Coleman’s Corner: Breaking Down Mets Free Agent Options

By Ed Coleman
» More from Eddie C.

It’s been just over a week since free agency commenced in baseball, and already Met fans are either depressed or panic stricken.  Was that Jose Reyes performing “No Hay Amigo” at a South Beach nightclub in Miami last night?  Was that Jose sliding down the chute with Bernie Brewer at Miller Park?  Why haven’t the Mets made an offer?

Look, I don’t know if there’s any club that will offer Reyes a 6 or 7-year deal, but the Mets will not, nor should they.  They are waiting for the market to form for a difficult player to judge  –  extremely talented, dynamic game-changer, yet physically brittle at times.  The Mets know what they are willing to pay for Reyes, and if I had to speculate it’s within the parameters of 4 years plus an option in the $80-90 million range.

Everyone points to the Mets ownership’s financial woes as the reason the front office is taking this tack, but it has as much to do with the $55-57 million that is due to just 3 players  –  Johan Santana, Jason Bay and David Wright  –  in 2012, which is already half the budget projected for next season.  Thus the wait-and-see, cat-and-mouse approach.

What the Mets have to concentrate on is improving their pitching, especially the bullpen, which includes targeting a reasonably priced closer for 2012.  They also have to be cognizant of the tender deadline, which comes after the Winter Meetings on December 12, to make decisions on Mike Pelfrey and Angel Pagan in particular.

As for closers, Heath Bell and Ryan Madson will not be toiling at CitiField, nor will Jose Valverde or Kyle Farnsworth who had their options picked up, and the Mets will see plenty of Jonathan Papelbon, unfortunately in a Phillies uniform. But there is value out there with people who have done it well in the past.

There’s Joe Nathan, a 37-year old New York area guy who’s 2 years removed from Tommy John surgery and has already stated that the Mets are on his radar, as well as 35-year old Brad Lidge.  Both guys need to re-establish themselves after various arm ailments, both are quality character persons who could aid in the maturing of a Bobby Parnell, and both had hefty club options ($12 1/2 million) for 2012.

On the younger side, there’s Matt Capps and Jonathan Broxton, both 28.  As with Capps, Broxton  –  who notched 36 saves in 2009  –  has been and would be willing to be an 8th inning man as well.  Toronto and at least 6 other teams have inquired about Broxton, but the Mets have yet to do so.  And very much like the market for Reyes, the closer market will likely take some time to sort out and form.

The tender deadline presents arbitration-eligible players and what to do with Pelfrey and Pagan in particular.  Pelfrey will command a salary in the $5 1/2 to 6 million range, while Pagan will probably settle in the $4.7 or 4.8 range.  For a pitcher whose bread-and-butter pitch is his sinker, Pelfrey gave up way too many home runs (21) last year and how the new outfield dimensions at CitiField will affect him or any of the other pitchers is anybody’s guess.

But Chris Capuano has likely priced himself out of the Mets’ budget for next season, and although there’s great hope that Johan Santana will return to form, there’s still a lot of fingers crossed behind backs.  Pelfrey is 27 and durable, and he did win 15 games in 2010 with a strained right rotator cuff.  He has averaged 196 innings per season since 2008, and 200 inning pitchers are hard to discard.  The Mets need some certainty while the Wheelers and Harveys go through their maturation process.

Pagan is definitely not a favorite of the front office, and he ticked off numerous teammates this season with his absences from supposed injuries.  That’s before mentioning his sub-par play in general in centerfield, along with his scattershot throwing arm.  But the CF market is not great.  Grady Sizemore has suffered one injury after another  –  Coco Crisp would rather stay put on the West Coast  –  Rick Ankiel and Cody Ross seem better suited to be part-time or platoon players  –  Nate McLouth has disappointed since being traded by the Pirates to Atlanta in 2009.

Pagan did have a lot of “at-em” balls last season as he produced the highest line-drive rate of his career, and his defense should improve with the new tighter dimensions at CitiField.

It’s all stuff that the Mets will have to process as they search to finalize a roster for 2012.  And it will likely take some time as they let the market come to them.

Notes on the way out:

— Defensive outfielder Jason Pridie and utilityman Nick Evans were dropped off the 40-man roster.  They are expected to clear waivers, and both have the right to declare free agency. The Mets now have 32 players on the 40.

— I thought the versatile Willie Bloomquist might be a good bench addition for the Mets, but he re-signed with the Diamondbacks for 2 years at $3.8 million, probably a little too rich for the Mets.

— For the first time since 1996, the Mets and Yankees will play each other during spring training in Florida.  The two teams will play in Port St. Lucie on April 3, then meet the next day at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa before the Mets head to New York to open the season against the Atlanta Braves.

C U soon
Eddie C.

