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Oct. 2, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets left fielder Jordany Valdespin (1) at bat against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Hampson Elects Free Agency; Valdespin Not Playing 2B in Winter Ball

The Mets recently removed lefty reliever Justin Hampson off the 40-man roster and put him on waivers. After clearing waivers, Hampson decided to test the market and enter free agency after having a solid season in both Triple-A and in his limited time up at the Major League level. He was used sparingly at the beginning, but after Josh Edgin and Robert Carson were shut down torward the end of the season, he was the only lefty remaining in the New York bullpen.

The southpaw was consistent with his performances throughout both levels of play in 2012; with the Bisons, Hampson put together a 4-3 record in 53 games and 65.2 innings pitched, while he compiled a 2.33 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and struck out 59 hitters. In his limited time with the Mets this season (13 games, 10 IP), he also fared well, to the tune of a 1.80 ERA, 1.10 WHP, 2.14 GO/FO, and holding opponents to a .194 batting average. Alderson is once again planning on completely revamping the bullpen and will be looking for a veteran lefty to complement Edgin and Carson, so that is probably what made Hampson expendable. Although he’s 32 years old, he doesn’t have as much MLB experience Alderson wants, as the last time he spent time in the Majors was with the Padres in 2008.

As we get closer to November, we inch closer to players officially becoming free agents and players under team control becoming eligible for arbitration. Players have to wait until they have three years of MLB service before they are able to receive arbitration, but there a few that are selected to earn an extra year of this because they have between two and three years of service. Both Josh Thole and Ike Davis are expected to be claimed as Super Twos, meaning they will have four years of arbitration instead of the standard three prior to hitting free agency. After hitting .234/.294/.290 in 2012, Thole won’t be due for much of a raise, but Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors projects the catcher will get $1.2 million in 2013 after earning $499K this past season, whereas ESPN New York reporter Adam Rubin feels Thole is more in line to earn somewhere between 700 and 800K.

Toward the end of the season, Terry Collins mentioned that Jordany Valdespin would be playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, and would be racking up some more time at second base, his natural position. After being called up three separate times to the Majors this past season, Valdespin ended up playing the outfield a majority of the time because of the presence of Daniel Murphy at second base. However, here we are, two games into the winter season, and Valdespin has started in right field both games.

Rubin speculates that this may be happening contrary to what the Mets want, but I don’t understand why it’s so hard for these winter league teams to use these players for the projected role they are sent there with. The same thing happened to Jeurys Familia before the season finished; Collins said he would be pitching out of the bullpen, but a day later we found out Familia’s team needed and wanted him to start for them, which he was getting ready to do before the organization stepped in to tell him otherwise. As a player, I would voice my opinion to my manager, because what I do in the winter will ultimately affect my role with my team in the spring. It’s understandable that he does play some outfield, especially if New York doesn’t move Murphy this winter, but he should primarily be playing second base, just like the organization that signs his checks askes him to.

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Tags: Jordany Valdespin Josh Thole Justin Hampson New York Mets

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