According to multiple reports, Mets GM Sandy Alderson may be able to spend between $30-40 million in new talent for 2018. In October, he told reporters he'd like to add to the bullpen and acquire a reliable, veteran starting pitcher.
Alderson will also reportedly try to add at least one consistent, everyday hitter. I suspect he'll first try to put a bat at second or third base. If he can't, he'll have no choice but to turn to the outfield. If the big hitter is a center fielder, Alderson can use Michael Conforto in right field. If the Mets end up pursuing a power hitting right fielder, they can use Conforto in center.
The thing is, there are only three or four proven, everyday outfielders available on the open market. At the same time, the Giants, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Indians, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Mariners, D-backs, Red Sox, and Phillies are all reportedly looking to acquire the same caliber outfielder as Alderson.
As a result of too much demand and not nearly enough supply, free-agent J.D. Martinez is certainly going to get at least a five-year, $125 million contract, according to MLB insiders. I'm told Jay Bruce should expect three years, maybe even four, and $13-15 million a season. Lorenzo Cain -- who may be a good fit for the Mets -- is billing himself as a center fielder, though teams with interest in him say they expect he'll be a corner outfielder sooner than later. In either case, he can expect a deal similar to Bruce, i.e., four years and $50-60 million.
June, 2017: Royals OF Lorenzo Cain takes a swing against the Angels. Credit: USA Today
Alderson can still make moves this winter if he adds a $10-15 million hitter, so I expect he'll bite on Cain and Bruce -- as he should. However, though Martinez would be a perfect solution, if Sandy can only spend $30-40 million, I see no way he gives the bullk of that money to one player... especially less than a year after giving $110 million to Yoenis Cespedes.
In either case, I expect the outfield market to move slow, mostly due to the Giants. Because, in addition to eyeing Martinez, Bruce, and Cain, San Francisco is reportedly going to explore trading for Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton's agent is supposedly telling people his client only wants to play on the west coast. Meanwhile, he has a full no-trade clause and a complicated, super expensive contract that will need to be renegotiated in some way, shape or form. In other words, it's going to take time to move him. So, while the Giants and Dodgers keep in contact with Bruce, Martinez, and Cain, these three players will likely not sign a deal until they know which of the Dodgers and Giants do not get Stanton.
Therefore, if I'm the Mets, I focus entirely on Cain. And, if I can't get him, I live with my outfield and try to get the jump on the infield market, specifically trading for Dee Gordon and signing Todd Frazier. But, I'll have more on that later in a seperate post...
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...