So now, with the free agency period officially underway, it's time to analyze the positives and negatives to some of the Mets' offseason targets, including possible trade acquisitions. The following targets are based on reported rumors and my own speculation.
There's no question the Mets have longed for the caliber of a player like Jacoby Ellsbury for quite some time. Their outfield has been an offensive disappointment since they dealt Carlos Beltran during the 2011 season. And they have lacked a pure leadoff hitter since Jose Reyes departed via free agency prior to 2012.
Ellsbury certainly offers a support on both of these levels. The center fielder for the Red Sox since 2007 swiped a league-best 52 bases in 2013, which was the third season of his career with 50-plus stolen bases. The 30-year-old also has some pop in his bat, as evidenced by his 32 home runs and 105 RBI in 2011.
But there are a couple of red flags here. Ellsbury is likely going to command at least $100 million on the market, and at least five or six years. With Scott Boras as his representative, negotiations will be difficult.
Ellsbury also has somewhat of an injury history during his career. In 2010, he missed all but 18 games, and he only appeared in 74 games in 2012. Granted, the injuries were of the "freakish" nature, and he's otherwise been healthy and productive. But still, the ailments can't be overlooked, especially when dealing with such lofty contract demands.
Let's face it, the Mets' shortstop situation is rather unsettled. Ruben Tejada has mainly been a disappointment in his four years in the major leagues. And his recent attitude problems haven't helped matters.
Unless the team is willing to hand the starting shortstop keys over to Wilmer Flores, the Mets are certainly in need of a solid shortstop with pop in his bat. Free agent Jhonny Peralta could be the solution.
Peralta was dealt to the Detroit Tigers from Cleveland during the 2010 season, and since then he's hit 53 home runs with a .275 batting average. And while he's never won a Gold Glove, Peralta is at least an adequate-fielding shortstop. And with blue-chipper Jose Iglesias now in Motown, Peralta is without a position (he manned left field for the Tigers during the recent postseason).
And, although it seems he's been around the game forever, he'll only be 32 in May of the 2014 season.
However, Peralta did serve a 50-game suspension in 2013 for his reported involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. It's hard to know for sure how much of his offensive successes were impacted by possible steroid usage, and what kind of results a team would get from him in 2014 and beyond.
Aside from an injury-plagued 2011 season, Shin-Soo Choo has been a steady producer over the last five seasons. Since 2009, he's averaged 17 home runs and 19 stolen bases per season. And like Ellsbury, he would provide the Mets a solid leadoff hitter. In 2013, Choo's .423 OBP was good for fourth in baseball, and he was hit an MLB-best 26 times.
However, there are some downfalls to signing Choo. He's not the world's greatest outfielder, defensively. Over his nine-year career, Choo's fielding percentage is right around the league average. His throwing arm is not all that noteworthy either.
And, with Scott Boras as his agent, Choo is already seeking a hefty contract. The latest whispers indicate that he is looking to exceed the seven-year, $126 million contract the Washington Nationals gave Jayson Werth a few years back.
So, will the Mets take the chance of breaking the bank over one good leadoff hitter with defensive questions? Seems unlikely, but they will certainly be in the mix.
Corey Hart once told everyone to "Never Surrender". Of course, that Corey Hart also wore "Sunglasses at Night". But the Corey Hart who has spent his entire major league career with the Milwaukee Brewers is a free agent for the first time. And with the Mets potentially seeking an upgrade at first base, they have their eyes on the 31-year-old.
Between 2007 and 2012, Hart averaged 24 home runs per season while earning two All-Star nominations. He even chipped in a couple of 20-plus stolen-base campaigns.
However, Hart missed the entire 2013 season following surgeries on each knee (he had his right knee operated on in January, and the left in July). And while he expects to be ready in time for Opening Day, there has to be some trepidation.
Also, after being the Brewers' main right fielder for a number of seasons, 2012 was the first year that Hart played first base regularly. And though he played well, there is a lack of experience, especially since he hasn't played in more than a full calendar year.
Hart would represent a low-risk, high-reward acquisition. It will be up to the Mets' front office to determine if that reward is worth the risk.
Curtis Granderson has built up quite an impressive résumé over his 10-year career. He's a three-time All-Star and has led his league in triples twice. He also offers a nice balance of pop and speed and can pretty much hit in any part of a lineup, which must be very appealing to the Mets.
He also has proven to be a solid defender in the outfield, owning a career .994 fielding percentage.
But, like the other outfielders on this list, Granderson comes with some detriments as well. He hasn't had a batting average of .280 or better since 2008 and has struck out 433 times since 2011.
Can the Mets set aside these downfalls for an outfielder that can potentially provide 40-plus home runs? We shall see.
At age 36, Bronson Arroyo had another typical Arroyo-like campaign in 2013. The Reds' right-hander pitched to a 3.79 ERA with a 14-12 record, striking out about 5.5 batters per nine innings. Arroyo has always been a durable innings eater not known for an overpowering fastball. He doesn't fan many hitters, but he's a winner who knows how to get the job done and keep his club in the game.
And for the Mets, he would be a solid veteran addition to the middle or back end of the rotation, which features several youngsters.
However, in what will be his age-37 season in 2014, one has to wonder if and when Arroyo will start to break down. After all, he's pitched at least 200 innings in eight of the last nine seasons (he pitched 199 in 2011).
The Mets have had some poor luck when adding veteran pitchers to try and solidify their rotation. Just look at last season's signing of Shaun Marcum.
How much will the Mets be willing to give a 37-year-old pitcher? Arroyo could demand somewhere in the vicinity of $25-$30 million. He could be affordable for them, but will he be part of their game plan?