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)
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)
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.