First off, let's see who's under a full blown contract heading into next yea and what they're makingr:
1. Johan Santana, LHP, $24 million
2. R.A. Dickey, RHP, $4.25 million
3. D.J. Carrasco, $1.2 million
4. David Wright, 3B, $15 million
5. Jason Bay, OF, $16 million
Next, guys who are headed to or are in the middle of their arbitration years:
1. Jonathon Niese, LHP, likely to make around league minimum
2. Mike Pelfrey, RHP, likely to earn ~$5 million
3. Dillon Gee, RHP, likely to make around league minimum
4. Pedro Beato, RHP, likely to make around league minimum
5. Bobby Parnell, RHP, likely to make around league minimum
6. Manny Acosta, RHP, likely to make around league minimum
7. Ronny Paulino, C, likely to earn ~$2 million
8. Josh Thole, C, likely to make around league minimum
9. Ike Davis, 1B, likely to make around league minimum
10. Daniel Murphy, 2B, likely to make around league minimum
11. Justin Turner, 2B, likely to make around league minimum
12. Angel Pagan, OF, likely to earn ~$5 million
13. Lucas Duda, 1B/OF, likely to make around league minimum
FInally, notable minor leaguers:
1. Ruben Tejada, MI
2. Fernando Martinez, OF
3. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF
4. Jenrry Mejia, RHP
5. Mike O'Connor, LHP
6. Pat Misch, LHP
Looking over the roster of controlled/controllable players, it would appear that we have 3 bullpen spots wide open, a rotation made with sticks and chewing gum, no shortstop, and an outfield of underachievers. We have $61 million tied down already to players going into next season, and our payroll this year pushed $150 million, the additions of Paulino and Pagan will push it to $68 million, and the rest is fair game, and with the addition of Dave Einhorn, I'd say it's safe to assume the Mets can add $50 million or so to next year's payroll. With that in mind let's look at the crop of guys we can acquire for our squad, and the guys that I think will find themselves in blue and orange come 2012:
1. Jose Reyes, SS - Right now, everyone and their mothers know that Reyes is the best shortstop on the free agent market and will command the money he rightfully feels he deserves. Whether it be Alderson or Mets fans, just about everyone in the Flushing community will agree that we need this guy back. He didn't switch to Scott Boras, a promising sign that money won't be the only factor in where he goes, but he still may end up with a 6 or 7 year deal from a team with big pockets. Competitors for his services include but aren't limited to the Yankees, Giants, Cardinals, Red Sox, Reds and Brewers. Yikes.
2. C.J. Wilson, LHP - Wilson, a reliever-turned-starter, has a deep repertoire of out pitches and has transformed from a failed closer to a successful starter due to the Rangers' coaching prowess and his own abilities. Wilson posted a 4.4 WAR in 2010, his first year starting for the Rangers, and proving the haters wrong he is repeating that performance (except so far a little better) this year, already at a 3.7 mark and beating out his 3.56 FIP from 2010 with a 3.25 mark this season. At 31 years of age and relatively little experience starting, he likely won't command a whole bunch of years from the free agency, but he may ask for a pretty healthy salary. Think 3 years with a club option and around $12-15 million per. What makes Wilson cool is that if his go as a starter fails he can move back to the bullpen.
3. Josh Willingham, OF - A rock of consistency, Josh Willingham has managed to be around league average or slightly above for the past 5 years or so. Josh has showed good pop and solid discipline to go along with mediocre fielding in the best and worst of ballparks, and seems like Alderson's type for a good, cheap find who could add depth to the outfield and provide us with a righty power bat. Should only demand a year or two from us, considering he'll be 33.
4. Chris Capuano, LHP - Having a solid year for us so far and may find himself back on the squad as our #5 or as a lefty swingman out of the bullpen. Does everything right except allow a buttload of home runs, should only demand a year and we may even chose to give him two. Capuano was a great addition by Sandrew this year and it would make sense to bring him back.
5. Joel Peralta, RHP - A successful reliever who signed for a pittance last year and now has two successful consecutive seasons under his belt. Peralta is worth a 1 or 2 year deal at $1-2 million per. He's got good command of his fastball and he couples it with deadly splitter. He doesn't have overpowering velocity or anything, just a very good bullpen piece for any contender. Not much more to say.
6. Carlos Beltran, OF - Probably one of the best Mets ever and one of the best center fielders of all time, it'd make me pretty damn happy to bring Carlos back. He was our best hitter before being traded to the Giants and despite his knee issues he was still productive defensively in right field. Right now Boras is saying Beltran will command 5 years and $70 million, which is clearly ridiculous, but teams may go to 3 years to get the 35 year old's services, and could pay a pretty penny, while I doubt Salderson would go above two years. It's more likely that Beltran ends up a Brave or Giant, on teams with more capital available to spend on outfielders. However, if we lose out on Jose, Beltran may be our top target in the end.
