Here is a breakdown of the money the Mets owe to current and former players next season.
The Mets face a few tough choices to make in terms of arbitration. There are quite a few players that are teetering on the edge of being non-tendered. Here is a breakdown of who I would tender a contract to, before making any trades.
Scott Atchison: The Mets did not quite get what they wanted out of Atchison. After a dominant season with the Red Sox, he posted a 4.37 ERA, 3.75 FIP, and 4.02 xFIP. With his age, he just isn't worth the $1.3 million he is projected to get through arbitration.
Justin Turner: Turner puts up a decent batting average but not much else. He has served his purpose, but a .260/.323/.361 line isn't good enough for a significant bat bench getting 200 plate appearances per season, even if he only makes $800,000.
Trade Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada to the Tampa Bay Rays for Yunel Escobar
Lucas Duda has worn out his welcome in New York. As someone who will likely never play average defense at any position, he is destined to be an American League player, splitting time between first base and designated hitter. For the always-crafty Tampa Bay Rays, he fits in well. After a .299/.348/.430 season, James Loney has priced himself out of Tampa, who has a few more urgent financial needs to attend to. Putting Duda in a permanent position could work out well for Tampa, as could a chance to start over for Ruben Tejada.
On the Mets' side, they get a solid shortstop at a good price. He put upleague average production last year, hitting .256/.332/.366 with a 97 OPS+ and 100 wRC+. That isn't great (although it's above average for a shortstop) but the real value comes from Escobar's stellar defense. He has played ten runs or more above average three out of the last four seasons, including 17.5 runs above average in 2013. At best, Escobar is a four-win player and at worst he is worth 1.5 wins. Either way, his two $5 million club options over the next few years make him a very attractive option.
Net salary change: +$2.2 million
Trade Wilmer Flores, Gabriel Ynoa, and Hansel Robles to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Andre Ethier (Dodgers pay half of contract)
The Dodgers will reportedly be shopping both Ethier and Matt Kemp this winter, and it makes sense for the Dodgers to eat at least a portion of both of their salaries. Enter the Mets, who have prospects to spare. Given the right situation, giving up Wilmer Flores makes sense, and this is definitely one of them. Ethier is signed for the next four years at $71.5 million. However, if the Dodgers pay half to ship him off, suddenly the contract is a good value for the Mets, with Ethier's salary ranging from $7.75 million in 2014 to just $9 million in 2017. Not bad for a three-win player.
Net salary change: +7.25 million
Trade Ike Davis, Matt den Dekker, and Aderlin Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers for Norichika Aoki
With a .286/.356/.370 slash line, some speed, and a $1.5 million price tag, Aoki would be a cheap yet viable option in right field.
Sign Corey Hart for one-year worth $5 million, with $3 million in possible incentives
When healthy, Hart is a 25 to 30 home run hitter who can get on base at a decent clip. His health concerns will lower his price, but the Mets could score big by signing him to an incentive-laden contract with a low base salary to man first base. In 2012, Hart hit .270/.334/.507 with 30 home runs with the Brewers.
Sign Tim Stauffer for one-year and $1.5 million
Tim Stauffer is another player who, when healthy, is worth far more than what he might get as a free agent. The 32 year-old could be effective either in the rotation or out of the bullpen, depending on who steps up. Last year for the Padres he put up a 3.75 ERA in 69.2 innings.
Re-Sign LaTroy Hawkins for one-year, $2 million
Hawkins definitely earned a spot on the 2014 Mets, posting a 2.93 ERA over 70.2 innings. Soon to be 41, Hawkins still has the velocity to pitch a few more years.
Minor League Contracts
Scott Rice- You'd have to be crazy to not offer Rice a minor league contract at minimum after the year he had last season.
John Lannan- Lannon had been a solid rock in the Nationals rotation until 2012 when he was unexpectedly pushed aside to the minor leagues due to the plethora of depth the Nationals had. Lannan had a 4.00 ERA in 128 starts for the Nats in 2007 through 2012. Since then, he has been on an off in the minors, but could be a steal if he returns to old form.
James McDonald- Another bounce-back candidate who could provide depth for the Met rotation is James McDonald. McDonald, 29, had a 4.10 ERA coming into this year in over 120 appearances until the wheels fell of in spectacular fashion this year. Nonetheless, McDoonald, unlike some of these other signings, is still relatively young and could easily bounce back.
Yorvit Torrealba- The Mets need a backup catcher, and Torrealba fits what they need: a cheap veteran. This isn't where the Mets need to spend any more than the minimum, as Juan Centeno may make the team over any veteran that is signed.
Clint Barmes- Barmes would provide a solid backup up the middle.
Total Salary: $76.7 mm
C Travis d'Arnaud
1B Corey Hart
3B David Wright
LF Andre Ethier
CF Juan Lagares
RF Nori Aoki
BN: Clint Barmes
BN: Josh Satin
BN: Eric Young Jr.
BN: Juan Ceteno
SP1 Jonathon Niese
SP2 Zack Wheeler
SP3 Dillon Gee
SP4 Tim Stauffer / John Lannan
CP Bobby Parnell
SU: Vic Black
SU: LaTroy Hawkins
RHP: Jeurys Familia
LHP: Josh Edgin
LHP: Scott Rice
RHP: Jeff Walters / Carlos Torres