COMMENTARY | Finally, some good financial news for the New York Mets.
As the New York Times' Richard Sandomir reported earlier this month, the Mets' co-owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz received a $162.5 million cash infusion from money borrowed against SNY, the regional sports network they own a majority stake in. Sandomir says the Mets could use the money to repay debt, or they could spend it on free agents.
As appealing as the free-agent route may seem, especially when you consider that the Mets don't have any proven outfielders on their 40-man roster, it's not the road the Mets should travel down.
Right now, the best free-agent outfielder on the market is Michael Bourn. The thought of him leading off and patrolling center field is an intriguing one. It's true that Bourn would be a huge upgrade over what the Mets have now. His speed at the top of the order could transform their lineup. And we're talking about an excellent defensive player. But there is a downside.
Bourn is 30 years old and his game is predicated on speed. He has very little power (he hit a career-high nine home runs last season) and he strikes out a lot (155 times in 2012). Still, Bourn has 276 career stolen bases, though he stole 19 fewer bases in 2012 (42) than he did in 2011. Bourn, who is represented by Scott Boras, appears to be looking for a contract in the neighborhood of $100 million, far more than the Mets should pay. They'd also have to give up a first-round pick as compensation.
Unless he's willing to sign for one year, which is highly unlikely, Bourn doesn't appear to be a fit for the Mets, given the current state of the organization. That may also be the case for Scott Hairston, who hit 20 home runs for them last year. The Mets have shown interest in bringing him back, but he's looking for a two-year deal at a reported $8 million per season, and the Mets are right to hesitate about giving him that second year.
If they don't add someone, the Mets may very well go into the season with an outfield that, at least on opening day, would rank as one of the worst in all of baseball. But if their option is a bad outfield or a bad contract, the Mets should live with the bad outfield for a year and see what's out there for 2014.
That's because the Mets can't make a move just for the sake of making a move, especially if it involves signing a player to a multi-year contract. I have no problem with them pursuing a deal for Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton. Those are remarkable talents who are in their 20s. You build around players like that. You just don't sign guys to long-term deals just so you can say you did something.
On another front, after trading R.A. Dickey, the Mets might be looking to add some starting pitching. Kyle Lohse, Joe Saunders, and Carl Pavano have been mentioned, and they're still available. So is Chris Young, who made 20 starts for the Mets last season. Lohse, another Boras client, is certain to want more money than the Mets should pay, and the other pitchers available are average at best.
Of the names mentioned, Lohse appears to be the only one seeking a multi-year contract. So if the Mets sign one of the other available pitchers on a one-year deal, it's not going to do any harm to the organization. But again, just like with the outfield, the Mets may be better off waiting until 2014 when Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and maybe Noah Syndergaard could anchor a promising starting rotation.
Whether the Mets have a little extra cash on hand or not, they're wise to stick to their plan.
Better days are ahead. Now is not the time to hit the panic button.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.