Are they better off? Looking at the free agents the Mets didn’t sign

Sarah Langs

The Nelson Cruz missed connection in free agency has already been discussed ad nauseum. The slugger has been an offensive powerhouse for the Baltimore Orioles, with whom he signed a one-year deal, hitting 28 home runs with 74 RBI so far.

Had the Mets signed Cruz, they most likely wouldn’t have Curtis Granderson. And while Granderson may have taken some time to get on a roll this year, his defense is always there. Meanwhile, Cruz has played almost equal amounts at DH and in the outfield, which wouldn’t have been a good fit for the Mets in the NL and wouldn’t have given them the 87 games Granderson has started in the field.  It’s also worth noting that according to reports, Cruz said at All-Star Game media day Monday that negotiations with the Mets never got very far (Diamond, July 14).

When a player like Cruz, who the Mets (and consequently their fans) had an eye on, does well, it seems to make headlines. But what about some of the other free agents they were linked to? Did the team’s brass dodge any potential problems by passing on any of the players they did? At the All-Star break, now past the midpoint of the season, it’s a good time to assess the seasons of these players the Mets could have had…

For outfield help, the Mets looked into Corey Hart. The former Milwaukee Brewer signed a one-year contract with Seattle in the offseason, coming off of a year of recovery from knee surgery. He missed more than a month on the disabled list early this season, and has hit .214/.289/.339 when he’s been healthy. On top of the injuries and mediocrity, he hasn’t even played the field much, DHing in 42 games, next to two games in the outfield and one at first base. This is one player the Mets did well to avoid.

USATSI_7977249_110579513_lowresStaying in the outfield, there was also a lot of talk about Shin-Soo Choo. The 32-year-old OF signed a seven-year, $130 million deal with Texas and has not yet lived up to the dollars thrown at him. He’s hitting .242/.362/.376 with nine home runs and 33 RBI, though he’s normally batting leadoff. For comparison, the oft-maligned Chris Young has eight home runs and 27 RBI, for half the cost this season, with a one-year deal instead. Not giving a long-term contract to Choo seems like it was the right move.

At shortstop, the team definitely looked around for a Ruben Tejada replacement or for someone to split the time at SS with him. Both Rafael Furcal and Cesar Izturis were considered. Furcal began the season injured, and is now back on the DL with a hamstring injury. In the nine games he has played with the Marlins — at second base, mind you — he’s hit .171/.216/.229, with zero stolen base attempts, a far cry from the seasons of 20+ SBs he had in his heyday. Izturis, meanwhile, didn’t even make it out of spring training with a club. The Astros signed him to a minor league deal over the winter, but released him in March.

And then there’s Stephen Drew. The Boras client’s main suitors were supposedly the Mets and the Boston Red Sox. The price set for Drew left him unsigned through the first two months of the season. Boston finally caved and signed him to a one-year contract in June. In 28 games with the Red Sox, Drew has hit .151/.218/.269 with two home runs and five RBI. Tejada is, at least, hitting above the Mendoza line, getting on base at a decent clip (.353), and produced his second walk-off hit of the season last week.

The starting rotation has been solid, but the team still looked into possibly adding another veteran starter for the rotation. Two names that were ultimately passed on were Bronson Arroyo and Freddy Garcia. Arroyo had a 4.08 ERA in 14 starts for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who signed him to a two-year deal. He announced on July 7 that he would be undergoing Tommy John surgery and went under the knife this week. Garcia signed a minor league deal with the Braves but didn’t make it out of Spring Training. Now, he’s pitching in Taiwan. In the role that either of them presumably would have filled, Daisuke Matsuzaka has done fine, managing a 3.55 ERA in 71 innings over nine starts and 26 total appearances.

