Free Agent Focus: Second Base

Is there a Mets fan alive who wants to see Luis Castillo at second base on Opening Day 2011?

Unfortunately, it will take a minor miracle by Sandy Alderson to move him this winter — without swallowing some or all of the $6M left on his contract.

But let’s pretend Castillo is out of the picture, and the Mets are looking at the free-agent market to take his place. In such a case what are the Mets’ options?

It doesn’t look good. We described the catching free-agent pool as “slim pickings”, but this pool is even slimmer. Here are the top second basemen available right now:

1. Orlando Hudson
2. Adam Kennedy
3. David Eckstein
4. Cristian Guzman
5. Aaron Miles
6. Julio Lugo

That’s it. Anytime David Eckstein finishes in the top three of anything, you know you’re in trouble.

That’s not to say I don’t like David Eckstein — I thoroughly enjoy watching him play and would welcome his arrival in Flushing. But if he’s the third-best second-sacker available? Well … yikes.

I suppose you could expand the above by adding natural shortstops Miguel Tejada, Craig Counsell, Edgar Renteria, and Orlando Cabrera, but none of those players are guaranteed to perform well on the other side of the bag and their additions to don’t make the pool significantly more palatable.

Assuming the Mets can move Castillo and don’t get a second baseman in return, the free agent market does not seem to be the place the Mets will find the man to play 2B in 2010. As much as we have perennially enjoyed talking about Orlando Hudson this time of year, now is not the time — neither for Hudson nor the Mets; that ship sailed two years ago. Kennedy wouldn’t be a terrible option if he could be had on a very cheap (read: under $1M) deal, but that doesn’t seem plausible. Same goes for Eckstein, who, like Hudson, has been rumored to be coveted by the Mets in the past. Cabrera, Renteria, or Tejada will probably be too expensive and are more suited to a potential playoff-contending team seeking a final piece, rather than a club centered on rebuilding.

In the end, I hope the Mets can find a taker for Castillo and make second base an open audition for Justin Turner, Daniel Murphy, and Reese Havens.

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. Metzfan November 30, 2010 at 10:12 am
    These are all second basemen the Mets should have signed 2 years ago, Too late now
  2. Tim November 30, 2010 at 10:24 am
    Looks like the Mets the mets are looking into getting Chris Young

    http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/news/story?id=5864549

    I can just see it now. Solid performer, good athelete, but end up on the DL 3 weeks into the season….

    What do you think of the move?

  3. Joe A. November 30, 2010 at 11:02 am
    I like the idea of a Murphy/Castillo competition in spring training.

    If Murphy wins, you have to cut Castillo because he has no value coming off the bench.

    If Castillo wins you can keep Murphy on the bench but you probably have to cut Carter because you still need a spot to carry a true middle infielder and Murphy would replace him as the primary LH PH.

    In either case, Justin Turner is my choice as the back-up MI.

    • Joe A. November 30, 2010 at 11:04 am
      ….obviously that means I have no interest in any of the FA 2B.
    • Steve S. November 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm
      Agree totally with you, but would hate not to have Carter on the bench. But I can see Murphy and Turner and Carter making the team, with us saying a “fond” farewell to Castillo.
  4. Walnutz15 November 30, 2010 at 11:25 am
    In-house option at 2B or bust.

    This isn’t the year to pursue a second-sacker.

  5. Andy November 30, 2010 at 11:26 am
    I wouldn’t mind Felipe Lopez as a back-up if he agrees to a minor league deal.
  6. Paul November 30, 2010 at 12:15 pm
    Let Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner platoon there unless one of them can will the job outright.
  7. Walnutz15 November 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm
    Order of preference, for me:

    Turner
    Havens
    Murphy
    Tejada

    Probably not very likely….given health/questions of readiness. However, I think there’s enough there to take a look at what we already have in-house.

    I’m actually offended that Luis Castillo is still under contract….Minaya must really have loved him, huh?

    Ridiculousness, defined. Guy’s like herpes.

    • Tommy2cat December 1, 2010 at 5:48 am
      The names “Turner, Havens, Murphy & Tejada” should complete the scope of players considered for second base next year. They are all young and hungry and have had a variety of marked successes in their young careers.

      I think a platoon is looming at 2nd base, similar to the mid-to-late 80′s.

  8. gary s. November 30, 2010 at 6:17 pm
    Well said Walnutz.How can any Met fan even conceive of castillo being on the tean in spring training, let alone competing for a job?I want to give Alderson time to do his thing, but if Castillo still is on the roster when spring training starts i will be very disappointed in Alderson.
    • Andy November 30, 2010 at 6:48 pm
      Meh. He already has his contract through 2010. Let him compete against the youngsters, but cut him if he doesn’t cut it.

      Of course if Castillo can be traded it would be better to trade him, even if the Mets have to eat $5 million to save $1 million, but I don’t think any other team wants any part of his contract at this point.

  9. Walnutz15 November 30, 2010 at 7:51 pm
    …which leads back to the original point — why would Minaya have wanted that kind of breaking-down ballplayer on a 4-year contract.

    Thank God the days of “drop in the bucket” options, and additional contract years (like water) will be over.

  10. NCMetFan November 30, 2010 at 8:56 pm
    Castillo is useless and could be traded for a ‘C’ prospect if the Mets pay all his contract and the opposing GM is drunk off his ass. He will be a cancer in the clubhouse, complaining about his lack of action if Murphy or anyone that doesn’t cause the outfield to play 250 feet from home plate when he is at bat limits his playing time. Cut Bait! Minaya screwed up with Perez and Castillo and there is no saving the $18M thrown away on these two. I hope the new GM and his team can embrace this fact and move on. If the Mets could pay 90% of their contracts and get two minor leaguers to pitch BP they should do it. Both have whinny attitudes are not part of the future, but until their traded, I realy think they have great comeback potential and Alderson should buy enough beers that some GM can see the potential each player has.
    • Andy November 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm
      I didn’t get any impression of Perez being whiny. All accounts were he was generally good-natured and accepting of his role or lack thereof. He just sucks and refused to accept assignment to the minors.
  11. CatchDog December 1, 2010 at 10:08 am
    I believe Murphy and Turner will surprise. Tejada needs to be in Buffalo along side of Havens.

    As a backup MI, perhaps Luis Hernandez or as Andy mentioned above, an inexpensive guy such as Felipe Lopez.

    Castillo hopefully can be dumped for a bowl of chili or pound of squash.