Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Sure, the Mets must wrap up their search for a new manager. But there's plenty of roster work looming for team brass this winter, too, including addressing the club's desperate needs in the bullpen and on defense.
We'll see how Brodie Van Wagenen and his lieutenants decide to do that. But in this free advice portion of the offseason, we have some under-the-radar ideas that might help.
With that in mind, here's a look at some of the less-heralded free agents the Mets should investigate as they maneuver about the winter marketplace, including a couple for the rotation, where the Mets have to fill one spot and - finally - create some organizational depth:
LHP Rich Hill
Who goes behind Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Marcus Stroman? That's a question the Mets must answer if they're going to be the win-now team they claim to be.
Hill will be 40 in March and can be an injury risk, but he's talented, as evidenced by his 29.8 percent strikeout rate (22.3 percent was league average), and his work with the Dodgers in recent years. Hill had a 2.45 ERA in 13 starts for Los Angeles last season.
RHP Kyle Gibson
He was 13-7 with a 4.84 ERA in 160 innings for the Twins last season while dealing with ulcerative colitis. Gibson was better than average at suppressing solid contact, according to FanGraphs. He also struck out nine per nine innings and got ground balls at a 51.4 percent rate, much better than league average.
LHP Wade Miley
Miley fell out of favor in Houston after a dreadful September (16.68 ERA), and was not a postseason factor. Maybe that makes him a free agent bargain. He had a 3.98 ERA in the AL last year while going 14-6 and delivering 167.1 innings, all for a $4.5 million, one-year deal.
RHP Joe Smith
The Mets need a huge inventory of arms to fix up that bullpen (4.95 ERA, 25th in MLB). Smith might make a good start. The 35-year-old came up with the Mets in 2007 and he's since made five other stops, including Houston where he's been a postseason weapon out of their bullpen. During the regular season, righties had just a .443 OPS against him.
RHP Steve Cishek
In 70 games for the Cubs, Cishek only allowed 48 hits in 64 innings and had a 2.95 ERA. Some of his other numbers trended the wrong way - his HR/9 and BB/9 went up while his K/9 went down from the previous season, though.
RHP Arodys Vizcaíno
The Mets will have to take a long look at the reliever's medicals after he missed almost all of 2019 following April shoulder surgery. But Vizcaíno, who will be 29 next month, was terrific in 101 games for the Braves in 2017-18, recording a 2.54 ERA and fanning 104 in 95.2 innings while only giving up 72 hits.
RHP Jeremy Jeffress
Signing Jeffress would be taking a flyer in the fickle world of relief pitching, but what the heck? He was an All-Star in 2018, but a dud in 2019, struggling with a hip issue and notching a 5.02 ERA in 48 games before being released in September. Relievers soar and sag all the time. Maybe he's got one more good season in his arm?
RHP Sergio Romo
In a bullpen world rife with inconsistency, the 36-year-old Romo might actually offer some. Starting in 2015, he's appeared in 70, 40, 55, 73 and 65 games and notched the following ERAs: 2.98, 2.64, 3.56, 4.14 and 3.43. He signed a $2.5-million deal with the Marlins last year and was so good for the Fish that the Twins traded for him during the year.
OF Cameron Maybin
The 33-year-old was supposed to be a stopgap when Yankee injuries hit, but he revitalized his career along the way, recording an .858 OPS and 11 homers in 82 games. He even cracked a Postseason homer against the Twins. If it was more than just a fluke, maybe he can solidify center field for the Mets.
OF Jarrod Dyson
If the Mets believe some combo of Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo is sufficient in center field, perhaps the 35-year-old Dyson would make a strong bench option. He could sub for defense late and bring speed - he swiped 30 bases in 130 games for Arizona last year, though he batted only .230 with a .633 OPS in 400 at-bats.
OF Billy Hamilton
Like Dyson, the speedy Hamilton could be an intriguing defense-first center fielder, especially as a late-inning replacement. There's a $7.5-million mutual option in his contract for 2020, which the Braves presumably want no part of, so he'll be on the market after a $1 million buyout.
He hit .218 with 22 steals in 119 games for the Royals and Braves and mustered an average exit velocity of just 78.3 miles per hour, according to Statcast.
OF Brett Gardner
OK, maybe he's more heralded than most on this list, especially because he's played his whole career in the Bronx and seems likely to return there. But the Mets need someone who can play center field. The Yanks didn't expect to need Gardner for 141 games last year, but injuries forced him to play every day and he delivered a strong season, including career highs in homers (28) and OPS (.829).
"Can he handle playing center field in 2020 both offensively and defensively? I don't think there's any question," said Yanks' GM Brian Cashman at his season wrap-up press conference.