Free Agents Left On Scrap Heap: Position Players

We know that the Mets are going to make a flurry of signings in the coming weeks, but who is left among the free-agent pool?

Let’s take a gander at some of the players still waiting on the scrap heap, who may be of interest to the Mets.


Jason Jaramillo
There was a time when expectations for Jaramillo were similar to the way people feel about Travis d’Arnaud. Though he didn’t have the same power potential as the Mets’ new young phenom, Jaramillo was considered the Phillies “catcher of the future” in the mid-2000s, and seemed a sure thing to be a starting big league backstop. However, his bat never caught up to his solid receiving skills, so his ceiling in MLB is as a backup catcher. He’s a switch-hitter who is equally inept from both sides of the plate, but behind it he’s better than anyone we saw catching for the Mets last year.

Miguel Perez
Perez is a big (6’3″, 240-lbs.) backstop with a cannon for an arm and good ball-blocking skills. However, he can’t hit a lick. Considering that Henry Blanco keeps getting contracts, it’s stunning that this 29-year-old Venezuelan has caught only one MLB game — for Cincinnati in 2005. Again, he can’t hit, but defensively, he’s better than Blanco was in his prime. He’d be a fine backup to John Buck while the Mets suppress d’Arnaud’s service time for a few weeks.


Ryan Adams
A former second-round pick of the Orioles and, as recently as 2010, a Top 10 prospect in Baltimore’s organization, Adams is most easily described as the righthanded-hitting Daniel Murphy (or perhaps, another Josh Satin). In other words, he’s a line-drive hitter with occasional pop, has displayed good patience / plate discipline, but has had struggled finding a position. Just like Murphy, his lack of power profiles him more as a second baseman, but his limited skill set makes him slightly better defensively at the corners. He had a terrible 2012, due mainly to a hand injury. Oh, and there’s a good story: he’s from the New Orleans area, and was displaced from his home as a high schooler due to Hurricane Katrina.

Adrian Cardenas
Whatever happened to this guy? He was Baseball America’s 2006 High School Player of the Year, and a #1 draft pick. Methinks he was born about a decade too late — if there wasn’t PEDs testing, he might’ve been able to develop the power he needs to go from a AAAA guy to a MLBer. Instead, he profiles as a utility man who can play an average shortstop, second base, third base, and left field. He hits from the left side and has below-average speed. His top tool is his bat; he sprays line drives to all fields and is an on-base machine. The Mets like guys who can hit singles and take walks, right?

Ruben Gotay
There, I said it. Was it really six years ago that Gotay and Robinson Cano looked like similar players? Boy, times have changed. Gotay still switch-hits, still has average to slightly above-average speed, is still an on-base machine in the minors, and can play all four infield positions. And at most he’ll cost the MLB minimum. Sounds like an ideal utility man for a rebuilding club, doesn’t he?

Tug Hulett
Another on-base machine who can play multiple positions and never developed enough power to be more than a AAAA player. He hits from the left side and his best position is 2B, so not sure he’d be a great fit as long as Dan Murphy is on the roster. However, he can play all four infield positions and, in a pinch, play both OF corners. His career OBP in the minors is .382.

Orlando Hudson
Since O-Dog has been rumored to join the Mets nearly every winter since 2006, I figured, heck, let’s put him on the list. He’s at a point now where his skills have eroded to the point where the Mets can afford him, and he’s available. No more than a backup who is limited to 2B and 3B, it might be fun to have his enthusiasm light up Port St. Lucie for a month. Who knows, maybe he can teach Murphy a thing or two about second base in the process.


Chad Tracy
After two big, 20+ homer years in 2005 and 2006, Tracy fell off the cliff, never to return (PEDs?). He’s spent most of the past six years struggling between AAA and MLB, never quite reaching his former heights. Last year, though, he pushed his OBP to .343 in 105 plate appearances with the Nationals; could he finally have rediscovered the plate discipline and patience that made him a borderline All-Star in his mid twenties? Tracy hits from the right side and can adequately handle all four corners of the diamond. Maybe he could be this year’s Scott Hairston.

Jake Fox
It seems that every year Fox wins the spring training home run crown, but spends the summer in the minors. He has as much raw power as anyone, and no park is too small to contain his mammoth fly balls. However, he may as well be a righthanded-hitting Jack Cust — he strikes out a ton, hits for a low average, and is not a very good fielder. He’s barely adequate in all four corners of the diamond, but does have the additional ability to squat behind home plate without embarrassing himself. Certainly, there’s value in a slugger who can play five positions, no?

