Will Mets Sign a Major League Free Agent?

While reading this story on the lowered bond ratings for Citi Field, one tidbit jumped out at me: the Mets are the only team this winter that has not signed a Major League free agent. Is that possible? More to the point: will they sign a free-agent to a MLB contract?

I’m really not sure, but I think it’s entirely possible that the Mets don’t sign anyone to a big-league deal. Right now, the top candidate to get a MLB contract from the Mets is Scott Hairston, and it’s looking more and more like he’ll go elsewhere. What other free agents might the Mets consider, who would require a guaranteed MLB deal (as opposed to a minor-league contract / spring training invite)?

If the Mets don’t sign Hairston, they can probably get Austin Kearns on a minor-league deal. However, they almost certainly would need to give a big-league deal to Delmon Young. I don’t see any other OFs who would absolutely require a MLB contract; maybe Luke Scott?

The only other position player I see the Mets offering a big-league deal to would be a utility man, like Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Baker, Adam Kennedy, or Ryan Theriot. Maybe the Mets would offer a big-league deal to a catcher such as Jesus Flores or Chris Snyder. Otherwise, a MLB contract would likely go to a pitcher. But could the Mets get away with not offering a Major League deal to a pitcher?

If the Mets are serious about upgrading the bullpen, they’d likely have to offer a big-league contract to Brian Wilson, Matt Capps, Brandon Lyon, J.P. Howell, Francisco Rodriguez, Jon Rauch, Brett Myers, or Jose Valverde. But if they go for other relievers from the free-agent pool, they may be able to get them as non-roster FAs with minor league deals.

Finally, there are the starting pitchers. Since there hasn’t been much buzz outside Flushing around Chris Young, the Mets might be able to bring him back with another incentive-laden, minor-league deal. Otherwise, it will take a big-league deal to sign Joe Saunders, Freddy Garcia, Shaun Marcum, or Carl Pavano. Those who might be available on minor league deals include (among others) Chien-Ming Wang, Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe, Jonathan Sanchez, and Aaron Cook.

What do you think? Will the Mets go the entire offseason without signing a Major League free agent? If not, what position(s) / role(s) do you think they’ll try to fill with MLB free agents? If you have specific players in mind, put them in your comments as well.

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. dansmith December 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm
    Give Marcum the two-year deal he wants. Everyone seems to have forgotten how solid this guy was in both Milwaukee and Toronto.
    • argonbunnies December 31, 2012 at 4:26 am
      Agreed. He’s coming off some injury and ineffectiveness late last year, but that’s got to be weighed against his track record of consistent success (in hitters’ parks, no less). if he’s fully healed, he’s going to be a steal for someone.
    • argonbunnies December 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm
      Flores and Wheeler for Stanton makes perfect sense, but only if the Mets are going to compete any time soon. If our window is later, then by that time Stanton will probably be eating up a huge chunk of our payroll, unlike now.

      So, in 2106 would you rather have Stanton, or would you rather have Wheeler, Flores, and $20mil? Tough call. With an unlimited budget, Stanton. With constraints but brilliant management, the kids & cash. For the Mets? I dunno.

      • argonbunnies December 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm
        oops, sorry, replied in the wrong place
  2. Jimmy Prinzler December 31, 2012 at 3:51 am
    Janish,

    No need to go hard after FA especially when Mets is re-building mode. Mets have too many young guns that can be called up, who knows few out of them could surprise us. Mets is not going anywhere in `13 so why not give some young kids some playing time and go after FA in `14 and I believe Mets will have an extra money in `14 when Mets should not opt Santana 25m for `14. I think Mets will probably try to move Santana before July trade because other club can opt him out after season. It’s win-win for both clubs so wouldn’t hurt to get low prospect for Santana trade. I do look for some changes in OF in `14. Watch for Sandy to look HARD on OFs in `14.

    • Jimmy Prinzler December 31, 2012 at 3:55 am
      By the way, Happy New Year and we should go to one of Mets game someday in `13. Let’s hit it up when Mets starts their season.
  3. Izzy December 31, 2012 at 6:37 am
    Lets see who has come off the books so far. Perez Castillo KROD Reyes, Beltran, part of Wright, part of Bay, gee will all the optimists tell us where has all that savings gone? Certainly not to the team. But one more guy off the books will make a difference!!! Ha! Wake us up when we have new ownership. Until then stop beleiving the Wilpons aill do anything for the team when all they want to do is restore the free annual funding they lost when Bernie got caught.
    • Tommy2cat December 31, 2012 at 9:45 am
      Happy New Year everyone.

