Mets Free Agents: Who Would You Keep?

In case you missed it, the following 2012 Mets are now free agents: Scott Hairston, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Ronny Cedeno, Kelly Shoppach, Tim Byrdak and Chris Young. Which of these seven wonders would you bring back in 2013, if you were GM? Let’s take a look at each …

Scott Hairston
Hairston fulfilled his expectation of killing lefthanded pitchers, and then some. He had a career year, blasting a career-high 20 homeruns and posting a beastly .803 OPS. BTW, that OPS was all about the dingers; his OBP was a horrendous .299 — in line with his career average. After such a season, one would expect him to garner significant attention this winter; some are suggesting he’ll get a two-year offer from someone, in the neighborhood of $5M to $6M — which would be more than double his $1.1M 2013 salary. Will the Mets pony up that kind of dough for a guy who can hit only southpaws? If he doesn’t hit homeruns, he has very little value. My feeling is that 2012 was an anomaly, a mirage, and he won’t be that productive ever again. Considering the Mets have about $10M — if that — to spend on free agents this winter, I’m not sure it makes sense to give a third of it to a part-time corner outfielder. I’d rather see the Mets find another potential slugger from the reject pile and/or give a youngster a look-see.

Jon Rauch
Rauch pitched as well as one could expect, maybe a bit better, in 2012. And with that, he priced himself out of a 2013 Mets contract. With starting pitchers going 5-6 innings, all mildly effective relievers are gaining value and dollars. After appearing in 73 ballgames and posting a paltry 0.98 WHIP, Rauch earned himself at minimum a 2-year, $7M deal; he’s a legit setup man or a highly effective seventh-inning guy in a deep bullpen. The Mets could use such an asset but can’t afford it. Further, I’m fairly sure he won’t appear in half as many games in ’13; his mechanics suggest he has both a shoulder an elbow issue, and in my opinion, whoever signs him will be investing in his rehab rather than his on-field performance.

Ramon Ramirez
Someone may be able to do something with Ramirez’s raw talent and turn it into effectiveness, but that someone is not Dan Warthen and the Mets. I’ll pass on this 31-year-old middle (middling?) reliever and take my chances with a twenty-something youngster from the farm to fill sixth and seventh innings.

Ronny Cedeno
Cedeno wasn’t terrible, and he wasn’t spectacular; he was Ronny Cedeno. Do the Mets need to spend in excess of $1M on a utility infielder? Eh. Even though Justin Turner is at best below-average at shortstop, I’ll take my chances with him as my main utilityman at the MLB minimum. If something happens to Ruben Tejada, there’s always an Omar Quintanilla or Pete Orr hanging around to fill the gap for two weeks.

Kelly Shoppach
Around the Mets blogosphere and Mets beat writers, there is this general consensus that the Mets aren’t so sure whether or not they’ll bring back Shoppach, as they weren’t convinced he is the ideal foil to Josh Thole. I read crap like that and laugh so hard I nearly fall off my chair. First off, if I’m Kelly Shoppach, I’m not convinced the Mets are the best place to be at this point in my career. Secondly, it’s laughable to consider Thole as part of a regular rotation behind the plate for a Major League club. At best, he’s a backup. But this isn’t about Thole, it’s about Shoppach, who is the best all-around catcher the Mets have had under contract since Paul LoDuca. Of course, that’s not saying much, and don’t misconstrue it as me proclaiming Shoppach as Johnny Bench. Most likely, the Mets will not re-sign Shoppach, and that’s fine — personally, I’d prefer they find someone with a similar all-around skill set, but perhaps a little younger, and/or with fewer less-glaring holes. I’m not so sure such a backstop exists, and so I’d be find with them bringing back Shoppach, as I think an experienced catcher like him is important toward developing young pitchers such as Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.

Tim Byrdak
Byrdak’s career really exploded in a Mets uniform, as his K/9 rate soared into the double-digits. With his effectiveness, however, came overuse, and his season — and likely, his career as a Met — ended in early August. The 39-year-old underwent major shoulder surgery on a torn anterior capsule and likely won’t be back until late in 2013 at the earliest. That said, I don’t see any point in the Mets re-signing him.

Chris Young
Making 20 starts without breaking down for the first time since 2007, Young likely provided enough evidence for some clubs to believe he’ll be worth a few million for a one-year deal — maybe even a two-year deal. Color me pessimistic, as I find his mechanics incredibly dangerous and injury-inducing. Even if he does find a way to stay healthy, Young rarely pitches beyond the fifth inning. He’s a good choice for a seasoned club looking to fill out the back-end of their rotation, but on a rebuilding team like the Mets, I’m not seeing his value. As much as it pains me to see Chris Schwinden, Collin McHugh, or Jeremy Hefner take the mound, I’d much rather one of those under-30 youngsters take the ball than Chris Young at this point in the Mets’ rebuilding process. Give me 10 starts each by Darin Gorski, Mark Cohoon, and Zack Wheeler and let’s see what happens. I already know what Chris Young can do, and it won’t be enough to turn the Mets from a fourth- or fifth-place club into a playoff contender.

What’s your thought on the Mets free agents? Should any of them be brought back? Why or why not? Post your notes in the comments.

12-13 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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