Adding versatility could be the key to the Mets off-season
The Mets have several needs which they must address heading into the 2016 season.
They must address their overall defense, add another outfielder, ensure they have depth on their infield, and shore up their bullpen in an effort to shorten games and prevent runs from scoring late.
But the free agent market doesn’t necessarily contain players that fill all of those specific needs with specific players, which may force the Mets to acquire players who can play multiple positions and fill their needs indirectly in that manner.
And the Mets are prepared to go that route if needed.
“You just saw what happened this year when we added some depth to the club and flexibility for [Terry Collins], so that can be done in a lot of different ways,” assistant GM John Ricco explained in South Florida on Monday evening. “Maybe not just filling in a hole, but trying to find guys who might complement multiple positions.
“It’s is one way we could go, but we might try to be a little more creative than that,” he said.
It makes sense, and the Mets became a lot more versatile ahead of the trade deadline when they acquired Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, good clubhouse presences capable of playing multiple positions and therefore creating credible depth on their roster.
The Mets could bring back Uribe and Johnson, but they’ll still need to find either an upgrade to Juan Lagares or a platoon partner for their Gold Glove centerfielder.
Denard Span, if healthy, is a logical candidate who fits that criteria. He’s a left-handed hitter with speed who makes contact and could easily serve as a regular leadoff hitter, which would bump Curtis Granderson down in the lineup and make his power and ability to get on-base more valuable as well.
Gerardo Parra – a defensive whiz – would also fill the need, as would Dexter Fowler, although Fowler received a qualifying offer, strikes out more than is preferable and like Lagares, struggled against right-handed pitching in 2015.
Ricco said they’re communicating with the agents for Yoenis Cespedes as well as Daniel Murphy, although it’s expected both will depart via free agency, leaving the Mets to have to make up for their lost production.
But Ricco and the Mets are confident some of that production will be accounted for in full seasons from Travis d’Arnaud as well as a more consistent presence from David Wright, although whether it’s in Uribe, Johnson, or another player, acquiring a quality and versatile insurance policy to Wright should be a top priority for the Mets this winter.
No matter what, the Mets expect a slower-paced off-season than they had last year, simply because their needs are not as glaring as they were heading into the 2015 season.
“We’re in a little bit of a different place team-wise than where we were last year, not only because how we finished but because of how some guys developed,” Ricco explained. “Our holes aren’t, I don’t think, as glaring as they were.”