What If Mets Don’t Sign Hairston?

Apparently, the signing of Matt Diaz has not affected the Yankees’ interest in Scott Hairston. Further, there are reportedly other teams in addition to the Yanks interested in the slugging Hairston. Though Hairston has stated his desire to return to the Mets, there remains a very real possibility his 2013 home team does not reside in Flushing. If Hairston signs elsewhere, who is going to be the Mets’ fourth outfielder?

Never mind that the Mets don’t have a starting three in place — that’s beside the point. Or is it?

With pitchers and catchers reporting to Port St. Lucie 55 days from now, let’s take a look at the Mets’ current “outfield situation.”

Mike Baxter – can play all three positions capably, probably best suited to the corners.

Collin Cowgill – basically, a righthanded-hitting version of Baxter, with a bit more speed.

Lucas Duda – either the next Adam Dunn or the next Adam Hyzdu. He’s a liability in either corner, and will need to hit more like Dunn to justify having him stand in the outfield.

Jordany Valdespin – if only ‘spin performed as well as he thinks he is, the Mets would have a superstar. I’ve seen his raw skills, but don’t see anything from his minor league stats to suggest he can hit enough to be something other than a second baseman or utilityman.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – One of my favorite Mets of the past few years was Jeremy Reed. Captain Kirk reminds me quite a bit of Reed, except he strikes out three times as often. That’s unfortunate. Center field is the only place Nieuwenhuis makes sense, as his offense isn’t enough for a corner.

Matt Den Dekker – Den Dekker is essentially Nieuwenhuis, but might strike out even more often.

Corner outfielder Cesar Puello and Juan Lagares are on the Mets’ 40-man roster, but are likely too raw to compete for a big-league role — but hey, you never know.

It’s possible the Mets go with full platoon situation that looks like this:

LF – Duda / Valdespin
CF – Nieuwenhuis (or Den Dekker) / Cowgill
RF – Baxter / Cowgill

I know he’s fast, but not sure Cowgill is fast enough to handle both RF and CF simultaneously — but it could, as some of right field could be covered by short-fielder Daniel Murphy.

In all seriousness, take a look at that outfield — Duda, Valdespin, Nieuwenhuis, Cowgill, Baxter — that’s what it looks like right now, without Hairston. If Hairston comes back AND has another career year, that rotation looks a little better. If Hairston signs elsewhere, the best OFs left on the free-agent market are Delmon Young, Austin Kearns, Nyjer Morgan, Scott Podsednik, Endy Chavez, Luke Scott, Aubrey Huff, Juan Rivera, Carlos Lee, Don Kelly, Corey Patterson, Jason Michaels, Joe Mather, Adam Loewen, Willie Harris, Jack Cust, Shelley Duncan, Brett Carroll, Andrew Brown, Jai Miller, and Lou Montanez. There may be some other needles in the haystack of minor-league free agents I’m missing — if so, let me know in the comments. Among that group, I’m not seeing Morgan come in, because it makes more sense to put Nieuwenhuis and Den Dekker out there to see what they can do — and fall back on Cowgill and Baxter if both fail miserably. Sandy Alderson likes home runs so maybe Loewen gets another shot, and/or Luke Scott is brought in. Cust and Duncan have power, but both are similar to Duda defensively. Huff, Young, and Rivera would be decent fits due to their righthandedness and experience, but I’m not seeing any of the three signed by the Mets. Kearns keeps coming to my mind, and would seem to be the type of player who could fit.

What’s your thought? If Hairston signs elsewhere, what will the Mets do? Will they sign a free agent with MLB experience? Will they go with what they have currently? Is there a trade they can make, and if so, who is out there and what will it take to acquire him? Answer 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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