As far as starting pitching, you figure the most the Mets will spend is about $2-$3 million on a one year contract for 2012. This of course, eliminates them from being in the running for Roy Oswalt, Hiroki Kuroka, Edwin Jackson, Joe Saunders, Paul Maholm, and Javier Vazquez. That is no surprise. The Mets would be looking to stay closer to the $2 million or less range with possible incentives similar to what Chris Capuano got last season. Pitchers that could fall into this class are Bartolo Colon, Jeff Francis, Jon Garland, Brad Penny, Joel Pineiro and Aaron Cook. These should be pitchers on the Mets radar and would be low risk, high reward options where they could simply be cut in spring training if they are not part of the plans.
For less than the $2 million range, perhaps for $1 million or less, the Mets could have Vincente Padilla, JoJo Reyes, Tim Wakefield, Kevin Millwood, or Zach Duke. Duke and Reyes could provide depth in AAA, but would probably have to hold 40 man roster spots. Wakefield is an unlikely solution due to the fact the Mets have RA Dickey. Millwood and Padilla would compete for a spot on the team and would be cut if they are not part of the plans.
Similar to the first group, the second group of pitchers would have to agree to a deal which was within the Mets terms. Now for the next two groups of pitchers the Mets are most likely to pull from. Those who should sign minor league contracts looking for a chance to show they could still pitch, and those who should sign minor league contracts because they are coming off serious injury and have no idea if they can pitch again. The first group will include Ross Ohlendorf, Scott Olsen and Doug Davis. Ohlendorf has struggled rehabbing from injuries in Pittsburgh, with the Pirates finally giving up on him. Olsen also tried coming back with the Pirates to no avail. Davis got some time to pitch last season with the Cubs and may be the most major league ready of the three. As it gets closer to spring training, the Mets should eye them for non-guaranteed contracts and spring training invites.
Finally to the injured pitchers trying to make a comeback. Some of the pitchers I have mentioned are coming off injuries. But who out of this list of chronic injury prone to career being over pitchers intrigue you? Jaime Moyer? Brandon Webb? Ben Sheets? Rich Harden? Justin Duchscherer? Jeremy Bonderman? Scott Kazmir? The fact that its a minor league contract is the only reason any of the following would get any consideration. If any are healthy, none would be looking to pitch in AAA. I actually see them as longer shots than the ones in the previous paragraphs. But maybe one is healthy enough to give it a shot.
It would be a positive gesture for the Mets to bring Chris Young back on a minor league contract and allow him to rehab in the minors this year. Young worked so hard to come back in spring training last year only to tear the capsule muscle in his throwing shoulder, similar to what happened to Johan Santana. Santana could share what he is going through with his rehab and it would be a nice story to see Young return sometime during the later stages of the 2012 season.