Free Agent Targets: Outfielders
The MLBPA compiled a full list of players who filed for free agency this offseason. Out of those, there are several possibilities that stood out to me as players I would consider signing if I were the GM of the Mets (assuming I had a moderate amount of money to spend). Mind you, I’m not saying the Mets should sign ALL of these players – that would be impossible. But this would be the pool of players from which I would choose.
We’ll break them down by position. In the last post, I looked at relief pitchers. In this post, I’ll take a look at…
So many outfielders, so little time (and possibly money – but that’s been talked about ad nauseam).
The Mets seem happy with Juan Lagares and his defense in centerfield, but would like to upgrade the corners. Here are some possibilities:
Shin-Soo Choo, 31 – Choo is at the top of everyone’s free-agent outfielder list. As such, he’s probably going to get overpaid. Mind you, he’s a good ballplayer, and is a much better corner outfielder than center fielder (where he played in Cincinnati this year). He gets on base (.389 career OBP) and has some pop and the ability to steal bases. He’s been a 20/20 guy 3 times. He struggles against lefties, but kills righties. Despite his flaws, he’s still the best option out there. The question is can the Mets compete with the rest of the league in a bidding war? He’s a Scott Boras client, and he’ll probably be looking for at least 5 years at $100 million total.
Jacoby Ellsbury, 30 – The Red Sox extended a qualifying offer to Ellsbury, and there is a very good chance Jacoby will stay with Boston. He’s a center fielder, and a good one, and his hitting style and speed would work well at Citi Field. Like Choo, if Ellsbury were to go anywhere, he would command a hefty salary.
Michael Morse, 31 – Here’s a name that’s not often talked about as an option for the Mets, but if they’re looking for a cheap, risk-reward option, Morse could be the guy. He had a horrid year in 2013 with the Mariners and Orioles. He hit .215/.270/.381 overall, and went 3 for 29 after his trade to Baltimore. However, a return to the NL East could spark him back to form. Between 2010 and 2012 with the Washington Nationals, he hit .296/.345/.516. He slugged 31 homers in 2011, but that appears to be an aberration, as he’s never hit more than 18 before or after. As a bonus, Morse can also play first base, which is another pain point on the Mets roster. He made $6.75 million during the last year of a 2-year deal in 2013. Given his performance, he could be had for less in 2014.
Marlon Byrd, 36 – We all know about his comeback season in 2013 with the Mets (and later with the Pirates). He’s open to returning to Queens in 2014. He’s also apparently open to returning to the Pirates as well. He’s definitely attainable, the big question is, at 36, does Byrd have another productive season or two left in him?
Carlos Beltran, 36 – Beltran is another candidate to return to Queens. He was great in his first stint with the Mets, but he may not be the best fit for them right now. His knees are still slowing him down, and they aren’t going to get better. In addition, he showed some decline in the second half of 2013. He hit only 5 home runs (after hitting 19 before the All-Star break), and his OPS fell from .879 in the first half to .758 in the second. Then again, he rebounded to have an excellent postseason. If his price tag is reasonable, he may be worth a shot, but chances are, he’ll want something close to the $13 million he received last year.
Nelson Cruz, 33 – Cruz is a former Mets farmhand who found success in Arlington, TX. He’s a pretty good power bat, although in his career, he’s hit more home runs in hitter-friendly Rangers ballpark than he has on the road. Last year, however he hit 14 at home and 13 on the road. His defense leaves something to be desired, though. As for his cost, he’ll get the “Biogenesis discount,” which should make him affordable.
David Murphy, 32 – Like Morse, Murphy is a solid player who had a bad year in 2013. If he can return to the form he displayed between 2008 and 2012, he’d be a good, relatively low-cost pickup for the Mets. During those years, he averaged a .283/.346/.449 slash line and 14 homers per season.
Curtis Granderson, 32 – He doesn’t run like he used to, he doesn’t hit for average anymore, but he can hit the ball out of the park. Yes, he’s been aided by the short right-field porch in Yankee Stadium en route to two 40-home run seasons in the Bronx, but he’s capable of hitting 25-ish home runs, as he was with the Tigers. With the Mets desperately in need of any kind of power, that would be an upgrade. He should be affordable, though he would cost the Mets a draft pick (after the first round).
Coming up next: Free agent infielders.