COMMENTARY | The New York Mets are heading back to Flushing after being active at the Winter Meetings. Sandy Alderson formally introduced Curtis Granderson to the media, while agreeing to a two-year/$20 million contract with starting pitcher Bartolo Colon.
There are still questions about the roster moving forward, but these two signings have been the kind of action Mets fans were waiting for.
New York is prepared to start 2014 with Ruben Tejada as its shortstop, but will monitor the free agent and trade markets to do its due diligence. If Alderson lands free agent Stephen Drew, this winter should be considered a huge success.
Drew rejected the one-year/$14.1 million qualifying offer he received from the Boston Red Sox, meaning interested teams will have to surrender a draft pick to sign him.
Giving up their top unprotected draft pick isn't the issue for Alderson and the Mets, but it's more of a financial issue, reports Aaron Yorke of Amazin' Avenue.
If Colon passes his physical, the Mets will have three new players under contract for 2014. This includes Chris Young ($7.25 million salary), Granderson ($13 million salary), and Colon ($10 million salary).
Exact numbers of the 2014 salaries for Granderson and Colon aren't solidified yet, but the Mets have already spent approximately $30 million for next season. Alderson is still in search of starting pitchers to sign to minor league deals for the fifth spot in the rotation and a veteran reliever with closing experience.
According to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, Drew could fetch as much as $12 million per season and is aiming for a contract at least three years in length. The Red Sox are interested in retaining Drew, but will only stretch to a two-year deal. They're waiting for the shortstop market to develop before extending an official offer, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
To make a serious run at bringing Drew to Flushing, the Mets must get creative with their payroll. While Alderson has downplayed his interest in the free agent, this could be one of the reasons why both Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy were shopped heavily in Orlando this week.
The Mets have been trying to trade Davis for most of the offseason, but Murphy's name has only recently started making headlines.
Why would New York look to trade Murphy, who was one of the team's most consistent hitters in 2013?
The signings of Granderson and Young to upgrade the outfield has pushed Eric Young, Jr. out of his spot in left field. He's the only true leadoff hitter the Mets currently have, but he no longer has a position to play.
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports Alderson and manager Terry Collins both agreed Young should be on the field somewhere so he can be at the top of the lineup. His natural position is second base, which is one of the reasons why Murphy has suddenly become available.
Finding trade partners for both Murphy and Davis are financially motivated, as well. MLB Trade Rumors projects Ike Davis to earn $3.5 million next season, while Murphy's salary could increase to $5.8 million. This would be the type of payroll manipulation Alderson needs to become a serious bidder for Drew.
Using the above salary figures, New York could clear $9.3 million in payroll trading both those players. If the Mets offer Drew a $12 million annual salary, they'd only be adding $2.7 million to their current payroll. If Murphy and Ike are sent packing, signing Drew could become a reality.
New York could benefit from Drew's lack of a market. The Red Sox would like him back, but with Xander Bogaerts waiting in the wings, they're not desperate.
Drew would bring a career .264/.329/.435 line to Citi Field, providing a major offensive upgrade over Tejada. He would also be solid defensively -- he posted a 5.3 UZR rating with Boston in 2013.
Giving a third year to Drew wouldn't be optimal, but that's what happens in free agency. The Mets had to go out of their comfort zone by offering a fourth year to Granderson and a second year to Colon -- but they acquired what they desired.
Bringing Drew aboard would complete an incredibly successful offseason for the Mets, and they would start being mentioned as a potential wild-card contender.
Amazin' Avenue: Report stating Mets were willing to surrender draft pick for Drew
NY Post: Report on what Drew is looking for in next contract
WEEI.com: Report stating the Red Sox haven't extended Drew an official offer
ESPN New York: Report stating Eric Young, Jr. is New York's only real leadoff option
MLB Trade Rumors: Projected 2014 salaries for Davis and Murphy
Baseball Reference: Player Statistics
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, Bleacher Report, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online and Rising Apple. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.
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