I have been looking forward to this upcoming Mets offseason since the Sandy Alderson regime began in Flushing. Alderson has already started to put his stamp on this club through the young prospects he has added to the farm system, but this is the first time he has the chance to impact the team with a big money major league signing since he has arrived.
With the contracts of Johan Santana and Jason Bay coming off the books, the time has come for Alderson to make a splash and turn the Mets into a competitor sooner rather than later. The market actually seems to be lining up very well for the Mets this winter, not only are there some very good outfielders becoming available on the free agent market but some legitimate star power has also emerged on the trading block. The Colorado Rockies are might look to jump start their rebuilding process this offseason by trading Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez. Sandy Alderson will need utilize trades and free agent singings this winter to resuscitate a dormant Mets fanbase and bring a winning attitude back to Queens.
There are obviously many obstacles to the Mets acquiring all the talent they need this offseason, namely 29 other teams looking to improve their rosters, but here are a couple of moves that I would try to pull off to improve the lineup this offseason.
I'll start with the free agent market, where I would try to go after a big name outfielder. The outfielder free agent market looks like it will be pretty decent this offseason, with Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo at the top of the pile. I would love to have Ellsbury on the Mets, but I think it might take a little too much to sign him, so I think Choo is the better target this winter.
It would probably take about 5 yrs. and 80 million dollars to sign the outfielder, and Choo does have some red flags, specifically his inability to hit left handed pitching, but I am alright with that risk because of his excellent OBP and the presence of Eric Young Jr. on the bench. If Choo really starts to struggle against southpaws then he could always fall into a platoon with EY. This would make his contract a bit of an albatross, like those of BJ Upton and Andre Ethier, but it would not prevent the Mets from winning.
This would be a nice addition the the outfield, but I think they should look to add another piece there as well possibly with a shorter commitment. The free agents who I would target for this would be Marlon Byrd and Carlos Beltran. Byrd provided great value for the Mets this season and had arguably his most productive year ever as a Major Leaguer. Beltran had another solid year as he continued to age gracefully with the Cardinals. I don't know if he would want to return to the Mets, but I think it would be very nice for Beltran to play for a winner in New York again, and remove the cloud that was over him ever since that called third strike in the NLCS against his current teammate Adam Wainwright. It would also give him a chance to finish his career in Flushing and get the recognition he deserves as one of the best Mets outfielders of all time. I think these would both be viable free agent options but I have a more radical option on the trade market that I think the Mets should pursue first.
The Mets two glaring weaknesses are outfield and shortstop, and they could fill them both with one stop in the Rocky mountains. I dont expect the Rockies to trade both of their superstars, but I do think they might trade one of them if they got a strong enough package in return, and they do have another All-Star outfielder on their roster who would be easier to aqcuire than Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer. Bringing Troy Tulowitzki and Cuddyer to the Mets would instantly transform their lineup, but it would take a whole lot to get them there.
The Mets do have a lot of young pitching in their system, but due to the difficulties that pitching in Colorado present I think a deal would have to include bats and proven veteran pitching instead of young arms. That being the case I propose that the Mets would have to send Travis d'Arnaud, Ike Davis, Wilmer Flores, and Dillon Gee for the two veteran bats. I have no idea if this deal would be able to pry both of them from Colorado, but I think it's the type of move that Sandy should be looking to make in order to transform this weak mets lineup.
Now that Dillon Gee has been traded, the Mets would definitely need to add another pitcher for the 2014 season since Harvey could be on the shelf. Here I think they should try to reunite with their old top pitching prospect, Scott Kazmir. Kazmir has put together a very solid season for the Indians but probably wont get a qualifying offer, so he shouldn't cost the Mets another draft pick.
The catching would also run dry for the Mets, so they would need to sign a short term replacement until Kevin Plawecki makes his way to the majors. I would look to bring back John Buck. He worked very well with the pitching staff and was a good clubhouse presence. It also would be too expensive to bring him back for a couple of years. A contract worth around 8 million dollars over two years should bring him back to Flushing. Plus there would be much less pressure on his bat with a much more established lineup in front of him.
Taking these moves into account here is what the 2014 Mets lineup could look like:
- Shin-Soo Choo 9 (~5 yrs. $80 mil., 2nd round pick)
- Daniel Murphy 4
- David Wright 5
- Troy Tulowitzki 6 (d'Arnaud, Flores, Davis, 7yrs $134 mil.)
- Michael Cuddyer 7 (Gee, 1 yr. $10.5 mil)
- Lucas Duda 3
- John Buck 2 (~2 yrs. $8 mil.)
- Juan Lagares 8
2014 Rotation (assuming Harvey is out for the year):
- Justin Turner IF
- Josh Satin IF
- Eric Young Jr. OF/2B
- Matt den Dekker OF
- Juan Centeno C
- Carlos Torres LR
- Scott Atchison MR
- Jeurys Familia MR
- Gonzalez Germen MR
- Jack Leathersich MR
- Vic Black SU
- Bobby Parnell CL
I think this team would definitely find itself in the playoff hunt late in the season, particularly if Noah Syndergaard is able to establish himself halfway through the year just as Harvey and Wheeler have done the past two seasons. If Harvey is able to successfully rehab his elbow this offseason then this team goes from being in the playoff hunt to being a legitimate World Series contender. That being said, I would be incredibly surprised if the Mets were able to pull off all of these moves, but it certainly is fun to predict the ways this team could be transformed this offseason.