Carlos Santana had been asking for a five-year deal. He was projected to get four, but ended up signing a three-year, $60 million deal with the Phillies.
Yonder Alonso was reportedly asking for a three-year contract, was projected to get it, but ended up inking a two-year, $16 million deal with the Indians.
In both cases, the player got less commitment, but more money per season.
The Mets need to add at least one legit, middle-of-the-order hitter to their lineup. He can play third base, first base, second base, right field, or a combination of those positions.
The top end of the free agent market still includes Eric Hosmer (1B), J.D. Martinez (RF), Logan Morrison (1B-OF) and Mike Moustakas (3B), followed by Todd Frazier (3B-1B) and Jay Bruce (RF-1B).
Hosmer started the offseason reportedly seeking a nine-figure, seven-year deal. Moustakas was looking for five, as was Bruce. However, as I suggested might happen in early-November, teams no longer seem willing to overpay for offense. Instead, they're spending money on defense and relievers. Therefore, all of the above names will likely need to lower their expectations like Santana and Alonso ended up doing.
I think Hosmer would be an amazing player for the Mets. However, he has enough teams with money to spend interested in him that he should be able to get close to his initial goal. On the other hand, the best remaining opportunity could be Moustakas, who insiders projected would eventually sign a five-year, $90 million deal. The Mets won't and shouldn't give him a five-year deal, but the same is being said about other teams. So, I wonder, could two or three years actually get it done?
The Giants and Angels were the only two teams reportedly showing interest in Moustakas during the MLB Winter Meetings. In the week since, each team filled their need at third base as the Giants traded for Evan Longoria and the Angels signed Zack Cozart.
Meanwhile, the Orioles have been shopping Manny Machado and the Blue Jays began listening to offers for Josh Donaldson. It's possible neither player gets dealt, but they are options for a team looking to acquire an elite hitter for the left side of their infield. I sense, while the Cardinals have interest in both players, they do not feel it's a deal they have to make since they still have Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter.
So, where does Moustakas end up? And, who is giving him a five-year deal?
Instead, "He might need to consider the same strategy Nelson Cruz and others have followed, which is to take a short-term deal, then reset with an opportunity to head back into free agency next fall," ESPN.com's Buster Olney recently said.
If I were Moustakas, I would try for a two-year deal, since next year's free agent class is the best MLB has seen in decades. This way, he can skip next winter and try again for a long-term deal after 2019 when he'll still be just 31 years old.
In the event Moustakas is willing to take two years and, say, $36 million, it's hard to imagine the Yankees not getting involved. Also, it's possible the Cardinals consider him if they fail to land Machado or Donaldson. The thing is, neither the Yankees (who are trying to get under the luxury tax threshold) nor the Cardinals have to acquire a third baseman. They have options and may very well save their money or use it to improve another area of the team.
So, again, where does Moustakas end up? And, who is giving him a long-term deal?
In early-2016, the Mets and Sandy Alderson signed Yoenis Cespedes to a three-year contract that included an option for him to void the deal after his first season. He opted out and eventually signed to remain with the Mets for another four years.
Alderson should make the same offer to Moustakas to include $18 million a season and an opt-out clause after next year. Then, with what I hope is a remaining $10-12 million, he can sign Logan Morrison to a two-year contract to play first base, or he can swap AJ Ramos for Jason Kipnis and sign another mid-tier relief pitcher.
In either case, much like I argued above and earlier this week, the Mets absolutely have to add at least one legit, middle-of-the-order hitter to their lineup. This seemed impossible a few weeks ago because Alderson is always apprehensive about long-term deals at a time he doesn't have a lot of money to work with. However, because of the way the market is setting up, he may actually have a shot at a top-tier hitter at a discounted rate.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...