The New York Mets are heading into what should be their most active offseason post-Maddoff scandal. Fred Wilpon has assured fans that financial constraints are behind the franchise since Spring Training. Sandy Alderson has followed suit, pledging that the Mets will be real players in free-agency.
Credibility of the front office is debatable—as is the extent of available funds—but the fact that the Mets have plenty of holes to fill before the 2014 season remains. Playing the free agent market has its inherent risks, but it will also present some intriguing candidates this winter.
The Mets’ record currently sits at 73-85. A pace good enough to finish—at best—third in the National League East. The most recent string of success has surrounded the team with some sorely needed positive vibes. You could even argue that things are finally looking up in Citi Field, considering.
As of September 26, the New York Mets have won nine of their last 13 games.
David Wright is back in the lineup. Travis d’Arnaud is beginning to put his early big league struggles behind him. Youngsters like Vic Black and Wilfredo Tovar have made the most of their early opportunities. Even Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang have been impressive recently. So—it’s all good in Queens.
So much of how the Mets will proceed this offseason hinges on perpetually developing circumstances. What kind of budget is Alderson up against? Will any younger players show enough to justify an impending Opening Day roster spot? Matt Harvey’s 2014 status is still a question mark and Lucas Duda has failed to fully seize a golden opportunity.
Ambiguity is abounding.
Weaknesses at shortstop and in the outfield are especially glaring. The franchise could also use a first baseman and, since Harvey’s injury, reliable depth at starting pitcher too. Assuming ownership’s promises are heeded—several free agents, in particular, meet the organization’s expectedly judicious standards.
The Mets’ recent surge has unintentionally created an additional question mark. If the season ended today, the Mets would finish with the 11th worst record in MLB–rendering their 2014 draft pick unprotected. Something the team implied to be the deciding factor in bowing out of the Michael Bourn sweepstakes last winter.
Free-agency is all about shrewd investment. The options on the market must fit New York’s goals in the short term and, most importantly, continue paying dividends through the very last year of the contract.
Substantial improvement to the major league roster will rely on a prudently employed strategy for all potential acquisitions, truthfully—something that should be abundantly clear to a franchise burned by a myriad of foolish contracts before.
The following players fulfill the above criteria. Slides are broken down by position of need and the choices represent the top candidates at each respective position—most exclusions should be considered secondary options. Other exclusions are the result of concerns regarding age or anticipated price-range.
Now, please, allow me to present to you—the free agent names the Mets should be chasing this offseason.
All following statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com