Sandy Alderson’s Search For Outfielders Continues
There were plenty of rumors to go around on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, but once again for the Mets, not a lot of action. We heard plenty about R.A. Dickey, not much regarding Jonathon Niese, as well as Sandy Alderson’s pursuit of some help for the bullpen and outfield. He met with Scott Hairston‘s agent, as New York is cautiously optimistic about reaching an agreement, but even with that potential signing, the Mets would lack a proven, starting outfielder for Terry Collins to pencil into his lineup next April. The Amazins reportedly are willing to commit $6-$7 million a year to Ryan Ludwick for two years, but New York never looked to be a serious player for his services.
Now that Shane Victorino has signed a three-year/$37.5 million deal with the Red Sox, the free agent outfield market is starting to get a little thin. Cody Ross is still available, as is Michael Bourn, with his list of potential suitors getting smaller by the hour. However, there is no way Alderson would be willing to commit to the type of contract Bourn is seeking, so we can throw that idea out the window. There are two possible scenarios we could begin hearing about as we enter into the second half of these meetings, with one being more attractive to the naked eye than the other, of course.
September 7, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder Brennan Boesch (26) hits a single in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Andy Martino tweeted yesterday that instead of moving Dickey or Niese, the Mets were exploring options for the outfield that would include moving minor league pitchers Darin Gorski or Logan Verrett. Now, I’m not familiar with either of these (although a little more with Gorski), so I immediately had to take a look at their stat lines. Neither hurler is MLB ready, with Gorski reaching AA and Verrett pitching in A+ in 2012, but both have high upside. Gorski was drafted in the 7th round in 2009 and at the young age of 25, he’s put together a career minor league line of 29-23, 3.68 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 417 strikeouts in 454.2 innings pitched. Meanwhile, Verrett was taken in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft, with this past season being his first as a professional. The 22-year-old threw well for Savannah and St. Lucie, going 5-2 with a 2.70 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 93 strikeouts in 103.1 innings pitched.
While these are two solid prospects, they by no means will be able to bring back the type of outfield bat Alderson wants on their own. However, one of these two could possibly bring a player like Brennan Boesch to Flushing. He’s been rumored to be on the block, especially once the Tigers agreed to terms with Torii Hunter, and he could be a low risk, high reward type deal. He’s still young (27-years-old), is under team control until 2016, and although he had a down year in 2012 (.240/.286/.372), he has 20-25 homer potential, and still has plenty of time to blossom into a serviceable player. The Tigers could be willing to make a trade for a prospect to help them in the future since they’ve already put together the outfield they’d like to run out on Opening Day.
As for the more interesting scenario, there are rumors flying around that the Victorino signing could be writing on the wall Jacoby Ellsbury becomes available in trade talks. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted Boston is open to putting the Flyin’ Hawaiian in center, while re-signing Cody Ross or someone else to play right field, while trading Ellsbury away to fill other needs.
I feel as though the scenario of the Sox and Mets hooking up in a trade for Ellsbury has been talked about numerous times in the Mets blogosphere, but hell, what’s one more time, right? He’s coming off a year where he was limited to 74 games due to injury and hit .271/.313/.370, but he had a career year in 2011, hitting .321/.376/.552 with 32 homers, 105 RBI, 119 runs scored, and 39 stolen bases. As long as he’s healthy, I believe he can produce like that again, especially if he plays somewhere outside the AL East.
Ellsbury could give the Mets a proven commodity in center field that can play the position well (won 2011 Gold Glove) and can swipe some bases at the top of the lineup in front of David Wright and Ike Davis. Boston has already inquired about Dickey because they need to bolster their starting rotation, so if Jacoby does become available, these two sides may have more things to discuss. Ben Cherington is monitoring the free agent market for pitchers such as Kyle Loshe, but the low salary of Dickey is a very attractive possibility.
He earned $8 million in 2012 and is third-year arbitration eligible, so he would still come at a discount, but the only catch is he’ll be a free agent after next season, and Scott Boras is his agent. Alderson said he’d want a difference maker for Dickey, and Ellsbury would certainly bring back that kind of return, but the front office is still looking past 2013 and into ’14 and ’15. So, with the likelihood Boras will be looking for a deal in excess of $100 million, I would be pretty surprised if a rumor like this started to gain some steam. But hey, anything can happen. I mean, the Wilpons just gave Wright $138 million afterall.
We’ll see what Day 3 of the Meetings brings and if the discussions Alderson has been having with other executives start to turn into something more.