The latest headline grabbing news involves the Mets search for a forth outfielder. It started with their effort to lowball Cody Ross, who signed with the Red Sox. Now reports say the team has interest in free agents Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez, Kosuke Fukudome and Rick Ankiel. Of course, the most logical fit is Ankiel, who can play all three OF positions and is known to be a good defensive outfielder. He is also the most affordable and may be had for as little as a minor league contract. Fukadome may be the next choice, but he is not known to be as good of a defender.
In addition to the probability that Damon and Ibanez are out of the Mets price range, it is fair to question how much of a fit each one would be. (Not a fit like Cody Ross, which was a reaction from the Mets after Ross was about to take a better contract.) Damon is pretty much a designated hitter at this stage of his career. He played little outfield at all last season, playing in just 16 games in left field for the Tampa Bay Rays. If Damon was added, he could be asked to make a return to CF, which he hasn't played in a couple of years. Its a wonder if his return to the outfield would effect his offensive production which is still decent (.261, 16, 73 in 2011).
Ibanez is coming off a three year contract he signed with the Phillies and has driven in 80+ runs in each of the last seven years. It should get him a contract where he can play everyday, especially since he is still a decent outfielder. Ibanez may be looking for regular playing time, something the Mets cannot guarantee. He would get to play more than expected, though.
The problem is spots are drying up and the chance of Ibanez ($12,166,666) or Damon ($5.25 million) getting anywhere near what they got last year is not looking good. Should the Mets make them an offer? Even if it is the patented Sandy Alderson contract offer of 1 yr and $1 million? (which he should trademark, by the way) I think they should. I know its unlikely Damon or Ibanez would sign for that little, but perhaps some incentives can be thrown in. At the very least, the offers would be weighed against some of the other teams. I think its worth a try.
If it fails, which it probably will, they can focus on Fukudome and Ankiel, who will be more attainable. Though Fukudome is coming off a 4 year, $48 million deal he signed with the Chicago Cubs (making $14.5 million in 2011), he is expected to get less of a deal than Ibanez and Damon are expected to get. He is weighing options of maybe going back to Japan against the pay cut he is expected to take.
Damon and Ibanez going elsewhere and Fukudome going back to Japan will lead the Mets to Ankiel, where they were expecting to be all along. I personally think its at least worth a try to get the others. Particularly with Damon and Ibanez, they can be traded midseason if necessary. We all understand the unlikeliness that either would sign, so if either would, I say do it. This team can use some buzz, like I suggested with Manny Ramirez. There is nothing wrong with offering what the team is willing to pay. If they take it, great, if not, its no big deal.