5 under the radar free agents Mets could target this offseason

Danny Abriano
·4 min read
Sandy Alderson treated light blue background
Sandy Alderson treated light blue background

With prospective new owner Steve Cohen potentially close to officially taking over the Mets, the expectation is that the team could be in on many of the most sought after free agents this offseason.

J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, Trevor Bauer, and others would all be legitimate possibilities for the Mets under a Cohen ownership, but they're not going to sign all of them.

While prospective incoming team president Sandy Alderson is adding reinforcements this offseason, the Mets will have to not only go after big ticket free agents, but explore trade opportunities and the second tier free agent market.

The free agent class this winter is incredibly top heavy, but there are still a number of solid options available whose addition could help the Mets in a big way...

James McCann, C

McCann is most certainly not Realmuto, but he would be a good consolation prize for a team in dire need of a catcher who can be a plus on both sides of the ball.

The 30-year-old McCann was among he better pitch-framers in baseball in 2020 (something outgoing catcher Wilson Ramos struggled mightily with) and has been an overall plus defender behind the plate the last two seasons.

McCann's pop times (the moment the pitch hits the catcher’s mitt to the moment the ball reaches the fielder’s projected receiving point during a stolen base attempt) can stand to improve a bit, though.

Offensively in 2020, McCann slashed .289/.360/.536 after slashing .273/.328/.460 in 2019. That would play...

Taijuan Walker, RHP

Once a top prospect, the 28-year-old Walker has been coming into his own.

With the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays in 2020, Walker had a 2.70 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 53.1 IP, though his 4.56 FIP suggests some of that was fool's gold.

Still, Walker was a solid performer in 2017 and 2018 before injuries wrecked his 2019 campaign, and he introduced a Split-Fingered fastball this season that added another weapon to an already solid repertoire

Walker could be a fit for the Mets near the back of the rotation.

James Paxton, LHP

Paxton is only on this list because injury and ineffectiveness knocked him down here. And while that's a cause for concern, it also means a potential buy-low opportunity on a pitcher who was very good (and sometimes elite) from 2016 to 2019.

If the Mets are able to land Trevor Bauer (or even Marcus Stroman or Masahiro Tanaka), adding Paxton to the mix -- if his medicals check out -- could be a wise gamble.

Of course, Paxton at this point cannot be viewed as anything close to a guarantee, and the Mets need to add multiple options to bolster their starting pitching depth. But the potential upside on Paxton is huge.

Keone Kela, RHP

Kela's 2020 season was marred due to a positive test for COVID-19 that delayed him and right forearm inflammation that ended his season in late-August.

According to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kela might have returned in 2020 had the season extended into October. That could bode well for his health heading into 2021.

If Kela gets a clean bill of health, he could be one of the most valuable relievers on a free agent market that includes top-end closers such as Liam Hendriks.

Kela, 27, features a plus fastball/curveball combination that has led to a 3.24 career ERA (3.30 FIP) and 11.05 strikeouts per 9 during a six-year career with the Texas Rangers and Pirates.

Jose Alvarez, LHP

Alvarez, 31, was one of the more reliable relievers in baseball for the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies from 2015 to 2019 and started the 2020 season strong before a freak injury (he was hit in the groin by a batted ball on Aug. 20) ended his campaign.

The Mets could be in need of lefty relief with the potential departure of pending free agent Justin Wilson, and Alvarez -- who has been very good against lefties during his career but is also a crossover option -- could be a strong fit.