New York Mets: An Early Free-Agency and Offseason Primer
The New York Mets are desperately trying to stick around in the NL postseason race, even though it will be difficult to overcome what is currently a 9.5-game wild-card deficit.
The team, though, seems more ready to really compete in 2015, particularly with all the young pitching it has. However, this is not to say that the Mets are perfectly fit as is to be a postseason contender next season. There are certain areas that the front office will need to address for the future.
Here's a guide to what the Mets' offseason could look like.
Where Will All the Pitchers Fit In?
One luxury the Mets have is a lot of young pitching for the future.
The current rotation already includes Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon. There's also Matt Harvey, who should hopefully be healthy by spring training next March after undergoing Tommy John surgery last October. And then there is top prospect Noah Syndergaard, who is waiting in the wings and very likely to be a part of the Mets rotation next season.
All in all, the Mets have seven strong starting pitchers but only five spots in the rotation. How general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins decide to go about this logjam will be very interesting to see.
Harvey, Wheeler and deGrom all seem to be locks to be on the Opening Day rotation as long as they are all healthy. Colon is the elder statesman of the group, and it would be surprising if the Mets did not make a legitimate effort toward shopping him this offseason. Niese and Gee are good veteran arms, but either could also be expendable if the right deal is found.
As for Syndergaard, he could make the Mets' Opening Day roster if he shows the Mets that he is developed and mature enough to be a major league pitcher. A good spring training would certainly help.
There's also no guarantee that any of these pitchers would be particularly comfortable with moving to the bullpen, but that could very well be an option and would certainly strengthen the Mets' bullpen depth that much more. Whether some of these pitchers would be able to put the team's goals above their own personal goals could mean a lot to the Mets.
Furthermore, the Mets could really use a significant bat in the lineup, and if a certain hitter is good enough, the price tag would almost certainly include one of the Mets' younger pitchers. Would Alderson be willing to sacrifice one of the young prized arms for the kind of hitter the Mets could really use? There will likely be some very tough decisions to make.
Look for the Mets to try to shop Colon, Niese and Gee this offseason and for at least one of them to get traded away.
What Will Happen at Shortstop?
The Mets' biggest offensive hole by far has to be at shortstop. The Mets have tried both Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores there this season, and neither has provided particularly adequate production for the lineup.
Tejada has struggled offensively for most of the season and just isn't the kind of hitter that will provide a decent amount of run production. Flores' offensive potential is certainly higher, but he has yet to reach it. Defensively, Flores is not the best shortstop out there but hopefully will improve with time.
The Mets have seen enough of Tejada to hopefully realize that he does not provide enough offense to the lineup and may not be patient enough to witness Flores potentially go through more growing pains in 2015. So what other options could there be at shortstop?
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Stephen Drew and J.J. Hardy are all shortstops who are currently set to become free agents this offseason.
It's no guarantee all of them will eventually become free agents, though, if their current teams work out an extension in the near future. But if that doesn't happen with any of those players, the Mets should definitely look into them and at least try to make some sort of good offer.
Another option is the trade market. Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies will almost certainly be on the trading block this offseason after recently being critical of the way the Rockies have played this season. Tulowitzki would cost a lot in return, but if the Mets feel the right offer is presented, they should not be afraid to get something done.
Tulowitzki is a superstar shortstop who would almost certainly improve the Mets offense significantly. This is not to say the Mets should necessarily overpay for him, but if he's available at a reasonable price, the Mets should do what they can bring him to New York.
Who Will Play Left Field?
Left field is the other major question mark for the Mets going forward. Eric Young Jr. and Matt den Dekker have split time there this season, but the Mets could ideally use a veteran outfielder with more power and who gets on base regularly.
None of the projected free-agent outfielders look particularly great to go after, so the Mets could look to the trade market to find a left field upgrade. The Dodgers' current logjam of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford could be possible options, for example, unless the Dodgers want too much for all three of them.
Young Jr. and den Dekker are good, young players, but again, if the Mets can find a way to upgrade at left field, they should do what needs to be done in order to put together a better team in 2015.