Perhaps the best moves the Mets didn’t make in the offseason were the group of relievers they considered adding to the bullpen. Yes, there was a mistake in adding Jose Valverde and/or Kyle Farnsworth, but they fixed those pretty early on. They also had considered, amongst others, Chris Perez, Kevin Gregg, Grant Balfour and Alfredo Aceves. Perez has a 4.54 ERA in 36 appearances for the Dodgers this year. He’s also walked 15 batters, one less than the 16 total he walked in his 2012 All-Star season. Gregg didn’t sign with a team until June 2. Since then, he’s accumulated a 10.00 ERA in nine innings with the Marlins. Balfour has a 5.60 ERA for Tampa Bay. And Aceves made 10 appearances for the Yankees in the month he was in the majors, racking up a 6.52 ERA. On July 3, he netted a 50-game suspension in the minors for recreational drug use.

In the mean time, the Mets’ bullpen has been an unexpected source of strength, in large part due to sticking with pitchers who’d been around last year, too. Not replacing Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Carlos Torres and Vic Black with the relievers considered was a good move.

Marlon Byrd homersOf course, not all of the players the Mets passed on are having bad seasons. Yes there’s Cruz, noted above, but there are others, too, who could have helped the Metropolitans out.

Marlon Byrd is another power source that could have helped the offense, especially early on in the season. The club considered bringing Byrd back to New York for 2014 after trading him at the 2013 trading deadline to Pittsburgh. Instead, he returned to Philadelphia, where he started his career. He has 18 home runs and 54 RBI so far this season for the Phillies, where he’s started 91 games in right field. After hitting only 1 home run in April, Granderson has picked up the pace and worked his total up to 14 at the break. The big difference is, Byrd is owed just $16MM over two years, compared with Granderson’s 4-year, $60MM deal. Granderson’s defense may make him seem more valuable, but Byrd might have ultimately been a safer choice here. A better assessment can be made once Granderson’s four years are up.

At first base, the Mets looked into signing Cuban slugger Jose Abreu but bowed out pretty early on. The White Sox signed him instead. Now, the South Siders have the American League leader in home runs, as he has 29 dingers with 73 RBI. The Rookie of the Year candidate has a strong case, despite missing some time on the DL. Abreu would have put both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda out of a job — as opposed to the platoon followed by trade that the team used instead — but his production would have justified the team’s giving up on the two homegrown first basemen.

Instead of sticking with Tejada on the shortstop front, the Mets also considered Jhonny Peralta. Peralta is hitting .253/.326/.457 with the Cardinals. He has 14 home runs and 44 RBI, along with 25 doubles. That’s the quantity of production the Mets haven’t seen out of shortstop since Jose Reyes, and the kind — power — they haven’t seen in ages. Extra-base hits from that position would bolster the lineup, and 14 home runs at the break from a shortstop other than Tulowitzki is certainly not something to scoff at. In fact, the only other shortstop with more than 11 at this point is Ian Desmond.

Ultimately, the point here is that the offseason is a mixed bag. Sometimes, a team makes great moves, and sometimes, the decisions aren’t as stellar.


Sarah is an intern for SNY.

 




208 comments
Mark Virgilio
Mark Virgilio

Nice article and some logical talk for a change.  Good to show the free agent happy fans that things don't always pan out.....though we should realize that after the Jason Bay experience.  You can't expect players to necessarily duplicate their past numbers.

Ralph Carlson Jr.
Ralph Carlson Jr.

I wish people would stop talking about Cruz, he was never coming here under any conditions. We might as well wonder why the Mets didn't sign Babe Ruth this off season

Pete Falk
Pete Falk

One major omission from the potential pitching targets.....Scott Kazmir.  Oakland basically chose him over Colon, for roughly the same contract.  Colon has been relatively good this season, but Kazmir just pitched in the All-Star game.  Could have been a nice homecoming for Kazmir....thank you Victor Zamrano.

Luis Torres Quiñones
Luis Torres Quiñones

Some Alderson apologists keep saying that there was "no way" to know that Cruz would end up signing the contract he did. This can't be a real argument. I mean, if this is a real argument, then why have a GM at all? Because it sounds like any clueless fan could come to the same conclusion. I think that's part of what being a GM should be: not jumping on the gun and making hurried decisions, such as the horrible CBY signing, but instead waiting on the market and actually PLAYING the free agent game. You don't go all-in on a four deuce pre-flop on a hunch there's no way in hell you could win the game eventually. This is what the actual business of baseball is all about!


