The 2011 New York Mets have several good pieces in place but also some glaring holes. Therefore, you'll find nothing too drastic here; just supplementation of what we already have and some reshuffling of pieces. The goal is a team that won't suck in 2011 (maybe even an outside threat for the Wild Card) and has some assets for the future.
Fix Second Base
DFA Louis Castillo. His usefulness has has long dried up. Internal options include Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, and Justin Turner. I think Murphy is a viable option but he should see more time in AAA to get fully acquainted to the position. Tejada simply isn't ready for MLB pitching yet (.213/.305/.282, .266 wOBA, 65 wRC+) and I wouldn't be against sending him all the way back to Binghamton. That leaves us with Turner. While nothing to get excited about, there's something to be said about a replacement level IF'er. However, he should only be looked at as a backup and nothing more. So that means we still need a starter.
Enter Willy Aybar (career .258/.341/.399, .326 wOBA, 101 wRC+). Signed to a 2-year/$3M deal, the IF'er should not only provide adequate production and defense for the 2011 season, but beyond that as a backup or platoon partner in 2012. He's coming off a down year (.293 wOBA, 84 wRC+) but he comes considerably cheaper than some other FA's (Orlando Hudson for instance), the position flexibility should be useful, and a return to form isn't out of the question (.328 wOBA, 102 wRC+ in '09).
Find a Backup Catcher
Josh Thole looks to be a nice catcher going forward. He makes good contact (90.4 Contract%) and gets on base enough (.357 OBP, .326 wOBA) to make up for his lack of power (.086 ISO). His defense was a pleasant surprise last season as well (2.4 BtBS Total Defense Score, good for 18th overall). That being said, a strong backup who can hit lefties well would be desirable. Therefor, I would acquire Mike Napoli from Los Angeles of Anaheim. There are rumors that they've soured on him but he'd fit nicely in Flushing. Strong against LHP (career .305/.399/.567, .416 wOBA, 166 wRC+ vLHP) and able to play 1B, he'd make an ideal platoon partner for Josh Thole. In terms of what it would take to get him, I'd venture to guess something like Mark Cohoon, Jordany Valdespin, and Francisco Pena. Third-year arbitration eligible, he'd make around $4M.
Restock the Rotation
Johan Santana's injury leaves us with only three definite starters for 2011; Jonathan Niese, R.A. Dickey, and Mike Pelfrey. Add Dillon Gee into the conversation and we have four. Depth is still needed.
In comes Dustin McGowan and Carlos Perez from Toronto for Jefry Marte, Kyle Allen, and Robert Carson. Coming off injury problems in '10, it remains unclear if McGowan (career 7.25 K/9, 3.59 BB/9, 4.71 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 4.28 xFIP) will be ready for Spring Training. However, he should be fine by Opening Day and when healthy he should slide very comfortably into the #4 slot in the rotation pushing Gee down to a more palatable #5. McGowan was just signed to a 1-year/$450K deal to avoid arbitration (3rd year eligible). Carlos Perez is a 20 year old catcher with above average defensive skills coming off a respectable year with the bat in the GCL. Rich in catchers, and still very much in the projection stage of his career, the Blue Jays shouldn't miss him. He would go to Kingsport for 2011.
Brian Bannister (career 5.18 K/9, 3.02 BB/9, 5.08 ERA, 4.77 FIP, 4.86 xFIP) and Brandon McCarthy (career 6.06 K/9, 3.43 BB/9, 4.56 ERA, 4.92 FIP, 4.94 xFIP) are added as well. Bannister is added as insurance and fits as a mop up man out of the pen. McCarthy is a depth acquisition and reclamation project; he's not expected to seriously contend for a roster spot out of Spring Training. Salary figures are as follows: 1-year/$1.1M for Bannister and a minor league deal for McCarthy at league minimum. John Maine is non-tendered and Oliver Perez is DFA'd.
Rebuild the Bullpen
The only pieces we know will be in the pen next year are Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, and now the aforementioned Bannister. Manny Acosta is resign for 1-year at league minimum. I'd like to see Manny Alverez and Jose De La Torre get serious looks in Spring Training and I think they could contribute if need be, but I wouldn't count on them. Ryota Igarashi stays in Buffalo in the hope that he can return to his March/April '10 form. That means 3 bullpen spots remain.
Coming aboard are Hideki Okajima (career 7.90 K/9, 3.06 BB/9, 3.06 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 4.26 xFIP), J.P. Howell (career 8.58 K/9, 4.08 BB/9, 4.47 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 3.89 xFIP), and Koji Uehara (career 8.38, K/9, 1.38 BB/9, 3.58 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 3.87 xFIP). Okajima (career .281 BAA vLHP) steps in as the new LOOGY, Howell (20 career SV's) combines with Rodriguez and Parnell to form a formidable high-leverage trio, and Uehara becomes the new swing-man. Howell (recovering from May shoulder surgery) won't be ready for Opening Day, but should be good-to-go by mid-April. Salary figures include: 1-year/$1.25M for Okajima, 2-years/$4M (paying $1.5M in '11 and $2.5M in '12) for Howell, and 1-year/$3.5M with a player option for 2012 for Uehara. Sean Green is non-tendered.
Lucas Duda and Nick Evans are fine options for the corner outfield behind Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay. Angel Pagan and Beltran can both play CF but more depth would be nice - particularly in the glove compartment. Tony Gwynn Jr. (.244/.323/.314, .291 wOBA, 83 wRC+) can be had as a non-tendered player for league minimum. Generally outstanding in the outfield (career 18.4 OF UZR) and a decent contact hitter (career 87.3 Contact%) with good speed, he'd complete the bench; think Endy Chavez part II but with better plate discipline (career 10.2 BB%, 17.4 K%). Chris Carter is stashed in Buffalo.
(click for less fuzziness)
Acquisitions: Aybar, Napoli, Gwynn Jr., McGowan, Bannister, Okajima, Howell, Uehara, McCarthy, C. Perez
Departures: Castillo, O. Perez, Maine, Marte, Cohoon, Valdespin, Allen, Carson, and Pena
Salary Commited: $127.5M
Salary Increase via Arbitration Raises: $8M
Salary Increase via Acquisitions: $14.5M
Total 2011 Budget: $150M