They’ll start showing up today for the Winter Meetings, and when they do, the Mets will have a lot on their plate, but little hope of cleaning it.
Their first priority, now that David Wright is done, will be to extend R.A. Dickey’s contract. Dickey prefers three years, but would take two if the dollars are higher. You can bet Dickey’s agents will point to the $12-million, one-year deal the Yankees offered Andy Pettitte.
Although Dickey is the Cy Young Award winner, he’s still only done it for one season at a high level, while Pettitte has over 200 victories and is regarded as one of the game’s best postseason pitchers.
While they are trying to re-sign Dickey, the Mets will also be exploring the trade market for him. However, considering Dickey’s age, career productivity and that many still regard the knuckleball as a gimmick pitch, the Mets might not get in return what they’d like.
Any team trading for him would likely want the chance to negotiate an extension, but their apprehensions would be the same as the Mets. Dickey’s best option might be to take the most money he can in a one-year deal – which would still set him for life – and enter the market next year.
The Mets’ next priorities are to build their outfield and bullpen, and bolster their catching.
There are four name outfielders, of which the Mets have no shot at any of them. Josh Hamilton has the greatest upside, but also the most baggage. The Rangers won’t give him a five-year plus contract, but could offer substantially less and see if he’ll turn his life around.
The Braves won’t keep Michael Bourn now that they’ve signed B.J. Upton. Reportedly, Bourn is asking a lot, both in terms of years and dollars. Cincinnati, Washington and Philadelphia are the most prominently mentioned potential suitors.
Nick Swisher will price himself out of the Yankees’ plans, which means he has no chance with the Mets.
Shane Victorino might be the only FA outfielder the Mets could afford, but they’d have to break their budget for him.
Angel Pagan is seeking a payday and won’t want to come back. Who out there makes sparks your imagination if they don’t want to spend to keep Scott Hairston?
Rick Ankiel? Reed Johnson? Cody Ross? Xavier Nady?
Assuming the Mets don’t make an outfield splash – and that’s a reasonable assumption – they plan on entering spring training with an outfielder from left to right, of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter.
The bullpen also requires a complete makeover, with Frank Francisco and Bobby Parnell, along with lefthanders Robert Carson and Josh Edgin, the main holdovers.
The Mets still don’t know what role they want to use Jenrry Mejia. They have to decide whether their other bodies such as Justin Hampson, Jeremy Hefner and Elvin Ramirez will suit them better than Randy Choate, Francisco Cordero, Chad Durbin or Mike Gonzalez.
Most relievers aren’t that pricey, but that their teams are willing to let them go should tell you what you need to know about how good they are.