The New York Mets aren’t playing in October this year, but maybe some future Mets are. Here are the free agents to watch in the World Series.
All eyes in the baseball world will center on Fenway Park Tuesday night when the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox gets underway. This includes the New York Mets. Even as their GM search is ongoing, their scouts and baseball operations will keep an eye on players entering free agency two to three weeks from now.
There is a good variety of upcoming free agents in this matchup. There are superstars such as Clayton Kershaw (if he opts out) and Manny Machado. Of course, it is tough to envision the Mets signing any of those players. Plus, we talked about Yasmani Grandal as a possible option at catcher last week before all of his passed balls in the NLCS.
So, let’s take a look at a few options that might be good fits to play in Flushing during the 2019 season.
While Kimbrel might end up being too expensive for the Mets, he would fill a need at the closer spot. Over the last few years, Kimbrel has been one of the best closers in all of baseball as he has had 30 or more saves every year since 2011.
If there is one concern about Kimbrel going forward, it would be his command. This past season, he had 4.5 walks per nine innings after having just 1.8 in 2017 and he has been able to get himself out of tight situations in the postseason.
With that being said, there is one pitch to keep an eye on for Kimbrel and that it is his curveball. According to FanGraphs, the 30-year-old right-hander threw his breaking ball 35.3 percent of the time this year, which is the highest percentage of any year in his career.
It would be tough for the Mets to give Kimbrel a four or five-year deal this offseason since he will want to be one of the highest paid relievers in the game. If they want to go expensive with their shopping this winter, then Kimbrel might just be the quickest upgrade for the later innings.
Madson wouldn’t fit the Mets need at closer, but the Mets could use help at multiple late-inning spots and he could fit that need on a short-term deal. He is 38 years old, but he still has the ability to get people out and he has appeared in at least 58 games each of the last three seasons.
While Madson only had 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings this year, he has shown good command of the strike zone and his FIP of 3.98 was much lower than his ERA of 5.47. This season, the key pitch for him has been his changeup. According to Brooks Baseball, teams had a .083 batting average against that pitch with no extra-base hits and 22 strikeouts.
If the Mets were to sign Madson, Mickey Callaway could use him in either the sixth, seventh, or eighth inning, so he has the versatility that the Mets need. Plus, he would bring a veteran presence into that bullpen as well. Even though Madson will be 39 during next season, he has a chance to help the ‘pen at the right price.
As Yankees fans can tell you, Pearce was a thorn in their side down the stretch against the Bronx Bombers. While the right-hander will be 36 heading into next season, he would bring the Mets some bench depth in the outfield and at first base.
In his 12-year career, Pearce has played for seven different teams and he has double-digit home runs in every season since 2013. As a pinch-hitter in his career, his numbers are not very good as he has a .200 batting average with three home runs.
Pearce might not be the perfect fit for the National League. With that being said, if the Mets decide to trade Dominic Smith and they are looking for a placeholder until Peter Alonso is ready to make his big league debut, then Pearce would be a good veteran to slide into the mix to split time with Jay Bruce.
If there’s one pitcher that has helped his free agency value this winter during the postseason, it is Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi was traded to the Red Sox from the Rays at the trade deadline and has arguably been the team’s second-best pitcher over that span.
Since joining the Red Sox, Eovaldi had a 3.33 ERA in his final 12 appearances of the year and had 48 strikeouts to 12 walks in 54 innings of work. Of course, it is important to remember that Eovaldi came back this season from Tommy John surgery, so that is always a risk when signing free agent pitchers.
However, Eovaldi is only going to be 29 going into next year. If the Mets decide to trade one of their top pitchers, then signing Eovaldi could add more depth to the rotation. The key for him this season has been his cutter. While his fastball still averages out at over 97 miles-per-hour, the right-hander used the cutter 32 percent of the time (FanGraphs).
This one might be tougher for the Mets to win the Eovaldi sweepstakes with the lack of aces on the free agent market. However, it will be interesting to see if any team does overpay for Eovaldi this winter.
While Jeff McNeil showed some good signs down the stretch for the Mets at second base, they should still be on the lookout for a veteran that can help out at the position. Dozier could be one of those options at that spot.
The question this winter will be how far Dozier’s value has fallen since being traded to the Dodgers in July. Over the course of the second half, the 31-year-old (turns 32 next year) hit only .187 with five home runs and 24 RBIs. This includes going 4-for-46 in the entire month of September.
With that being said, Dozier can be penciled in for 30 doubles every single season and he has 60 or more walks in each of the last five years. He is not the hitter that crushed 42 home runs two seasons ago. On defense, he does struggle if you go off of his -8 defensive runs saved (FanGraphs).
There are probably better players on the market that the Mets can sign on a short-term deal that can play multiple positions, but Dozier should at least be considered for his home run ability and the extra-base hit capabilities.