The 10 Biggest Decisions the Mets Have to Make This Offseason
The World Series may be going on right now, but for a team like the Mets, they are already focusing on the offseason and how they can put together a better team for 2014.
The Mets have a few players under long-term contracts, a few others that will be eligible for arbitration, and some impending free agents as well. The Mets will have to decide how much the arbitration-eligible players are really worth and decide whether to re-sign certain free agents that could be leaving.
With general manager Sandy Alderson's rebuilding plan near the final stages, the Mets will be expected to spend a lot in free agency, but it is unknown whether the Mets will end up dishing out some hefty deals.
Here are the ten biggest decisions the Mets will have to make this offseason.
Will the Mets Be Able to Make Key Trades Without Giving Up Their Biggest Pieces?
The Mets seem to be very hesitant with the possibilities of moving players such as Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Rafael Montero and Travis d'Arnaud, among others. These players are arguably among the Mets' highest valued young talent.
If anything, it would take a lot for the Mets to move a player like Syndergaard, Wheeler or even Montero, and it would be particularly surprising to see Syndergaard or Wheeler traded away.
But if a superstar hitter, such as Giancarlo Stanton, Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez become more realistic options, would the Mets be able to move one of their biggest players? This will be by far one of Sandy Alderson's most difficult decisions to make if it appears.
How Will the Mets Replace Matt Harvey's Presence in the Starting Rotation?
The Mets' plans for 2014 originally looked better than they do now. The reason for this was ace Matt Harvey's unfortunate elbow injury, which will almost certainly cause him to miss the 2014 season.
Without Harvey's presence, the only starting pitchers the Mets will definitely be able to count on in 2014 are Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. As a result, the Mets may need to spend on two free agent starting pitchers, instead of one.
The Mets could target an aging veteran, such as Dan Haren or Bronson Arroyo to fill the gaps. Younger options could include Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, or Ricky Nolasco, but more than likely, these pitchers will want multi-year contracts.
And then there are the possibilities of Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero both joining the rotation by June and how the potential aftermath of that will work out. These are quite a few factors for the Mets to consider and the decisions they make will be very fascinating to see.
Can Bobby Parnell Continue to Be a Dependable Closer?
In his first full season as the Mets' closer, Bobby Parnell did very well, with a 2.16 ERA and 22 saves before a neck injury ended his season in August.
Parnell should be good to go next spring, but with other young arms in the bullpen, such as Jeurys Familia and Josh Edgin, it's not a guarantee that Parnell will definitely be the de facto Mets closer for a long time. Regardless, the Mets could always use more bullpen depth, and especially at a time like this when Parnell is recovering from an injury. Investing in a veteran reliever with closing experience this offseason could be a smart move to make.
Where Will the Mets Find Good Middle Relievers?
Each season, the Mets and all other major league teams have to try to put together a new bullpen that will hopefully be successful. It can be easy to depend on a closer and one or two setup men, but finding good relievers to bridge the gap from starting pitchers to the closer can be difficult.
The Mets last offseason made a few good relief signings in LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison. And then there was the 31-year old rookie Scott Rice, who had spent 14 years in the minor leagues and finally got an opportunity to pitch in the major leagues, which he made the most of.
Hawkins, along with David Aardsma, Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano, and Frank Francisco will all be free agents. It's unknown whether the Mets plan to bring any of them back, but if not, the Mets will have to do some bargain hunting for relief pitchers once again.
What Will the Mets Do at First Base?
The Mets have a logjam at first base. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda both are natural first basemen and at this point, the Mets cannot have both of them on the same roster. Duda's outfield experiment has not gone well for years and it seems all but over by now. The Mets could choose to trade one of the two, or even both Davis and Duda this offseason if they can find the right deals.
Further complicating the matter are the right-handed bats of Josh Satin and Wilmer Flores. Satin played reasonably well for a part-time platoon first baseman, while Flores has had experience at first base, despite playing all but one of his games for the Mets this season at third base, with the one other appearance being at second base. Flores' value on the trade market could be higher than Davis, Duda or Satin, which means that Flores could become a big trade chip for the Mets.
The Mets will need to discuss and decide the future at first base in order to create more stability at the position. The most likely scenario though would probably involve Duda and Flores getting traded, and Davis and Satin platooning again, for better or worse. But the Mets could very well look at this situation very differently and that's why fans should be anxious to see how it all unfolds.
