The Mets do not believe Jose Reyes is the answer. They know that the 34-year-old former shortstop is now a step slower and limited, but they see him as a solid utility infielder who can be their main second baseman if they can’t find another option.
And those options are not limited to just signing another second baseman.
As the weeks wind down on free agency and prices on the unsigned free agents seem to drop, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the team will take a broad view on how to improve the team, not just plug in holes.
“We’re thinking expansively,” Alderson said earlier this week. “There is no question we’ve had some focus at second or third, we’ll continue to have that as partially as a focus, but no, we’re looking at ways we can improve the team.”
“This offseason presents a lot of theoretical possibilities,” Alderson continued. “You never know what’s going to happen. Some of them may not come to fruition, but part of our process is trying to think more expansively how we can improve the team.”
The Mets could get creative looking at a third baseman who will make a big impact. It is unlikely they would go after Mike Moustakas, one of the top free agents this winter, but why not try to take advantage of a slow and low free agent market that has clearly not been in the players’ favor this season?
The two-time All-Star third baseman is said to have at least one multiple-year contract on the table. A source who knows him thinks he would be more inclined to sign with an East Coast team to stay closer to his family. The Mets could offer him a reasonable deal with a quick opt-out, like they did with Yoenis Cespedes in 2016 and give him a chance to test the market again next season.
If Alderson and the Mets are serious about thinking creatively and improving the team beyond second and third base, they could try an outside-the-box move. How about looking beyond the infield?
The Mets could sign a pitcher. While Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish are obviously still out there, the Mets could sign a cheaper veteran starter like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn for some depth in their rotation and protection against injuries. It could also allow them to use Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo in the bullpen.
They could sign another veteran reliever. Hey, Greg Holland is still available! Or a more payroll friendly Tony Watson?
Or the Mets could improve the pitching support. Two years ago they were very interested in trading for Jonathan Lucroy, not just for his bat, but the way he handled a pitching staff. The 31-year-old is coming off one of the worst years of his career, so his market value is down. Neither Travis d’Arnaud nor Kevin Plawecki has run away with the starting catching spot and the Mets have talked about splitting it.
Lucroy would be a good voice for the starting staff and mentor for d’Arnaud or Plawecki with the potential for a bounce-back season at the plate.
The Mets could also stay a little closer to the norm and hope to find some value in a more traditional free agency route.
Eduardo Nunez may be a defensive liability, but he would give the Mets’ lineup something they have not had in recent years: speed.
Neil Walker and Todd Frazier — both familiar with the New York market — would also be possibilities to add some pop to an already powerful lineup.
The Mets are still looking for ways to improve this team before they open camp. With the slow free agency market, they have a chance to try some creative solutions to improve their pitching and lineup.
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