By Zach Gewelb
Free agency is finally upon us.
The Mets have a lot of holes to fill and not a whole bunch of money to spend. But after their underachieving 70-92 season and a new coaching staff in tow, change is coming.
But don’t expect the Mets to spend big. After shelling out over $100M to lock up Yoenis Cespedes last year and with arbitration inching closer for their starting pitchers, the Mets need to shop in the bargain bin this time around.
In addition to looking to piece together talent on the field, the Mets should look to fill the clubhouse with veteran mentors who can provide leadership for the team’s younger players.
Yoenis Cespedes has proved time and time again that he is not a leader, despite his star status. And while Noah Syndergaard has tried to be a leader, by going against the team’s wishes in this season’s MRI fiasco, he has shown he’s not quite up to the task.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some players who the Mets should be interested in acquiring this winter.
Bryan Shaw, RHP
Shaw has excelled as a middle innings reliever for the Indians the past five seasons. In fact, his 3.52 ERA in 2017 is the highest mark of his career. Using an upper-90s cutter, Shaw would help solidify the back end of the Mets’ bullpen, forming a nice nucleus with Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins and A.J. Ramos.
Todd Frazier, 3B
Frazier proved he can play in New York after being traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Yankees in early July. The veteran third baseman has a solid glove and can hit for power, but his most valuable asset could be his presence in the locker room.
Frazier is known as a good clubhouse leader who works well with young players, and with all the youth the Mets have, he would bring a much needed veteran presence to the locker room.
Miguel Gonzalez, RHP
Gonzalez would bring dependability to the Mets’ pitching staff. The righty from Mexico boasts a career 3.95 ERA in 152 games (145) starts and his stuff plays better in the National League than the American League, where he has spent the first five years of his career.
He’s not a strikeout artist and would benefit from a strong defense, but he is an affordable option for the back end of the rotation who could eat some innings and help keep the bullpen fresh.
Darwin Barney, 2B
While his signing wouldn’t move the needle too much, Barney would provide a lot of depth for the Mets’ infield, as he is capable of playing plus defense at second base, third base, and shortstop. He doesn’t hit much, but would offer good insurance in the event of an injury to Asdrubal Cabrera or Amed Rosario.
Austin Jackson, OF
Jackson had a terrific season as the fourth outfielder for the Indians and thrived when he was thrust into a starting role in the second half of the year. The former Yankee farmhand posted a .318/.387/.869 batting line while playing well in the outfield. With Michael Conforto out to start the year, Jackson can start the year in center field and move into a fourth outfielder role when he returns. He would also offer depth and support for Yoenis Cespedes, who seems to hit the disabled list at least once a year.
There are tons of other available players who can help the Mets, but these five can bring the most value to the club at the most reasonable prices.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe