One Sleeper Free Agent Target for Mets at Every Position
Free agency is in full swing for the Mets, and they have yet to make any significant signings of any kind. But this does not mean that they will not sign anyone, as the Mets seem to be checking in on certain players and only making decisions at the right time.
Here are some sleeper free agent targets at each position for the Mets this offseason.
Catcher: Miguel Olivo
With Travis d'Arnaud projected to be the Mets' opening day starting catcher, it seems as if the only kind of catcher the Mets would be interested in would be a veteran backup catcher. One of the more notable veteran catchers on the open market is Miguel Olivo.
Olivo is clearly past his prime, but he has been a good power hitter for most of his career, so he would provide a good right-handed power bat off the bench as well.
There have not been any known rumors between the Mets and Olivo or any other catchers yet this offseason. Hopefully, the Mets will find someone reliable to not only back up but also mentor the young d'Arnaud.
First Base: Kevin Youkilis
With the Mets already having a first base logjam that includes Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin, it's very unlikely that the Mets will sign a free agent first baseman this offseason.
But if the Mets, for some reason, feel a need to add a bench bat that can play the corner infield positions, Kevin Youkilis would not be a bad idea.
Youkilis would bring some much needed plate discipline to a Mets team that struck out too much and walked very little in 2013. He could platoon with one of Davis or Duda at first base, which could free up Satin to play the middle infield positions as well.
Again, the Mets already have plenty of candidates for first base, but if there's anyone that Sandy Alderson should target for the position, it should be Youkilis.
Second Base: Robinson Cano
With Robinson Cano expected to be one of, if not the most-coveted free agent on the open market, it did not seem likely that the Mets would be willing to pursue him and pay a significant amount of money.
However, Andy Martino of The New York Daily News reported that the Mets have actually met up with Cano and his agents. This shows that the Mets are at least interested in Cano but still may not necessarily be willing to be among Cano's highest bidders.
Time will tell if anything happens between the Mets and Cano, but the possibility of Cano becoming a Met should not be ruled out altogether just yet.
Shortstop: Rafael Furcal
Mike Puma of The New York Post recently reported that the Mets have some interest in free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal as a backup plan in case neither Stephen Drew nor Jhonny Peralta end up signing with them.
The 36-year-old Furcal missed all of the 2013 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. And with two young shortstops now on the Cardinals in Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma, Furcal's time with the Cardinals pretty much ended when he had the surgery.
Furcal would be a good short-term solution at shortstop for a season or two, being that Ruben Tejada struggled so badly last season. Furcal, of course, would have to stay healthy for such a signing to pay off, but if he is healthy, he will very likely provide more offensive production than the light-hitting Tejada or backup infielder Omar Quintanilla.
If Drew and Peralta ask for too much money and/or end up signing elsewhere, Furcal could be a wise and low-cost alternative at shortstop.
Third Base: Ty Wigginton
With David Wright having been the Mets' starting third baseman since the middle of 2004, the Mets do not need another everyday third baseman. In terms of acquiring a backup corner infielder, however, one name that could come to mind is Wright's brief predecessor at the position, Ty Wigginton.
Since his time with the Mets from 2002-2004, Wigginton has bounced around between various teams, including the Pirates, Rays, Astros, Orioles, Rockies, Phillies and Cardinals. At 36, the veteran is now a free agent and could be a useful backup utility infielder.
The likelihood of this actually happening, due to the presence of both Josh Satin and Justin Turner on the bench as utility infielders, is slim, but crazier things have happened.
Left Field: Mike Morse
The Mets' outfield has not been particularly good in the last few seasons, so it's clear that a makeover could benefit the team. If the trade market does not end up working out, the Mets could look to free agency and pick up a good outfielder with a relatively cheap contract.
One option could be Mike Morse, who has a lot of power. His presence in the lineup could certainly benefit the Mets, who have been lacking a consistent slugger since Carlos Delgado was on the team from 2006-2009.
Morse had his best season in 2011, when he batted .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI with the Nationals. He spent 2013 with the Mariners before being traded to the Orioles to finish out the year. His numbers though (.270, 13 home runs, 27 RBI) were not particularly good.
Nonetheless, if the Mets could find a way to sign Morse without spending too much money, they should go for it.
Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury
Despite the Mets' current pursuit of Curtis Granderson, as reported by Kristie Ackert of The New York Daily News, there is an even better outfielder that is now a free agent as well. His name is Jacoby Ellsbury.
No rumors between the Mets and Ellsbury have appeared yet, but don't completely rule out the possibility that the Mets will at least see what Ellsbury will be looking for in a new contract.
However, the Mets could simply go with Juan Lagares to start in center field. And even though his bat may not be fully developed just yet, his defense certainly is.
Right Field: Carlos Beltran
A Mets and Carlos Beltran reunion? That sounds crazy, right? It may, but at the right price, Beltran could be a useful short-term right fielder if the Mets fail to sign Shin Soo Choo or do not make any other significant moves to improve right field.
Beltran has hit very well in the last two seasons with the Cardinals, as Beltran has batted .283 with 56 home runs and 181 RBI. More importantly, at ages 35 and 36, he stayed healthy throughout both seasons.
The combination of his age and injury concerns could be a huge risk, but if the Mets are desperate and need a last resort in right field, don't be surprised to hear them contact Beltran.
Starting Pitcher: Dan Haren
One veteran starting pitcher the Mets could consider is Dan Haren, who was with the Nationals last season.
Haren won 10 games in 2013, which pushed his 10-plus win per season streak to nine consecutive seasons. He also had a 4.67 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.
Relief Pitcher: Joel Hanrahan
One closer the Mets could look to bring in is Joel Hanrahan.
After two dominant seasons as the Pirates' closer in 2011 and 2012, the Pirates traded Hanrahan to the Red Sox last offseason. 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, however, should look into signing him in order to strengthen their bullpen. A late-inning duo of Hanrahan and current closer 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.