5 Dream Free-Agent Pickups for the New York Mets
For the last several season, New York Mets fans have longed for the team to be able to spend some money on some big-ticket free agents. Although, there is some sense of trepidation as a result of the numerous free-agent busts the Mets have seen over the years—most recently Jason Bay.
But with the hefty contracts of Bay and Johan Santana now off the books, the Mets do have some financial flexibility to participate in free agency as they see fit. They will of course spend cautiously, and not break the bank for one big-name prize (like a Robinson Cano).
What if money wasn't a factor though? What if General Manager Sandy Alderson could bring any free agent(s) he feels would help the team the most? Who would he target? Who are the current free agents that Alderson is dreaming about donning the blue and orange? Here are a few possibilities...
Despite serving a 50-game suspension as a result of his reported connection with the Biogenesis scandal, Nelson Cruz managed to put together another fine season in 2013. He blasted 27 home runs—his fifth straight 20-plus home run season—and was named to his second All-Star team.
The Texas Rangers will reportedly offer Cruz a qualifying offer of $14.1 million, which would cost the Mets a draft pick. In reality, that may not seem all that terrible with the type of power that Cruz could supply.
Cruz would instantly add some thunder in the middle of what is otherwise a rather pedestrian lineup, not counting team captain David Wright.
And, Cruz's home/road splits were actually not drastic as one would think, considering he played most of his games at the hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark. In 2013, he actually hit 14 of his 27 bombs on the road, and his batting average was almost identical home and away.
He may come with a lofty price tag, even though he'll be entering is age-33 season, and is seen as a defensive liability in right field. Still, there's no question the Mets would love to add his pop into their everyday lineup.
Masahiro Tanaka is not officially a Major League Baseball free agent, as the Japanese hurler still has to go through the posting process by the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Nippon Baseball League. Tanaka, 25, is being sought after by a handful of clubs, and the Mets are known to at least have an interest.
In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Tanaka made four appearances, including one start, for Team Japan. In those four games, he registered a 2.57 ERA with 12 Ks and no walks in seven total innings.
At just 25 years of age, the Mets would certainly love to add his youth to their rotation, which currently consists of the youngsters Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese (with Matt Harvey on the shelf). However, in reality, Tanaka will be a very expensive commodity with his posting fee (expected to be somewhere around $75 million), plus whatever terms his contract nets him.
Jacoby Ellsbury will almost undoubtedly be the top free-agent outfielder this offseason. The 30-year-old is coming off of a season in which he stole a Major League-best 52 bases and is entering his first tour of duty in free agency.
There are some indications that Ellsbury could re-sign with the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, the only organization he's ever known. Boston has reportedly offered Ellsbury a qualifying offer, which links him to draft-pick compensation. And despite some injury-depleted campaigns in his career, the fleet-footed center fielder could very well demand a contract of at least $100 million.
Still, the idea of having Ellsbury patrolling center field at CitiField would very much be a dream come true for the Mets and their fans. It would give them a leadoff hitter, which they have lacked since Jose Reyes departed for free agency two years ago.
It remains to be seen if the Mets will have the means to bring Ellsbury to Queens. But he sure would be a great fit, wouldn't he?
In a dream world, who wouldn't want to sign second baseman Robinson Cano? The 31-year-old is a five-time All-Star and has been the most consistent member of the Yankees lineup over the last half-decade.
The Mets currently have Daniel Murphy anchored at second base, but they could swing him in a deal to acquire another piece of the puzzle for the club, like a pitcher.
Of course, on the open market, Cano is going to demand a very sizable contract, and rumors have indicated that his salary could reach the $300 million level. It's difficult to image anyone making that much money playing baseball, but nevertheless the possibility exists.
But if this is just a dream, then the Mets should have no problems signing the stud second baseman.
This dream may be the most realistic of this bunch. Arroyo, who has spent the past eight seasons in Cincinnati with the Reds, is an ideal innings-eater who can live in the middle or back of the rotation.
The 37-year-old right-hander has pitched at least 200 innings in eight of the last nine seasons, with the one "off" season being in 2011 when he recorded 199 innings. He's not a flamethrower, and he's not a strikeout artist. But he's durable and is very capable of keeping his team in the game.
The Reds declined to offer Arroyo a qualifying offer, meaning he is not tied to any kind of draft-pick compensation. He could be a dream come true for the Mets as a legitimate veteran presence to anchor a young rotation.