Last week Andy Martino on SNY’s Mets Hot Stove reported that the Mets’ remaining free agent budget for this offseason is around $10 million. Considering the team’s needs of rotation, corner outfield and DH help, that is a tough number to navigate. But assuming that as the constraint, let’s take a look at who the Mets might be able to sign. For this exercise, we will use the FanGraphs Crowd Source numbers.

Let’s separate the remaining free agents that are in the Mets supposed price range into two tiers: upper and lower. If they sign an upper tier free agent, it is likely that they will only sign one, where in the lower tier, they may be able to sign two.

Upper Tier ($9.0-12.0 million AAV projection)

Mike Clevinger, J.D. Martinez, Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, Michael Lorenzen, and Hyun Jin Ryu.

Of the available players in this price range, Clevinger, Lorenzen and Ryu are all starting pitchers. They are all 32-year-old or older, with Lorenzen the spring chicken of the group at 32. Clevinger is the best pitcher of the group, but is still a far cry from who he was prior to his injury in 2020. Ryu is 37 and has been pitched just 79.0 innings over the last two seasons thanks to Tommy John surgery in June 2022 and a knee injury in 2023.

Lorenzen is interesting in that he is entering just his third season since his rookie year as a starting pitcher, and while 2023 was the best year of his career, there are some troubling trends, namely his swinging strike rate dipping below 10% for the first time since 2018 last year, while his contact numbers also moved in a worrying direction. That could make for a rough 2024.

The Mets have been linked plenty this offseason to Turner as a DH who can also play in the middle infield, while Pederson is intriguing for the same reason but in the outfield instead of the infield. Pederson is seven years younger and likely the better hitter at this stage, but after a nice stretch in San Francisco, he will probably be after a multi-year deal where Turner could be had on a one-year deal. Plus, who wouldn’t want a reunion with Turner after all these years. Would be a nice story, and he’s proven he can still play.

Lower Tier ($5.0-8.0 million AAV projection)

Adam Duvall, Tommy Pham, Whit Merrifield, James Paxton, Joey Gallo, Jake Odorizzi, Michael A. Taylor, Carlos Santana, Zack Greinke, Alex Wood, and Adam Frazier.

Duvall and Pham are the two most-enticing hitters of this bunch, as they are both mid-30s slugging corner outfielders with good veteran experience. Obviously Pham spent the first half of 2023 with the Mets before being dealt to Arizona. Gallo is probably the most interesting of the group, especially if he can bounce back closer to his 2017-2021 form where he was a really solid player and won a Gold Glove. It is hard to imagine him wanting to come back to New York, however, considering how his tenure in the Bronx went.

Taylor, Merrifield, and Frazier are probably guys worth pursuing in a world where the budget was a little greater, but under the Mets’ self-imposed and MLB-imposed restraints aren’t real difference makers if you are only signing one or two more MLB players. Santana had a decent 2023 split between Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, and could be a nice veteran DH if Stearnes wants to reunite.

Neither Paxton nor Wood logged 100.0 innings last year, but both were serviceable when they did pitch. Greinke threw 142.1 innings and posted his worst ERA since 2005, but is a veteran innings eater and future Hall of Famer. However, much like Gallo but for different reasons, I’m not sure how much of a desire he has to pitch in New York City.

None of these players, or any combination of these players, is probably enough to vault the Mets into World Series contention in 2024. However, by dipping into the free agent pool to make some marginal improvements, that may help the club get themselves into a playoff position and from there anything can happen.

20 comments on “Bargain hunting: Best uses of the Mets’ remaining budget

  • Metsense

    Adam Duvall because is RHB so Vientos can platoon at third base at Duvall can be the RHB DH. He is a slighty above average corner outfielder with decent power.
    Wandy Peralta, not on the list, would also be signed for the bullpen to complete the $10m budget.

  • Brian Joura

    I don’t see the Mets signing a SP and I have serious doubts that the 3 hitters in your top tier would sign for that amount. I’d be a big fan of Pederson if he would, though.

    At this point, assuming the budget is what Martino reports, I’d wait until Feb. to see if any of the players are worried about getting a deal and would sign a cheaper deal, whether they be top tier or bottom tier.

    Adam Ottavino, David Robertson and Robert Stephenson are among the relief pitchers I’d be interested in, at the right salary, of course. My expectation is that the pen is where Stearns will spend the money.

    • Metstabolism

      I’d have no interest in Ottavino, and only limited interest in Robertson. Roberston’s age, and deep fade after the trade last year make me think that his first half with the Mets was his swan song. Ottavino has been declining for two years and is owrse than his numbers suggest. He also declined a player option at $6 mil for this year, wanting to negotiate a 2-year deal instead (albeit at a lower AAV). The Mets also need another lefty in the pen. Chapman and Moore are better options, IMO.

      • Brian Joura

        Robertson went thru what every reliever goes thru – a stretch of 6-12 bad games – right after the trade.

        In September, Robertson pitched in 11 games, had a 1.74 ERA, limited batters to a .569 OPS and struck out 44% of the batters he faced. He was just as good as he had been with the Mets for four months.

        Ottavino’s FIP is worrisome and why I’m glad that the Mets didn’t give him a multi-year deal. But if remains without a job, I’d be interested in him on a 1/$4 type of contract.

