–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…