The more I learn about the upcoming free agent market, the more I'm worried about Sandy Alderson's approach.
To his credit, the front office works hard to assign definitive value to their own talent and the players they'd like to acquire. But, the Mets are not the only team with $30 million or so to spend on acquisitions this winter.
The buzz around baseball indicates most teams will shy away from the top of the market and focus on the middle-tier guys, like the Red Sox did last winter. Sound familiar? The problem is, as that happens, it's going to bid up the price on the mid-range player to a level that -- I fear -- will routinely exceed Alderson's predetermined value.
Nevertheless, Alderson has said he has money to spend and he intends to use it. He had three years to rip down Minaya's team, rebuild the farm system, and now he says it's time to move the organization forward.
At Citi Field on Monday, Alderson acknowledged how damaging free-agent contracts can often be. However, he said, “At the same time, at some point, you’ve got to go for it."
Mets COO Jeff Wilpon later indicated that he’s happy with what Alderson has done. But said, “I want to get out of the hope business. It’s not a good business model. ... I don’t look at it as pressure, but look at it as an opportunity,"
That's nice, but I've heard from more than one person connected to the team that Wilpon is growing antsy, and needs the team to start performing, so attendance can increase, and the overall value of the organization can continue to rise. Alderson is more measured, more prudent and, while he isn't going to make an irrational, impulsive acquisition, he feels the pressure, too.
Therefore, based on my limited conversations so far -- but reading between the lines and knowing what I know of this front office -- I'd expect to hear a lot this winter about free-agent SS Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta and OF Nelson Cruz, as well as trade talk involving A's SS Jed Lowrie, Dodgers outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, as well as the Rockies triumvirate of Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer.
The question is, will the market exceed Alderson's price? Or will he have to overpay to get the deal done?
This week on the MetsBlog Q&Acast, pres. by Verizon, I talk with Mets fan and writer Eno Sarris from FanGraphs.com, who gives a statistical break down of several of these names, which you can listen to here:
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