I don't think anyone who had ever watched a game of baseball thought the CBY signing was good. Even the Granderson signing was highly questionable and I'm actually glad that he has proven me wrong by not becoming Jason Bay 2.0.


This article uses the straw man fallacy to mislead readers into believing Sandy made the right choice on almost every turn when in fact his decisions have been, for the most part, hit and miss. By matching Granderson with Nelson Cruz and CBY with Shin-Soo Choo, the argument looks somewhat even. However, if we remove the absolutes and objectively pair the subjects in a different manner, say Granderson with Shin-Soo Choo and CBY with Nelson Cruz, now it is clearly 1 and 1. So what the straw man fallacy did here was create an illusion of equality, which we can easily defeat once we get rid of the straw man and objectively rearrange the subjects.


The Jose Abreu excuse some fans are giving is pretty cheap. Every baseball person said he was a star, every indication was there, and the only thing detractors can say is that he is going to eventually have to DH? I guess the trade market for power hitting DHs is thin these days and nobody told me. Seriously, if a GM can't flip a guy like Abreu to an AL team when he starts losing his range, he doesn't deserve to be a GM.


The shortstop issue is much more complex, however, than some fans and analysts are willing to accept. Sure, signing Stephen Drew would've probably been better than keeping Tejada, but really Drew didn't represent a significant upgrade at the position. So I think Sandy made the right decision here, or lack thereof.

Joe Paulson
Joe Paulson

Jhonny Peralta was a salary deal.  I think a good argument could be made that the Mets should have spent the money there to get a real SS. But, he very well might have went to the Cards -- a winning club -- anyway. 


Not signing Byrd looks questionable -- he's hitting this year & probably would have been someone to trade again for parts.  His two year deal would have been a pretty fair deal.  Chris Young to me was the biggest mistake and Byrd actually wanted to play here. I can see the fear that he would not be good long term, but Chris Young is a lousy alternative.



Jose Abreu is doing better than many expected.  Duda is doing pretty good.  This was a questionable non-signing.  The team on the whole did a good job in the off season -- others didn't sign Abreu either after all.   Still, it needed to sign another bat.  Byrd over Young.

Kyle Turck
Kyle Turck

So the Mets needed a power hitter and they pass on two who  lead the AL in hr, but if they had signed them we wouldn't have a power hitter who is hitting lead off and had a horrible April, May and most of June. Oh and they overpaid for an overweight ped using 40 year old pitcher, a career .233 hitter, and two washed up relievers.  But hey they didn't sign a ss that nobody did until June. How much did Kazmir sign for? Hear I am thinking the Mets 5 games under 500 did a horrible job in the FA market, I am glad Mets blog could show me the errors of my thinking. 

Mau Agudelo
Mau Agudelo

So the two players the mets should have signed this offseason are leading the AL in homers, but Metsblog is saying that since they've seen time at dh it's better that they didn't sign them??? This site has really lost ALL credibility.

Jay Cross
Jay Cross

Not making an offer to Abreu was a dereliction of duty by this team. That move, more than any other, cemented the status of the Mets as a small-market operation. 

Kevin Bostwick
Kevin Bostwick

I am bummed we didnt get into deeper talks with Cruz, but realistically it wasn't that bad of a move passing on him. Sure he has insane numbers right now, but Cruz is notoriously streaky, only played 1 full season (he was then suspended for PEDs following that seaon) and to me is best fit in an OF/DH role in the AL. He will cool off, stats have shown this and I wouldn't be surprised to see a failed PED test come out next year or later this year. I think the only big miss the mets had this last free agent season was Jose Abreu, but then again we didn't really think 1B was a problem to start the year.

Zott
Zott

Ha, must work for the Mets propaganda machine, nice to point out everyone's failures but don't mention Chris Youngs contract.How is the Eric Young resigning working out??How about the failure to put together a bullpen for the past 5 years,How about J .Lannon signing?? Didn't make roster in the minors.How about the total team payroll?? How many games under 500 r we?? Keep criticizing other organization though, gimme a break!!

