan Lagares and Andrew Brown. Of those three, Lagares is the only legitimate long-term starter.
Other than that, the minor leagues have a lot of lower-level talent in the outfield with Cesar Puello being the only one that could make a contribution next year.
So the cupboard's bare there as well.
But what about free agency outside of Choo?
The Rest of the Lineup
Heading into next year, the only players you can pencil in are Daniel Murphy at second, David Wright at third, Lagares in center, Lucas Duda at first or left field and Travis d'Arnaud at catcher.
Outside of that, there are some major question marks.
The biggest one concerns Ike Davis and if he can get things going again. After being demoted to Triple-A and called back up in early July, Davis has batted .267 with four home runs and 17 RBI. That's decent in terms of batting average, but he's lost all of his power numbers.
So his situation will be interesting to watch. If he can show he can play consistently once again, Duda goes to left field and that's one less position you have to worry about.
However, if that doesn't happen, then you have two outfield positions to fill with nobody ready to take them in a full-time role in the minors. That leaves free agency where Choo would come in.
The Mets could sign an aging veteran or two to a one-year contract and hope the 2015 crop of free agents is better.
Shortstop is another concern as Omar Quintanilla is not the long-term answer there as evident by his .222 career batting average.
While having Choo would be nice in the outfield (and in the leadoff spot), there's no way the Mets are going to compete next year.
I don't see how it would be a smart signing, especially if Choo's price gets driven up by his agent, Scott Boras.
There is no short-term fix for the Mets with the state of their minor leagues. They have a lot to build around in Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard, Wright, Lagares and d'Arnaud. But after that, there's a huge drop off in talent throughout the organization.
The Mets have to work on their farm system to ensure they can compete for many years to come. If they don't and sign a big free agent or two each offseason, they'll continue to stay at home come October.