5 Realistic Moves the New York Mets Should Have Made This Offseason
Playing armchair general manager is often met with skepticism. In an ideal world, the New York Mets would have outbid the Seattle Mariners for Robinson Cano’s services, subsequently adding one of the premier offensive threats at a notoriously light-hitting position.
Yet, there were a number of low-cost, high-reward acquisitions other teams executed that the Mets could have also made.
For instance, despite posting comparable three-year averages to many of the highest-earning starters this offseason, Paul Maholm only garnered a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Given the mediocre Plan B rotation options behind Jenrry Mejia, the Mets should have invested in Maholm.
Read on to see the five realistic moves the New York Mets should have made this offseason.
General manager Sandy Alderson had been candid about his desire to add experienced relievers to the Mets bullpen, according to ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Yet Alderson’s two literal additions, Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde, hardly improve what was one of 2013’s worst bullpens.
Since 2011, the 36-year-old has owned a collective 2.53 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 154 ERA+), 1.04 WHIP, 2.71 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and 64 saves for the Oakland Athletics. Balfour even gained 0.6 miles per hour on his average fastball in 2013, clocking in at 93.4 miles per hour.
Especially considering the Tampa Bay Rays netted Balfour on a two-year, $12 million contract, Alderson’s decision to not go the extra mile (or million) to nab him, per Newsday’s Anthony Rieber, is looking more and more like a misstep.
New Team: Tampa Bay Rays
New Contract: Two Years, $12 Million
From 2007 to 2012, Corey Hart was quietly one of the better offensive players in the National League. The right-handed hitter owned a .277 batting average, park-adjusted 118 OPS+, 7.0 percent walk rate, 143 home runs and 76 stolen bases over that span.
But the 31-year-old sat out all of 2013 recovering from a right knee microfracture, subsequently putting a damper on his first bout with free agency. Due to his lost season, the Seattle Mariners were able to ink Hart on a team-friendly, one-year, $6 million contract—with upward of $4.65 million in performance bonuses.
Similar to why the Mets signed Chris Young, perhaps Sandy Alderson should have coveted Corey Hart, too. Unlike Young, who truly hasn’t been a productive hitter since 2011, Hart’s only hurdle in 2014 will be proving his health.
New Team: Seattle Mariners
New Contract: One Year, $6 Million
One of the most surprising nontender casualties was relief pitcher Ryan Webb. Despite posting a 2.91 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 133 ERA+), 1.20 WHIP and 2.00 strikeouts-to-walks ratio over 80.1 innings last season, the Miami Marlins still cut Webb loose.
And just eight days later, the Baltimore Orioles signed the 28-year-old to a two-year, $4.5 million contract. Aside from Webb’s comparative free-agent youth, the right-hander also owns similar three-year averages to a few of the offseason’s top relief earners.
Webb isn't exactly closer material, but given his 2.3 bWAR from 2011 to 2013, he would have at least made a fine middle-inning option for manager Terry Collins.
New Team: Baltimore Orioles
New Contract: Two Years, $4.5 Million
On the surface, a bottom feeder like the Mets signing a 36-year-old utility man such as Nick Punto wouldn’t seem like a prudent decision. But in the case of Punto, the infielder would have been a perfect fit for the 2014 Mets.
Despite just posting a .255 batting average, park-adjusted 87 OPS+ and two home runs over 335 plate appearances, Punto also collected a 9.8 percent walk rate. More importantly, however, Punto’s real value is his glove.
In 2013, the 13-year veteran posted elite fielding metrics at two positions and was passable at a third.
Unlike Omar Quintanilla in 2013, Punto could have provided the Mets with a stellar Plan B behind Ruben Tejada in 2014. And with great on-base skills to boot, Punto wouldn’t just be a one-trick pony.
New Team: Oakland Athletics
New Contract: One Year, $2.75 Million with a $2.75 Million Team Option for 2015
The Los Angeles Dodgers aren't afraid to spend money. This is evident by the team's decision to boost its payroll by more than 105 percent in 2013.
The Dodgers haven't slowed down this offseason, either, inking the likes of Dan Haren, Brian Wilson, Juan Uribe, Alexander Guerrero, J.P. Howell, Chris Perez and Jamey Wright. The team also extended its ace pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, to a seven-year, $215 million contract.
But while one could make a case for the Mets failing to sign many of the above free agents, perhaps the Dodgers' recent addition of Paul Maholm takes the cake.
The Dodgers signed Maholm to a mere one-year, $1.5 million contract on Feb. 8. Even though the left-hander was hardly ace-worthy in 2013—and doesn't have a guaranteed rotation slot in Los Angeles—the signing was the exact type the Mets should have made.
The 32-year-old struggled a bit in 2013, posting a 4.41 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 88 ERA+), 1.41 WHIP and 2.23 strikeouts-to-walks ratio over 153 innings. But over his past three seasons, Maholm has eerily notched similar production to many of the offseason's top earners.
Unless you consider John Lannan or Daisuke Matsuzaka a good insurance policy behind Jenrry Mejia, then adding a proven starter like Maholm would have been prudent.
New Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
New Contract: One Year, $1.5 Million