The Mets need to acquire a bonafide third baseman this winter, regardless of whether David Wright is confident he'll be able to play baseball next season.
"We don't have an everyday, top-shelf third-base option the way some teams do," Alderson told reporters in early-August, when asked if Wright's status had been impacting his offseason plan. "We didn't go into this season with a solidified situation in part because we weren't sure what David's condition would be."
Alderson only knows now that Wright's shoulder has been surgically repaired. He doesn't know how the shoulder will respond or if it will even matter in David's attempt to get back on the field.
I'm sure Alderson would agree that it would be great to have Wright fight his way back on field, especially if the Mets are successful next year. However, with rookies starting at first base and shortstop, and Michael Conforto's return date in question, Alderson cannot again leave himself short like he did in 2017...
Sep 5, 2017; Machado (13) reacts in the eighth inning against the New York Yankees. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
In terms of trades, O's 3B Manny Machado is clearly the Holy Grail acquisition. He's a free agent after 2018, at which time he's expected to seek a $200 million contract. According to multiple reports, he and the Orioles have made zero progress on a contract extension, which has increased speculation he could be traded this winter.
The Mets, Phillies, Braves, Giants, and Angels could make up part of the market for Machado, with the Yankees showing mild interest too, Boston Globe reporter Nick Cafardo said in August.
In regards to the free agent market, Mike Moustakas will be the top target for multiple teams -- specifically the Yankees and Angels and anyone else connected to Machado. Moustakas just turned 29 years old, is having a perfectly-timed, incredible walk year and has every reason to ask for a long-term deal worth well over $100 million.
The Mets recently gave Yoenis Cespedes a $100 million deal and will soon need to consider giving similarly long-term, sizable contracts to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Conforto. It's also unclear just how much money the team's ownership will let Alderson spend this winter, with speculative reports ranging from $60 million to $20 million. In the end, adding up all of the above (plus still having Wright in the mix), it's hard to imagine Alderson spending close to $200 million on one player to win a winter-long bidding war against the Yankees and Angels.
Therefore, my hunch is Alderson will end up signing another super-utility guy, specifically someone that can hit everyday and regularly handle third and either first or second base.
The answer could end up being Asdrubal Cabrera, who can be retained for 2018 by picking up his $8.5 million club option. He's a useful player. However, again -- because of Conforto's status and the team's rookie infielders -- I believe the Mets need a more consistent, impact hitter at third than Cabrera. He doesn't have to be a tried-and-true, only-third base guy, he can play other positions, but he has to be more productive at the plate than Asdrubal (at 34 years old) was in 2017.
Thankfully, in addition to Cabrera, there are multiple free-agent infielders with decent track records at the plate, all of whom play third base and other infield positions.
If Moustakas and free-agent SS Zack Cozart of the Reds are are not being considered, I would like to see Alderson focus on Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, and former Mets infielder Neil Walker.
Frazier, who was born in Point Pleasant, NJ, has 172 home runs during his seven seasons. He is hitting home runs at a similar rate since being traded to the Yankees this past summer, while continuing to get time playing third and first base. Frazier, who will be 32 years old next season and also has experience playing corner outfield, will certainly be asking for a multi-year deal.
I am intrigued by Nunez, but not if he's seeking a long-term deal. Similarly, while the Red Sox are expected to make a bid to retain him, sources recently told Boston Globe reporter Nick Cafardo that they will likely only offer a short-term deal.
By the way, in addition to Moustakas, the other reach would be asking Cozart about moving 30 feet to his right to play third base for the first time in his career. Cozart can expect a three- or four-year deal, likely worth close to $20 million a season. However, he's athletic enough to play any position, plus he's an All Star and an upbeat guy who would fit in well with Alderson's current roster. He's be a terrific fit, but will likely haze zero interest in the above pitch unless he's overpaid.
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...