Cody Hall
Cody Hall

I have not read the rest of the comments, but Byrd signed his contract 1 week after free agency began. And he signed that contract with a team that stinks. Do you think that the Mets were all over that and decided he terrible. Maybe they wanted to explore the market. Byrd set the market for his type of player. Ifs and buts and candy and nuts.


STOP WRITING ABOUT NELSON CRUZ as if he were an actual candidate to be signed by this team. They were NOT going to sign him to a 3yr/50 million or 4 yr/65 million dollar deal. He does not fit the profile that this team has established. EVERYONE would be killing them for doing that. There is no way he would have signed to come to the Mets on a 1yr/8 million dollar deal. Maybe 1yr at 16-20 million. EVERYONE would be killing them for doing that.

Maury Feldman
Maury Feldman

Excellent article.  It's amazing how many bad players we didn't sign.  I wouldn't trade Chris Young straight up for Shin-Soo Choo with that horrible contract.

The lesson: in today's free agent market, there are no franchise players, and a ton of risk.  A team can't be built the way it was in 1998 or 2005-6.

vimets
vimets

The Orioles got lucky in signing Cruz. The only other team that offered him a contract was the Seattle Mariners and they actually offered him more money. Cruz stated he didn't want to play in a pitchers park and that's why he signed with the Orioles.

The Mets had no chance on signing Cruz, the real losers were the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and his original team the Texas Rangers. All in all 28 MLB teams passes on him.

Michael Herrington
Michael Herrington

I don't see Granderson as a RF at all, his arm is not a good fit. Neither as a CF as he ages. One move I would like to see is Granderson move to LF and Mets find a solid RF.



drmetfan
drmetfan

Listen, we can all talk about Cruz now because of the deal he signed. The Mets did not know he was actually going to have to settle for that deal. His original request was 75M for 5 years or so and he was not worth that money. The problem I have is signing CY to 7.5 million when he was probably worth a minor league deal at best. Alderson screwed up there.

Signing Granderson was a good move but not for the 4 years. But the Mets had to choice but to go to the 4th year. As for Abreu, the Mets kept insisting in the surplus of below average players they had at first base. I think Abreu would have made a huge impact and the team would be in a lot better shape than 5 games below .500. But the Mets did not have the money to pay him.

Imagine how productive this lineup would have been:


Granderson

Murphy

Wright

Abreu

Cruz

Lagares

D'Arnaud

Tejada

xplr
xplr

The Marlon Byrd signing was the impetus for Chris Young. Once he signed at a price that Sandy considered excessive, he rushed out to offer a ridiculous contract to Chris Young.

VinceGagliardi
VinceGagliardi

@SlangsOnSports As much I love to bash the Wilpons for being cheap, your article was fair, balanced and informative! Great work! LGM

Sergio p
Sergio p

Other than Cruz , Abreu and Granderson I wouldn't have offered money to any one else. They missed out on Puig and Abreu but still have a chance for Tomas.CY was wasted money, I thought he had a descent chance of being good but not 7.5 mil for an iffy player. I never liked Drew I will put up with Tejada until Tulo or Hanley??? Or am I dreaming again.

theglider
theglider

Enough. Cruz wanted a long term deal or else he was going to play for one year in a hitters park. HE WASNT COMING TO THE METS.

Got it now?

Adam David
Adam David

Why was is granderson or Cruz and not cy or Cruz? Based on contract that makes more sense. If he hadnt signed cy in November he would have had cash to sign Cruz in February or January.

