The Mets think there will be opportunities to trade for an established power hitter who is under contract for at least a few years, according to people familar with the team's thinking. However, it's not going to be easy, and could require multiple teams.
I've been writing this for months, actually, saying the off-season playbook will probably be: fill spots with mid-market talent; trade for power (be it at shortstop or in the outfield); and sign a less expensive, veteran starting pitcher to a one- or two-year deal.
In the end, I still believe Alderson's ultimate goal is to have two to three reliable, really-good hitters; a dominant starting rotation; and a strike-out bullpen. He has David Wright. He has the start of a terrific rotation. He has hard-throwing, potential closers. And I think this winter is about trying to get those other bats, without dismantling the pitching staff.
Yes, signing the off season's top free agent might be the easiest way to make that happen. However, Alderson essentially told reporters Monday that, while he has the ability to sign a free agent to a $100 million dollar contract, it doesn't fit in with his overall strategy.
What does this mean? Alderson has been quite clear that he'd always like to have the team's payroll in a place where he has significant money available to spend each off season. By locking in too many players making major salaries, it will limit this flexibility. In other words, if he has the type of flexibility he'll have this winter, which is something he says he's been working to create over the last few years, he'll happily go year to year and mix and match around Wright, his two other hitters and his rotation. It's actually what the Giants seem to do so, so well...
There are some people pointing to the Red Sox as being Alderson's model, but Boston carried over several good, high-priced players from 2012 to 2013, then spent close to $60 million in new acquisitions last winter. Alderson will probably spend half that amount, mostly because he's been given half of Boston's overall budget. Also, and maybe most important, the Mets are not retaining the same level players that Boston had from this season to the next.
Instead, the Mets should take their queues from the Indians, writes Joel Sherman in the New York Post, as well as Ellie Silfin of Rising Apple.
Last winter, the Indians committed roughly $36 million in 2013 on Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Brett Myers, Drew Stubbs, Mike Aviles and Mark Reynolds. The Mets have a similar amount of money to spend, a similar surgical eye, similar needs on the field, and similar homegrown talent contributing (and ready to contribute) to the big-league roster. It's a good comparison, and a playbook Mets fans should probably get familiar with.