In a conference call talking about the R.A. Dickey-Travis d’Arnaud trade, Sandy Alderson told reporters the Mets aren’t planning to “punt” 2013. It was encouraging to hear, but he also said that last season, and we all know what happened after their 46-40 start. However, it could be different this winter, as Mike Puma has us all excited, tweeting last night that New York may be adding an outfielder within the next few days, but it’s unclear whether it’s via trade or free agency. Puma was only told by his source that it’s a name that hasn’t been linked before to the Mets. So, who could it be?
There are plenty of options through both the free agent and trade markets to choose from, but I’ll try and pick a few out here. In regards to free agents, there have been a few names that could be attractive to Alderson and his front office. Obviously, Michael Bourn would be a great acquisition, especially now that we’re hearing the Scott Boras client is willing to take a short-term deal instead of the five years he was originally in search for. The 29-year-old center fielder hit .274/.348/.391 last season with 9 homers, 57 RBI, and 42 stolen bases. He would give New York a legit leadoff hitter with great speed, as well as grade-A defense in center field. However, if Bourn doesn’t get a long-term deal, he’ll want a one-year contract so he can re-enter the market next winter, so it’s unlikely Bourn could be the outfielder. However, Sandy could sign him to a one-year flyer, and if he has a great year, he can try to re-sign him next winter once Jason Bay and Johan Santanaofficially come off the books. Either way, it sounds unlikely.
The other free agent outfielder that hasn’t been linked to the Amazins yet is Nick Swisher. I know there are a lot of people who don’t want him on the squad, but he would fit nicely into the Mets lineup, probably better than Cody Ross would. The switch-hitting right fielder hit .272/.364/.473 with 24 homers and 93 RBI last season for the Yankees, and would give the Mets the power and balance in the lineup they need, especially since he hit .271/.394/.483 against southpaws. His options have been shrinking over the last month, as the Mariners and Indians are the teams in pursuit of him the most. He’s recently visited Cleveland, and could be making a decision sometime this week, is reportedly looking for a deal worth around 4 years and $50 million. At the age of 32, I don’t think Alderson would be comfortable handing out four years to a player like Swisher, but who knows. All I do know is that they haven’t been linked to him before.
As for the trade market, there are two players that would be welcome additions to the Mets outfield, and we’ve already talked about both here at Rising Apple. The first is Josh Willingham. Plenty of teams have been asking about him, but it looks as though he’ll be staying in Minnesota with two years and $14 million left on his contract. Willingham quietly had a career year, hitting .260/.366/.524 with 35 homers and 110 RBI in spacious Target Field for a not-so-good Twins team. Minnesota has made a conscious effort to rebuild their starting pitching with MLB-ready talent, and the Mets could dangle some of their MLB-ready starters in front of them as a temptation. However, they’ve already traded away the likes of Denard Span and Ben Revere from their outfield, which makes it unlikely he’ll be moving, but hey, it could happen.
Dexter Fowler would give everything the Mets could possibly want for a center fielder. He hit .300/.389/.474 in 2012 with the Rockies, while compiling 13 homers, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases. During the Winter Meetings, Rockies management said there was no way Fowler would be traded, but Alex Anthopoulos also said that about Travis d’Arnaud, and we all know how that ended up. Dexter is a switch-hitting center fielder that can lead off and is also a good defender, which would fit nicely in the friendly confines of Citi Field. Also, he’s arbitration-eligible, but under team control until 2016. Colorado’s biggest need is starting pitching, which again, plays to the strength of the Mets, and they have plenty of offense in their lineup, which makes Fowler expendable for the right players in return.
Also, let’s not rule out Billy Beane and the Athletics since they have a surplus of outfielders after acquiring Chris Young from the Diamondbacks earlier this winter. The one that could be of most interest to the Mets may be Coco Crisp, who is due to make $7 million in 2013 and has a team option in place for 2014. Last season, Crisp hit .259/.325/.418 with 11 homers, 46 RBI, and 39 stolen bases at the age of 32. This would make sense for New York because he gives the outfield a veteran presence in center, can lead off, and has postseason experience (World Series champion in 2007 with Boston and won AL West with Oakland last season). With only one guaranteed year left on his contract, he’s still motivated to either have the team option exercised, or create interest for himself on the free agent market for next winter.
So, we’ll soon see which player New York has been targeting, and whether they’re a free agent or not. Out of these five options, I would be most excited about acquiring a player like Fowler, solidifying the defense up the middle of the field. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to acquiring Crsip; he would come at a lower price than Fowler, and can help New York be competitive while we wait for prospects like Matt Den Dekker and Brandon Nimmo to work their way up through the minor leagues.
Which one of these options would you like to see the Mets acquire? If not listed here, who do you think they’re in pursuit of?