Sandy Alderson recently spoke about the plans for 2014 on WFAN. He mentioned that the injury to Matt Harvey completely changes the off season plans, no surprise there. He also said that we shouldn’t be surprised if he plucks a name out of the Free Agent pool of pitchers in the coming months. Adam Rubin recently posted on Twitter a list of Free Agent starting pitchers and position players with the highest WAR this year. A few things caught my eye.
The Mets obviously won’t touch guys like James Shields, Hiroki Kuroda, or Jon Lester, but a few names seemed very reasonable. They are Scott Feldman, Chris Capuano, and Bruce Chen. Yes, two of them have played for the Mets in the past, but they would be solid additions.
Let’s start with Feldman.
Scott Feldman was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Baltimore Orioles at the trade deadline this year, but his numbers have stood out. His 11 wins rank second in his career, trailing 2009 by six. His 3.75 ERA is the lowest he’s ever posted, not including the eight games he pitched in 2005. He is a career 3-2 against National League East opponents, although he has never faced the Phillies. Feldman has pitched in one game at Citi Field. On June 15th of this year, he tossed seven innings of one run, two hit ball, while striking out six. For his career, only seven percent of his fly balls ended up outside of the playing field. What’s more, he’s never made more than $6,000,000 in his career, so not a very high price to pay. Of the three pitchers I mentioned, Feldman seems the most likely to end up in Queens.
Chris Capuano, as you may remember, won 11 games for the 2011 New York Mets. Was his 4.55 ERA pretty? No, in fact five pitchers on that team had a lower ERA.Despite this, he managed to allow three runs or less in half of his appearances. His performance on August 26th, 2011 saw Capuano fall two hits short of a perfect game (13 punch-outs that night). He showed respectable longevity. Only 11 of his 33 games resulted in him leaving before six innings were done. The only drawback is that Capuano has the possibility to stay another year in Los Angeles if he and the Dodgers agree on a deal. Like Feldman, Capuano has never made more than $6,000,000.
Lastly, Bruce Chen, who was traded to the Montreal Expos for Phil Seibel, Scott Strickland, and Matt Watson, has made 28 appearances for the Kansas City Royals this year, but only nine of them starts. Despite this, he had not come out of the bullpen since 2010, so he is definitely capable of being a regular starter. He has reached double digit wins four times in his career, three coming with the Royals. This year he is 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA. Chen could be a reliable, durable arm in the back end of the Mets rotation next year. (He has not made more than $4,500,00.)
As far as hitters go, a few names sounded nice. We have heard a lot about Ellsbury, Choo, even Cano, but what about Ben Zobrist, James Loney, Omar Infante or Nelson Cruz? Zobrist seems the least likely since the Rays have options on him until 2015, but he is a nice utility player. James Loney could be a reasonable option at first base. He is hitting over .300 for only the second time in his career and he can put up 15 plus home runs. He hits the righties and plays defense (a career .994 fielder).
I also really like Omar Infante. He can play anything in the infield to the left of first base and has made less than 65 errors in the over 6,000 innings he has played in the field. He can hit over .315 and drive in his fair share of runs. The largest number of home runs he has ever hit is 17 back in 2004, one of his better years in the bigs. If the Mets choose to move Daniel Murphy elsewhere in the Major Leagues, Infante would be a solid option.
The one time Met farmhand Nelson Cruz was caught for taking illegal substances this year but he should be ready for opening day next year. During the Rangers’ glory years of 2009-2012, Cruz was arguably the second-most feared hitter in their lineup behind Josh Hamilton. Only four times in his big league career has Cruz not hit 20 home runs and driven in 75 runs. Cruz could be a steal of an addition in right field next year.
Sandy Alderson has his work cut out for him this off season, but his options are certainly not limited.