The New York Mets made some surprising moves on Monday when they cut ties with five players on the eve of MLB’s non-tender deadline, letting go pitchers Jeremy Hefner and Scott Atchison, as well as infielders Omar Quintanilla, Justin Turner, and Jordany Valdespin. Cutting a few of these players surprised some, but all are good moves that the Mets were wise to make. They had to open up roster space heading into the MLB Winter Meetings for the most active part of the offseason.
Valdespin was an obvious choice with all the problems the Mets have had with the talented but troubled player over the years, and his 50-game Biogenesis suspension was the last straw. Quintanilla was also an obvious move as he does not figure into their plans at shortstop next year — unless it’s as depth in the minor leagues which is still a possibility. Atchison is too old and injury-prone so he should not be retained in the Mets’ bullpen next season.
Turner was a bit of a surprise as he’s been a favorite of manager Terry Collins. However, unless the Mets are planning to use Turner as their backup shortstop next season there’s no space for him on the roster. The Mets need a more defense-oriented backup middle infielder, and that’s a mold Turner doesn’t fit. The team will also have Josh Satin to back up at the corner infield positions making Turner expendable.
Cutting Hefner loose was surprising and a bit risky, but it had to be done. Although he was their best starter for a significant stretch in 2013, because Hefner will miss all of 2014 because of Tommy John Surgery the Mets can’t hold a spot on the roster for him all offseason if they expect to overhaul their roster. The Mets may be able to keep Hefner on a minor league contract — which would be ideal as he can be a useful pitcher for them — but he’s not worth filling up a roster spot if he’s going to miss all of next season.
By cutting these five players, the Mets have freed themselves of a handful of non-essential players opening up room for them to add free agents or players via trade as the offseason moves along. It was a bit surprising to see them cut so many, but all are justified and may indicate that the Mets have big plans for the upcoming Winter Meetings.