Delgado's MVP Summer may not be enough: Texeira or Blalock to take over?

PJ EdelmanCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2008

This is going to be tricky.

After a stellar second half of MVP-like baseball, Carlos Delgado's future will remain in the fog after the 2008 season ends. Delgado had an extremely slow start to the baseball season, and looked confused and foolish at the plate, often imitating the skills of my little sister. And at least she could run out double plays.  

Carlos forgot how to go to the opposite field, and every swing against a right-handed pitcher resulted in a grounder to second base. Every swing off a lefty resulted in, well, nothing. And then suddenly, he remembered. Delgado's metamorphosis from goat to god began in July, when he returned to his near Hall of Fame self and batted .357 with a smoking .445 OBP, 9 homeruns, and 24 RBI.  

He cooled off a bit in August, but in 10 games in September, he has hit for a .379 avg,  5 homeruns, and 11 RBI. The Mets have been keeping a fire extinguisher handy, half expecting that Delgado may spontaneously combust at any moment. His turn-around has been vital to the Mets' determination to disallow the type of debacle that befell them last season.

But Delgado's resurrection may not be enough to save him from the free agency doldrums. His contract is a bit confusing: It runs through this season, and then the Mets have the option of picking up his contract for an additional year, at a cost of $16 million (depending on how he ranks in MVP voting).

Four million of that salary would be paid by the Florida Marlins, based on the terms of the trade that brought Delgado to the Mets in 2005. However, the Mets can opt to buy out Delgado, for a price of $4 million dollars. They lose the $4 million that Florida would pay if they go that route.  

If the Amazins wish to buy him out and then sign him, it would only make sense that they do so for less than $12 million year (because that is how much they would be paying if the decided to sign him, along with the Marlins' money).  Perhaps in the range of $8 million, or $12-16 million over two years. Follow?

This off-season will be extra difficult for Mets' management, as well as their fans, who have fallen in love with Delgado all over again (that is, unless he has a paltry postseason). Delgado turned 36 this past June, meaning that he probably has less than three productive years left.  

So, what are the options? The Mets can pick up the option, and pay Delgado $12 mil, plus $4 mil from the Marlins, for one more year. They can buy out his contract, and then try to sign him for less than $12 mil for one year, or less than $20 mil for two. Or, they can buy out his contract, and sign another, younger first basemen.

The biggest name in the 2009 first-basemen class is definitely Mark Texeira, who bats near .290, 30 HR, and 100 RBI every season. He is also, at 28-years-old, a two-time Gold Glove winner. He will be, by far, the most sought-out infielder this coming off-season.

Perhaps less skilled but still intriguing is the quiet Texas hitter, Hank Blalock.The two-time all-star is only 27, and has hit close to Texeira in terms of RBI and homeruns. The past two seasons have been short ones, but a healthy Blalock will bring a very solid bat and most importantly, a cheaper price tag than Texeira (of course there is the defensive abilities difference between the two, but what can you do?).

Phew! Quite the numbers crunch. Only time will tell if the Mets' front office can juggle all the decimal points and stats and come up with the right player for the future. Let's just hope that in the least, they DON'T sign Richie Sexson, who will also be a free agent in 2009.