Jeff Francis Also Forsakes Flushing

You just can’t make this stuff up — yet another high-profile free-agent has refused to take the Mets’ money. The latest is former 17-game winner and 16-game loser Jeff Francis, who opted instead to accept an invitation to spring training and minor league dealoffered by the Cincinnati Reds. It was a wild, wheel-and-deal day for the Reds, who also picked up former Met Wilson Valdez in a trade with the Phillies.

As reported in various outlets, the Mets had been keeping a close eye on Francis, perhaps fearing he might pickpocket an employee. In any case, I’m a little sad they weren’t able to bring him into the fold — anyone with the guts to wear a Vancouver Canucks hat around Denver has to have some moxie and would add interest to the team.

OK in all seriousness … with Francis off the table, there aren’t many starting pitchers left on the market who the Mets can consider for depth. They do have to sign at least one more arm, don’t they? Here’s who I believe is still available, likely fits into the Mets’ financial plan, and might be willing to sign a minor-league deal with the club, in no particular order whatsoever:

Kyle Davies
Zach Duke
Ross Ohlendorf
Clay Hensley
Scott Kazmir
Sergio Mitre
Micah Owings

I’m sure I’ve missed someone, just as I’m sure one or more of the above have already been signed and I wasn’t sent the press release. Either way it’s not an inspiring group.

No, Jon Garland, Roy Oswalt, nor Edwin Jackson are on the list, as I just don’t see the Mets affording any of them. Livan Hernandez is not there, either, since he seems to be considering retirement; also, he might still be ticked about being released by the Wilpons in 2009 just prior to his performance bonus kicking in. If you want to consider Rich Harden, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Ben Sheets, Mark Prior, Wayne Garland, Steve Busby, David Clyde, or some other guy who was a great pitcher for a brief period and then blew his arm out go right ahead — but, to me it doesn’t make much sense to go down that road again, when what the Mets need right now is someone with the potential to remain healthy in the event one of their projected five starters breaks down. I just don’t see the point in signing a disaster as your disaster plan. In fact, Kazmir and Mitre are teetering on the edge in terms of potential reliability.

Tim Wakefield is still a free agent, and it would be really cool to have two knuckleballers on the staff, but I’m just not seeing it become reality. Word on the street is Wake will retire if Boston doesn’t re-sign him.

Owings is intriguing, both as an arm and as a fourth outfielder. But is he still available after going 8-0 with a 3.57 ERA last year? I haven’t heard anything about him this winter.

I keep looking at these seven names and thinking I must be missing someone, because it seemed to be only a few days ago that there were two dozen healthy starting pitchers looking for work. Help me out — who am I missing? Who would you consider? Do you think the Mets still need to sign a starter for depth or am I all wrong on this? Answer in the comments.

11-12 Offseason

About the Author

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.

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