7. Vicente Padilla, RHP - struggling with injury and mediocrity in the past, Padilla will finally start accepting bullpen assignments, and now would be a perfect time to capitalize on his low value and turn him into a reliever with a mid-90s fastball and a couple solid secondaries. He could be a good righty swingman or potentially a setup man, and considering his lack of good performance he may not cost all that much. Of course, considering his past contracts, it still may be too much for Alderson and the Mets to pay for a reliever.
8. Tim Byrdak, LHP - Lefty specialist who may return to the club. Does well at getting lefties out.
9. Javier Vazquez, RHP - Getting creative here, Javy seems to fit the bill of what Sandy may pursue. He's a few years removed from his prime, succeeds despite high fly-ball tendencies, and seems to be on his road to recovery after a down year (he's throwing his fastball harder this year and walking fewer batters than he did in 2010). He may come pretty cheap, so if the Mets non-tender Pelfrey I wouldn't be surprised if they added on Vazquez.
10. Michael Cuddyer, OF - A good righty hitter who can hit for pop in Minnesota, Cuddyer's a vet who, no matter the position, can just plain old hit. At first glance, he looks like a perfect fit for our squad, so why don't we just sign him? The answer lies in his defense, which is known for being horrid basically everywhere, and the fact that he is making $8.5 million in 2011 and may ask for 2-3 years and just as much salary per if not more. He's good to keep an eye on, but I don't expect him to be in Queens.
11. B.J. Upton, OF - The first trade target to appear on this list, Upton would only be a one-year rental, but would add some power to the lineup from the right side, as well as help out the defense in our outfield, and lastly will fit right into our superior running game. He'd only cost around $5 million, but the reason he's so low is I'm not sure how we'd match up with the Rays in a trade. Either way, I think he's an interesting fit for our team.
12. Edwin Jackson, RHP - This guy's good. While inconsistent on a start-by-start basis, he's been consistently very good over the past 3 seasons, combining top notch velocity, a fantastic slider, and a good ability to keep the ball over the plate and induce grounders and Ks. Jackson will be 28 come the off-season, and despite playing for 5 teams over the past 4 years, he's gotten better each season and his performance and age may warrant a big deal. Think 5-6 years and a whole bunch of cash. He'd be a risky signing and be worth quite the price tag, so he may not be the type of guy Sandy would want.
13. Kyle Davies, RHP - Just a wild thought, Kyle Davies has always been a pretty mediocre pitcher, but since he's thrown the cutter he's done pretty solid. His peripherals have looked fine over the past couple of seasons, and while he still struggles with command he should allow fewer HRs in Citifield and is still young (exactly as old as Jackson). His bloated ERA may lower his cost, and he could be a good bullpen addition who could spot start or an interesting guy to keep in AAA if he accepts a minor league assignment.
14. Jimmy Rollins, SS - What if we don't get Reyes? It's a thought that would make any Met fan shudder, but it definitely is a possibility. Should the unspeakable occur, odds are we may simply turn to another free agent shortstop, and Rollins is the next best thing out there. He hasn't had a great season at the dish for a while, so I can't imagine he'll demand an All-Star level salary, but his defense has been phenomenal, he steals a good amount of bases and his bat is enough to keep him afloat. While J.J. Hardy is also available, he's a relatively low OBP player who saw a big dip in defensive performance this year and has power that is largely affected by the park he plays in. Because of this, Rollins is the safer bet.
15. Scott Hairston, OF - A talented player who Sandy loves, and it paid the Mets dividends in 2011 so far. It would not at all be surprising to see Scott return to the squad.
16. Taylor Buchholz, RHP - He performed fantastically this year before coming down with an injury and depression. Hopefully, his depression isn't New York related so we can get our guy back and get back a cheap, good hurler.
17. George Sherrill, LHP - Having a comeback year with the Braves, may be a bit too costly for Alderson to acquire simply as a lefty specialist, but otherwise would be a great fit in the New York 'pen.
18. Brandon Webb, RHP - After basically being out for 3 years, Webb may return for 2012, and if we can get him for cheap he could be more than worth every penny we spend on him.
19. Micah Owings, RHP - A possible long man as well as a possible late-in-game pinch hitter. Could be another D.J. Carrasco.
20. Cody Ross, OF - Could be a good buy-low righty power bat to throw into the outfield mix and give the Mets some versatility in the lineup. Shouldn't be too expensive and may end up getting quite a few at-bats if things work well enough for him.