        I would be interested in both of those guys you mentioned. Moore is someone I mentioned back in late October –

    • Mike W

      I agree. I would hope to get two decent relievers. I’ll take Robert Stephenson and Wandy Peralta.

      I don’t like Duvall. I mean what are we getting with him? I’d rather have the young players get time playing. Hopefully followed by more young players like Gilbert and Williams.

  • Metstabolism

    Clarification: Martino did not say the Mets’ “remaining budget” was only $10 million. He said the Mets were “looking to spend” another $10 million. The former suggests a hard limit, and that may not be the case.
    That said, if they’re working with $10 million 9or so), then I disagree with the assessment of their needs. I think the bullpen is more pressing a need than the rotation. Adding to the OF would be nice, but is not necessarily a need, IMO. I think Stearns may be looking to give Taylor a real and long look this season.

    • Brian Joura

      How does Michael Taylor fit in with the Mets having already traded for Tyrone Taylor, having signed Bader and with Marte playing games in the DWL?

      You can say that having too many guys is a good problem but why would M. Taylor sign with a club where he didn’t have a solid path to 100 or more starts?

      • Metstabolism

        Just for clarification: I was referring to Tyrone Taylor, not Michael. As in, I think Stearns may be looking to Tyrone Taylor a real long this year. (I am curious as to what made you think I was referring to Michael).

        • Brian Joura

          To answer your question –

          The article was about adding to the roster with the alleged available money. If you were going to introduce a player already on the roster with a common last name, it would have been helpful if you used his first name, too.

          I appreciate you being active in the comments section.

  • Boomboom

    Not to nitpick but Justin Turner cannot play in the middle infield.

    The bullpen is where the work will be done. Would love Stephenson and Matt Moore but would settle for Peralta and Robertson.

    I’m also on the Jorge Soler train for DH but I think at that point one of Baty or Vientos would need to be traded. There really isn’t any point in having Vientos serve as the short side DH platoon. He needs 400 abs and regular playing time which really shouldn’t come in the field.

    • Metstabolism

      You’re not nit picking. Many say Turner cannot play the infield at all anymore, let alone middle IF.

  • royhobbs7

    You’re missing a player in the lower tier as most baseball hacks are. If his back is OK, CJ Cron is a talented power hitter who can hit .270 and drive in 80+ runs. Many will say that his stats were bloated due his playing at Coors. But look it up; he had similar years in both Angels’ and Rays’ uniforms.

    Plus, Cron will take a one-year prove-it contract for probably less than $5 Mil.

  • royhobbs7

    Cron might be a perfect low-risk DH to hit in back of Petey.

  • NYM6986

    I too, would wait till closer to spring training to pluck one of those free agents at a discounted price. It’s nice what they’d like to get, but if no one’s offering it, you could pick one of them up for a bargain. I’d take Robertson back because, he had a little dip down once he was traded, but then came back pretty strong. And considering he picked up the ball and really did a great job for the Mets while Diaz was out is some thing to remember. I think they are missing a great opportunity to bring in a major bat to play DH but on the other hand, it’s time for Vientos to step up and swing the bat while in the minor leagues. This way they keep them off the field and just hitting. As far as the left-hand side for the DH not sold on Stewart holding up his end of the bargain. Why can’t they put Lindor, Nimmo or Baty in at DH to give them a partial day off? Can’t remember any major league player who wants to take a day off so this way we keep a strong bat in the lineup.

    • Metsense

      NYM6986^ Duvall hits RHP and he can be insurance for Stewart. He would be insurance for Marte also.
      Boomboom^ Vientos should split 50/50 at third base in the beginning. Both of them didn’t proof themselves last year but giving them an equal chance would be prudent.

  • T.J.

    If the Mets add two solid pen arms and a decent DH-type bat as kid insurance, I could buy Stearns selling them as playoff contenders…even with the shaky rotation. At this point, that is a big if. Are they going to be high bidder on a hot commodity like Stevenson? Adding him, Robertson, and Cron may cost $20 million ish in 2024 payroll, would make things at least interesting, shouldn’t kill the budget, shouldn’t block ABs from Baty/Vientos (nor guarantee them ABs), and could provide some trade chips should the team fizzle in the first half.

    • Steve_S.

      Agree. I’d go for Stephenson, Robertson, and Duvall. And getting Solar (instead of Duvall) is a long shot, but stranger things have happened.

      And maybe Martino is wrong about the $10 million or so cap on further spending. And Cohen could go a bit higher, even if Martino was right at that moment.

      And let’s see if Vientos has improved at 3B, after working with Lindor. Ditto for Baty.

      • Steve_S.

        Looks like the Mets will lose out on Duvall (if they even seriously considered him). If Jon Heyman (in The New York Post) is correct, he’ll sign with either his Red Sox or the Angels.

      • Metstabolism

        I saw Martino say what he said. And my impression is that the $10 million is simply a working number for now, and not a hard cap. If Stearns sees value that will improve the roster, I think he will go for it. He has said repeatedly that they will always look to improve the roster. He’s been working this roster from the bottom up this winter. Once he completes the initial, basic work, he will begin going for upgrades.

        • Mike W

          Soler would make sense. He would be a good hitter to also have in case Alonso leaves.

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