Offseason Outlook: New York Mets

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Mets.  Their likely 2009 commitments:

C – Brian Schneider – $4.9MM
C – Ramon Castro – $2.5MM
1B – Carlos Delgado – $12MM
2B – Luis Castillo – $6MM
SS – Jose Reyes – $5.75MM
3B – David Wright – $7.5MM
IF –
IF – Argenis Reyes – $400K
LF – Dan Murphy – $400K
CF – Carlos Beltran – $18.5MM
RF – Ryan Church – $2MM+
OF – Endy Chavez – $2.05MM
OF – Marlon Anderson – $1.15MM

SP – Johan Santana – $20MM
SP – Mike Pelfrey – $1.3125MM
SP – John Maine – $450K+
SP – Jon Niese – $400K
SP – Bobby Parnell – $400K

RP – Scott Schoeneweis – $3.6MM
RP – Aaron Heilman – $1.2MM+
RP – Pedro Feliciano – $1.025MM+
RP – Duaner Sanchez – $850K+
RP – Brian Stokes – $402K
RP – Joe Smith – $400K
RP – Eddie Kunz – $400K

Other commitments: Billy Wagner – $10.5MM

That’s around $104MM committed before arbitration raises to Church, Maine, Heilman, Feliciano, and Sanchez.  Some of those relievers may be gone, but we’ll put the Mets around $110MM after the raises.  They entered 2008 near $138MM, so Omar Minaya could have almost $30MM to spend.

Revamping the bullpen is top priority; we discussed some options here.  A commenter on that post made a good point – maybe the Mets can’t afford to take the ideal approach to building a bullpen.  Overpaying for the sure thing would be justifiable.  I’d still sign Brian Fuentes over Francisco Rodriguez though.  Fuentes may cost half as much overall while providing a similar performance.

The Mets also need to acquire one starting pitcher.  A Randy Wolf type could work, or they could spend additional money for Derek Lowe or A.J. BurnettBartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia could also be appealing.  With one reliable addition, it’ll be a solid rotation.

Murphy provides flexibility – he could be the starting left fielder, he could play first in the event of a Delgado exercise n’ trade, or he could replace Castillo at second.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Mets go after Raul Ibanez or Juan Rivera, the somewhat reasonable free agent options at left field.  I don’t see them getting into the Dunn/Burrell/Manny price range, but you never know.

Castillo is a problem, though I don’t think it’s imperative the Mets get rid of him.  It was a bad signing from Day 1, and Castillo pretty much performed as expected in 2008 (decent OBP, no power, questionable defense, injury issues).  That is Luis Castillo and it was a year ago.  I suppose you could say his defense was even worse than expected and he missed more time than usual.  Maybe he can bounce back next year.  I wouldn’t assume most of his remaining $18MM just to get Castillo off the roster, but I would entertain swapping him for another bad contract.  Heilman is another player who might be trade bait, and he probably has some positive value.

The Mets have an excellent core for ’09 – three good starting pitchers plus Wright, Reyes, Beltran, and Delgado all signed at arguably below-market rates.  Minaya just needs to figure out how to allocate his money between a closer (and maybe a second reliever), a starter, and a left fielder.

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