Delmon Young
Austin Kearns
Nyjer Morgan
Juan Rivera

We’ve discussed these men several times over the past few weeks. I don’t know that the Mets want to bring in Young due to his behavioral issues, but he’s probably the most talented righthanded-hitting outfielder still available and in the Mets budget. Nyjer Morgan would appear to be an ideal stopgap and motivating force for Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and I’d love to see his hard-playing style in Flushing. However, Morgan is both opinionated and outspoken — two things that, historically, the Wilpons don’t like to see from their employees, so he may not be a good fit. I think Rivera is done — and I never was fond of him even when he was marginally productive. Kearns would seem to be the most logical fit among RH-hitting outfielders with extensive MLB experience.

Ryan Raburn
I keep forgetting about Rayburn, yet he appears to be a decent fit for the Mets. Rayburn has played every position at the MLB level except catcher and shortstop, hits from the right side, and showed some extra-base power in his 28-30-year-old years. His performance began to tail off in 2011, then fell off the cliff last year, hitting only .171. He turns 32 in April, so there’s a chance he’s gone the way of Jason Lane. But, his versatility and past success make him intriguing, especially on a cheap, minor-league deal.

Jai Miller
Miller is one of those “four-A” players who loves to hit in the PCL; he hit 32 homers for Sacramento in 2011. That said, he might be a good fit and a draw for the Mets’ AAA club in Las Vegas. Miller plays centerfield, hits from the right side, and can steal a base. Wait — power, speed, righthanded, and he plays CF — isn’t he a no-brainer for the Mets? Not so fast — I haven’t yet mentioned the combined .196 he hit in AAA last year, nor his 159 strikeouts in 312 at-bats. However, he did walk 45 times, and there are all those other great things about him.

Jose Martinez
As a 17-year-old signed out of Venezuela and the son of former MLBer Carlos Martinez, Jose was a “5-tool player.” However, the 6’5″, 170-pound stringbean never filled out, never developed power, and had his speed robbed by a knee injury. He’s still only 24, is a good athlete, and has a cannon for an arm, which makes me wonder if a team might try to convert him to the mound.

Andrew Brown
Ted Berg likes this guy, perhaps because he fits into the Val Pascucci mold of AAAA masher — he’s blasted 66 HR over the past three seasons in AA and AAA. However, he’s also struck out an average of once per game, and his 24 homers last year came in the hitter-friendly PCL. That said, he could put up big numbers for Las Vegas, and the fact he hits from the right side is a plus.
(NOTE: This story was written prior to the Mets’ signing of Brown)

Tomorrow, we look at pitchers on the scrap heap. In the meantime, let me know what you think of the players above, and identify any “diamonds in the rough” I may have missed. Looking forward to your comments.

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. Izzy January 3, 2013 at 7:49 am
    Any of those names should really help build the momentum for one of the worst seasons in Met history. Ah, if only Bernie Madoff would still be in business so would the Mets.
  2. DaveSchneck January 3, 2013 at 9:16 am
    I am about as inspired as Izzy with this list. They desperately need to deal for a CF/leadoff hitter.
    • NormE January 3, 2013 at 10:01 am
      Why? We had neither last year. Why do we need either in 2013?
      If you don’t have enough talent to win, and don’t have, or want to spend the money to become competiive, why spend money on the marginal talent available?
      How many places will the Mets gain in the standings if they sign any of the suspects that Joe Janish has listed?
      Remember, 1.5 mill. seems to be the limit.
      • TexasGusCC January 3, 2013 at 10:24 am
        Guys, in a sad way it’s kind of funny to read the comments because everyone sounds so defeated, and it does feel that way. Today Cerone wrote that the mets refinanced for payment of day-to-day operations. If we can’t do day to day operations, forget free agents. Start following other teams til our team gets back into the majors. Right now, obviously, they want to play in AAA.
      • TexasGusCC January 3, 2013 at 10:33 am
        One more thing: Can you imagine how Sandy Alderson feels. After years of running the A’s, he gets hired and sees all the money Maniya was spending and thought “Oh boy”! Then, they give him the A’s again. LOLLLLL
      • DaveSchneck January 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm
        The Mets should sign players that can improve the team because this is major league baseball, and they are charging premium NYC prices to their paying customers. I agree that it is virtually impossible for them to acquire enough players to compete for the division “on paper”, but that is no reason to throw in the towel and write off the season. This should be done so long as it does not impact the future detrimentally, and it can be done by acquiring a few pros to mix with the youth and developing core. Plus, nobody knows what will happen when the actually play games. Last year, the Phillies, Angels and Red Sox were stacked and none made the playoffs for various reasons. We all know that the Nats, Braves, and Phillies look better than the Mets, as does everyone in the NL except Miami, the offseason is not complete and they have yet to play a game in 2013. Boy do we sound like one defeated fan base. If your prediction of no signing over $1.5 million this offseason comes true, I will be the first to agree with you, boycott spending on the team, and call for new ownership/mangement. Let’s give it anouther couple of months.
        • NormE January 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm
          The reason I, and I assume some others, fit the “defeated fan base” description comes down to (in my case at least) the negativity engendered by the Wilpons.
          My reading of the present ownership is that they have only spent money when (1) they were embarrassed into it (the trade for Piazza—see Nelson Doubleday) or were sold a bill of goods that they could catch lightning in a bottle (see Omar Minaya).
          They have never been about building a solid franchise from the bottom up. That means spending money on quality draft picks and supplementing your homegrown talent with trades and free agency. The latter again calls for a willingness to spend prudently but in a manner befitting a NY franchise.
          I agree with you that we should give it “another couple of months,” but recent history has taught me to be skeptical.
        • Mike B January 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm
          Another couple months? The only thing this ownership buys is time. What are waiting a couple months for? What is going to be different? Sandy doesnt have magical powers, he is going to sign 10 crappy veterans nobody wants, 4 or 5 will make the team and 1 will hit 20 HR’s and hit 265 and we will think its the greatest. What a formula!
  3. Dan B January 3, 2013 at 10:51 am
    The A’s spend money like a mid market team. The Mets have mid market Japanese teams out spending them. The refinancing was a good sign. Now they have one more big loan to refinance and if they can get it done in 2013, maybe the Mets can start spending (somewhat) for the 2014 season. Every indication points towards the Wilpons cutting cost to pay down these debts. Once they are refinanced, they can focus on improving revenue and returning to their poorly managed ways.
  4. nwaldrop January 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm
    I’d like to see a comparison between this “Major League” team and a top AAA team. Is there a AAA team that would be more competitive than the Mets?
  5. NCMets January 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm
    I think Chad Tracy hits left handed… A fellow North Carolinian
  6. friend January 3, 2013 at 4:39 pm
    “no park is too small to contain his mammoth fly balls”

