Mets: Winter Meetings are over, so what now?
By Rich Sparago
With Spring Training roughly two months away, the Mets still have some holes to fill
The 2015 Winter Meetings have ended, and the Mets were active. They have a new double-play combination of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. However, the Mets left Nashville with some work still to be done. Here are a few thoughts on what they may want to consider and avoid.
The Mets are reportedly interested in bringing Bartolo Colon back, as a fifth starter and swing man once Zack Wheeler returns (in June or July). This is one to avoid. Colon exceeded expectations since signing his two-year deal in December of 2013, posting a 29-26 record and 4.13 ERA as a Met. He also struck out 287 and walked just 54.
However, Colon will be 43 in May, and likely command roughly $9-10 million in 2016. Colon may also want to be a full-time starter. The Mets have internal options, with Logan Verrett, Rafael Montero, and even Sean Gilmartin. The money that would be spent on Colon could be better spent elsewhere. Also, a some point, Colon will no longer be able to defy Father Time.
The Mets have extra money to spend with the retirement of Michael Cuddyer. They may now have interest in Yoenis Cespedes. This move is definitely worth considering, as the impact Cespedes had upon arrival last season was profound. Though his postseason performance was modest (.222 BA), Cespedes hit .287 in 57 games after being acquired from Detroit, with 17 home runs and 44 RBI.
The problem is the value and length of contract Cespedes may receive, and whether or not the Mets are willing to get involved at that level. Cespedes would have to play center field, and this is also a concern, as he is better in left field. His absence, though, would leave a power gap in the Mets’ lineup, one not easy to fill.
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The Mets have been linked to Gerard Parra. Parra would be the left-handed compliment to Juan Lagares. This is another move to avoid. For one reason, Parra is seeking a three or four-year contract, and that may be too aggressive. Parra is a lifetime .277 hitter, with 56 home runs over seven seasons. He does hit right handers well, posting a .303 average last year. Defensively, Parra had a -10 Defensive Runs Saved last year, and has shown over his career to be a slightly above average fielder.
Interestingly, Parra hit just .237 for the Orioles last year, after going to Baltimore at the trade deadline. If Parra were available for a one or two-year deal, he may be worth considering, but there does not seem to be enough in his game to justify a longer-term contract.
Denard Span is another option to platoon with Lagares. Span may be the perfect fit for the Mets, in that he’s coming off an injury-plagued season, and may have to settle for a short-term contract. The fly in that ointment is that Span is represented by Scott Boras, and Boras seldom allows his clients to accept short-term deals. Span would bring the Mets the speed they need (if his hip is healthy), having averaged 26 stolen bases per season over his career.
Span has hit .293 against right-handed pitching over his career, and statistically projects as a slightly above average center fielder. The biggest difference between Span and Parra may turn out to be length of contract, and if that proves to be the case, the Mets need to be in on Span.
The Mets could take center field in a different direction, and acquire a full-time player (possibly trading Lagares). One such option is Dexter Fowler, who would cost the Mets a draft pick (though they will receive one when Daniel Murphy signs with another team). Fowler is a switch hitter, though he hits much better right-handed (.326/.228 last year).
Fowler projects as slightly below average defensively, and would likely seek a four or five-year deal. Fowler’s numbers have been on the decline in recent seasons, and for this reason, he may be a player to avoid (think Jason Bay contract).
The Mets will also be seeking bullpen help. They have several good options in-house, with Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Erik Goeddel, Sean Gilmartin, and possibly Logan Verrett or Rafael Montero (and maybe Jenrry Mejia mid-season). This being the case, I’d like to see them bring in another left hander, but not at a high price (Antonio Bastardo).
Jerry Blevins may be the right fit. Coming off of a season where he appeared in just seven games with the Mets due to injury, Blevins has little negotiating leverage. Over his career, Blevins has held lefties to a .200 average. He may be a good value signing.
The Mets have two months until pitchers and catchers. In the words of Assistant GM John Ricco, they have work to do. It will be interesting to see the approach they take, coming off of their pennant-winning season, and with some unexpected money recently made available.