Today is the first day teams are able to negotiate with free agents. I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely coincidental that Commissioner Bud Selig came out with the announcement several teams lost money.
I don’t believe it for a second. I don’t because the owners have always cried poverty yet continue to spend. The owners have also never been willing to let a neutral third party audit their books. Then again, you could cook the books any way you want.
The three top free agents are John Lackey, Matt Holiday and Jason Bay.
Bay has already turned down the Red Sox, but you knew that was just posturing for the market to open so there’s competition to drive up the price.
The Mets say they will spend and I believe them. I just don’t believe they’ll spend enough to land Holliday or Lackey. I would be stunned to see either as a Met. But, I also don’t believe they aren’t willing to make a splash.
Regardless of whether the market came back to them or not, the Mets did bring in Johan Santana and signed him to a $137.5 million extension two winters ago. Last year, they spent $36 million for Francisco Rodriguez.
In previous seasons, they spent for Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado. Remember, their payroll was on the MLB’s highest. The problem, is they haven’t gotten the return on their money.
That being said, here’s how I rank the Mets’ offseason priorities:
1) ROTATION HELP: I would be lying, and so would the Mets, if they said they know what to expect next season from Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez and whomever in their system they’d plug in for a fifth starter. They need at least one solid arm, but I’m thinking two.
2) POWER BAT IN LEFT: Angel Pagan is a nice guy. He’s just not a starting left fielder in the major leagues. Believe me, I’d love Holliday, but for what he’ll command they could throw money at several positions.
3) BULLPEN DEPTH: In particular, they need another lefty to take the pressure off Pedro Feliciano. A strong set-up man for Rodriguez is needed. They had the right idea last year in J.J. Putz, who went down with an injury.
4) FIRST BASEMAN: Daniel Murphy is getting a lot of heat on the talk shows, which is unfair. Yes, he’s not a long term answer. However, when you look at the Mets, are they really contenders? If so, they go get somebody. But they aren’t, so it makes more sense to get a right-handed platoon bat and hold the spot for Ike Davis. If they judge Davis isn’t ready after this summer, they go get somebody. Right now, I just see too many immediate priorities. I see them bringing back Delgado before they trade for, or sign a first baseman long-term.