The Mets have stolen Francisco Rodriguez off the free agent market for only 3 years, 36 million. This has got to be the most team-friendly free agent deal of the winter. It would be pretty hard for some player to get this underpaid. Francisco Cordero signed for 4 years, 46 million with the Reds just last years after one good year with the Brewers. K-Rod puts up 6 straight good years and gets less years and less money. The one possible compensation for K-Rod is that he has a 14 million dollar vesting option for a fourth year. 4 years, 50 million is looking a lot better than 3 years, 36 million. If I was Rodriguez, I would have seriously considered accepting the Angels offer of arbitration so that I could enter free agency in a bad market for closers instead of a great one. I doubt he knew he would be unable to even land a 4th year, though. This is a great signing for the Mets.
Now that he is in the books, the Mets have about 13 million left to spend. They would like to add a starter, and reliever, and possibly an outfielder. I would skip the outfielder part because Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy won’t kill them in left to start the season. Fernando Martinez will be ready soon enough, though I don’t recommend rushing him. Juan Cruz should be under serious consideration. With so many closers on the market coming at cheap prices, it looks like Cruz will have to sign as a setup man. The Mets seem to make the most sense. I like the idea of trading for Jason Marquis to fill the rotational hole. Have the Cubs eat 2 million so that Marquis would come on a 1 year, 7 million dollar deal. It seems like a better idea than paying big bucks to resign Oliver Perez. I hate the Jon Garland idea if Marquis is available for the above mentioned price. Unless Garland is willing to take 1 year, 7 million or less, it will be smarter to go with Marquis. Plus, Jason could thrive in his hometown. So, it makes sense to cheaply fill the starting pitcher hole while aquiring a solid setup man. Remember, the bullpen was still bad when Billy Wagner was healthy.
It looks like with the right moves, the Mets are going to be very competitive next year. They just need to work on finishing out seasons. (they failed to do this the previous 2 years)
The Mets have reportedly chosen which path they would like to go down this offseason: the closer road. I recently gave them two free agent options to pick from, with one having them sign a top-of-the-rotation starter and the other one having them sign K-Rod or Brian Fuentes. You can view that here. I like the decision, because you can’t win if you can’t finish off games. I guess this was the right choice since the rotation is pretty solid while the bullpen is horrendous. The Mets plan on signing K-Rod, a middle reliever, and probably a Jon Garland or Oliver Perez type of starter. Or, they could make a trade for Edwin Jackson. I still think that Ryan Church and Aaron Heilman for E-Jax makes a ton of sense. The Mets would then sign an outfielder like Pat Burrell or Bobby Abreu to fill the hole left by Church. The only sticking point in the negotiations could be the Mets unwillingness to add the fourth year. They got burned when they did that with Billy Wagner, and might opt for Fuentes because of the term. I still think they’re leaning toward K-Rod, though.
With 28 million to spend and some serious holes, they Mets will be very busy this offseason. Starting pitching, closer, and middle relievers are their holes. There are two directions the team could choose to go in. Here they are.
- Sign Francisco Rodriguez to a 4 year, 52 million dollar deal. K-Rod still breaks a record, just doesn’t get the 75 million he’s been asking for. It takes 13 million per year. With the remaining 15, they sign a middle reliever such as Juan Cruz or Brandon Lyon for 4 million per. That leaves 11 million to aquire a decent back of the rotation starting pitcher. Oliver Perez, Jon Garland, Paul Byrd, Jason Marquis, Edwin Jackson, and Andy Sonnanstine could be options. With any remaining money they sign an extra reliever or just save the money for July.
- Sign Derek Lowe or AJ Burnett for 4 years, 64 million. So 16 million per year. With the extra 12, they sign either Brian Fuentes or Kerry Wood to close. Anything left over is used on middle relievers
So pick whichever one you like best. Note that money could always be moved through a trade of a current reliever. Scott Schoenweis for examle could be traded because of Pedro Feliciano becoming the primary left handed reliever. Duarner Sanchez and Aaron Heliman are trade possibilities, also. The Mets are going to imporve their team to make it a very competitive NL East. The defending champs: the Phillies, of course the Mets, and the Braves whom will likely improve their team a ton through free agency. It should be a lot of fun to watch.
Francisco Rodriguez seems destined to sign a record breaking contract. The only question is who will pay it. Let’s look at some possibilities.
Mets (frontrunners) The loss to Billy Wagner coupled with the awful bullpen leads me to believe that K-Rod will probably be in a Mets uniform next year. I know there have been some reports that the Mets won’t pay his price, but I think he’ll eventually have to settle with a deal in the 5 year, 60 million range. Still a record breaker, just not the insane 15 million per year asking price. I explained why the Mets should pursue him here.