    Either this is an error, or it’s a great dig.

    • Joe Janish January 4, 2013 at 1:27 am
      I’m going with the latter.
  7. Izzy January 3, 2013 at 8:13 pm
    Well the Mets brought back Q. He’s so bad he didn’t even make the scrap heap list. Sandy Alderson must be getting a bonus if the Mets beat out the fish next year. If Wilpon wanted a scrap heap team to have a chance he should have kept Minaya without a bank account to use. Valentin, Chavez, Oliver, etc more than made up forhis list of scrap heap failures. Alderson only has failures to brag about. But, if the Wilpons want to look at an org to model after, the Buccos proved losing can make a small profit. Lower payroll enough and you make money off of the MLB contracts.
    • Joe January 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm
      Omar Quintanilla was far from “so bad” as a temporary fill-in for both the Mets and the Orioles (you know, a playoff team) and will provide such a role next season — someone to call up as a temporary injury replacement.

      Useful to have, but I understand. Izzy’s designated role is to sneer, even if the Mets order pizza.

  8. Josh Z January 3, 2013 at 10:30 pm
    we need depth and Raburn provides that
  9. Jason Bay January 4, 2013 at 12:09 am
    Every year the Mets have to sign 25 guys off the scrap heap plus a a number of very expensive busts like myself and I just don’t understand it. Don’t the Mets ever draft anybody? Sign teenagers from the Caribbean? Where are they?

    Duda’s a first basemen, Niewenhaus is a platoon LFer, Baxter they got off waivers, Valdespin is a middle infielder. Who was in charge of providing OFer’s Ronald McDonald? Elmer Fudd? Mr Beane? Jeff Wilpon?

    Murphy got handed a starting position out there, Lagares, Alonzo Harris, Nick Evans and Todd Hundley got moved to the outfield, Heath Bell was traded for Ben Johnson. Shawn Green, Jeff Francouer, Ryan Church, Corey Sullivan, Gary Sheffield, Jesus Feliciano, Gary Mathews, Jeremy Reed, Michael Tucker, Victor Diaz,. and now Turner is going out there too? About the only infielder that never got a fair shot was Mo Vaughn

    Someone should tell the owners that outfield is a position and while your at it inform them about first base, second base shortstop, third base catcher and all the positions.

    After 25 years you would think they would know this by now.

  10. argonbunnies January 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm
    Great list, Joe!

    I think the most telling thing here is that there are 3 guys — Adams, Cardenas, Hulett — who could potentially replace Murphy. This indicates to me that the best way to maximize our assets would be to see if we can get a needed big league piece for Murph in trade, and then sign these guys.

  11. argonbunnies January 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm
    More generally, as a team in rebuilding mode I think we should be signing guys with upside. Raburn can’t possibly contribute to our next winning team, thus using a roster spot on him is a waste of a trial and evaluation opportunity. Gimme the yougin’s.