      Yes, Izzy, they knew. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have given Bonilla that ridiculous buyout. I know something was fuggazi the moment I heard they did that. It made no sense and the only rational explanation is that they had uber-confidence in a stock investment. How could their financial future have been so predictable?

      I think Sandy is not signing a ML free agent in the odd chance that the Mets are competitive this year, he can say “Look, Ma, no hands!”

      My only justified expectation is that he’ll pull $$$ strings to re-sign Scott Hairston. I feel as if we have a constitutional right (in the suffering Met fan sense) to Scott because he’ll likely perform well. To me, Scott’s a Met in the sense that Ed Charles is a Met, with a lot more power.

      Nothwithstanding the FA drought, I really like Sandy’s off-season moves to date. He extracted maximum value for RA and addressed a MAJOR need, and do not underestimate his signing of Greg Burke. Burke has been nearly unhittable since he dropped his arm angle.

      As for Fred & Jeff, what can you expect from a pig but a grunt?

  4. Dan B December 31, 2012 at 10:02 am
    The Mets remind me of Groucho Marx’s line about not wanting to join a country club that would have him for a member. If the Mets are the top bidder for a free agent, then they are obviously overpaying and don’t want that free agent.
  5. DaveSchneck December 31, 2012 at 10:07 am
    Joe,
    I will go out on a limb and say they will sign a FA. The reduction in bond rating has no financial impact on the Mets’ operations, it is simply a prediction by the gurus that Mets attendance is likely to go down in 2013…something any Met fan would agree with.
    • Dan B December 31, 2012 at 3:46 pm
      Dave you are right that the bond rating doesn’t effect 2013 expenses but it is a bad sign for their attempts to refinance future debts — an issue which could hurt the Wilpons worse then the ponzi scheme. Trimming costs and paying down debt continues to dominate the offseason.
      • DaveSchneck December 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm
        Dan,
        Agreed. The Wilpons are still shaky, and I wish the Mets had a different owner, but the Wilpons are exponentially better off now than one year ago. They settled the billion dollar Madoff case, and through none of their doing the selling price of the Dodgers along with Fox’s purchase of 49% of YES jacked up the value of their team and TV station. They will get theg debt refinanced. They may well have net worth of $1 billion, only with some cash flow problems in 2013.
        • Dan B December 31, 2012 at 7:07 pm
          I view the Wilpon’s state a bit more negatively then you do, Dave, but we are on the same page. The bottom line for Met fans is that the Wilpons could be in one of three categories — too poor and have to sell; just rich enough to keep the team but too poor to properly reinvest; rich enough to keep the team and properly reinvest. The first would be best. The third would be good news. I feel we fall in the second category, unfortunately.
  6. Joe December 31, 2012 at 11:56 am
    I think there is a decent chance they will sign a free agent since you know mixed bag. Just signing a free agent doesn’t mean much per se — some picked up some questionable options, at times overpaying them.

    I expect a safe move or three here, maybe to get a 5th starter or reliever or another spot. They aren’t going to you know get one for three to five years or something.

  7. SiddFinch December 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm
    Instead of messing around with borderline “3″ Free Agent OFers, the team should be going in a completely different direction. The Jays deal was a bold more and the Mets should seriously pursue a follow-up.

    I think the Mets should go all-in to acquiring Stanton from Miami. They could build a package around Flores/Wheeler or Syndgaard and a couple others plus maybe Murph. While that doesn’t seem much on paper, the Marlins do need a 3B (both long and short term) as well as SP.

    Flores would solve their long-term 3B need while Murph would be short-term 3B fix and super utility player. His gap-power hitting style would fit well into the Marlins’ cavernous ballpark as well. I’d offer Syndgaard first but if he didn’t interest Miami, then I’d offer Wheeler. Nobody wants to trade a future ace, but if it could net you a 23 year old power hitting stud like Stanton, I think you’d have to pursue that kind of deal. The Beltran trade ultimately netting you Stanton isn’t too shabby of a haul, even at the cost of Wheeler.

    I’d even give up Niese or other top prospects like Nimmo, Cecchini, Fulmer. I know that other teams might have more enticing prospects, but the Mets do have the parts to match up with the Marlins’ needs.

    I’d hate to part with Wheeler but one of the few people worth moving him for is Stanton. If Miami’s listening to offers then the Mets should be talkin’

    Despite their interdivision status, the Marlins and Mets are no stranger to blockbuster deals, so why not pull off another.

