Non-tenders To Consider

As a result of the non-tender deadline passing, a new influx of free agents has entered the market. Several could be valuable additions to the Mets. Let’s take a look at some in particular.

Matt Capps
Hard-throwing righthander who has served as the Pirates’ closer for the past three years, he’d fit in nicely as a candidate for the open role of setup man. He throws a 95+ MPH fastball for tons of strikes and has the right demeanor for a late-inning reliever. The negatives: he has a history of shoulder and elbow issues that could be more of a problem in the future, and he sometimes he throws too many strikes — resulting in gopher balls. He’s coming off a terrible 2009 that saw him blow 5 saves, lose 8 games, and post a 5.80 ERA. But, more than one-third of his earned runs allowed came in three appearances covering two innings — take those away and his stats look much more palatable. In addition, he’s only 26 years old.

Clay Condrey
He just turned 34, but seems to be getting better with age. Last year he appeared in 45 games despite missing nearly a third of the season with an oblique injury. He posted a career-low 1.21 WHIP and 3.00 ERA. His rubber arm and tenacity remind me a lot of Turk Wendell.

Neal Cotts
The Mets need another LOOGY, Cotts is a fine one. He pitched in 19 MLB games and was demoted to AAA for ineffectiveness before undergoing Tommy John surgery in early July. He may not be available until after the All-Star break, but by that time the Mets might need a fresh arm coming out of the ‘pen.

Seth McClung
The big (6’6″, 265 lbs.) righthander has some giddyup on the fastball and is an imposing figure on the mound. He’s battled elbow problems for most of his career, but he’s under 30 is tough on righthanded hitters.

Mike MacDougal
The tall and wiry righthander has always had nasty stuff — a 95+ heater and a wicked slider — but has never shown enough command to keep a job in MLB. He walks too many batters, and doesn’t pitch well with runners on base — a bad combination. At 32, he is what he is — a sometimes dominating, other times frustrating enigma. Under the right pitching coach he might flourish. Oh wait, the Mets don’t have Dave Duncan. Never mind.

Chien-Ming Wang
When healthy, he was the top starter for the Yankees. Need more be said? Unfortunately, he hasn’t been healthy, and there’s no way to know if his shoulder problems will ever go away. He’s under 30, and to me, seems worth rolling the dice.

Scott Olsen

Hard to believe this big lefty turns only 26 in January — seems like he’s been in the NL East a long time. He had a terrible 2009, which ended with surgery to repair a small tear in his labrum. However, it wasn’t a severe tear, and he’s scheduled to be recovered by spring training. Considering his youth and that he was once on his way to becoming a dominant starter, I’d be inclined to take a chance.
UPDATE: Olsen re-signed with the Nats

Jose Veras
A big righthander with a rubber arm and a 94-95 MPH fastball that can touch 98. He’s had moderate success in the difficult AL East as a middle man and late-inning reliever, and could benefit from a move to the NL.

Garrett Atkins
There’s a full post arguing his case here. Has the highest potential reward among non-tendered position players, but also could be risky depending on the price tag.

Ryan Garko
Showed promise in Cleveland, but fell out of favor when his power didn’t develop as hoped. His performance dropped off considerably after being traded to the Giants, which might be partially blamed by a nagging wrist injury. He kills lefties, but isn’t terrible vs. righthanders (.266 AVG / .755 OPS lifetime), either. He’ll take a walk and drive in runs, but he’s slow on the bases and is underwhelming in the field, regardless of where you put him. Interestingly, he was a catcher in the minors who was moved to 1B, and has stood in the outfield a dozen times. He and Dan Murphy put together might make one decent first baseman. Ideally, he’d put on the tools of ignorance again to increase his value.

Jonny Gomes
Gomes fits the description of righthanded power-hitting outfielder, so he’s worth thinking about. Teammates love his attitude and hard-nosed approach to the game. On the down side, he does a lot of swinging and missing, is barely adequate in the field, and doesn’t take many walks. In other words, the poor man’s version of Jack Cust.

Jack Cust
See Gomes, above, and add a bunch of walks. His dad has a real nice baseball facility in Flemington, NJ, as well.

All in all, not a bad bunch to consider. I included a number of pitchers because the Mets need pitching — particularly in the bullpen. And in the rotation. And in AAA for depth. And anywhere else a pitcher might be found.

Did I miss anyone? Post your comments below.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. ajsosa December 14, 2009 at 8:35 am
    Mets need to sign Garko, Chapman and Bay.
    Trade Maine to Brewers for Rickie Weeks.
    Sign Kevin Escobar.
  2. isuzudude December 14, 2009 at 10:23 am
    ajsosa: trade Maine for Weeks? Where’d that come from? And where would Weeks play? Did you mean Corey Hart?

