Free Agents Who Fit in Mets' Plans
From December 9-12, the MLB winter meetings will take place in Orlando. During this time, various general managers, players and agents will meet and discuss potential free-agent contracts and negotiations. Some signings may end up happening this week, while other players and teams may come away with just a better understanding of what it may take to sign certain players.
The Mets in particular will have a lot of work to do at the winter meetings. The outfield, shortstop, starting rotation and bullpen are all issues the Mets will need to address and figure out for the future. Hopefully, they will be able to make a lot of progress by the time everyone leaves Orlando.
Here are some current free agents that could be good fits with the Mets in 2014.
Stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference.
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. 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.
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. He would provide power that the Mets have not had at shortstop since Jose Reyes' 19 homers in 2006. Ruben Tejada had a lost season this year and may no longer be considered the shortstop of the future for the Mets.
If Drew does not seek 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 ready for the majors, 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.
After the Mets signed outfielder Chris Young to a one-year deal in November, it seemed to raise the possibility that the Mets may have at least one platoon in their outfield next season. If that is the case, the Mets will need a left-handed hitting outfielder to platoon with Young.
One internal candidate could be Matt den Dekker, but he is young and could use another season in the minor leagues to improve his hitting. Unless the Mets decide to bring up den Dekker for Opening Day, the Mets will probably have to sign another free-agent outfielder.
One possibility could be Brennan Boesch. Boesch spent 2010-2012 with the Tigers before spending part of 2013 with the Yankees. Boesch hit .275 with three home runs and eight RBI in 51 at-bats with the Yankees last season before getting sent to the minor leagues and eventually released.
At 29, Boesch's talents should not start declining any time soon. A team should take a chance on him to see if he could possibly resurrect his career and establish himself as a starting outfielder. The Mets could be a good fit for Boesch to work himself into a platoon role in left field or right field.
If the Mets prefer a veteran outfielder to target, Jason Kubel would be a good name to look at.
Kubel is a 31-year-old veteran of nine seasons in the major leagues. Kubel was a member of the Twins from 2004-2011 before spending 2012 and part of 2013 with the Diamondbacks. Kubel spent the rest of 2013 with the Indians following a trade via waivers. Kubel batted .216 with five home runs and 32 RBI for the full season, a year after smacking 30 home runs and driving in 90 RBI in 2012.
Kubel has power, a career .275 average against right-handed pitchers and good defense in both left field and right field. He would be an ideal platoon outfielder and would not likely command a particularly high salary. He would be a good fit with the Mets.
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.
One reliever who could strengthen the Mets' bullpen is former A's closer Grant Balfour.
Balfour is coming off a career season that included a 1-3 record, a 2.59 ERA and a career-high 38 saves. Balfour also made the only All-Star Game appearance of his career this past season.
With Bobby Parnell recovering from neck surgery, it's important that the Mets have at least one other veteran reliever in the bullpen with significant experience as a closer. Balfour would fit very well with the Mets as either a setup man or closer because he has shown that he can be successful with both roles.
Balfour will turn 36 before the 2014 season begins, so he will probably not look for a contract longer than two seasons. This is the kind of contract the Mets need to really go after and a player the Mets should pursue during the winter meetings. Hopefully, the Mets can find a way to add Balfour to their 2014 bullpen.