    • argonbunnies December 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm
      Flores and Wheeler for Stanton makes perfect sense, but only if the Mets are going to compete any time soon. If our window is later, then by that time Stanton will probably be eating up a huge chunk of our payroll, unlike now.

      So, in 2106 would you rather have Stanton, or would you rather have Wheeler, Flores, and $20mil? Tough call. With an unlimited budget, Stanton. With constraints but brilliant management, the kids & cash. For the Mets? I dunno.

  8. Rob December 31, 2012 at 4:44 pm
    Joe J: Wanted to wish you a happy New Year and thanks for all the great posts in 2012. Look forward to 2013…even if its all just theoretical and there’s no chance that we’ll actually enjoy the season.

    All the best,
    Rob

  9. John D. December 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm
    I think they will sign or trade for a major leaguer, if only to maintain the charade that they haven’t punted on the season. If they do nothing, Alderson and co. will have a hard time arguing that they intend to contend and, the All-Star game notwithstanding, attendance will suffer. The modest added salary (I can’t imagine them adding a high salary) would probably cost them less than the decreased attendance will.
  10. Tom January 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm
    The Mets don’t have enough to get Stanton and if they did, it’d require trading top prospects. Maybe even D’Arnaud and/or Syndergaard. The Mets are away from winning. We all know this. But we do want to at least see the Mets play respectable. At least give us a chance to believe they have a chance even though it never last for 6 months, sadly. In the first 2 or 3 months of ’09, ’11 and ’12, they had their head above .500. If the Mets suck right out of the gate, who is going to want to come to a game in the spring let alone the summer?

    The Mets have enough money within their 2013 budget to get someone who came contribute. I don’t know why anyone is worrying about starting pitching talking about Shawn Marcum and others. Even without R.A. Dickey and an awful Johan Santana, our rotation last year was still decent. Our offense was horrible. If our pitchers had more run support, we would have won more games. And if our bullpen could hold a lead, we would have won some more of those games.

    Who would playing RF right now? A mix of Cowgill, Valdespin and Baxter? Maybe Turner if he can handle it? There are several problems with this. Even if you got away with this in one OF slot, how do we know Duda will be reliable? I’m not even referring to his wrist but his play while 100% healthy. How do we know Nieuwenhuis won’t struggle? We don’t even have Andres Torres here as insurance and he wasn’t even that good. If Nieuwenhuis is struggling from being promoted prematurely, den Dekker would too and is not ready. I’d guarantee the same of Wilmer Flores (assuming he can play LF or RF), Juan Lagares and Cesar Puello too.

    Let’s say a mix of Duda, Nieuwy, Cowgill, Baxter, Valdespin is productive and healthy though. Even if you got good numbers out of Tejada, Murph, Wright and Davis and Buck holds his own in the 8 (unless D’Arnaud is ready), our 5-6-7 is Duda-Cowgill/Baxter/Valdespin-Nieuwy. That is awful! Now if you sign Hairston or Delmon Young (injured + not very mentally stable), you throw an alright bat between Davis and Duda. At this point, they need to at least do that. If not, at least trade for Kubel. He wouldn’t take much. Wouldn’t it beat the likes of signing Bobby Abreu?

    Beyond this, bringing back Ronny Cedeno or someone similar is a good idea. I suppose Cowgill is the best we have as a 4th OF even though he isn’t ideal to back up in CF. I guess if Hairston returns and starts in RF, he can slide over when necessary. As for the bullpen, much of the same will return (Hefner or Laffey + Carson/Familia/Edgin/Parnell/Francisco + Closer?) Bringing in someone to close over Francisco would help. But Francisco sliding into Rauch’s role from last year is a downgrade.

    Face it. We’re going to lose 90+. But it’s okay because the future is looking better.

    • Joe Janish January 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm
      People are worried about starting pitching because without R.A. Dickey last year, the Mets might lose 100 games. Dickey made starting pitching a strength for the Mets, but without him, their rotation was only average at best in comparison to most NL teams. Further, there’s no guarantee that Gee comes back healthy and performing at the same level as before his unusual injury. Finally, there’s the simple fact that Mets have only four starting pitchers at the moment — Niese, Santana, Harvey, and Gee. Maybe Hefner can be a fifth, but even if he can, no MLB team can go into a season with exactly five starters; you need at least 7 to guard against injuries. The Mets are talking about Jenrry Mejia and/or Jeurys Familia as possibly competing for starting roles but both seem to profile as relievers. At minimum the Mets should sign at least one legit starter with MLB experience, have him compete with Hefner for the fifth spot, and then there is more suitable depth to get through a 162-game season.