Mets Fan Window Shopping: Corner Outfield

At the moment, the Mets don’t have a legitimate MLB centerfielder. Nearly as concerning is the fact they don’t have any legitimate outfielders to flank the ghost in center field. So, let’s pretend the Mets have a budget as large as the Kansas City Royals, and can consider offering contracts to free agent outfielders currently available.

Bobby Abreu
I know, I know – the 39-year-old Abreu is only a whisper of the shadow that he once was. But, a whisper of a shadow is still better than sending 8 players out on the field. Abreu no longer has the bat speed to hit .300+ or hit 20+ homers, but he still has a good eye, evidenced by his .361 OBP through 230 plate appearances with the Dodgers last season. I don’t think he’d be a viable option as a starter, and may not even be good enough to platoon, but it might be worth taking a flyer on him as a non-roster / ST invite and see if he can be a pinch-hitter who can fill in once a week.

Raul Ibanez
Ibanez was never a good fielder and he’s even worse now. His 19 homeruns and .761 OPS were likely the product of being in a scary Yankees lineup and playing half his games in Yankee Stadium. As much as I hate his defense, he MIGHT be OK as part of a platoon; he did swat RHPs to the tune of a .812 OPS. Though, I think it would have to be a limited platoon — the kind where the RH bat plays against some righthanders. If it were up to me, I’d pass.

Austin Kearns
Kearns could be the RH bat that platoons with Ibanez, considering that he hit righthanders significantly better than lefthanders last year — and has been pretty much the same hitter against all pitchers, regardless of handedness, his entire career. Kearns’ batting average and power numbers have steadily declined as he’s aged, but he continues to get on base, which we think is valued by the Mets. He’s not the best solution, but is there a MLB-ready, righthanded-hitting outfielder in the Mets organization who is better? Scary thought.

Matt Diaz
For his entire career, Matt Diaz had one tool: he could hit lefthanded pitching. Then he entered his early 30s. I don’t know if he can make a miraculous comeback and once again be the righthanded side of a platoon, but it can’t hurt to offer him a spring training invite. Otherwise, my gut says “pass.”

Cody Ross
He seemed to be a perfect fit in Boston, but, they found alternatives. If the Mets signed him, he’d be the best outfielder in the organization. That’s sad.

Nick Swisher
Like Ross, if the Mets signed him, he’d be the best outfielder under contract. Swisher has had the benefit of the short porch in Yankee Stadium and plenty of support in the lineup, but even before moving to the Bronx, Swisher hit with power and was an on-base machine, so there’s some hope that he can continue to be productive away from the Yankees.

Delmon Young
We keep waiting — and waiting — for Young to do something spectacular. Or, at least, good. Wasn’t he supposed to win a batting title, or a triple crown, or something, by now? Young is still young at age 27, and moving into what is supposed to be his peak years. Even at his underwhelming, enigmatic self, Young is better on paper than anyone the Mets have, and has more potential than any outfielder under contract by the Mets. Considering his age, to me it’s a no-brainer.

Here’s a crazy thought: the Mets could, theoretically, have an outfield of Swisher, Ross (or Young), and Michael Bourn — would that be so terrible? Shoot, go crazy and put Josh Hamilton in CF (or one of the corners). Imagine David Wright hitting in front of Hamilton? Or behind Bourn and Swisher? I know, I know, it will never happen. But I can dream, and further, it’s proof that the pickings aren’t all THAT slim — even this late in the offseason. I would go so far as to say that if the Mets put together an outfield like that, and signed A.J. Pierzynski to catch, they’d have a legitimate shot at keeping things interesting through August — maybe even play “meaningful games” in September.

What are your thoughts?

