10 Realistic Moves the Mets Should Consider
The Mets will have some internal decisions to make as far as whether to keep, release or trade certain players. As for potential outside additions, the Mets will also have to pay attention to free agency and the trade market.
Here are 10 realistic moves the Mets should consider making this offseason.
Trading Ike Davis
With a logjam at first base, the Mets will have to make a critical decision at that position. One possibility could be trading Ike Davis, who did not have a particularly good season in 2013.
Davis batted just .205 this season, with nine home runs and 33 RBI in 317 at-bats. Davis raised his 2012 .308 OBP to .326 thanks to a higher walk rate, but his slugging percentage fell from .462 to .334. Davis got off to a very slow start and eventually got demoted in June for nearly a month. He hit slightly better after coming back, but in late August, he suffered a season-ending oblique injury.
For much of the season, Davis was platooning at first base with the right-handed hitting Josh Satin. This was understandable, being that Davis hit only .145 against southpaws, with one home run and five RBI.
Davis will be eligible for arbitration again in 2014. After earning $3.125 million in 2013, he will almost certainly be due for a raise. The Mets may look to save some money by trading him, which is one factor to consider.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News has reported that the Mets will likely trade one of Davis or Lucas Duda. Along with the money factor, other areas of consideration should be include overall offensive performance, plate discipline and defense, among other things.
One thing Davis could have an advantage in is defense. He posted a .989 fielding percentage in 2013 while displaying good range, though he did make nine errors. Generally speaking, defense has never been a big concern for Davis, and the Mets would most likely have better defense in their infield if they choose to keep Davis over Duda, who has much less experience in the major leagues as a first baseman.
Davis has shown potential, with the 32 home runs and 90 RBI he produced in 2012, but with consecutive slow starts to his last two seasons, the Mets could be ready to go in a different direction at first base.
Trading Lucas Duda to an American League Team
If the Mets indeed choose to go in a different direction at first base, it would likely involve Lucas Duda becoming the new starting first baseman.
After spending the 2011 and 2012 as a right fielder and 2013 as a left fielder, it has become clear that Lucas Duda's position going forward will be at first base, whether it is with the Mets or another team.
Duda batted .223 with 15 home runs and 33 RBI in 318 at-bats this past season. He was the starting left fielder until he got injured in June and was replaced by Eric Young Jr. in left field for the rest of the season. When Duda eventually returned in late August, it was as a first baseman. Originally he was on the bench, but after Ike Davis got hurt, Duda took over at first base for the rest of the season.
Duda is not as much of a proven hitter as Davis. Duda has a lot of power potential, but he has yet to put together a full solid season. While that may be working against him, his lower salary could help his case if the Mets decide to free up a bit more of their payroll.
It will be interesting to see which direction the Mets end up going in, but hopefully, the decision they make will turn out to be at least somewhat good for the Mets in the future.
If the Mets ultimately decide to trade Duda, it would make a lot of sense to move him to an American League, due to the designated hitter option being present for someone that is not a particularly great defender.
Trading Wilmer Flores
When David Wright suffered a hamstring injury in early August, the Mets eventually decided to give top prospect Wilmer Flores an opportunity to showcase his talents. Unfortunately, Flores did not play particularly well, with a .211 average, one home run and 13 RBI in 95 at-bats. Once Wright was healthy, Flores was sent to the bench and did not play as much in the final two weeks of the season.
Flores has noticeable potential, but is also more or less blocked in the Mets' infield. Wright is the Mets' starting third baseman and that will not change. Daniel Murphy will most likely remain the starting second baseman and it's doubtful that the Mets will end up trading both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda this offseason to give Flores the starting job at first base, which he has yet to play at in the major leagues.
More than likely, if the Mets make a notable trade soon, Flores will probably be involved. A good number of teams could use a young third baseman, but with a superstar in Wright around, the Mets do not have this problem. Furthermore, due to his younger age and the fact that he is still eligible to be a rookie, Flores' trade value is higher than both Davis and Duda.
With all this said, it will be very surprising if Flores remains a Met by next spring.
Bringing Back Marlon Byrd
After batting .285 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI this past season, the Mets traded Marlon Byrd to the Pirates in order to put him on a winning team down the stretch. After the trade, though, Byrd hinted that he would be open to returning to the Mets in 2014.
Although Byrd put together a very good season that completely revived his career, he is now 36 and he would not be the most ideal option for the future. Nonetheless, bringing back Byrd is something the Mets should at least keep in mind.
