Looking Ahead: 10 Free Agent Targets for the New York Mets
The 2010 season for the New York Mets didn't end the way anyone wanted, least of all the fans. We suffered through another season of disappointment, highlighted by season ending injuries to Jason Bay and Johan Santana. There were some bright spots in the Mets' season. The emergence of Ike Davis and Josh Thole showed the Mets' minor league system isn't as weak as previously thought. R.A. Dickey gave Mets fans something to cheer about down the stretch and David Wright had a great bounce-back season after a disappointing 2009.
Now that it's all over and the Mets have started to make some right movies, i.e. Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel were shown the door, let's look ahead at some free agents available for 2011 that could boost the Mets' chances of a successful season next year.
Let's face it, the Mets should have signed Hudson two years ago before he signed with the Minnesota Twins. No one wants to see Luis Castillo any more and with a new GM in place, maybe the Mets will finally part ways with the oft-injured second baseman.
Hudson was a productive player for the Twins during the regular season. His stats aren't anything to write home about (.268/6/37/.338), but it's a big improvement over the production the Mets have been seeing out of second base. Ruben Tejada showed excellent defensive skills at second but barely managed anything offensively.
Hudson has good plate discipline (87 strikeouts in 497 at bats) and Mets fans wouldn't have to see him taking called strike twos down the middle on every at bat like with Castillo.
Ordonez suffered a season-ending ankle injury on July 25th. At the time of his injury, Ordonez was batting .303 with 12 HR and 59 RBI in 323 at bats. Tiger's GM Dave Dombrowski has said that the team is "open minded" to bringing back the 35 year old outfielder, but they declined the option on his contract on October 12th.
Ordonez is expected to make a full recovery from his injury and be ready in time for spring training. He made 18.9 million during the 2009 season, but coming off an injury, the Mets might be able to get him on the cheap if Detroit declines.
Kubel only batted .249 with 116 strikeouts in 518 at bats during the regular season, but he also smashed 21 home runs and racked up 92 RBI. He's still a young guy, only 28, and made only 4.1 million. Kubel should be one a few different team's radar during the offseason and the Mets should get in on the conversation.
He played the majority of his games in right field for the Twins. We'll have to wait and see what the Mets do with Carlos Beltran in a contract year. If they try to shop in at the trade deadline, Kubel could play right and the Mets could slide Angel Pagan into center field full time.
Garland pitched reasonably well for the San Diego Padres, going 13-12 with a 3.47 ERA. Garland is a Class-B free agent, which means, if the Padres lose him to free agency, they'll receive a compensatory pick in the draft. He pitched 200 innings and had a career high 136 strikeouts.
Garland could give the Mets another quality arm for their rotation to go along with Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and Jon Niese. If R.A. Dickey is a part of that rotation, and there's little doubt he could be, that wouldn't be such a bad rotation.
I've wanted Arroyo for the Mets for years now. He's been the Reds' most consistent starting pitcher and isn't afraid of anyone who may step into the batter's box. He had a career high 17 wins during the regular season (4th in the national league) with 121 strikeouts. He did get hit around a bit, surrendering 188 hits in 215.2 IP but ending the season with a respectable 3.88 ERA.
Arroyo would give the Mets a reliable starting pitcher who could slot in behind Mike Pelfrey in the rotation and he would also add experience.
Balfour went 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA for the Tampa Bay Rays during the regular season. In 55.1 IP, he surrendered 43 hits, 14 earned runs, and walked 17 while striking out 56. Balfour pitched well but could also get a big boost playing at Citi Field. Granted, pretty much any pitcher would benefit from the cavernous dimensions, but Balfour only gave up three home runs and would probably wouldn't give up any at Citi Field.
The Mets' bullpen would also benefit from Balfour's postseason experience. He gave up only one hit during the ALDS against the Texas Rangers in three innings, a good bounce back from his sub-par postseason during the Rays' run in 2008.
I realize Dotel plays for the Colorado Rockies so I apologize for the Pirates picture. Anyway...Dotel pitched well for the Rockies after being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 18th. He only made eight appearances, but pitched to a 1.70 ERA. He finished the year with a 4.08 ERA and in 64 innings he struck out 75. His walks were a little high though (32) and he surrendered nine home runs.
Soriano was the Rays' closer. He'd be a good back up if Francisco Rodriguez decides to get into any more legal problems next season. He would also give the Mets a good alternative if they decide to try to shop K-Rod in the offseason. He saved 45 games for the Rays during the regular season to the tune of a 1.75 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 62.1 IP while surrendering only 36 hits.
Martinez is on the wrong side of 30 for a catcher (he's 31) and if the Boston Red Sox don't resign him, he'd be an excellent offensive player, with underrated defensive skills as well, who could spell Ike Davis at first from time to time. Martinez batted .303 with 20 HR and 79 RBI during the regular season.
The Mets haven't had an offensive catcher since Piazza and I think he'd be able to adjust just fine to Citi Field as he is a predominately fly ball hitter (50.7% during the regular season). Signing Martinez would push back the development of Josh Thole a bit, but it you want to carry both players and use Thole as a backup to give Martinez a rest, why not?
Crawford is going to be the second most coveted free agent on the market this winter behind Cliff Lee. He is a speedy outfielder with excellent defensive skills. He's led the American League in stolen bases four times and has batted .300 in five of the last six seasons. Trying to sign Crawford would most assuredly mean competing with the New York Yankees and I don't think the Mets have what it takes. But with a new general manager maybe the Mets will be looking to make a big splash to get the fans pumped up.
There really isn't any room for Crawford in the Mets' outfield, but if they could figure something out, there isn't any other move that would excite the fans more...other than Cliff Lee of course.