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. Dan B December 12, 2012 at 7:45 am
    Ummm…did you forget to include Mr. Andres Torres? Did you notice the Mets cleared out payroll again this offseason? But they signed David Wright! Well, the contract is backloaded with deferred money and he is actually making less money in 2013 then he would of if he didn’t sign the contract. How happy must he be to defer money so the Mets could sign a mid level free agent and the Mets end up keeping the money? Mets also deferred Bay money and did not spend that money. And in no rumors do you hear the Mets offering Dickey extra money for next year in order to keep salary down in 2014 and 2015. Every move says they have no money right now. They even cut spending on their beloved farm system this offseason.
    • Izzy December 12, 2012 at 9:34 am
      disagree Dan. They have money. They just won’t spend it. The Wilpons need to make up the money that the free ride from ponzii land gave them. The money is there. It just goes into Freddies account instead of the METS.
      • DaveSchneck December 12, 2012 at 9:44 am
  2. DaveSchneck December 12, 2012 at 9:43 am
    I don’t know why your window shopping is so conservative. Don’t you know Sandy is right on the cusp of convincing the Angels to deal Trout for Dickey?
  3. Reese December 12, 2012 at 11:24 am
    I was on the Delmon Young bandwagon before last season even ended. Given the silence surrounding Mr. Anger Management, I’m thinking you might be able to land him for close to his last contract — $6 million per year. Despite his awful defense, I’d much rather take a chance on him delivering 20 HRs and a .290 avg than I would handing out multiple years to Cody Ross (though as you say Ross would catapult to the top of the Mets outfield hierarchy). If you landed Young and played Duda in the other corner, that leaves Nieuwenhuis, a torrid spring from den Dekker or (god help us) a redux of Andres Torres on a minor league deal. Ugh! I think there is a CF/leadoff hitter out there for the taking if only Nero would get off his conservative butt and make some calls. For example, Tony Campaña of the Chicago Cubs is a reserve outfielder with world class running speed who could handle CF. In just over 300 major league ABs he has 54 SBs but no starting role. How much could a reserve outfielder cost in trade? The Rangers have a similar player in Craig Gentry. Again, a minor prospect could likely get that deal done.
  4. Mike B December 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm
    Where is Ichiro? Sign him up in Left, Hamilton in Center, Swish in right . sign AJ to Catch and trade dickey for Kinsler and dont forget to buy your world series tickets early.
  5. Kanehl December 12, 2012 at 4:54 pm
    Probably the best of the admittedly bleak list of alternatives is signing Ross or Swisher (if the Wilpons would do it, maybe both). I’m not sure either of them would be worth the $ and years, but right now the Mets have NO credible MLB-level starting OFs and no one in the minors who projects to that within the the next 3 years. There’s a better FA class next year, and a rich one in 2015, so maybe sign one of these guys, with for Wheeler and Harvey to mature through 2013 & 2014, and add some strogner lineup punch through 2014 & 2015 FAs.
  6. argonbunnies December 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm
    I’d rather give Nieuwenhuis (or Den Dekker if he looks ready) a chance to add value to the organization going forward than buy high on platoon guys coming off career years. The $1mil Gomes got last year was sane; the $10mil he just from the Sox is not.

    An elite talent like Hamilton would be a different story, but I don’t see any of those besides Hamilton himself, and I get the sense that we’d have to splurge for a lot of risk to pry him away from Texas.

    Minor leaguers + whichever stopgap FAs come cheap + trades seems the best route to me.

  7. NCMetFan December 13, 2012 at 10:04 am
    The Mets do not have a CF to bridge the gap to their young outfielders that may be plausible CFs.The market for Bourne never developed and he is young enough to go 4 years at $12M/yr and see what happens. Kirk & Lucas could be parts of RF & LF platoons with Ross and Young if they could be had at moderate to low dollar vaules for one or two year contracts. No real good options behind the plate unless a trade of prospects produces a catcher. I’d rather see this with RA than trade him without a strong return of starter level young players. Bourn, Tejada, Wright, Davis, Ross/Young, Duda/Kirk, Murph, Catcher to go with a staff of Dickey, Santana, Harvey, Neise, Gee would be good as long as a Bullpen arm or two is added.
  8. Mets fan since 73 December 18, 2012 at 10:00 am
    Trade a marginal prospect for Coco Crisp for CF. sign hairston and mix him with duda in LF. Play Kirk in RF with baxter and valdespin backing up…