Kyle Suta
Kyle Suta

Overall the mets had a decent offseason. They wouldn't has been able to afford Abreu and grandy with this budget. Then again they could've resigned Byrd and paired him with Abreu. With Byrd and Abreu the mets would be at least .500 right now.

borsh13
borsh13

I think anybody would have passed on Cruz for what he wanted actually I know that cause every team did hence y he took a bad 1 year deal to go play in a ballpark he can tear up and y do u care about Colin's weight he is pitching well for us and to bring up him using peds and mention them "passing" on Nelson Cruz seams a bit hypocritical... U may want to look at grandys stats since may 1st before u claim he has had a terrible 3 months

bbinpcola
bbinpcola

@Jay Cross Really?  Are the Yankees also a small market operation? NO ONE saw what Abreu was before the season.

bbinpcola
bbinpcola

@Zott SHE mentioned all of these things in the article. Read much?

specialk
specialk

@Zott 


"For comparison, the oft-maligned Chris Young has eight home runs and 27 RBI, for half the cost this season, with a one-year deal instead. Not giving a long-term contract to Choo seems like it was the right move"


Maybe you should read the entire article don't you think? Lannon? Minor league contract guy, every team signs a bunch of them and some work out  ie...Byrd and some don't.  Nit picky much? E.Young is making how much? 


Maybe the point of the article was to point out some of the decisions that self hating fans like yourself point out every day and actually see what is legit and what isn't.  I believe there is mention of the guys like Abreu and Peralta that have worked out for the teams they signed with, but why bother reading the entire article, just the stuff that helps your whining argument.  


.

buckets
buckets

The Mets bullpen is a team strength. Who cares about Lannon? The team isn't great but they are only 5 games under .500.

Luis Torres Quiñones
Luis Torres Quiñones

@drmetfan If that lineup doesn't win games, then no lineup does. I think it's pretty clear the team didn't (or doesn't) have the resources to contend in this market.

Mark Rakentine
Mark Rakentine

@drmetfan ....we could have had that lineup, but for some reason "The Genius" Sandy believed that Ike, Duda, Lutz and Satin constituted a legitimate "logjam" at first base. That and the fact that Abreu would have meant spending money wisely. I say this because from the beginning, the CYoung and Granderson signings looked to be poor contracts to many experts, except to The Genius.

dave42
dave42

@Sergio p  dreaming again.  technically, the Mets should have enough money to go after Hanley this off-season if they trade Colon, with CY coming off the books.  He should "only" cost about $20-25mil per?  Hard to say given his down year this year.  So if you want to spend most or all of the budget on one guy, it may be possible.  But they won't do it.

jmjmjm
jmjmjm

@Adam David It's a lot easier to wait until after all the contracts are signed to decide which ones to go with. Cruz wanted Granderson money when the Mets signed Young. From Macbeth, "If you can look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then to me."

mets2891
mets2891

If the Wilpons can't have a higher payroll than $82 million in NYC then (for the thousandth time) they shouldn't own the team.

Kyle Turck
Kyle Turck

@borsh13 OK lets talk stats , Colon:: 2yrs  20 mil 3.99 ERA age 41 weight a heavy 285, Kazmir 2yrs 22 mil 2.38 ERA age 30 weight 185. I mentioned Colon's weight and former ped use because he is 41 and a pitcher thus he has a higher potential for injury and lack of production.. Grandy is hitting .237 with 86 SO, that's more than one bad month. Yes Cruz used ped's but he served his punishment and was on the cheap, (personally I think it should be a one strike and you're out policy) but clearly the Mets don't care since they sign these types of guys (Byrd and Colon) so why not sign him. The one that upset me the most was Abreu who hit clean up on a team with Puig and Cespedus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Abreu_(baseball) take a look at his Cuban stats. My point was that this article tries to argue that the Mets are better off than if they had signed either of the top two hr hitters and praises them for passing on clear misses like Drew and the logic is flawed. One last stat for ya the Mets did not have a good off-season as evident by their 45-50 record.


borsh13
borsh13

U were correct about ur assessment of cy though so congrats on getting something rigt as for the bullpen they were signed to cheap deals to see if something stuck while we waited on the young arms and that has worked out great so far

Jay Cross
Jay Cross

@bbinpcola @Jay Cross The Yankees have Mark Texiera playing 1B who, prior to recent injuries, was on track for a borderline HOF career. They didn't need Abreu. And plenty of teams had a pretty good idea of what Abreu was. Hell, even the Rockies bid over $60MM -- and offense is easy to come by in Coors Field!

Mark Rakentine
Mark Rakentine

And, I really have nothing against Granderson, as I think he is a good player, a great person and teammate. But that contract at his age, in that stadium just didn't seem like a fit to me.

