If the Mets are to compete in 2013, they need to address needs in the outfield, catcher and in the bullpen. That has to be done in addition to these potential bargains if the Mets want to compete in any way. Just as a reminder, here is my article I wrote on the day after Thanksgiving last year.
Jeff Keppinger had a breakout season as a utility player for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. He hit .325 (125-385), 9, 40 playing 2B, 3B and SS. Though he made his MLB debut with the Mets, he may command a little more money than others, but he could be had for less than $4 million being he made $1.53 million last season.
Yuniesky Betancourt is coming off a down season with Kansas City where he did not play every day. Prior to that, he was an everyday SS for KC in 2010 and Milwaukee in 2011. He made just $2 million last season, and can likely be had for that or less for 2013. To me, he is an upgrade over Ronny Cedeno and can put up some decent numbers at SS or 2B.
Brandon Lyon may have gotten himself a decent contract with his strong finish in Toronto. He was 4-2, 3.10 in 67 games, striking out 63 batters in 61 innings for the Astros and Blue Jays. He is coming off a 3 year, $15 million contract with Houston that did not necessarily work out. He should be had on a 1 year contract paying less than he made annually the last three seasons.
Juan Cruz has been an enigma on so many levels. He has had some good seasons, struggled in other occasions, but ultimately has not been able to stick with any one organization. He was 1-1, 2.78 in 43 games, striking out 33 in 35 2/3 IP with Pittsburgh in 2012. However, he was released after the Pirates fell out of contention and was not picked up by anybody afterwards. He made $1.25 million last year, and perhaps could sign a deal for around the same for 2013.
The first three players I mentioned should draw interest from other teams but could be in play for the Mets. This next group of players will be risks in some way because they have struggled to retain form the had years ago. But they can all be had on either minor league contracts or one year deals with low base salaries similar to what Alderson has been dishing out. Grady Sizemore missed the entire 2012 season sitting on a $5 million deal he got from Cleveland. Nobody will come near that for this season. Perhaps a minor league or $1+ million offer for the 2013 season may entice Sizemore. Will he return to the 2006-1008 version when he was one of the top CFs in the AL? Probably not, but he would be a good player to take a chance on for that money.
Marlon Byrd is a free agent coming off a tough three years after signing for $15 million with the Cubs. After a 3-43 start in Chicago, he finished off hitting .210, 1, 9 with the Cubs and Red Sox. He is expected to be available on a minor league contract with some incentives.
Chris Snyder looked like a solid all around catcher during his time in Arizona. He has struggled the last two seasons in Pittsburgh and Houston, finishing off a .176 (39-221), 7, 24 season with the Astros. While he is not the answer as a starting catcher at this point, his upside should make a minor league offer worth considering from both sides.
Xavier Nady still has a lot of fans from his cameo with the Mets in 2006. Though he is not the same player, he hit better with the Giants in the second half of the season after a rough start in Washington. Overall, he hit .184 (28-152), 4, 13 for the season and would be worth a minor league contract with a spring invite. Ryan Spilborghs had some success in Colorado for several seasons, in spite of not playing in the major leagues last season. Playing in AAA for Texas and Cleveland, Spilborghs hit .288 (131-455), 9, 68 and could be a cheap replacement for Scott Hairston. Perhaps a Nady/ Spilborghs battle in spring training can allow the Mets to use that money to fill other needs. (This is assuming the Mets plan to address their OF needs as mentioned earlier.)
Among relievers who can be had for little, Todd Coffey is coming off a disappointing and injured season in LA. He was signed for $1 million, and was 1-0, 4.66 in 23 games, striking out 18 batters in 19 1/3 IP while missing most of the season. Hong-Chih Kuo went to spring training with Seattle last season, but did not pitch in 2012. His upside includes his All Star 2010 season in LA, making him an option as a minor league invite. Hisanori Takahashi was terrible in his two seasons with the Angels, finishing off last season in Pittsburgh. He proved to be nowhere near worth the $8 million, two year contract he got after he left the Mets. However, when he signed a minor league deal with the Mets he shined in 2010, both as a starter and reliever. Why not give him a shot on a similar deal?
This article was not meant to get Mets fans excited. In my opinion though, moves like this will give fans some hope. The task at hand has been set for Alderson, who I feel must put his stamp on this team. None of the moves I mentioned will have any impact on any better moves the Mets hopefully will make. But if the Mets can have for little to nothing, Betancourt, Nady/ Spilborghs, Snyder, Coffey, Kuo and Takahashi along with the possibility of Sizemore, the Mets will still be able to use what little resources they have to address the outfield, catcher and bullpen.