1. Sign a Big-Time Outfielder
This is obvious. A legit power-hitting corner outfielder has been a glaring need ever since Jason Bay signed that wretched contract. The only two Mets outfielders worthy of the Major Leagues in my opinion are Eric Young and Juan Lagares. Both are speedsters. Therefore, New York needs a power guy to bat fourth and protect David Wright.
Fortunately, there are some options in the free agent market. Unfortunately, they will cost a pretty penny. There are now six free agent outfielders that hit 20 home runs this year: Shin-Soo Choo, Marlon Byrd, Coco Crisp, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz and Raul Ibanez.
It makes sense to stay away from Beltran and Ibanez based on age. Ellsbury is likely to re-sign with Boston. Bringing in Byrd, Crisp, Granderson or Cruz wouldn’t cost as much, and the Mets get what they want, home runs. However, Cruz and Byrd are convicted drug users, Crisp has only performed in Oakland, and Granderson, well he’s a Yankee.
Therefore, Shin-Soo Choo makes the most sense.
Choo has stayed on the field and been a consistent hitter throughout his career. The Korean is a career .289 hitter and has stolen 20 bases or more in four of the past five seasons. But the reason Sandy Alderson has targeted Choo is his .423 on-base percentage this year. The guy gets on base more than anyone in the NL besides his teammate and fellow walking machine, Joey Votto. When you factor in his 57 extra-base-hits this season, Choo is the full package.
No matter who it is, the Mets need to bring in one of the players listed above. If not two.
2. Trade for Troy Tulowitzki
Yes, this is going to require the surrendering of several good prospects. Yes, the Mets would owe Tulowitzki 134 million dollars over seven years. But, the offense Tulowitzki provides at the shortstop position is hard to come by, not only for the Mets, but for the whole sport. The open wound inflicted by Jose Reyes’ departure has yet to heal, and what better bandage than the best offensive shortstop in the game?
Also, the free agent pool for shortstops doesn’t tickle many fancies. Jhonny Peralta, Yunel Escobar and Stephen Drew highlight the list of unimpressive options. Escobar and Drew both hit under .260 and Peralta is coming off a drug suspension. Not to mention the price will likely be high for all three.
So instead of overpaying for a stopgap, past-his-prime infielder, why not land the biggest fish of all? On September 23, Metsblog.com asked fans if they would give up Rafael Montero, Travis d’Arnaud and Dillon Gee for Tulowitzki. 58% said yes.
While parting with d’Arnaud would be difficult, Gee and Montero are certainly replaceable with the depth the Mets have at starting pitcher. It makes for a good debate.
3. Give Daniel Murphy a 3-year contract
For a team that has lacked consistent, Major League bats, Daniel Murphy is one of two exceptions (the other being David Wright). Regardless of how high you are on Mets’ infield prospects (particularly Wilmer Flores), it's wise to go with the sure bet, and none is safer than Daniel Murphy. The guy can hit. If you disagree with that, go follow a different sport.
Let’s put his production into perspective. He finished second in the National League in hits this year (higher than Votto, McCutchen, Goldschmidt, Molina, or either Gonzalez). Murphy ranked in the top-10 in runs scored, doubles and total bases. He’s started more games than any other Met in the past four years, and is a career .290 hitter. The numbers speak for themselves.
Murphy is under team control for two more years, but will earn what he’s worth in arbitration. So why not show him some love and lock him up for three more years? It shouldn’t take more than 35 million or so, and you get yourself a winner and a guaranteed 180 hits.
4. Trade away Wilmer Flores
I’m a big believer in keeping all the Big League bats on a roster, regardless of positional issues. However, Flores just doesn’t fit with the Mets. The only two positions he can play are occupied by the only two Major League bats the team has (Wright and Murphy).
Wilmer’s debut was disappointing, and he couldn’t even get consistent starts with David Wright on the DL. When’s he going to play when Wright is healthy? Additionally, Flores is just plain unathletic. His catching and throwing skills are fine, but it hurts to watch someone trip over a base and sprain their ankle.
I’m being a little harsh on Flores, I mean he’s only been in the Majors for a month. After all, I do think he will have a long career as a starter at this level. But the thing is, so do other teams. Therefore, his greatest value to the Mets is as trade bait. Whether they package him for a shortstop, outfielder or pitcher, Flores plus a young arm can yield noteworthy returns.
5. Cut Ike Davis
No one was a bigger Ike Davis fan than me. I bought his jersey, looked to him for hope, and thought he would be slugging homers for a long time. But I think it’s time to cut him loose.
Maybe he heads out west and finds himself. But the bottom line is, the Mets have better, less expensive offensive options at first base in Josh Satin and Lucas Duda. It’s just the nature of the game. Satin batted .280 this year, while Davis labored to the Mendoza line. Who would you rather have?
Besides, if Satin or Duda don’t cut it, the Mets can sign a guy like Lyle Overbay to a cheap one-year deal and get more offense than they would from Davis.
Follow John Vittas on Twitter @JohnVittas3