The 2013-2014 offseason has been a relatively quiet one for Sandy Alderson and the New York Mets, with just three Major League signings completed to date.
And while the signings of Chris Young, Bartolo Colon and Curtis Granderson may not have been the flashiest of moves among the 30 teams this winter, Alderson was able to cross out several items from his offseason wish list.
Of course, a general manager's job is never done. And the Mets still have some holes to fill, or improvements to make, if they want to be a legitimate contender in 2014.
The market for shortstop Stephen Drew has been slow to develop. The Georgia native is entering his age-31 season, and is coming off a 2013 campaign in which he hit .253 with 13 home runs for the World Champion Boston Red Sox.
Of course, Drew is a Scott Boras client, and after declining a qualifying offer of $14.1 million from the Red Sox, Drew is now tied to draft-pick compensation, which has been a deterrent for some organizations.
But, the Mets' 2014 first-round pick is protected since they finished with one of the 10 worst records in baseball in 2013. And although his numbers aren't much to write home about, Drew seemingly offers a vast improvement over the Mets' likely starter at shortstop, Ruben Tejada.
It could take a two- or three-year deal to sign Drew, and teams have been very diligent to determine just what his value is worth.
Outside of Drew, there aren't many quality shortstops available (either via trade or free agency), so if the Mets fail to land Drew, expect Tejada to man the position in 2014.
In 2013, 31-year-old left-hander Scott Rice made his big league debut, and finished 11th in the National League with 73 appearances. He likely would have made his way into the top 10, had he not missed most of September after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia.
Still, Rice had a very effective first year in the majors, posting a nifty 3.71 ERA over 51 innings pitched. He also featured a nice 7.2 K/9 ratio.
However, one has to wonder if the Mets can reasonably expect Rice to repeat this success in 2014. And right now, he and Josh Edgin represent the only southpaws in the Mets bullpen. It might be wise for Sandy Alderson to at least kick the tires on some of the available lefty relievers, such as Mike Gonzalez, Jose Mijares or Eric O'Flaherty to provide some veteran stability and late-inning reliability.
After all, the Mets play in a division that features potent left-handed bats, such as Ryan Howard and Chase Utley of the Phillies, Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche of the Nationals and the Braves' Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. Having a strong lefty presence in the bullpen would not be a horrible thing for the Mets.
The Mets are ready to give Travis d'Arnaud the keys to the starting catcher job in 2014. The former top prospect made his much awaited major league debut in 2013, and though his offensive numbers were not that impressive, he earned the respect of his coaches and pitchers for calling a good game behind the plate.
However, d'Arnaud will be just 25 years old next month, and could stand to have a veteran presence behind him to guide him, and perhaps spell him on occasion as the season wears on.
Currently, the Mets have Anthony Recker and the recently-signed Taylor Teagarden as potential backups to d'Arnaud, neither of whom have had any sustained major league success in their respective careers. However, a veteran like Miguel Olivo or Yorvit Torrealba represent some low-risk potential signings that the Mets could entertain. Both men would likely require just a minor league contract to compete for the backup job.
While the two of them are 35 years old, they likely wouldn't be asked to catch more than 50 to 75 games, so wear and tear wouldn't necessarily be much of a factor.
The pieces are out there...it remains to be seen if Alderson has any moves left up his sleeves.