There’s been a lot of talk lately about Jose Reyes not re-signing with the Mets. I still believe that he will, and if he doesn’t, I’ll be heartbroken. But if they don’t re-sign Reyes that frees up a lot of money for this organization. That would leave them with about $40M to fill out the roster with. So who are my top 5 free agent choices after Reyes, you ask? Well even if you didn’t ask, I’m going to give them to you:
No, I’m not sure what a “ham fighter” is exactly, but he’s been a Fighter his entire career in Japan. While he could have sign straight out of college in an MLB, (the Mets were interested back in 2004) he decided to stay in Japan to pitch. He wowed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and his numbers in the NPB have been equally impressive.
In 2007, at age 20, he went 15-5 with a 1.82 ERA in 207.2 IP, 12 complete games, 210 strike outs and 49 walks. And he’s been equally as good, if not better in the three seasons after that. 2010 might have been his best season, going 12-8 with a 1.78 ERA, 202 IP, 10 complete games, 222 strike outs and 47 walks.
He just turned 25 in August, and he will reportedly ask the Fighters to post him to the MLB. Now I know people are scared to go after the Japanese pitchers after Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa, but this guy looks really legit and there has been talk about him being posted to the MLB almost every off-season.
If he does post he would be the best starting pitcher on the market, which really isn’t saying much with what’s out there. This guy is young, throws innings, and strikes out batters. I don’t think he’ll have a sub two ERA here in the MLB. Probably more along the lines of low three’s and at best high two’s. It would take a $100M to get him, and I think it would be worth it.
Number Two: Jonathan Papelbon – Boston Red Sox
He probably won’t leave the Red Sox, but he’s the best closer on the market and finding a closer has to be the Mets top priority this off-season. Papelbon has spent all of his seven seasons in the MLB on the Red Sox, but his last two seasons have been his worst.
In 2010 he posted a 3.90 ERA, more than two points higher than his 2009 ERA. Last season his ERA dropped by almost a full point, but he recorded just 31 saves, the lowest he ever has. He also faltered down the stretch, leading to the Red Sox awful collapse.
Still Papelbon is one of the best closers in the game, and he is going to get a good contract. I don’t see him leaving the Red Sox, but then again, I’m not sure about anything the Red Sox do any more.
Number Three: Mark Buehrle – Chicago White Sox
You want consistent? I give you Mr. Buehrle. The 32 year old, who has spent all 12 seasons with the White Sox has thrown 200+ inning in every full season he’s ever pitched. All 11 of them. In those 11 seasons he’s only had an ERA over four three times, and has never had an ERA over five (2006 he had a 4.99, but it wasn’t a five).
Buehrle is a lefty, he throws quality innings, he throw a lot of them, and he’s a three-time Gold Glover. He also has a major league home-run under his belt. What’s not to love?
If he does leave the White Sox, it might be to follow Ozzie Guillen to the Marlins, but other than that, I think he’s staying put. But who knows, maybe Sandy can blow him away with an offer. Citi Field is a great park to pitch in.
Number Four: Ryan Madson – Philadelphia Phillies
If he stays with the Phillies he will be their closer next year. Being the closer for the best team in the National League? That’s a tough job to pass up. After Papelbon he’s the best closer on the market, plus he’s a Scoot Boras client, so he’s going to demand some money. He might price himself out of the Phillies range, which is where the Mets might be able to swoop in and steal him.
He’s thrived in the role of being a relief pitcher and the last two seasons he’s been brilliant, with a 2.55 ERA in 2010, and a 2.37 ERA with 32 saves in 2011. Plus in 60.2 innings he walked just 16 batters. That would be a nice change from Francisco Rodriguez, he seemed to walk 16 batters every week.
Number Five: Roy Oswalt – Philadelphia Phillies
I know I put two Phillies on this list, don’t hurt me, but Oswalt is still one of the better starters in the game, despite injury problems in 2011. The only reason the Phillies are letting him go is because that have a kid named Vance Worley.
Even with the injuries he put up a 3.69 ERA in Philadelphia, which is very impressive. He’ll be 34 next season so he won’t demand a long contract and could be had at a cheaper price due to his struggles in 2011.
An All-Star caliber player coming off an injured season? Sounds like a guy Sandy would be interested in.
Yeah, I know they are all pitchers. The Mets need pitching, desperately. Even if the Mets lose Reyes they still have a decent offense, and they were unsuccessful last season because of their pitching (mainly their bullpen), not their offense. So go out there and get arms Mr. Alderson. This team really needs some.