By my calculations, the Mets have around 12 million left to spend after signing Francisco Rodriguez and trading for JJ Putz. With that 12 million, they would like to sign a starting pitcher. Below are some names that they could consider.
Derek Lowe. He seems like their top target. The only question is if they can afford Lowe. His price seems to be dropping now that the Yankees and Phillies are out, but I’m still not convinced that he will get less than 14 million per year. The Reds Sox and Braves make a whole lot of sense even though they haven’t made it public. The only way I see Lowe in a Mets uniform is if they make a trade or two to clear some salary. The problem is, they don’t have any expendable pieces.
Oliver Perez. To me, a return of Oliver Perez is the most likely possibility for the Mets. I don’t think that they can afford Lowe, and I can’t find our any other good suitors for Ollie other than the Mets. I guess the Dodgers could make an inquiry, but they seems more willing to sign a starter like Randy Johnson to a short term deal. Perez is the best option available to the Mets unless they do somehow bring in Lowe. Again, that’s not likely.
Randy Wolf. He makes sense because he is a left handed starter that could come on a 1 year deal. Wolf was very solid last year, and could be a really nice pick-up if he stays healthy. Wolf has got some upside, and I would be willing to take him on if Lowe or Perez cannot be signed.
Jon Garland. You could make the argument that he makes more sense than Wolf. Garland is younger, more durable, and has a better track record. However, Wolf was better last year, has more strike-outs, and is a lefty. I think it will pretty much come down to whomever will come cheaper for a shorter term. Garland would make a solid aquisition to the Mets’ pitching staff.
Jason Marquis. The Cubs have made it known that he is available, and they would probably even toss in some money. Marquis is from New York, will come on a 1 year deal, and is pretty much just as good as Wolf and Garland. If the Cubs bring his salary down to, say 7 million, a deal could be possible.
So, if I was the Mets’ GM Omar Minaya, I would go hard after Lowe and Perez. If both players were pushed out of my budget, I would aquire Wolf, Garland, or Marquis. Since they all are similar pitchers, I would just take on the cheapest one. The remaining money could be used on a cheap fifth starter candidate like Pedro Martinez or Bartolo Colon. You can never have too much pitching depth.
CC Sabathia, Derek Lowe, AJ Burnett, Ben Sheets, and Ryan Dempster have all been generating a lot of buzz this winter, but I also want to analize the second tier of starters; the players beyond the top 5. Oliver Perez, Jon Garland, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Andy Pettitte, Braden Looper, Jamie Moyer, Randy Wolf, Odalis Perez, Paul Byrd, Freddy Garcia, and Tom Glavine represent this tier. Some of these players will take one year deals with their former team, while others will look to sign 3 or 4 year deals. Of the above mentioned names, it seems that Maddux will retire. Glavine, Moyer, Pettitte, and Odalis Perez seem destined to resign with their former teams. That would leave Oliver Perez, Garland, Johnson, Looper, Wolf, Garcia and Byrd as the players who could truly be available. Johnson seems like the best bargain of the bunch; he had the best stats and will take a one year deal. He could generate the same buzz that Curt Schilling did last year. Garcia, Looper, and Byrd are solid back-of-the-rotation options that could come in on 1 year deals. The latter two have a lot of experience, and could be attractive to bad teams looking for veteran guidance. The Pirates seem like a team that could fit in well. Garcia has a lot of upside and should be a hot commodity once bigger names fall. The Giants, Brewers, Astros, Tigers, Indians, and Braves could find themselves a match in this cheaper group. The only players that will atempt to get a multi-year deal out of this group are Oliver Perez, Garland, and Wolf. Scott Boras will try to get 4 years for Perez because he is a young player with great stuff that racked up 180 strike-outs last year. All of this despite his 4.22 ERA. Garland will be a much tougher sell. He was bad last year with an ERA of 4.90 and very few Ks. However, he is about as solid as it gets when it comes to eating innings. He’s gone at least 190 innings per year for 8 straight years. If you want a young innings eater that won’t get hurt and could give you league average production, you’ll look at Garland. Wolf was very solid last year. He had an ERA of 4.30 to go along with 162 strike-outs in 190 innings, his most since 2003. He is quite a gamble because of his health issues, however. I could see him netting a 2 year deal under the right circumstances, though. So teams may find many bargains in the second tier because only 3 players will most likely look for multi year deals.