  • Avi

    From a financial point of view, the Mets should consider what not signing Reyes will do. They are so worried about every dollar and that they may not be able to afford him but without him I figure they will lose a lot more revenue than the amount of expense they will save. With Reyes, they have a very good nucleus. I am not inclined to go for super expensive free agents from other teams as they are bound to disappoint us. If Santana recovers and is his old self again, and somehow Bay can become the $16M player he was supposed to be, the Mets can retool with some players off the scrap heap and be competitive.

    • ..

      so spending $20 mil on a player that can’t carry a team to a title is the best thing to do. Reyes is a career .292 player, has no power, does not drive in over 100 runs, not even close.

      All he is a player with speed, on the DL too much because of bad legs, he loses he’s legs & what do you have? another lam $20 mil player.

      Seems you love Reyes but how may titles has Reyes helped the Mets win, how many MVPs has Reyes won?

      For the first time in his career Reyes hits over .300, but just look at his hrs & RBI stats. I love that word you used “nucleus”. The Mets had very good teams in ’06, ‘ 07 & ’08 with a healthy Reyes and what happened, two of those years they choked.

      What has Reyes done to be a $20 mil a year player? I’ll help with that because it’s easy, nothing

      • Avi

        If great Hall of Famers like Ted Williams and Ernie Banks couldn’t carry their teams to titles, why blame Reyes. Who wins anyway without a supporting cast. .292 BA is awful close to .300 and Reyes has hit .300 more than once. He is certainly not a one dimensional player, i.e., he has much more than great speed, like throwing, fielding and hitting. Criticizing him for lack of power and RBIs is ridiculous. He is a LEADOFF hitter, he comes to bat usually with nobody on base, either leading off the game or after the worst part of the lineup. Not winning MVPs is also a ridiculous rule of thumb. Only one player in the league wins it, so even if you have a great year you probably have to have a better year than a number of other players who have also had great years. Mike Piazza never won an MVP or a World Series and yet he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. You act like the Mets will be better off if they walk away without even getting a prospect (they can’t make a trade because he’s a free agent) and having Tejada or some retread at shortstop. I’ll tell you who has done nothing, you. You don’t know diddly about baseball or economics and yet you act like you do.

        • ..

          Ari, both those guys are great Hall of Famers, MVP winners, Reyes does not come even close to those two icons.

          In you mentioning Reyes names with those two icon is just stupid, makes you look very stupid.

          Reyes has his chance in ’07 & ’08 and CHOKED in September of both years. He’s not a $20 mil player. Wait, you think Reyes hitting .347 makes him now a .347 hitter. Reyes has a greater chance of hitting .278 next year then he does .300.

          Stop comparing great players with Reyes, Reyes is good, but not great.

          Duobtful that Reyes will even come close to Cooperstown, he’s already 28 & his numbers do not add up. He’s best chance is in the make believe Hall of Fame at Citi Field & that’s a maybe.

          Also, the Mets have lost with Reyes, resigining him will not change things, just worst because you’ll then have a $20 million dollar player in a last place team.

          Those imaginary title you’ve seen in your dreams Reyes has helped the Mets win do not count.

          Reyes is overrated. Only Mets fans would think he’s great, but then again, Mets thought Bud Harrelson was great.

          • Avi

            You say I look stupid but you are stupid. You are not reading what I wrote. I said if great Hall of Famers can’t carry a team to a title it’s unreasonable to expect anyone to do it. Reyes puts people in the stands and is probably the best shortstop in baseball right now.

            • ..

              really, there’s a guy name Tulowitzki who’s far better.

              Reyes had -11 Defensive Runs Saved last year, the fifth-worst mark among all MLB shortstops and third-worst in NL. Last year, what hurt Reyes was that he struggled on balls hit to the shortstop-third base hole. He made 18 fewer plays than the average shortstop on balls hit in that area.

              Reyes had eight throwing errors, surpassed only by Yuniesky Betancourt (16) and Starlin Castro (11) among NL shortstops. He also had four bad throws which were charted as Defensive Misplays by Baseball Info Solutions, which tied for third-most among NL shortstops.

              so much for Reyes being the best. Also, there were ONLY 2.3 mil last year in the stands, that’s not a lot & very doubtful they all came to see Reyes play. When you go Ari, you count only as one, not 1 million

              You need to wake up & stop dreaming

              • Avi

                Sorry, y’re right about Tulowitzki. I remembered about him after I made the post. Statistics can frequently be twisted to make one’s point, e.g., how many shortstops even get to balls Reyes gets to. Fielding percentages are very tricky. I am a current season ticketholder for many years and a fan since inception. Generally, I think the Wilpons have gotten a bad rap as they have spent the bucks. There is no one available out there who is nearly as good as Reyes. So, without him they are definitely going nowhere. With him, if Alderson comes up with some productive players, they can compete. If they don’t show some concern, a lot of us will be former season ticketholders.

