Evaluating New York Mets’ Offseason
Evaluating The New York Mets' Offseason
Now that Spring Training is underway and the New York Mets are unlikely to make any roster moves that don’t involve the players they already have in camp, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect upon their offseason. There was a lot of pressure on GM Sandy Alderson when the offseason started as the Mets have had a losing season each of the last five years, and Alderson is running out of time to rebuild the Mets and turn them into a winning team.
At the start of the offseason, the expensive contracts of players like Jason Bay and Johan Santana had finally expired, taking a huge chunk of cash off the Mets’ payroll and giving them plenty of money to spend this offseason. Of course, Alderson hasn't had a lot of payroll flexibility during his tenure with the Mets, leading to a lot of intrigue from Mets fans as to how he would spend the money and putting a lot of pressure on Alderson to use it effectively.
There are a lot of different ways to evaluate the offseason that Alderson and the Mets have had, but one method is to look back at how the team addressed its most pressing needs when the offseason began. Before the offseason, we outlined the Mets’ top five priorities, and now it’s time to look back at those and see how effective the Mets were in addressing them. By determining how successful the Mets were at responding to their offseason needs, we’ll know how successful their offseason was.
The Mets didn't exactly accomplish this, but with Travis d’Arnaud all but ready to be the Mets’ everyday catcher, it was always going to be hard to find a veteran willing to sign with them knowing he was going to be the backup. But with d’Arnaud’s injury history, the Mets really needed to try harder to get one. Anthony Recker is in line to be the backup for the second straight year, which isn't so bad because most of the pitching staff will be comfortable with him. The Mets did add Taylor Teagarden to compete for the backup spot with Recker, but Teagarden doesn’t bring all that much major league experience to the table.
With Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner both expected to miss the season after Tommy John surgery, the Mets really needed to solidify their rotation with a veteran, and they couldn't have done any better than with the signing of Bartolo Colon. Promising a two-year contract to a soon-to-be 41-year old pitcher could come back to bite them, but Colon made 30 starts and won 18 games last year; if he gives the Mets anything close to that this year, it’ll be well worth the two-year, $20 million contract.
The Mets made a push for Jhonny Peralta, but wisely bowed out when the price got too high. They couldn’t work out a trade for a shortstop and despite a lot of speculation, they’re probably better off not signing Stephen Drew. So in the end, the Mets didn’t make any changes at shortstop, as they’ll begin the 2014 season with Ruben Tejada. It wasn't the ideal scenario heading into the offseason, but at age 24, Tejada is a player worth giving a second chance to.
The Mets hit this one out of the park, pun intended. Chris Young gives them some versatility and pop, and with a one-year contract after the worst season of his career, Young has plenty of motivation to perform well this season. That said, the big fish the Mets signed this offseason was Curtis Granderson, who gives the team a power boost in the middle of their lineup and a feared hitter to bat behind David Wright, which is what the Mets’ offense needed more than anything.
This could end up being the biggest failure of the Mets’ offseason. GM Sandy Alderson needed to clear up the first base issue before doing anything else this offseason; instead, the situation is even more complicated than it was at the end of the 2013 season. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will battle for the job in Spring Training, although there’s no guarantee that either one will play well enough to actually deserve the everyday job at first base. This could complicate things even further, making first base a colossal failure for Alderson and the Mets this offseason.