    I mentioned the name elsewhere, but I’d also take a look at Jose Arredondo, who was non-tendered by the Angels. His stuff is electric, he’s only 25, and he had a fantastic rookie season. His drawback, though, is that he’s going under the knife for TJ surgery and will miss all of 2010, as well as some of 2011. But by then he’ll still only be 27, and, to me, reminds me a lot of Fernando Nieve, who has bounced back well from TJ surgery himself. He’s well worth giving a minor league contract to with a built-in option for 2011 if his rehab is progressing well.

    Of the names above, I’d certainly look hardest at Garko and Capps, and would sign both if their price was right.

  3. Timo December 14, 2009 at 10:55 am
    I like Akins and Capps. I also like any free agent who is under 26, even if they are hurt. That’s why there is the DL and insurance. Also, I like Akins to be the main first baseman. I’m not a Fan of Daniel Murphy. Danny is an OK ballplayer at best! I doubt he’ll ever become anything. We are wasting our time with him being at firstbase. However, i hope i’m wrong becasue the Mets love this kid and he isn’t going anywhere. Also, 3 or 5 million really doesn’t matter in MLB now a days. If we can get these guys it would be great because we don’t have a minor league to support us.
  4. gary s. December 14, 2009 at 11:41 am
    what a flea market of mlb talent!! the key is signing the player with the least fleas.. i don’t want any pitcher with arm problems.we have enough of those already.atkins would be a big upgrade at first base based on his career numbers if the price tag is not too high.the fact that the front office is still even talking about delgado is very scary.why can’t they cut ties with this guy??
  5. isuzudude December 14, 2009 at 1:54 pm
    gary, 2 things:

    1. You say you don’t want any pitchers with arm problems. But if it only took a minor league deal to get Arredondo to sign, and wound costing no more than, say, $325k, would he not be worth the gamble if he can come back in 2011 and pitch like he did for the Angels in 2008? To me, he’s a very low risk/high reward player, and yet if he doesn’t pan out, he cost next to nothing to gamble on. I can see saying you don’t want Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, or Erik Bedard, because they’ll all likely command 25-man roster spots as well as $5M per year, at least, and are no guarentees to even throw 50 innings in 2009. But if the pitcher is dirt cheap and young, what’s the hang up?

    2. I wouldn’t be shocked AT ALL if Delgado and Atkins wind up making very close to the same amount of money in 2009, regardless of where they eventually sign. Despite coming off hip surgery, it also wouldn’t shock me if Delgado is still able to punch out 20+ homers with a .260-ish average in 2010, which I think is also the max you should expect from Atkins. That said, what really is the major difference between Atkins and Delgado, besides age? 10 less years hasn’t helped Atkins hit better than Delgado over the past few seasons, so I don’t see Atkins’ edge in youth being advantageous in any useful way anyway. Help me understand why retaining Delgado scares you so much, when Atkins is more than likely to earn just as much and produce just as much as Delgado in ’10.

  6. joejanish December 14, 2009 at 2:12 pm
    ‘dude – I think it’s difficult to suggest a ceiling for either Delgado or Atkins. Both are a complete crapshoot, for different reasons.

    IF Delgado is 100%, he might hit 35 HR, and he could be “the guy” in the middle of the lineup. But that “if” is a big one because of his chronic issues and his age.

    Atkins probably won’t ever hit more than 30 HR, but he could hit 20-25, and he could hit over .300 again, and he could post a .350-.400 OBP again, and he could drive in 85-100 RBI. Will he? Who knows — it’s not 100% clear as to why he dropped off so considerably, though part of it does seem to be related to losing protection in the lineup. That said he wouldn’t be an ideal cleanup hitter but who’s to say he can’t flourish again with the likes of Beltran, Wright, and another slugger (perhaps his old pal Matt Holliday) ?

    The Mets have to decide whether they want the Delgado Era to continue or not. If they don’t, then they MUST find a monster bat to replace him in the lineup. It’s that simple. If they do find that monster, and he’s a LF, then Atkins makes sense as a RH complement to Murphy.