The Braves have 45 million to spend in an attempt to fix the team that won only a mere 72 games last year. Their main needs: starting pitching and outfield help. Earlier, I wrote that the Braves are out of the Jake Peavy market. Since that is over, I expect them to look toward free agency to fill their holes. They won’t go after CC Sabathia, but Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, and AJ Burnett are good options. Bigger market teams like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Cubs will be in on these guys, but the Braves can spend more than all of them. (if the Yankees sign Sabathia first) They might even decide to pursue two of the three. The goal here seems to be respectable in ’09, but truly competing for a world series in ’10. Both Burnett and Lowe will probably get deals in the 4 year, 64 million range. Burnett already has an offer; the Blue Jays want him back for 4 years, 54 million. That won’t get it done. Dempster seems likely to stick with the Cubs, but then again I’m not sure if they’ll go all in. If the Braves offered 64 million, they’d probably get him. The Cubs don’t feel they have to overpay because they don’t have as big of a need at starting pitcher. In the end, I think Dempster gets a bigger offer but accepts the Cubs’ cheaper one. The Yankees could go crazy and offer Burnett up to 5 years, 80 million. They would definatly get him for that amount. Lowe is more likely, because the Yanks will be out of the bidding by then. The Red Sox might be tough to compete against because they are Lowe’s prefered destination. Hopefully for the Braves sake, the Red Sox don’t get involved. If the Mets sign Francisco Rodriguez, they won’t be able to offer the amount other teams could. They aren’t that big of a factor. The Braves could just pursue a cheaper free agent if they can’t get two top-of-the-rotation starters. Jon Garland is an option; so is Oliver Perez.
If the Braves don’t add two starters, they could turn to outfield help. Pat Burrell is an option if they can afford him. Raul Ibanez might make more sense. If they really want to spend, Adam Dunn is possible. Bobby Abreu might be looked into. Through trade, Jermane Dye and Magglio Ordonez are options if they are avialable. Overall, it looks like the Braves will be a solid team next year, but 2010 is the time where they will be really good because their prospects will be in the majors, and Tim Hudson would be back from injury.
It is possible that the Brewers look to trade Prince Fielder in the offseason. Lets see what team they can get a good pitcher from.
Brewers (frontrunners) I think it’s more likely that they decide to trade JJ Hardy instead. There will be a bigger market for Hardy, they wouldn’t be losing as much offense, and the Brewers could get almost as good a pitcher for Hardy as they could get for Fielder. All in all, Fielder will likely be kept.
Giants (possible) Could a Matt Cain for Prince Fielder trade work? I don’t know if either team would do it. I think it has a slight edge toward the Brewers because Cain is so cheap and far better than any starter they could get for Hardy. The Giants could make that trade, but might not unless they add Sabathia. It might make more sense for them to keep Cain and then trade a different pitcher for a first baseman like Adam LaRoche or Mike Jacobs.
Royals (possible) They could offer Zack Greinke for Fielder. I don’t know if the Brewers would accept this one, because Greinke has one less year under contract than Cain. Maybe the Royals could add a player like Ron Mahay or David DeJesus to finish the deal. I think this scenerio is more likely. The Royals would like to add a big bat to their lineup, and could sign a starter like Oliver Perez or Jon Garland to replace Greinke.
Rays (possible) The Rays need a DH, and want to inject a big power bat into their lineup, but the player has to be under control for more than one year. So Prince Fielder would make more sense than Matt Holliday. The Rays could put together a package of prospects as good as if not better than most teams. If the Brewers demand a proven starter, they could part with Matt Garza. Yes, he has been great for them this year, but then they could keep both Edwin Jackson and Andy Sonnanstine. Plus, if Price steps up they won’t lose much from the rotation. I think this would be a move the Rays have to do. The Brewers would make the trade also, unless Jeremy Guthrie, Matt Cain, or maybe Zack Greinke is offered. If they can get him without surrendering Garza, they could offer Wade Davis, Edwin Jackson, and either Grant Balfour or JP Howell. The Brewers get a solid closer, a good prospect, and a solid back-of-the-rotation starter. Either one of these deals would be good for the Rays in my opinion.
