The Mets have been linked to free agent outfielder Scott Hairston all off-season and so far, the two sides have been unable to agree to a deal.
The Mets could use the offensive punch Hairston provided the team last season. The outfielder smacked 20 home runs – which was good for third best on the team – and knocked in 57 runs – which was good for a fourth place tie.
It would be in the team’s best interest to sign the outfielder to a deal because the Mets currently project to start Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter in the outfield. Combined the threesome drove in 102 runs, a total that seventeen MLB players accomplished on their own last season.
The Mets are certainly interested in Hairston, but what if the outfielder doesn’t re-sign with his team from a season ago. Where could the Mets potentially turn?
The squad could stick with Duda, Nieuwenhuis and Baxter, but the offensive numbers I mentioned above do not look very impressive.
The biggest free agent left on the market – Michael Bourn – falls into the outfield category, but he’s a big ticket item, one the Mets probably won’t pay for.
They could, however; afford a player like Ben Francisco.
Francisco split time between the Blue Jays, Astros and Rays last season and didn’t produce much (.234/.282/.402), but the veteran showed pop in his days with Cleveland (15HR in 2008 and 2009) before becoming a bat off of the Phillies’ bench for several seasons.
When given at-bats Francisco has the potential to drive in 50+ runs and hit close to 20 home runs, similar to what Hairston did last season. He could certainly be had for cheaper than Hairston since he’s coming off of a down year. Francisco earned $1.537 million last season and getting him for something similar or even cheaper is a viable option for New York.
If the Mets were willing to take a chance and roll the dice on an older player, they could give Scott Podsednik a try. Podsednik has interest from the Twins so the Mets would have competition.
Podesednik looked pretty good in 63 games with the Red Sox last season, hitting .302/.322/.352. He’s still good for a steal here and there (eight stolen bases in ten attempts in 2012) even at age 36. He did have some issues with his groin last season, but he looked his best since his 2010 season split between the Royals and Dodgers.
He may not be interested in signing a minor league deal, but the Mets could go after him if Hairston walks. Like Francisco, Podesednik should be inexpensive on a one-year deal, maybe around the $1 million mark.
Other options available on the free agent market include Grady Sizemore, Rick Ankiel, Nyjer Morgan and Ryan Sweeney. All of these players come with warning flags. Sizemore and Ankiel have suffered with multiple injury problems in their careers. Morgan has a history of being a loose cannon on and off the baseball field and had a miserable season with Milwaukee last year (.239/.302/.308) and Sweeney has never been known for his offensive game (career .280/.338/.378). Could the Mets think about one of these gentlemen as well?
Maybe lightning could strike twice for the Mets and they’ll find another gem, similar to the way they did with R.A. Dickey back in 2010, although I foresee an agreement with between Hairston and the Mets happening first.