I read an interesting article on Bleacher Report that listed seven free agents-to-be the Mets should be targeting. There were current Mets players on the list, such as Kelly Shoppach and Scott Hairston, as well as Jonathan Broxton, as Sandy Alderson will go back to the drawing board to improve the bullpen. What was most interesting to me were the two options listed for the outfield; Shane Victorino and Cody Ross.
Although there hasn’t been an official word as to what the budget will look like in Flushing for the 2013 season, word on the street is the Mets will have approximately $10-20 million to spend, while keeping their payroll in the neighborhood of the $94 million we saw this season. If Alderson is going to try and sign David Wright and R.A. Dickeyto extensions this winter, he’s going to have to get real creative, especially if his budget is as tight as it sounds like it’s going to be. However, the one area that needs a great amount of help is the outfield.
The slump of historic proportions that the offense went through over the last couple of months can be directly attributed to the lack of production from all three outfield positions. Terry Collins has done his best to make it work with players like Hairston, Jordany Valdespin, Lucas Duda, Jason Bay, and Andres Torres, but running a platoon factory is simply won’t work moving forward. Rumors are swirling about Torres being non-tendered, meaning that the man the organization thought would be our only speed source, lead-off hitter, and starting center fielder, will no longer be with the team.
So, Ross and Victorino are two free agent-to-be outfielders that the Mets should consider pursuing in the off-season, mostly because they have the biggest upside and could fill the holes the organization needs the most. Let’s first take a look at Cody Ross and what he potentially brings to the table for the Amazins.
After a tough season in 2011 with the Giants following a magical postseason run to a World Series title, the Red Sox signed Ross to a one-year/$3 million deal to be their fourth outfielder. He’s been more of a starter for the majority of the season, while being one of the few bright spots during a tough year in Beantown. In 116 games and 423 at-bats, he’s hitting .274/.338/.501 with 21 homers and 74 RBI. If Hairston signs elsewhere, Ross could be the perfect fill-in, on paper. He’s a right-handed corner outfielder with power. The only difference between the two is that Ross has had more experience as a starter in the Major Leagues, where Hairston hasn’t been given that chance yet. The biggest problem would be money; it sounds as if he’ll be looking for a deal in the range of 3-years/$21 million, similar to the one Josh Willingham signed with the Twins last winter. That probably won’t work for the penny pinching Wilpons, at least not with the contracts of Bay and Johan Santana still on the books.
So, you know what that means; the long-hated Shane Victorino, who has contributed to so much heartbreak over recent years for Mets fans, could actually be the perfect fit for the team. The Dodgers were looking for outfield help at the deadline, and were able to land the Flyin’ Hawaiian from the Phils. However, his production hasn’t panned out the way they were planning (.234/.303/.311 in 167 at-bats), and with Carl Crawford signed through 2017, it’s doubtful Ned Colletti will look to re-sign the outfielder.
The front office was so high on Torres this year and insisted he stay in the lineup because of his speed. Well, he has 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts this season, while Victorino has 35 swipes in what is considered a down year for him. He’s a top notch defensive player that brings a winning attitude, is a switch hitter that can hit lefties historically (.298/.371/.504), and will not only get on base in the lead-off position (.341 career OBP), but can also steal bases. It’s an advantage for the Mets that he’s having a lackluster second half because that will drive down his price. Entering his age-32 season, he still wants to be a starter, which could deter some teams, giving the Mets some bargaining power.
It would be weird to see the long hated Phillie in the Orange and Blue, but hey, crazier things have happened. Do you think the Mets should pursue Shane Victorino this winter?