Playing 'Sign or Walk' with Each of Mets' Own Free Agents

Shale BriskinContributor IIINovember 13, 2013

Playing 'Sign or Walk' with Each of Mets' Own Free Agents

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    The MLB offseason has now been going on for over a month and the Mets have yet to make any big moves. In fact, they haven't made any small moves either. Some of these small moves could involve the possibility of bringing back some familiar faces from the 2013 team.

    The 2013 Mets had seven particular players that are now free agents. All of them happen to be pitchers, with two being starting pitchers and the other five being relievers. None of these players are considered significant pieces, but they could be reliable in certain roles.

    Which of these free agents will the Mets end up bringing back? Let's find out!

    Here is an analysis of why each Mets free agent should or should not return to the team in 2014.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

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    When Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner both got hurt and were forced to miss the rest of the season, the Mets all of a sudden had a need for more pitching depth down the stretch. As a result, they signed two veteran pitchers to help patch together the rotation for September.

    One of these pitchers was Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had spent six seasons with the Red Sox before signing a minor league contract with the Indians at the start of the 2013 season. Matsuzaka later requested to be released from the Indians, which occurred in August. Just days later, the Mets signed Matsuzaka for the rest of the season.

    Matsuzaka went 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA in seven starts with the Mets. He started off very poorly and lost his first three starts before settling in and allowing a combined four runs in his final four starts. All in all, Matsuzaka's stint with the Mets was a mixed bag that showed flashes of the brilliance he once showed with the Red Sox.

    Because he was added as additional pitching depth, there most likely will not be a spot for Matsuzaka on the Opening Day rotation if the Mets decide to bring him back.

    The Mets have even talked with Matsuzaka about having him return next season, and it looks rather likely that it could happen. What Matsuzaka's actual role will be is probably the more unknown aspect. More than likely, Matsuzaka will start in the minor leagues and get promoted if a pitcher on the Mets gets hurt, or he could even be a long reliever and spot starter on the major league roster.

    It's too early to tell what Matsuzaka's role would actually be if he were to re-sign with the Mets.


    Prediction: Sign

Aaron Harang

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    The other pitcher the Mets signed near the end of the season was Aaron Harang. Harang had spent most of his career with the Reds, plus brief stints with the A's, Padres, Dodgers and Mariners before joining the Mets.

    In four starts with the Mets last season, Harang went 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA. He gave the Mets a chance to win in each start, but a lack of run support from the Mets' offense did not help his cause.

    It's unknown what Harang's 2014 plans are, but rejoining the Mets could be a possibility; however, it probably will not be as likely to occur, compared to the possibility of Matsuzaka returning.


    Prediction: Walk

Tim Byrdak

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    Veteran southpaw Tim Byrdak is one of the 2013 Mets relievers that is now a free agent.

    Byrdak only played with the Mets in September, as he had been recovering from shoulder surgery. He did not pitch particularly well in his eight appearances, with a 7.71 ERA.

    At 40 years old now, Byrdak is not getting any younger and it seems like his best days could be behind him. The fact that he worked so hard to play this year should be an indication that he is not yet ready to retire.

    Nonetheless, Byrdak had two solid seasons with the Mets in 2011 and 2012 and was hurt for most of 2013. It's time to move on.


    Prediction: Walk

Pedro Feliciano

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    Another veteran left-handed reliever that is now a free agent is Pedro Feliciano.

    Feliciano has spent the vast majority of his career as a Met. He was an integral part of the Mets' bullpen during their last three winning seasons from 2006-2008, but the intense workload Feliciano had by 2009 and 2010 became too much for his arm.

    After the 2010 season, Feliciano signed with the crosstown Yankees but did not appear in a single game with them in 2011 or 2012 due to injuries.

    The Mets then brought him back last season on a minor league contract, and Feliciano made his return to the major leagues in August.

    In 25 games, Feliciano was 0-2 with a 3.97 ERA. Unlike the Jerry Manuel years, Terry Collins did not overwork Feliciano, and he made a triumphant return as a result.

    At 36, Feliciano is not the oldest reliever from the 2013 Mets, but he is not the youngest either.

    The Mets are the only team Feliciano has ever pitched for in the major leagues. Seeing Feliciano in another uniform would not look the same. Unless another team overpays him like the Yankees did a few years ago, the Mets should be able to bring Feliciano back once again.


    Prediction: Sign

Frank Francisco

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    Sandy Alderson has not made too many blunders as the Mets' general manager, but one of the most notable bad signings he made so far was Frank Francisco, who simply did not pitch well as a Met.

    Francisco was the Mets' closer in 2012 and had arguably the worst season of his career with an alarming 5.53 ERA, despite 23 saves.

    In 2013, the Mets (for better or worse) did not see much of Francisco.

    Francisco spent most of the past season in Florida recovering from an elbow injury that had plagued him since last February. Francisco then suffered a setback in May and did not get back onto the Mets' roster until September.

    In eight appearances this season, Francisco was 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA and one save. That save was during the Mets' final game of the season, which was almost certainly his final appearance with the Mets.

    After the inconsistent season in 2012 and the injuries from this year, there is no reason why the Mets should bring back Francisco in 2014.


    Prediction: Walk

David Aardsma

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    One of the brighter spots in the Mets' bullpen this season was David Aardsma.

    Aardsma was signed by the Mets in May to a minor league contract, but got promoted to the Mets' roster in June.

    As one of the Mets' more reliable setup men, Aardsma was 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in 43 appearances. Aardsma struggled more in the second half of the season, though. He had a 2.55 ERA in the first half, but after the All-Star break, his ERA for the second half was 5.73.

    As a result, Aardsma did not become the Mets' new closer after Bobby Parnell got injured. The Mets went with LaTroy Hawkins instead.

    At 31, Aardsma still has quite a few years left in his career. He has shown potential over the years to be a very solid reliever, and if the Mets can find a way to bring him back, they should. Aardsma is not particularly old, but has the experience of a veteran, which is good for relievers.


    Prediction: Sign

LaTroy Hawkins

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Last but not least, the aforementioned LaTroy Hawkins is now a free agent as well. Hawkins has now pitched for 10 different teams, including the Mets, in a 19-year career.

    Hawkins, who will turn 41 in December, apparently is not ready to retire yet.

    As one of the Mets' primary setup men and eventual closer last season, Hawkins was 3-2 with a 2.93 ERA and 13 saves. He pitched well down the stretch as the Mets' closer.

    According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, Hawkins just might return to the Mets in 2014.

    It seems as if both sides want to get a new deal done, and it could very well happen. Hawkins showed that he was not only a good reliever last season but also a great presence as one of the few veteran leaders of the Mets' clubhouse. Team chemistry is a very important aspect in baseball, and having someone like Hawkins around would only help the cause and give younger pitchers someone to turn to for advice.

    More than likely, Hawkins will return to the Mets in 2014. Although it could be the final season of his career, it still would be a good signing for the Mets.


    Prediction: Sign