We’ve heard it plenty of times over the last month or so; Sandy Alderson plans to turnover the Mets roster as much as they can this winter, in an effort to bring in more productive players for 2013. With $80 million of next year’s payroll already committed to Johan Santana, David Wright, Frank Francisco, Jonathon Niese, R.A. Dickey, and Jason Bay, while likely giving raises to Josh Thole, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, and Bobby Parnell through arbitration, there is only about $10 million to spend on free agent talent this winter. So, the front office will be active in the trade market once the final out is recorded this evening, and no one is safe.
Both MLB Trade Rumors and MetsBlog broke the news yesterday, and there was a bunch to report, most of it coming from Adam Rubin as the main source. With little budget flexibility and the front office trying to be competitive and win while they rebuild, trading is the one avenue where the Mets will be able to bring in new players without giving up much money. According to sources, no one in the organization and on the roster is considered “untouchable,” meaning they are willing to listen to just about any offer that comes their way. As Alderson said on the SNY broadcast last week, the only way Ike Davis would get traded away is if they could replace his production, which seems unlikely, unless an interested team can give up legit, MLB-ready talent.
The news that is least surprising is that Mike Pelfrey and Andres Torres will not be tendered contracts, which would effectively make them free agents. Ramon Ramirez is set to hit free agency this winter, and sources point to him not getting re-signed by New York, with the same happening to Jon Rauch, as they look to once again, make over the bullpen. If Ronny Cedeno and Scott Hairston can’t find multi-year deals elsewhere, New York would like to try and re-sign them to one-year deals. Despite his second half struggles, Kirk Nieuwenhuis is still seen as a possible option to start in center field.
As for free agents, the Mets are interested in possibly bringing back Chris Young to another one-year deal, as well as signing another lefty reliever to complement Josh Edgin and Robert Carson. Although there isn’t much room in the payroll this year, they are open to offering backloaded contracts to players looking for multi-year deals, which could end up being an interesting bargaining chip, as we saw the Marlins use that tactic last winter.
While I expected most of these scenarios as we head into the off-season, I’m most surprised with the possibility of bringing back Young for 2013 and the likelihood of Rauch not returning to the bullpen. Young has thrown approximately as many innings this season (115) this season than he has in his last three combined, but hasn’t had any setbacks after coming back from shoulder capsule surgery. With starting pitching to be one of the strengths of the organization moving forward, one needs to wonder where he would fit into their plans, but Alderson could become interested in Young as a backup plan in Triple-A, especially if one or two young arms are dealt to get some more offense on the roster.
On the other hand, Jon Rauch has been one of the most consistent relievers for the majority of the season, despite struggling over the last week or two. However, the Mets will go through their yearly process of totally revamping the bullpen, and with other options to potentially take on eighth inning duties (Parnell, Jeurys Familia) for 2013, Rauch may end up being too expensive for a team that could use that money eslewhere.
After making minimal moves over the last two seasons, it’s time to make some significant moves to put a better product on the field. Alderson has taken his time to evaluate the short-term and long-term value of the players in the farm system and Major League roster, and he’s ready to put his stamp on this team in efforts to make them contenders.
Although “no one is safe,” evidence shows Sandy will use common sense when it comes to listening to offers. To trade a player like Jonathon Niese or power bat like Ike Davis, he will have to be blown away with a package from an interesting team. Like I said earlier in the week, I would put my bets on pitchers like Familia and Mejia and position players like Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy to be shopped actively.
One thing that’s for sure is this winter is already shaping up to be more entertaining for Mets fans than the last two combined. So, buckle your seat belts, I have a feeling we will finally be seeing a lot of action.