Mets have 3 primary needs to fill ahead of the Winter Meetings

Gaylord Entertainment Marriott

BaronIts only been five weeks since the last time the Mets played a baseball game, but the club has spent those five weeks looking for ways to get over the top of the mountain and win the 2016 World Series, exactly 30 years after their last championship.

They will begin to do so at the Winter Meetings which technically begin tomorrow morning at the at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Mets are already projected to have a $92-95 million in payroll for 2016 with players currently under contract, projected salaries through arbitration, and players earning the league minimum. That’s all without adding new talent.

And the Mets need to add and replenish some of the talent lost on the big league roster.

2015 Winter MeetingsYoenis Cespedes, Jerry Blevins, Eric O’Flaherty, Bartolo Colon, Bobby Parnell, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard, and Daniel Murphy are all free agents.

The Mets added OF Brandon Nimmo, RHP Seth Lugo, and RHP Robert Gsellman to the 40-man roster in late November to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, which takes place Thursday morning at the Winter Meetings. They did not protect Matt Bowman or Wuilmer Becerra, so they could conceivably taken in the Rule 5 draft by other teams.

The 40-man roster currently stands at 39.

The Mets have already signed RHP Jim Henderson, RHP Stolmy Pimentel and infielder Ty Kelly to minor league contracts, but have yet to sign anyone to a Major League deal this winter.

That could change this week, as team insiders insist they will be active in their attempt to fortify the roster this week in Nashville.

DePodesta Ricciardi Ricco WilponHowever, the front office will be missing a key presence to their contingent in Nashville this week, as Sandy Alderson will stay in New York as he undergoes treatment for cancer.

Instead, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon will join assistant GM John Ricco, manager Terry Collins, Vice President, Player Development & Amateur Scouting Paul DePodesta, and special assistant JP Ricciardi as the continent for the Mets at the Winter Meetings.

The Mets have identified three primary needs as they head to the Winter Meetings, with hopes their activity can lead to solutions as they look ahead to Spring Training.

Their goal is to lengthen their lineup by improving their contact rate, reducing their strikeouts, and lengthening their lineup with a greater ability to get on-base.

They also want to create a lockdown formula in their bullpen, and improve their overall defense behind their championship-caliber starting pitching, the latter they hope will make them more efficient and lengthen their outings.

Here’s a look at how the Mets hope to reach those goals this winter… Continue reading

Mets are focused on Ben Zobrist, but have considered Dexter Fowler for the outfield

Dexter Fowler


The Mets are searching for a left-handed complement to Juan Lagares in centerfield, and have been linked to Denard Span as a possible fit, according to multiple reports.

But the Mets are not limiting their search to one player, as Buster Olney of ESPN says the Mets are looking at Dexter Fowler as a possibility to fill that need as well.

Fowler is a similar player to Span, although he’s a couple of years younger, hits for more power and strikes out a little more. But like Span, he has triples speed and could instantly be installed at the top of the Mets lineup, moving Granderson down in the lineup to make for a more ideal flow 1-8.

A switch hitter, Fowler is a base stealing threat, although his success rate has never been particularly good, and creating outs on the bases isn’t exactly what this front office likes in it’s players. But Citi Field and the other big ballparks in the division could play right into Fowler’s strength – his speed – and he could see an uptick in his extra-base production as a result if he were to join the Mets.

From a defensive perspective, Fowler could best be described as average to slightly below average. Those weaknesses could be further exposed in a bigger ballpark than that of Wrigley Field and Minute Maid Park, the two places he’s called home in recent years. And given the Mets need to improve their team-wide defense, having a below average defender up the middle out there on a regular basis does not help in the run prevention department.

There are some problems with Fowler, however, and he’s not an ideal fit by any means. Continue reading

5 free agent outfielders for the Mets to consider this winter

Fowler Upton Parra Rasmus Heyward


–Originally posted November 7, 2015–

The Mets have several needs to fill ahead of the 2016 season, and Sandy Alderson has already said he wants to address such needs and not depend so heavily on their starting pitching for a chunk of the season, as was the case in 2015.

Alderson has said the offense needs to be re-shaped, the bullpen needs work, and in recapping the World Series, he said their defense was lackluster as well.

In addition, the Mets need to improve their speed team-wide.

Assuming both Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy depart, the Mets will have two glaring vacancies at the top of their depth chart: one in the outfield and one on the infield.

The Mets do have Juan Lagares, a Gold Glove caliber center fielder who proved capable of hitting left-handed pitching in 2015 – he posted a .771 OPS in 132 plate appearances against southpaws this past season.

But he struggled mightily against the right side, posting just a .599 OPS in 333 plate appearances against right-handed pitching in 2015.

So the Mets need to decide if Lagares should be in a platoon or simply convert him into a fourth outfielder. He’s under contract for $2.5 million in 2016 as part of a $22.5 million extension he signed last March, a worthy consideration in the decision-making process.

The question is, after surrendering their first-round pick in the 2015 draft for signing Michael Cuddyer last winter, would the Mets be willing to relinquish a first-round pick in the 2016 draft to sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer? For an organization which prides itself on building from within, it might not be prudent for them to lose a second consecutive opportunity in the first round of the amateur draft.

The Mets will get a pick in the compensation portion of the 2016 draft if Murphy departs, thanks to making him a $15.8 million qualifying offer. They will not receive a compensation pick for Cespedes if he leaves, however, as he cannot be made a qualifying offer due to his mid-season acquisition.

Having said that, there are plenty of options for the Mets to consider which would help them improve their speed, defense, reduce the number of strikeouts, and maintain their power.

Here’s a look at several free agent outfielders the Mets might consider signing this winter…

Continue reading