Well, the first part of that title is just shocking, isn’t it? None of us had any idea the Mets needed some help for the bullpen. Jon Heyman tweeted that there are some options left for New York to consider, and they’re extra appealing because guys like Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde, and Matt Capps can all close.
MLB Trade Rumors projected the current relief corps to include Frank Francisco, Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin, Robert Carson, and Jeurys Familia. While this is what they have at the moment, there are others likely be to in the ‘pen by the time the first pitch is thrown on Opening Day. Unless he crashes and burns in Port St. Lucie, I anticipate Greg Burketo break camp in the Big Leagues. Sandy Alderson signed him to a minor league deal with an invite to MLB camp, but they put him on the 40-man roster to protect him during the rule-5 draft, as he followed up a solid 2012 season (3-1, 1.53 ERA, 0.94 WHIP in 64.2 IP) with an equally impressive winter in the Carribbean (3-1, 2.23 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 11 saves in 32.1 IP).
Also, Jeremy Hefner could make the team as a long reliever/spot starter, Jenrry Mejia‘s role in 2013 is still yet to be determined, and the newly signed Aaron Laffey will get a chance to be the veteran lefty in the bullpen, likely pushing Carson back down to Triple-A. There’s no doubt the Mets will be looking hard at the remaining available relievers in the free agent market, but I wouldn’t expect any notable names to be pursued, as Michael Baron of MetsBlog reported this week that New York will be “bottom-feeding” this winter for bullpen help. Guys like Chad Durbin, Kyle Farnsworth, and Kevin Gregg are relievers I could picture Alderson pursuing from the right-side, and southpaws like Manny Parra or J.C. Romero, if he’s not already satisfied with inking Laffey.
When it comes to help for the outfield, MLB Trade Rumors reminded us of Sandy’s interest in Oakland A’s outfield Coco Crisp (tweeted by Kevin Davidoff), but the general consensus is that Billy Beane will hold onto him, as he’s a favorite of his. Crisp is due to earn $7 million in 2013, which is the last guaranteed year of his contract, followed by a 2014 option for $7.5 million. In his age-32 season, he hit .259/.325/.418 with 11 homers, 46 RBI, 68 runs scored, and 39 stolen bases. If Sandy can pry him away from the Bay area for the right price, he’d be a great veteran presence in center field and at the top of the lineup. However, that’s not exactly cheap, and only $3 million per season less than what Michael Cuddyer is making in Colorado. Alderson should at least do his due diligence and check-in on the right-handed corner outfielder to see if the Rockies are desperate to unload him. Not saying he should go all out to get him, but it’s worth a conversation.
When it comes to Scott Hairston, he still prefers a return to Citi Field next season because he has a better chance to play everyday, but the Yankees still hold an interest in the outfielder, even after signing Matt Diaz to a minor league deal earlier this week. I’m sure this situation will drag out a bit longer for Hairston and the Mets, as neither one wants to blink just yet about what they feel would be fair in a potential agreement. Scott was one of the few bright spots in the outfield for New York in 2012, hitting 20 homers and driving in 57 RBI in only 377 at-bats, but it’s justified for Sandy to have reservations about allowing him to have an expanded role on the field.
Hairston historically has hit southpaws well (.276/.325/.500), but has struggled against right-handed hurlers (.229/.288/.416). So, I see why the front office is hesitant to commit two years and $10 million for what could be a platoon player. To play devil’s advocate, Hairston hasn’t had a legitimate chance to prove himself in a starting role either.
The longer this situation drags out, the more desperate he will get to sign and likely take less than what he’s currently asking for, which I’m sure is exactly what Sandy is waiting for.