With Spring Training just over six weeks away, the Mets still need to find a right-handed replacement to Michael Cuddyer, who announced his retirement in mid-December.
Cuddyer was set to earn $12.5 million in in 2016. He did not deny that there was a negotiated buyout of the money owed to him in 2016, so presumably the Mets will have net a figure that is less than the actual amount owed to devote to a replacement.
The market for outfielders has been incredibly slow to develop this winter, with only Jason Heyward signed among the lot of top-tiered outfielders signed. Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, and Alex Gordon are still free agents, with no real clarity yet defined as to where they will sign.
The White Sox and Orioles were listed among the favorites to sign Cespedes, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, but the Sox apparently did not want to commit to Cespedes beyond three years, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported. The same can be said for the White Sox and Gordon.
As for Upton, there have been very few reports connecting him to any team. The Angels were engaged in discussions with Upton’s agents during the Winter Meetings, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, but those talks did not progress.
But as the league and team executives go back to work in January, the market will soon have to start to define itself with the clock ticking on the off-season.
The Mets, meanwhile, appear to be unwilling to commit to longer-term to anyone – be it a starting pitcher, reliever, or position player – this winter. Only Asdrubal Cabrera has been signed to a multi-year deal, and the Mets only committed themselves through 2017 with their new shortstop. The rest of their winter acquisitions – Neil Walker, Jerry Blevins, Bartolo Colon, and Alejandro De Aza – have been procured for only one year.
Still, the Mets are seeking to build a roster with position players who are capable of starting everyday for them right out of the gate in 2016, with hopes such a deep roster will effectively support their pitching staff and give them the necessary four runs per game they believe is necessary to win on a regular basis.
71 of the 90 regular season wins the Mets recorded in 2015 came when the Mets scored at least four runs per game.
The Mets 2016 payroll is currently projected at around $109 million, which includes monies owed to players under contract, arbitration projections, and players earning the league minimum. Whatever the final figure is before Opening Day, it can be assumed an additional $4-5 million will be needed to cover player call-ups and additional payroll expenses for the season, which is normal for any team.
Here’s a look at some of the remaining right-handed bats which fits the Mets needs this winter… (more…)
With the Mets being out of the running to sign Yoenis Cespedes this winter, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Mets are still interested in signing a right-handed hitting outfielder to create more depth and more versatility while deepening the roster.
On Tuesday, Terry Collins said he would like the Mets to procure a left-handed complement to Juan Lagares in center field, and also some right-handed depth for the roster as well.
One of the right-handed bats the Mets are connected to, according to the Bergen Record’s Matt Ehalt, is free agent Ryan Raburn.
Rayburn, 34, hasn’t been a full-time player since 2011, serving mostly in a super-utility role capable of playing in the outfield as well as first base, second base and third base. He has been up and down over the last couple of years but he’s a disciplined hitter who gets on-base and has some pop, although he doesn’t have much speed.
He’s about league-average defensively, but he hasn’t played much on the infield over the last couple of seasons, which could be an issue if he’s viewed as a potential backup to David Wright at third base.
But Wilmer Flores seems slated to be Wright’s backup, which would limit Raburn’s exposure in that role.
Raburn would certainly go a long way towards deepening the Mets bench and giving the Mets even more versatility, which has really been the goal for the Mets this winter. He would give the Mets another platoon alternative at two corner outfield spots, first base, and second base, if the Mets were able to secure his services.
Versatility is the name of the game for the Mets this winter, and Raburn posted a 1.004 OPS against left-handed pitching in 70 games against left-handed pitching in 2015. He has a career .827 OPS against southpaws.
Raburn just completed a two-year, $4.85 million contract which he signed before the 2013 season with the Indians. The club had a $3 million option on Raburn, but chose to buy him out for $100,000. He hit .301/.393/.543 with 16 doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 29 RBI in 201 plate appearances over 82 games with the Indians in 2015.
Over the weekend, assistant GM John Ricco told Mike Vorkunov the Mets are very much considering acquiring an outfielder ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
But while they have been reportedly connected to marquee names such as Justin Upton and Carlos Gomez in recent days, Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Mets actually prefer adding a left-handed hitting outfielder, should they decide to upgrade that area.
Having said that, it stands to reason why the Mets have also been connected to Brewers OF Gerardo Parra, who is an outstanding fit for the Mets right now.
People in the Mets organization have always liked Parra, especially his defense which has earned him three Gold Gloves. He’s had an excellent season with the Brewers this season, posting an .848 OPS this season with nine home runs and 48 RBI in 90 games. He’s a left-handed hitter but has held his own extremely well against southpaws, hitting .298 with an .836 OPS.
But while it may have seemed obvious the Mets needed to acquire an upgrade in the outfield before (their outfield has produced the fourth-worst OPS at .673), their hand may soon be forced based on how Michael Cuddyer’s knee responds to a last-ditch effort to keep him on the field and off the disabled list.
If they in fact disable Cuddyer, the club is going to be in dire need for a replacement. Short of either Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo (which the club would rather avoid), the Mets do not have any internal options to promote. Someone like Parra should come at a lower cost in trade than someone like Upton or Gomez, yet could provide a big boost and a good value to the outfield while leaving them some available assets to deal for an infielder and/or bench piece.
In addition to a primary outfielder, the Mets must also consider upgrading their bench, as their pinch hitters have posted a .162/.277/.216 line. Sherman opines Indians OF Ryan Raburn would be a good fit against left-handed pitching off the bench.
Raburn has crushed left-handed pitching this season, posting a .940 OPS in 120 plate appearances with the Indians in 2015. He’s earning $2.5 million and has a $3 million option for next season with a $100,000 buyout, making him a very good value for their bench.
Such a move would conceivably mark the end of John Mayberry Jr.’s time with the club, but Sherman says it’s worth watching considering the Mets had interest in him as a free agent several seasons ago.