Mets GM Sandy Alderson anticipates a flurry of roster moves during the next few weeks, he told reporters and fans last week outside Citi Field.
There are less than two weeks until most teams report for Spring Training, yet J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn all remain unsigned and available on the free-agent market -- as do more than 100 other players.
Meanwhile, according to Alderson, out of the 520 available big-league rosters spots, only 13 remain unfilled, which should lead to more free agents hitting the market as players get designated for assignment and released.
"It's going to be interesting the next two or three weeks," Alderson concluded.
The Mets are keeping an eye on Jason Vargas, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and other available starting pitchers, SNY contributor and former Mets GM Jim Duquette said last week.
This is music to my ears. I've been advocating adding a bonafide No. 3 starter for three weeks, mostly because I'm concerned that Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz won't remain healthy and rise to the level needed behind Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Plus, if Mickey Callaway and pitching Dave Eiland intend to use a six-man rotation on occasion, they're going to find life a lot easier with Vargas, Lynn, or Cobb in the mix.
I'd love to pretend that hiring a Director of Performance and Sports Science (as they Mets did this winter) will solve all of their injury issues. But, baseball players get hurt, especially pitchers. It's going to happen. Also, no team gets each player's best performance every game all season. There will be bumps in the road, if not major ditches, and so the Mets should get as many experienced, legit arms when they can...
In the field, I'm hearing the Mets expect to sign a free agent third baseman (and use Asdrubal Cabrera at second), instead of acquiring a second baseman (and using Cabrera at third). This was not their goal at the start of the offseason. However, MLB insiders say the current market has shifted in a way that it will be easier to nab a third baseman than filling other infield spots.
My hunch is free-agent 3B Todd Frazier will take any multi-year offer made to him by the Yankees. But, so far, the Yankees only want him for one season. I think the Mets and Braves might be willing to give two years to Frazier, but that's probably their limit.
Meanwhile, according to the Boston Herald, the Red Sox have remained in contact with free-agent Eduardo Nunez, who is also reportedly being pursued by the Mets.
The way it stands, Frazier should be expecting to earn between $10-12 million next season. Nunez should expect $5-10 million. Lynn and Cobb can probably get $12-15 million.
In the Daily News, columnist Bill Madden says that -- if the Mets can sign Nunez and Lynn for a combined $18 million with no commitments beyond 2020 -- they should do it.
He's right.... sort of. Again, I prefer Frazier's power to Nunez's versatility.
However, Nunez can play second and third base, just like Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores. By adding Nunez to the mix, Callaway will be able to mix, match and be better covered in case of injury than he would be with Frazier, who plays only third and first base.
For what it's worth, I am still not totally convinced Alderson is ignoring Mike Moustakas.
I realize every beat reporter is saying Moustakas to the Mets will never happen, but that's based on Alderson's public and private comments about not wanting to give up draft picks and pool money. I'm sure these things are important to Sandy, but so is winning. And, in a market where only three teams appear to be in play for Moustakas (Mets, Royals, and Braves), repeatedly saying you're not interested is a pretty good way to trick the market in to thinking you're not involved. It also lowers the expectations of Mets fans.
I believe in Alderson's will to win. So, if Moustakas can be had for one year regardless of the annual salary, I think Alderson would give it to him. Of course, whether Alderson's bosses sign off on it is a different story. But, if they will, and if Frazier is playing the Mets for a better deal in the Bronx, and Nunez is destined to return to Boston, I think Sandy would bet on Moustakas, pick an internal second baseman, and finally close the book on winter.
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...