Orioles (not likely) It’s not likely, but the Oriols could enter the Prince Fielder sweepstakes. They could offer a package centered around Jeremy Guthrie. He by himself could get him. I don’t know if they should offer him, though. The Brewers would jump on the deal. If the O’s don’t give up Guthrie, then they could try an offer of Brian Roberts, George Sherrill, and Melvin Mora plus cash. The Brewers would be filling three holes, yet they lose offensive firepower and don’t fix the rotation.
Angels (not likely) If they miss out on Mark Teixera, I could definatly see it. They could center a deal around Nick Adenhart, or even Jered Weaver. If they add Brandon Wood to the trade, it might be enough. I think I would do a Jered Weaver plus Brandon Wood for Prince awap. It makes sense for both sides. Sean Rodriguez could also be added to finish off the trade. Chone Figgins could be part of the deal, too, and play center field in Milwaukee.
Yankees (not likely) They would love to add a young power bat like Prince, but they might not have the pieces to do it. Maybe if they offered Phil Hughes and Austin Jackson something could be worked out. Like with Jake Peavy, it would be smarter just to spend the extra money and sign Mark Teixera. When you have a 200 million payroll, you can’t be cheap.
A’s (dark horse) The A’s have all the pitching in the world to spare. They are in need of a first base/DH type, and most of all they need power. How about a package of Huston Street, Brett Anderson or Gio Gonzalez, and Justin Duchscherer. The Brewers add a good starter, a good pitching prospect, and a good closer. I like this deal a lot for both teams, but I’m not sure the A’s would want to trade away a young gun like Anderson or Gio. Plus, they would miss Doosh, especially if they are trying to compete next year which a Fielder trade would suggest.
The Cardinals are on the verge of signing Kyle Lohse. When I heard about that, I was happy for them. But when I heard about the amount of money and years, I changed my mind. It says Lohse will be signed for the 4 years, 48 million that Carlos Silva got. I think it’s a bad deal for the Cards. This free agent market is much deeper than last years, so there is less of a demand. Even though there was a big need, that deal still made zero sense for the Mariners. It also sets the bar for all the better free agents. Ryan Dempster, Jon Garland, and Oliver Perez should all be paid more than Kyle Lohse. I’m not sure some of them should get over 48 million, however. This might be a crazy offseason if the ninth best free agent starting pitcher gets paid 4 years, 48 million.
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.
A young innings eater, Jon Garland, will be in high demand this winter. Lets look at some teams that could be interested.
Braves (frontrunner) They are likely to be spending some money this offseason, and would love to add a healthy innings eater. I’m sure they will be among the leading contenders to land Garland.
Dodgers (frontrunner) Garland lives in LA. Since there probably won’t be a home for him on one side of town, he could go to the other. The Dodgers will definatly be in the market for pitching this winter, unlike the Angels. And Garland is just like a younger, not as good version of Derek Lowe.
Mets (frontrunner) They can use all the pitching they can get. The Mets are in on almost every free agent starter. They will go after Garland if they can’t sign other, better free agents instead. One thing is for sure: the Mets are going to get a good starting pitcher via free agency this offseason.
Cardinals (possible) They too will be in on almost every good free agent starter. Jon Garland would be a great signing for the Cardinals. He would add an established innings eater to their team. Look for them to pursue him hard.
Royals (possible) He is young, and a good pitcher, so look for the Royals to make an offer. They want to add one more pitcher to the top two of Zack Greinke and Gil Meche. Garland would slot in nicely behind those two pitchers. If they make the right signings, this team could be contending before you know it.
Angels (slight chance) There is a slight chance that the Angels offer Jon Garland a contract to come back. This wouldn’t make a lot of sense to me, however. They have Kelvim Escobar coming back from injury to fill Garland’s void. Maybe they could resign him if they traded one of their other pitchers.
White Sox (dark horse) I think the White Sox are a dark horse for Jon Garland because he’s played there before. I know that they don’t need a starter, but apparently Kenny Williams doesn’t want Jose Contreras in the rotation next year. Garland would make sense in that case, and you never know what Kenny will do.