Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
J.D. Martinez, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain are among 12 of the top 15 free agents -- as listed by MLB Trade Rumors -- who remain unsigned.
Of those top 15, Masahiro Tanaka (who was ranked No. 5) never officially became a free agent, meaning only two of the top 15 free agents have signed. Those players? Carlos Santana (Phillies) and Wade Davis (Rockies).
Earlier this offseason, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the team was seeking a first baseman who could also play corner outfield, a second baseman, bullpen help (they have since signed Anthony Swarzak), and rotation depth. Since then, though, he has seemingly dialed back expectations, expressing optimism in Dominic Smith (who he had been critical of) and listing starting pitching help as fourth on his list of three needs.
Recently, Joel Sherman in the NY Post reported that the Mets were prepared to lower payroll by $20 million in 2018, to roughly $135 million. However, Sherman noted that the potential payroll figure is a loose one, and that Alderson can sell the merits of any player he wishes to add in order to get clearance to potentially raise payroll. Meanwhile, MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone recently laid out why the market for top hitters might be an advantageous one to jump into.
On the offensive side of things, here are the top free agents who make the most sense for the Mets:
Mike Moustakas, 3B
The Mets have been trying to land a second baseman, but if they instead add a third baseman (with Asdrubal Cabrera moving to second base), Moustakas would be a very good fit. It's always dangerous to sign someone coming off a career year, but the 29-year-old Moustakas -- who hit .272/.314/.521 with a career-high 38 HR for the Royals last year) may not get the five-year deal he was initially aiming for. And a potential deal for a higher average annual value but fewer years would be much more palatable.
Lorenzo Cain, OF
The Mets expressed interest in signing Cain last month and he may be the best fit among the Royals' current free agent, MetsBlog's Maggie Wiggin explained recently. Cain, who turns 32 years old in April, hit .300/.363/.440 with 15 HR in 155 games last season while being worth 5 DRS in center field. His skills in center field are diminishing, meaning anything more than two or three years would be extra risky. If the Mets sign Cain, they could theoretically trade Juan Lagares, who will earn $6.5 million in 2018.
J.D. Martinez, OF
Martinez is viewed as the offensive prize of the free agent market, and the Mets would likely have to pony up a similar average annual value to what they gave Yoenis Cespedes after the 2016 season. Signing Martinez would also mean the team is comfortable with Michael Conforto in center field every day. But adding him would give the Mets arguably the best offensive outfield in the National League. The 30-year-old Martinez hit .303/.376/.690 with 45 HR in 119 games last season for the Tigers and Diamondbacks.
Jay Bruce, OF/1B
The Mets have been rumored to be interested in a reunion with Bruce, but only if a deal doesn't exceed three years. The same has been reported about the Giants, who are Bruce's first choice -- according to his agent. If he returned to the Mets, Bruce could serve as the right fielder until Conforto is ready to return, and play first base if Smith struggles. However, if Smith is excelling when Conforto returns, it would create an issue. That potential issue could be solved by trading Lagares and shifting Conforto to center field. But doing that makes more sense if the Mets are bringing in a true difference-maker.
Logan Morrison, OF/1B
The 30-year-old Morrison is in the same mold as Bruce -- a power hitter who can play the corner outfield and first base. But he's not just coming off a career year, he's coming off a year where his slugging percentage was roughly 100 points higher than it had ever been. And where he hit more than 17 homers for the first time ever. In other words, buyer beware.