Is Daniel Murphy the Answer at Second Base?
Since 2011, Daniel Murphy has been one of the Mets' most dependable hitters. In 2013, he led the Mets in batting average, runs, hits, doubles and RBI.
Murphy does not draw many walks, but this is likely because he is an aggressive hitter that simply enjoys putting the ball in play. He runs hard on every play, always makes his best efforts and plays the game the right way. His power has improved as well, with a career high 13 home runs this past season. Defensively, he has continued to improve generally speaking.
Murphy is one of the few staples in the Mets' lineup, but that doesn't mean he is untouchable. The Mets could look to move him in a trade if it were to give them a noticeable upgrade at other positions, such as shortstop or the outfield.
More than likely, Murphy will stay put because he is a good contact hitter and the kind of player you want on base for David Wright, among others to drive in.
Will the Mets Stick with Ruben Tejada at Shortstop or Try to Find an Upgrade?
Unlike first base, the Mets do not have much depth at shortstop besides Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla. Tejada had a very poor season this year, while Quintanilla should not exactly be considered a long-term solution at shortstop.
This is a position that the Mets could upgrade through free agency. The trade market could also be useful. The likelihood of trading for someone like Jose Reyes or Troy Tulowitzki could be wishful thinking, but signing a short-term fix such as Jhonny Peralta could be a more reasonable possibility. Another potential option could be Stephen Drew, if he does not ask for a particularly large contract.
Further complicating the entire matter is Tejada's leg injury and how well he ends up recovering from it. If Tejada can work hard enough to get back on the field in the spring, that would be great. But then, he will have to prove himself all over again if he wants the Mets to keep believing in him. However, the Mets may not even give him another chance if they can make the right kind of signing or trade this offseason.
Can the Mets Do Better in Left Field Than Eric Young Jr.?
The Mets could use all the help they can get in the outfield. Eric Young Jr. was a serviceable left fielder this past season who led the National League with 46 stolen bases, but did not hit particularly well with a .249 average and a .310 OBP.
Young gives the Mets speed that they really do not have much of elsewhere to the same degree. But in order for the Mets to put his speed to the best possible use, Young would need to hit more and draw a lot more walks because a .310 OBP simply will not cut it for a leadoff hitter.
Young's speed and athletic ability is a notable advantage for him, compared with the competition he may face in 2014 for playing time. But if the Mets can find a better option in left field outside the organization, Young could very well get demoted to the bench. The question is will the Mets end up finding a better left fielder that will hit more than Young?
Can Juan Lagares Hit Well Enough to Be an Everyday Center Fielder?
Very few people, if anyone is questioning Juan Lagares' defense. Lagares has amazing range and the potential to win multiple Gold Glove Awards in center field. While defense is very important for center fielders for both their own value and a team's overall success, center fielders need to be able to hit as well.
Lagares' offense potential has not been as high as his defense thus far. In his rookie season, Lagares hit just .242 with four home runs, 30 RBI and a .281 OBP. Like many of the 2013 Mets, Lagares was not particularly patient at the plate and will need to draw more than 20 walks in the future to be a more serviceable hitter in the Mets' lineup.
The likelihood of the Mets finding a new center fielder is not as high as the corner outfield spots, but the 2014 season will show if Lagares has really matured as a player and if he will be able to step up his offensive game closer to his defensive excellence.
Should the Mets Pursue Shin-Soo Choo for Right Field or Look Elsewhere?
The Mets have a lot of positions to address this offseason, but the biggest question mark has to be right field. The Mets do not exactly have a true right fielder on the team. Matt den Dekker has some potential, and Andrew Brown has some power, but neither should be considered everyday major league outfielders by any means. The Mets will more than likely have to pursue the open market or make a significant trade to fill right field as best as possible.
One name that has been mentioned as a potential Mets target is Shin-Soo Choo, who spent last season with the Reds. Choo was one of the best at getting on base in 2013 with 112 walks and a .423 OBP which were both second in the National League to former teammate Joey Votto.
Choo would provide the Mets with another veteran hitter to compliment David Wright. Choo could even become a leadoff hitter, with the speed he presents as well. Choo has had over 20 stolen bases in four of the last five seasons.
Other free agent outfield options could include Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz or Nate McLouth, among others. But among these choices, Choo would likely be the best fit because Citi Field is a good stadium for the kind of hitter he is.