With December just around the corner, baseball’s hot stove is as warm as ever as teams prepare to address their roster needs via free agency or trades. The Mets will go into those winter meetings searching for upgrades to their two most blatantly obvious positions of need at shortstop and corner outfield.
The many possible options for each position (big names like Hanley Ramirez and Nelson Cruz have been thrown around) have been discussed ad nauseam over the last few months, but those aren’t the only two spots where the Mets need improving.
With the recent outrighting of left-handed relievers Dana Eveland and Scott Rice, the Mets suddenly find themselves in the market for a lefty out of the bullpen. They could also use a right-handed power bat who could play first or the outfield.
While the addition of a lefty arm or two or a bat off the bench won’t drastically shift the Mets’ odds to win the National League in 2015 like the signing of Ramirez or Cruz, those moves are nevertheless significant in building the kind of affordable lineup the Mets would need to compete for a pennant.
This year’s free agent market has a couple of very interesting lefty arms, from established veteran relievers (Scott Downs and Jason Grilli) to a couple of very promising converted starters (Zach Duke and Andrew Miller).
Miller will be in particular demand after striking out 103 batters (5th in MLB) last season, but Duke wasn’t too bad himself. He had a breakout year with Milwaukee with 74 strikeouts in 58.2 innings and would be a terrific addition alongside Jeurys Familia as potential setup men.
The market on big impact bats in the Mets’ price range isn’t as plentiful, though, and it could get a little shallower if Michael Cuddyer comes off the market. The 35-year old had been a popular choice as a stopgap, but he may not be available for much longer after the Colorado Rockies extended him a $15 million qualifying offer.
Michael Morse, a contributor on the San Francisco Giants’ World Series run, would be a decent fallback target. He can play in the outfield and can platoon at first base with Lucas Duda against left-handed pitching.
Morse won’t be quite the ideal guy if the Mets need him to be an everyday corner outfielder, especially given his injury history. But he would be a nice addition as a utility bat and could be part of a larger piecemeal solution to the outfield question.