Cardinals (frontrunners) If the Mets get cold feet or decide to go in a different direction, you could see the Cardinals make an agressive offer to K-Rod. They do have 20 million to spend. For only 12 million per year, they could afford K-Rod plus a middle infielder. Look for the Cardinals to be active on the closer front.
Angels (possible) They could easily afford Rodriguez, but it might not be the best idea to spend so much money on him. It would be much smarter to sign Mark Teixera or CC Sabathia instead. If they miss out on both, don’t be surprised to see the Halos attempt to resign Franky Rodriguez, however. This one is possible.
Tigers (not likely) This team has got the money to spend since they won’t be cutting payroll. However, this would be the only signing they would be able to make. I know they would be filling a huge hole with a great pitcher, but this wouldn’t allow them to fill their remaining holes: shortstop, starting pitcher, catcher. It might make more sense for them to fill all positions on the cheap.
Indians (not likely) They have labled closer as their offseason priority. Most expect them to pursue Brian Fuentes instead; he will be cheaper. However, if the Tribe misses out on different starting pitching and infield options, it’s possible they spend big money on K-Rod.
Brewers (not likely) The Brewers showed they were not afraid to pay top dollar for a closer last year when they almost signed Francisco Cordero. They could decide to do the same this year and spend a lot of money on K-Rod. However, it might be a smarter idea to use the Rodriguez money to extend some of their young stars such as Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, JJ Hardy, and Yovani Gallardo. If those players would rather go year to year, Franky could become an option.
The Angels will have about 30 million to spend this offseason. The big question will be how to spend it. You can see their offseason needs here. Below are some possible scenarios.
- Sign Mark Teixera to a 23 million per year deal. With the remaining seven million, sign a setup reliever, resign Garret Anderson, and also sign a starting pitcher reclamation project. This fills all of their holes.
- Sign CC Sabathia to a 22 million per year deal. I’d only do this if they miss out on Mark Teixera, however. If this happens, sign Jason Giambi to a backloaded 2 year deal, sign a middle reliever, and bring back GA.
- If they miss out on both Tex and CC, then sign Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell to 14 million per year. Next, resign Francisco Rodriguez to a big contract. Finally, add Jason Giambi and a reclamation pitcher.
These are just three possible scenarios, but it’s what I would do if I was the GM of the Angels.
I have said before that the Blue Jays had a lot of money to spend. Now that I look closer, they only have about 15 million. So they can buy one big free agent, but that’s it. If they move BJ Ryan and clear 10 million from the payroll, then they would have 25 million. That could add two goo players. Maybe AJ Burnett and Orlando Cabrera. That would help a lot. I know you probably think that no team would want Ryan for that salary, but I think some team will get desperate. Brian Fuentes will probably get more years in exchange for less money. If teams value Ryan and Fuentes evenly, then they might consider Ryan an affordable option to Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes. For example: the Mets could decide that K-Rod is not worth 4 years, 60 million. Instead, they like the idea of Ryan for 2 years 20 million. This way they can use their money on starters, and the Jays free up salary. Everyone wins. I think it is very likely the Jays trade BJ Ryan this offseason.
This has been a widely talked about topic between Royals fans. Should the Royals move Joakim Soria to the rotation or keep him in the bullpen? Or, maybe even trade him. I think they should move him into the rotation for many reasons. He could be more effective in the rotation because he can throw 210 innings instead of 70. Thats three times as much. He throws a low 90’s fastball, and after stretching his arm out, he’ll probably fall down to the high 80’s range. But, he has four pitches. Since he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, he won’t be an ace, but at least a solid #3 with #2 potential. I’d take 210 innings of 4:00 ERA ball rather than 70 innings of 2:30 ERA ball. Another reason is that Dayton Moore has shown that he can find bullpen help. They had a good bullpen this year because of all of Moore’s finds. Joakim Soria was even found through the rule 5 draft. If Dayton finds one or two good cheap relievers, then the bullpen won’t lose that much. Some people think that Joakim might do what Jonathan Paplebon did. Fail at the rotation and move back to the bullpen. But, he could do what Ryan Dempster did. Get even better in the rotation. If he got even better he would be a Cy Young contender. I think there’s no risk involved. If they truly don’t think Soria could become a good starter, they could trade him. Maybe to the Angels for Jered Weaver. The Angels get a lights-out closer to replace Francisco Rodriguez, and open up a rotation spot to go after Jon Garland or CC Sabathia. The Royals get their number three starter. I’d rather keep Soria, though. Think of how good a rotation of Zack Greinke, Gil Meche, Joakim Soria, Kyle Davies, and Brian Banister/Luke Hochevar would be. That rotation could contend. Also, they fix the rotation without spending any money, so then they could go out and sign a shortstop or a power bat to solidify the lineup. Lastly, they need to extend Greinke. If they want to contend, they’ll need him under contract. This team could be a sleeper if they make the right moves.