Michael Herrington
Michael Herrington

@mets2891 Mets make half the revenue the Yankees do in the very same city.  So Mets payroll should be about half the Yankees or so. Cutting some when they are losing and investing in the minors. When they are winning investing more in the major league club. I see nothing wrong in my opinion.

vimets
vimets

@mets2891 What should there payroll be?

borsh13
borsh13

I agree with u on abreu I wanted to sign him and although I understand y they didnt ie reports he is not an athlete can't play defense and must be a dh I didn't agree with them not going after him... My point about colon is that bringing up his weight and former ped use doesn't make sense when he has played his entire career this way and is yet to break down... This article was written to show the failures and the successes of the mets offseason in hindsight and it's pretty accurate and it is a mets website so I have no problem with then emphasizing their successes more as long as they are not distorting facts

Kyle Turck
Kyle Turck

@borsh13 Yes now the bullpen is great, but how many games did they lose early on because of using Farnsworth and Valverde? Familia, Black, and Torres were all available and in the bullpen. If you release two guys who were named closer within the first two months, they were bad signings. Also both of them had over a 5 ERA the year before. Congrats on almost spelling right correctly .

Paul Rubin
Paul Rubin

@Michael Herrington @mets2891 By this reasoning and REAL 2014 attendance figures, the Mets should be spending 72% of Yankees. The Yankees are over $200M so the Mets would be just under $150M. Oh wait, had the Mets been at the $150M mark, they'd probably be leading the division and have higher attendance and be underspending at $150M and should be at about $250M. 


Stop making excuses. The Mets have historically be just a shade under Yankee attendance in the biggest market in baseball WHEN they're highly competitive. In the short term it is ok to take a breath, discard some bad contracts over time, rebuild the farm system, etc. But that time passed a year or two ago and we should be seeing a payroll no less than 1/3 of the way from the top which at the moment is a shade over $130M. They are current #22 of 30 teams in payroll, roughly $40M below the lowest payroll they should be sitting at. In fact it would be a lot easier to argue that they should be sporting a payroll in excess of $175M.

Adam David
Adam David

140 mil like most big market teams? Seems reasonable.

Kyle Turck
Kyle Turck

@borsh13 So obese people who haven't had any health problems are at less risk of a heart attack and diabetes because they've lived this long with out getting them? PED users break down at the end of their careers even A-Rod who was fit as a fiddle.  Also, he was out of baseball in 2010. He was a high risk low reward signing compared to Kazmir.


borsh13
borsh13

Black couldn't throw a strike early in the season and if they went out and signed middle of the road relievers they may have prevented some of our current pen to get their chance... This season has not been good but it is building towards something

darkflyer
darkflyer

@Paul Rubin This might be the dumbest argument I've heard.  Just because the Mets have 72% of the Yankees attendance (don't even know if that's true), the Mets are making 72% of the revenue the Yankees are making?  I guess TV, endorsement, and sponsorship money are just monopoly money that aren't worth anything. 

metzsuc
metzsuc

@Paul Rubin  when in the last 20 years besides the last few since Madoff hasn't the mets payroll been top 5?

Michael Herrington
Michael Herrington

@Paul Rubin Payroll does not equal wins.  A's say overspending means nothing to wins.


Also I said revenue not attendance. Hence your numbers and percentages are worthless. Attendance is only a marginal revenue stream for a team like the Yankees. So stop using poor facts to backl an opinion.


vimets
vimets

@Adam David Does a $140 mil dollar payroll give a MLB team more wins or even a winning record.

Adam David
Adam David

When you have a good foundation it absolutely does. Better players = more wins

metzsuc
metzsuc

@Adam David  OAKLAND DOESNT SPEND 140 MIL IN 2 YEARS..  ..HOWS THAT BIG YANKEE PAYROLL DOING?

jmjmjm
jmjmjm

@metzsuc @Adam David Oakland went through a rebuilding period from 2007-2011 to get to where they are today. I'm guessing they wouldn't need 5 years to rebuild if they had twice the payroll.