                • ...

                  I will always have you for company Ari, I mean, how many times have you tried to prove me wrong and have not, but here you are, coming back for more.

                  Thanks for being around loser.

                  Enjoy your 2012 Mets, in last place & without Reyes. not that it will not make a difference with him because they’ve been losers with him and will continue to be losers with him. lol, lol, lol

                • ..

                  Ari, you’re a fool.. You’re dreamimg in thinking Reyes is this great player, he is not. Your little black heart will be broken when you hear Reyes took the money from another team.

                  The dope here is you because you’re sold on this one player. Teams have won titles with one great player leading the way. Reyes is not that one player that leads the way.

                  Stop being blind, just look at his stats in Septemebr of ’07 & ’08. As the lead off hitter he hit just .176 in ’07 & .240 in ’08. They counted on him and like the rest of the team those Septembers he CHOKED.
                  The Mets need fans like you because you don’t see the forest for the trees. They want you to believe things will be fine, when he fact they are not.

                  Like in ’09 & ’10. they had you believing Reyes, Beltran, Delgado & Santana would be back by July, healthy & ready for the playoff push when they knew from the beginning all theses players were done for the year.

                  You went out & bought tickets believing in the myth, so much that you still believe Reyes will take the Mets to the promise land in 2012.

                  Keep believing in these lies from the Mets. They just want your money. Reyes is gone and by mid-season of next year so will Wright.

                  • Avi

                    Sports are really not all that important in the scheme of things. It can be a healthy diversion from life’s trials and tribulations. Discussing sports matters should be a fun thing, with respect for other people’s opinions. People like you, however, obviously have some sort of psychological issue where they have to resort to insults and name-calling. So, go ahead and continue to lead your sad life.

                  • Avi

                    You must lead a very unfulfilling and sad life to resort to the commentaries you make. You must make the people around you miserable, that is in the unlikely event there is anybody who is willing to be around you

            • ...

              so imagine if those two greats never got to win a WS title, winning MVPs, having great numbers year after year. so what does that say about Jose Reyes chances of ever winning one, this being that he’s just… know….. good.

              You’re not to smart Avi. not smart at all, stupid yes, smart, no

              • Avi

                You apparently don’t pay attention, nor does it seem you learned manners when you were growing up. Pay attention: each player no matter how great cannot do it alone, there has to be a TEAM to win. Tell me who is available who you would put in there instead. Build a team with Reyes as one of the cogs. Don’t go after expensive free agents from other teams. Get the right role players. Etc. etc. etc. These are all just opinions. As for your comments, you must think you’re an expert on stupidity because you are a real dope.

    • FYI

      Mets management thinks Reyes is not worth the money, if he was, they would have re-signed him by now. Even they think he’s not a superstar. Keep dreaming in Reyes returning to the Mets. Like one Mets exec stated.”Reyes is not a cornerstone player” “we don’t have one in this team”. You read the papers, I’m sure you read the same thing we all have. The Mets have no interest in bringing Reyes back

      • Avi

        That may be true but they may be wrong also. They have made a lot of mistakes by giving big $ to the wrong free agents, most recently Jason Bay. I believe they are interested but are waiting to see what other teams offer. And there will be offers, make no mistake about it. The biggest potential nightmare is if he comes back to haunt them.

  • Tyler

    I understand rebuilding and in part i am in agreement but is signing reyes going to hurt that process? If the mets plan to compete in 2013 or 14 isnt reyes going to be a player that can help? Hes not 35 and if he leaves the mets for a 5 or 6 year deal it would be heartbreaking. I would understand if its a 7 or 8 year deal but if he signs a 5 year deal it has to be with the mets. This is a home grown player that ive watched for over 10 years (including spring training) . I’ll never forget that 2000 spring training. I think the mets can rebuild and still give the fans a glimmer of hope in spring training at the same time.

    PS- The last world series this GM won his paroll was one of the highest in baseball, is he really the right guy?

  • dabooch

    Jose picked up his last Met check at the door along with ‘chicken little’ batting title.

  • royhobbs7


    Good column. Its real depressing to be a Mets fan now; I’ve been one for almost 50 years. However, Alderson (similar to last year) will wait until all of the expensive top-tier free agents are signed and wait to grab a reclamation project or bargain off the scrap-heap. It fits with the philosophy of the Coupons (regardless of whether they pay Picard off with their Sterling Realty (Madoff related) debts.

    E.g., a pitcher such as Jason Marquis (if he can pass a physical) would be someone who the Mets might show interest given that he comes from Staten Island. Personally, I would like the FO to give Nate McLouth a chance (even though he has shown little with his bat the past two year; he can play CF).

    PS. I, for one can wait for the team to rebuild from the bottom again. They cannot compete at present with any team in the division and may lose >95 games this year.

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