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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 (NOTE: This story was written prior to the Mets’ signing of 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.
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.