Will Holliday or Bay Affect Francoeur?
The Matt Holliday / Jason Bay buzz is heating up, with the latest news that the Red Sox will not attempt to re-sign Bay but may go after Adrian Gonzalez instead. Further, word from San Francisco is that the Giants don’t have the ducats to pursue either of the free-agent outfielders — which if true narrows the market. Add in the fact that Jon Heyman tweeted that the Mets will pursue a “big-ticket LF” and it would seem that Omar Minaya and co. will be part of the bidding for one or both of Jason Bay and Matt Holliday.
But how will such pursuit affect Jeff Francoeur?
We’ve mentioned a few times here that Jeff Francoeur’s return to Flushing in 2010 is not a guarantee — though his red-hot finish in August and September cemented his popularity among the fans still paying attention to the team — and we know the Mets’ front office likes to appease the public. But would the Mets consider passing on Francoeur’s arbitration if they go for the big fix?
Francoeur’s salary in 2009 was $3.375M. Through the arbitration process he almost surely will get a raise to $3.5M or possibly as high as $4M. Will the Mets be willing to pay that much for a righthanded-hitting corner outfielder after shelling out $100M+ for Holliday or Bay? I would hope so, but you never know what the Mets are thinking.
For example, couldn’t you just see them taking the approach that having both Holliday/Bay and Francoeur creates a lineup that is “too heavy with righthanded hitters” ? And in turn non-tender Francoeur, and make the right field job a competition in spring training among Angel Pagan, Fernando Martinez, and any cheap free agents that may arise (Chad Tracy? Jermaine Dye? Eric Hinske?).
The Mets would of course heavily spin the “gritty” personality, hustling, and leadership skills of Bay/Holliday to offset the loss of Francoeur’s similar traits.
Personally, I enjoy watching Francoeur play and hope he returns. But I’m not sure the Mets believe there’s enough room in
their budget the outfield for both Jeff Francoeur and a “big-ticket leftfielder”.