MLB Trade Rumors has published some recent articles that not only detail the off-season outlook for the Mets heading into 2013, but also focus on those that are arbitration-eligible for this season. Of the nine players that are up for a potential pay raise from the Amazins, rumors have it the organization only plans on holding onto four of them.
The obvious non-tender candidates remain the same; Mike Pelfrey only logged three starts before he missed the rest of the season thanks to Tommy John surgery. After a trying spring, Big Pelf did look impressive in his first starts of 2012, as he put together a 2.29 ERA and 1.42 WHIP while striking out 13 hitters in 19.2 innings pitched before he was put on the shelf. However, Alderson will not be paying close to $6 million for a pitcher coming off a surgery and year-long recovery. Dan Warthen and Terry Collins both stated they wouldn’t mind seeing Pelfrey back with the team if he signs as a free agent, inking a deal similar to the one Chris Young signed for 2012, but that remains to be seen. Andres Torresearned $2.7 million this past season and is also a non-tender candidate. Slated to be the lead-off man in 2012, Torres didn’t spend much time at the top of the lineup due to his .230/.327/.337 line. Entering his age-35 season, Alderson is resolved to looking for another center fielder that is younger and more productive, while still being under team control.
Other arbitration-eligible players rumored to be non-tendered include catcher Rob Johnson, outfielder Fred Lewis, and reliever Manny Acosta. The front office plans to overhaul all three of these positions, and I anticipate each of these players to be roster casualties because of it. Johnson is a good veteran presence behind the plate, but he isn’t productive enough at the plate (.201/.277.297 career hitter) to complement Josh Thole. Lewis never looked to be part of the outfield solution, and after looking less than stellar in 18 games after being called up (.150/.320/.150), his current spot on the 40-man roster will likely be going to someone else soon. As for Acosta, although he pitched effectively at the end of the season following a dreadful start and eventual demotion to Triple-A, the emergence of relievers like Josh Edgin, Robert Carson, and possibly Jeurys Familia seems to have made him expendable.
The four players expected to get offered arbitration from the Mets include Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell, Ike Davis, and Josh Thole. Murph had a solid 2012 campaign (.291/.332/.403) as the starting second baseman, and as long as he’s not traded, the organization projects him in the same role for 2013. Parnell put together the most consistent season of his career (2.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 61 Ks in 68.2 IP), and will be one of the few pieces of the Mets bullpen that will survive the impending roster turnover.
Ike Davis also had a dreadful start to the season, hitting on the interstate for most of the first two months, and almost got sent down to Triple-A on more than one occasion. He broke out of his slump and ended up being the biggest source of power for the Mets this season, ending the year with 32 home runs and 90 RBI. Tim Dierkes of MLBTR said now is the time to lock Davis up to the kind of deal Billy Butler got from the Royals (four-years/$30 million), locking him up to a franchise-friendly deal like teammate, Jonathon Niese. However, with New York putting together an aggressive, $100 million offer for David Wright, and another potential one for R.A. Dickey, it may be hard to find the funds to make that happen. As for Thole, he didn’t have a great year by any means (.234/.294/.290), and has no trade value. However, he could still develop into a serviceable back-up, and depending on who else is brought in at the catcher position, he could form a platoon with a right-handed hitter.
Joel Sherman wrote in the New York Post that the Mets should consider going after current Yankees catcher Russell Martin if the Bombers pass on their incumbent backstop. Martin is entering free agency for the first time and is finishing up a one-year/$7.5 million deal he agreed upon last winter with the Yankees. His batting average has been going down since he was with the Dodgers in 2008, and this year was no different, as he put up a .211/.311/.403 line, but has been coming up with big hits (specifically, big home runs) to help the team in 2012.
The Mets will look to be in the market for a right-handed catcher, as they will want to see what else is available outside of Kelly Shoppach. If Martin does become available for the Amazins and he only commands a one- or two-year deal in the open market, Sherman makes some good points to consider; he has a lot more power than any of New York’s current options (18 HR in ’11, 21 in ’12) and has experience as a starter in the Big Apple (125 games played in ’11 and 133 in ’12 with NYY). Going into his age-30 season, he’s the perfect mix of youth and experience to help mentor Thole and a mostly young pitching staff.
He would fit well into what the Mets need, but Sherman also mentioned that he could be looking for a three-year deal in the range of the $15.5 million Chris Iannetta just got from the Angels, which may take the Sandy Alderson and company out of the running, especially since a team like the Yankees could pony up that kind of dough easier than their buddies across town.