Being a Mets fan, you always have to prepare for the worst. The Mets signed OF Chris Young. What if they continue to claim poverty as every free agent position player goes off the board? Would it shock anybody if that was the case again? Even with the extra money to spend, there is a possibility that the Mets won't have the highest offer for any player they are pursuing. If that is the case, they could rely heavier on the trade market. But what if that fails? If it does, the Mets will be once again shopping the dollar rack to put together a baseball team. Bringing in these types of players will not do much to excite the Mets fan. Odds are attendance will drop even more unless the team gives the fans something to hope for.
So, here it is. I've prefaced this enough. The Mets may surprise more this offseason if they do not act aggressively, since they have more money at their disposal. The team needs to add at least one more outfielder, a shortstop, perhaps a bench player or two, two starting pitchers and two relievers.
Outfield: Among under the radar players the team could take a chance on are Quintin Berry, Mark Teahen, Brennan Boesch and even a possible reunion with Endy Chavez. I would consider Grady Sizemore if there is a possibility he could be a MLB player again, but that possibility seems unlikely. Shelley Duncan may be worth a chance to take, but it is unlikely he will be an everyday MLB player. If I had a choice (and remember I am only talking about the "dollar rack"), I would like to see the Mets take a chance on OFs Tyler Colvin and Franklin Gutierrez. Colvin put up solid numbers in Colorado in 2012, yet spent most of 2013 in the minor leagues due to a roster crunch. He could come cheap and I'm sure he feels the need to prove 2012 was not a fluke. I'm not as high on Gutierrez, since he has been injury prone, but he has an upside both offensively and defensively. The cost of both players should be right up Sandy Alderson's alley.
Shortstop: The drop off after the top available shortstops is so steep that it would not make sense to invest a lot of money on a free agent. Perhaps the Mets address this need in a trade or simply start 2014 with Ruben Tejada. On the cheap, veterans like Willie Bloomquist, Jamey Carroll and Alexi Casilla are available. Miguel Tejada may want to come back, but there obviously is some concern over whether he has anything left or needs some synthetic enhancement. Thinking about low cost options, perhaps Clint Barmes could be had. Obviously not a huge upgrade from Tejada, but Barmes has been a starting SS for a while and played in the postseason for Pittsburgh in 2013. Yuniesky Betancourt is not nearly as good defensively, but hits for some power. Between the two of them, they may be able to man the position for very little cost.
Backup Catcher: I think it would be a good idea for the Mets to bring in a veteran backup catcher. A team that either can't spend or does not have the ability to cannot make a lucrative investment to a backup catcher. Chris Snyder has been a starter but it seems he has nothing left. Wil Nieves, however, has build up some experience over the past 5 seasons and emerged backing up Miguel Montero in Arizona last season. At $1 million or two for 2014, this would give catcher Travis d'Arnaud the mentoring he needs without competition for his job.
Starting pitcher: Veteran pitchers like Jon Garland, Brett Myers and Daisuke Matsuzaka lead the list of pitchers who may be willing to take non guaranteed contracts. Rather than that, I would consider younger alternatives like Clayton Richard and Jeff Karstens, assuming the risk was just as little. But there are two free agent pitchers who are not so removed from being solid MLB starters. And they are younger. Using the same cheap philosophy, I'd consider RHP Jeff Niemann and RHP James McDonald. McDonald was a top prospect with the Dodgers and was one of the Pirates better starters before last season. Niemann is coming off a major injury and will need some time to recover. If McDonald returns to form of a couple years ago and Niemann recovers from the injury, these can be two great moves.
Relief pitcher: The Mets were linked to RHP Alfredo Aceves, but he will come with too much baggage, even if he is cheap. Manny Corpas, Matt Guerrier and Chad Gaudin could all be invited to camp. If so, that would make my suggestion to pursue incentive laden deals to Eric O'Flaherty, Joel Hanrahan and Ryan Madson seem more sensible. All three pitchers are coming off major arm operations and may not be ready for the start of 2014. That should drop the price and the potential reward could trump the risk.
The Mets offseason may or may not be worth watching. I am hoping for more proven players to be part of the 2014 team. But, you are not crazy if you are still doubting whether the Mets will spend the money necessary to do it. An offseason of Colvin, Gutierrez, Barmes, Betancourt, McDonald, Niemann, Hanrahan, Madson and O'Flaherty does not excite anybody. But, I would rather take my chances with these players than simply roll over the roster for the 4th consecutive season. The right answer is for the Mets to just spend some money. But what if they simply do not want to?