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Surprise, surprise: Alderson suggests Mets won’t be big players in the free agent market

New York Mets outfielder Matt den Dekker hits at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Will Matt den Dekker be the Mets’ Opening Day left fielder in 2015? (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Over the past few years, I’ve learned to mostly ignore what Mets GM Sandy Alderson has to say. It usually isn’t worth the time it takes to parse the doublespeak.

In an interview with Press & Sun-Bulletin Binghamton Mets beat reporter Lynn Worthy this week, Alderson made an unusually clear statement on his priorities for this off-season.

“If you look at shortstop, (Wilmer) Flores has actually done a very nice job for us at shortstop. (Matt) Reynolds has played well at short, both here and at Triple-A. (Matt) Den Dekker had an excellent season at Triple-A. So we’ve got to assess what we have before we start going out and canvasing the free-agent market. Free-agents aren’t always the solution.”

Wilmer Flores has only “done a very nice job” compared to Ruben Tejada and the worst-case predictions about his own ability to play the position, but whatever.

Some are already choosing to read Alderson’s statement as proof that the Mets will not spend money to improve the team this winter. Considering the team’s recent history, it’s hard to find fault with that line of thinking.

But let’s put that aside for the moment too.

Here’s a list of potential free agent shortstops, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:

  • Mike Aviles (34) – $3.5MM club option with a $250k buyout
  • Clint Barmes (36)
  • Asdrubal Cabrera (29)
  • Stephen Drew (32)
  • Rafael Furcal (37)
  • J.J. Hardy (32)
  • Jed Lowrie (31)
  • John McDonald (40)
  • Nick Punto (37) – $2.75MM club/vesting option with a $250K buyout
  • Hanley Ramirez (31)

If Mike Aviles, Clint Barmes, Stephen Drew, Rafael Furcal, John McDonald and Nick Punto play in 2015, they are likely to be part-time players. Let’s leave them out of the discussion.

So we’re left with Asdrubal Cabrera, J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie and Hanley Ramirez.

Ramirez and Hardy were never on my radar, as both seemed likely to be out of the Mets’ price range even if we do assume a moderate increase in payroll. Neither Cabrera nor Lowrie are having particularly great years, though both represent an upgrade from what the Mets have gotten out of the shortstop position this year. Having someone close to a league-average hitter at shortstop would help, but neither of those players could be the centerpiece of an off-season plan I would be happy with.

The list of free agent left fielders (also courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors) doesn’t look much better:

  • Melky Cabrera (30)
  • Endy Chavez (37)
  • Nelson Cruz (34)
  • Chris Denorfia (34)
  • Jonny Gomes (34)
  • Tony Gwynn Jr. (32)
  • Scott Hairston (35)
  • Reed Johnson (38)
  • Ryan Ludwick (36) – $9MM mutual option with a $4.5MM buyout
  • Nyjer Morgan (34)
  • Mike Morse (33)
  • Alfonso Soriano (39)
  • Yasmani Tomas (23)
  • Josh Willingham (36)
  • Chris B. Young (31)
  • Delmon Young (29)

Yasmani Thomas, a Cuban defector, is potentially interesting. However, some believe he could get as much money as Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig even though he doesn’t profile as a player who is at their skill levelMichael Cuddyer (36) and Nick Markakis (31 with a $17.5MM mutual option with a $2MM buyout) are potentially available right fielders who could help the Mets’ lineup, but I have a hard time imagining either would choose to come to Queens.

And even if Alderson is ready to make another foray into the free-agent market this winter, there’s little advantage to signalling it now. His best bet is to do exactly what he’s doing – talk up the Mets’ prospects and explore all options.

Staying away from over-priced free agents doesn’t mean that Alderson will be inactive on the trade front, either.

That said, I think the Mets’ Opening Day 2015 lineup will be similar to the one the team is running out there in September – and that would not make me happy. I hope they’ll surprise me.

4 thoughts on “Surprise, surprise: Alderson suggests Mets won’t be big players in the free agent market

  1. Paul,

    The Mets aren’t one or two players away. So I agree with Alderson’s assessment. And even Wright is no guarantee considering the way he’s played this year. I’d like to hope it’s an off year and not the beginning of a nasty decline.

    In any case, the team’s bread and butter will likely be the pitching. Let’s see how Harvey comes back; let’s see how Montero and Sydegaard pan out, Familia, Mejia and should he bounce back, Parnell, too, for that matter. Bottom line: The Mets could have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to pitching and I could see one or more hung out there as trade bait.

    So, skip the free agency and think trade instead.


    1. Looking at the other (successful) teams in the division, I’m not as excited about the Mets pitching prospects. Except for the Phillies, every team has a bunch of good young pitchers that are either here already or are close to the majors.

      Pitching is certainly the Mets’ strong point, but successful playoff teams need a multi-dimensional offense too. I’m not going to be happy if the off-season plan amounts to “hope for better years from David Wright & Curtis Granderson, and look at all of the young pitchers on the way!”

      I do agree that trades are a better way to address the Mets’ deficiencies, and I hope that Alderson is active this winter.

      (I will be very surprised if Bobby Parnell pitches for the Mets again. He made $3.7 million this year despite spending almost all of it on the disabled list, and is arbitration-eligible again this winter. I expect him to be non-tendered. Maybe he’ll re-sign with the Mets on an incentive-laden deal, but it’s just as likely that he’ll go somewhere else if it gets to that stage.)


      1. Paul,

        I agree with your assessment 100% and, if it were possible, more than that.

        Yes, I think Parnell is a goner, or at least non-tendered. I think Murphy will be hung out there as trade bait (Gary and Keith were discussing it on last night’s telecast). Signing Granderson was a waste of $60 million, unless some sucker is will to come along and take him off the Mets’ hands at 25 cents on the dollar. And, considering where the Mets were, I think the signing of Colon at that amount of money was also a bit of a waste, though, as I said about Granderson at his signing, I thought Colon could be a mentor to the young pitchers. From what was said last night, it appears he has, especially with Familia. Though not an original thought, as I’m sure many people said the same of both men go back and take a look on your blog. Even so, $20 million is one expensive mentor. 🙂

        Niese, Gee, Wheeler, de Grom. Harvey (if he comes back), Montero, Syndergaard (maybe) and Matz (AA), with a couple lesser lights like Pill and Peavey in AA. Black, Familia and Mejia in the pen. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a couple of these guys along with Murphy packaged in a deal that could bring a couple big names to Flushing while still keeping the young nucleus.

        I’ve got to tell you that I think 2015 could look more than a bit like the ’84-’85 squad. No, I don’t think they’ll win 90. But they’ll have a nucleus of extremely talented young players sprinkled with some veterans. As an aside, I can see Granderson ending up like George Foster. 🙂 But, the pitching plus Lagares (who’s starting to figure out how to steal bases), den Dekker, Herrera, Flores, d’Arnaud? You know of my thoughts about the Mets and that I tend to call ’em as I see ’em. 2015 could be very exciting and, allowances for that darned multi-tiered playoff system, I think they’ll be well in line to win the whole shooting match in 2016 and beyond.


  2. When I said your headline, my first reaction was “Have you seen the FA list? I wouldn’t be aggressive about that bunch either”, so I’m glad that you addressed that very thing.

    You mention Parnell possibly being non-tendered. I could see the other side of that being part of the Mets game plan… taking a flyer on someone else’s non-tender. I’m not terribly happy about the Mets situation, but I also don’t have any better (and realistic) plans for it than Sandy seems to, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for the time being.


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