  7. john December 14, 2009 at 4:06 pm
    I like Ryan Garko… he had issues in San Fran after he was traded, but honestly, I was hoping the Mets were going to trade for him last year… he isn’t spectacular, but he is a serviceable role player, what the Mets have lacked in season’s past… Atkins is just not good, and the only reason his numbers are what they are is because of coors field…
    matt capps would be a good option for the bullpen, a power arm that maybe makes bobby parnell expendable in a trade, and wang would be a decent candidate to battle for a starting pitcher job since i don’t (nor do i believe the mets do) have any confidence in the guys on the roster right now…
    Kelly Johnson is an interesting name you missed, and given the search for a catcher, john buck as well…
    i also wouldnt mind bringing back lance broadway on a minor league deal… he pitched ok for AAA and pretty well in the winter league
  8. IveMetFan December 14, 2009 at 9:07 pm
    Lackey is going to Boston..(Thank Goodness) Halladay is being swapped for Lee in Philly…(The Best scenerio for a Mets fan) I would rather have a Cliff Lee who is younger and proved he can pitch in the playoffs underpressure against a a great Yankees lineup.So far so good for the Mets.Lackey is an OK pitcher not an ace. He doesnt deserve ACE money.We can get similar or close production with Marquis. Plus Marquis is less of a injury concern and pitches well over 200 innings. To key to not signing a big free agent like Lackey or Bay or Holliday is that those three are not that much better than the B type free agents. Bay or Holliday are poor defenders and its not like we could deal with that because Citifield is huge and unforgiving. And Bay/Holliday are no Manny Ramirez. Anyways, back to the pitching. We need quality starting pitchers behind Santana. Marquis is a start. He would be a nice number 3 starter which pushes Pelfrey to the 4th spot and Perez and Niese can battle it out for the 5th spot. This still leaves a whole in the rotation at the number 2 spot. I am all for signing a high risk high reward type starter. I would sign Ching Ming Wang to incedive laden deal and hope he returns to his old form. He is only 29 and he is the fastest to 50 wins since Dwight Gooden. Im sure they can get him healthy and he would be dominate especially in Citifield. I would also sign Bedard. I know we are taking chances with all the injury plagued pitchers but this is worth the shot. We dont overspend this year on the top free agents, who aren’t really top free agents. We take a shot at Wang and Bedard if it doesnt work then we have money for Lee, Beckett or Webb in 2011 when Ike Davis and Fmart are promoted.

    Small moves are the way to go this offseason. Their are better free agents in 2011 and you dont want money tied up in a Lackey Bay or Holliday. Those three make me sick. This has got to be the worst free agent class ever!!! Give me Pujols, Mauer, Prince Fielder free agent year and now we are talking.

  9. IveMetFan December 14, 2009 at 9:11 pm
    I would take a chance on Matt Capp and since Im signing 3 SP this offseason. I would put Maine in the Bullpen. He has a good fastball and good stuff. He doesnt last long as a starter. So the bullpen would be perfect for him. He can pitch hard for 1 inning instead of trying to pitch hard for 6 or 7 innings and end up only completing 4 or 5.
  10. IveMetFan December 14, 2009 at 9:22 pm
    Leave Pagan in LF sign Nady as a backup..He can play OF and 1B. Pagan is a speedy guy who can help pitchers by getting to alot of balls Bay/Holliday could only dream of getting to. Sign Delgado. Though their is concern about his hip, I wouldnt worry about it to much I hear from alot of sources I read Delgado takes good care of himself. If healthy he can hit 25-30 hr .260 95-100rbi’s for 1 season on the cheap. Who else can we get anywayz. Garret Atkins, I’ll pass. Let the 2006-2009 team have one more shot at it before the young guys come up (IKE FMART).

    Pitching depth, defense, speedy and timely hitting are gonna win it for the Mets. Not Bay/Holliday. Those guys are over rated and will be over paid. We need superb defenders at Citifield not CLUNKERS!!

  11. IveMetFan December 14, 2009 at 9:33 pm
    We are just going to have to take another shot at injury plagued players. And hope they pan out this year. We are doing it with Reyes Beltran Franceour Maine Perez Cora and Santana anyways. So whats a couple of more guys who have big upsides as well. This year we can’t expect a championship. This is a 1 year gap so that we can start looking forward to the future. When Ike and Fmart and Thole arrive at Citifield. I would move Murphy to second this season. This season is about exploring and trying out injured plagued players and seeing if they can help for the future. Save money and add QUALITY pitching in 2011 Santana Webb Marquis Wang Pelfrey
    or if Wang doesnt work out Santana Webb Marquis Bedard Pelfrey. If that doesnt work then Santan Webb Marquis Pelfrey Perez or Niese.

    See my point get more pitching take quality risks and we will have more options for 2011.

    Can you picture an infield with all positions filled by the Mets farm. Wright Reyes Murphy Davis Thole and Fmart and Pagan in the OF.