Signing Shin Soo Choo
The Mets have a lot of positions to address this offseason, but the biggest question mark has to be right field. 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.
At 31, a long-term contract for Choo could be a gamble, and especially if it's a pricey contract. But Choo generally speaking has a good track record of staying healthy and a stadium like Citi Field could be perfect for the type of hitter he is.
Signing Stephen Drew
Fresh off a World Series championship this year with the Red Sox, shortstop Stephen Drew is now a free agent. With both Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts on the Red Sox's roster for the foreseeable future, it's highly unlikely that the Red Sox will re-sign Drew.
Drew could be a good fit for the Mets, who are in desperate need of an upgrade at shortstop. Ruben Tejada had a lost season this year and may no longer be considered the shortstop of the future for the Mets. Omar Quintanilla was adequate in replacing Tejada this season, but Quintanilla is not a typical everyday shortstop and is more valuable as a backup.
If Drew does not for a particularly large contract, the Mets should try their best to sign him for two or three seasons. 2012 first round pick Gavin Cecchini is years away from being major league ready, so if a player like Drew could fill the hole at shortstop until Cecchini is ready, that would very likely end up working well for the Mets. Drew would provide power and a steady glove, which would be better than what the Mets saw at shortstop this past season.
Signing Bronson Arroyo
With Sandy Alderson now more likely to sign at least one veteran starter, Bronson Arroyo has emerged as a possible free agent target to fill one of the voids. Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com has reported that Arroyo will look to get a multi-year contract this offseason.
Whether the Mets would be committed to giving such a deal to Arroyo, who will turn 37 in February, is unknown, but Arroyo's durability for the last ten seasons has shown that he is an innings eater and has a very good track record of staying healthy. If the Mets feel Arroyo is worth a two-year contract, he could be a good fit, especially considering the Mets could be closer to contending in 2014.
The Mets need at least one veteran starter to offset all the younger starting pitchers the Mets have. Arroyo could certainly fill that role for a season or two.
Signing Dan Haren
Another veteran starting pitcher the Mets should consider is Dan Haren, who was with the Nationals last season.
Haren in 2013 won 10 games, which pushed his 10-plus win per season streak to nine consecutive seasons. He also had a .467 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 169.2 innings pitched. Haren was a back-end starter for the Nationals and will likely continue this role with the Mets or whichever other team he ends up signing with.
At 33, Haren is clearly past his prime, but can still be an effective back-end starter on most teams. A stadium like Citi Field would probably make a fly-ball pitcher like Haren perform even better, which is another reason why the Mets should pursue him.
If Haren does not ask for too much money and is willing to take a one or two-year deal, this could become a good move for the Mets as they try to fill out the rest of their starting rotation.
Signing Scott Kazmir
If the Mets choose to find a cheaper option to plug into the starting rotation, one possible option could be former Mets prospect Scott Kazmir.
The Mets originally selected Kazmir in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft. Two years later, he was regrettably traded to the Devil Rays for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato.
Neither Zambrano or Fortunato had a significant impact with the Mets after the trade, but Kazmir was in the major leagues less than a month after the trade and became the Rays' ace in 2007. In 2008, he helped lead the Rays to their first ever appearance in the World Series.
Almost a decade after the big trade, Kazmir is now a free agent after spending the 2013 season with the Indians. He went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts after originally signing a minor league contract.
The Mets unfortunately did not get to see Kazmir in their uniform in his two best seasons in 2007 and 2008, but he is only 29 and could still have a lot of years left in him. As a result, the Mets should at least check in on what kind of deal Kazmir would be looking for and go from there.
Signing Joel Hanrahan
After two dominant seasons as the Pirates' closer in 2011 and 2012, the Pirates traded Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox last offseason to be the Red Sox's new closer. Unfortunately, 2013 was a lost year for Hanrahan, who struggled in April and had a 9.82 ERA in nine appearances before having to undergo season-ending surgery on his forearm.
The eventual World Champion Red Sox later found Koji Uehara to be their new closer for the rest of the season, while Hanrahan was unable to pitch and did not end up being too relevant in the Red Sox's championship run.
Hanrahan is now a free agent and it's very unlikely that a return to the Red Sox will be happening. A team like the Mets though should look into signing him in order to strengthen their bullpen. A late inning duo of Hanrahan and Bobby Parnell could be very effective for the Mets if it were to happen. Furthermore, Parnell himself had surgery on his neck in September. Parnell should be healthy by Spring Training, but in case he isn't, it would be good for the Mets to have another reliever with legitimate closing experience. A healthy Hanrahan could fit the bill there for sure.