Right here in New York, you have two ends of the spectrum. Up in the Bronx, the Yankees bid against themselves and end up adding money and years to the contracts of their free agent signees. Then you go over to Flushing and the Mets have played the market perfectly, waiting it out and pouncing on their target at just the right time.
They were able to do that with their new closer, Francisco Rodriguez, who was hoping for a five-year, $75-million deal while he was setting the single season save record last summer with 62 for the American League West champion Los Angels. Mets general manager Omar Minaya made a low-ball offer at the winter meetings and they ended up signing K-Rod for three years and $37 million. After trading for J.J. Putz, the bullpen was solidified and Minaya turned his attention to the starting pitching.
With a solid top three in Johan Santana, John Maine and Mike Pelfrey, the Mets are looking to add one or two arms and already have picked up Tim Redding as an insurance policy. The righthander, who was signed for one year at $2.25 million, pitched a career-high 182 innings for the Washington Nationals and was very effective against Philadelphia, the Mets’ top rival.
“I can’t explain why I have success against one of the elite teams,” Redding told reporters about his 3-1, 3.41 ERA in five starts versus the 2008 World Series champions. Regardless of why, the Mets certainly hope that Redding can duplicate that feat for them this season.
With Derek Lowe signing with Atlanta, the Mets’ options were cut by one. Minaya made a significant offer to the former Dodger ($12 million per year for a three-year deal), but the Scott Boras client held out and ended up going to the Braves for an extra year and $60-million. That is way too much and a bit long for a 35-year-old pitcher, but the Braves were scrambling after John Smoltz bolted as a free agent for Boston. Minaya was correct in not budging from his offer to Lowe, which was more than fair.
That leaves a few names still out there, mainly Oliver Perez, Ben Sheets, Randy Wolf and John Garland. According to a report on the MLB Network, the Mets have made an offer to Perez to come back to them for three years and $30 million. The lefthander went 10-7 with a 4.22 ERA in 2008, not sparkling numbers by any stretch, but good for a middle of the rotation guy. With that in mind, that type of person needs to be paid as such, and not receive front of the rotation money.
Some can make the argument that if Perez returns, he can be considered the number two or three starter. When he is on, he looks like the second coming of Ron Guidry. But the erratic Perez has some days where he can’t find the plate and looks more like Rick Ankiel (not the outfielder version).
There is also some chatter that Minaya may bring back Pedro Martinez on an incentive-laden one-year deal. That may intrigue some people and it definitely has more upside. The problem will be if Martinez appears to not have it anymore, do you banish him to the bullpen as a mop-up man or release him?
It is obvious than an upgrade is needed in the Mets rotation and Minaya should not deviate from what he has done so far. Dealing with agents such as Boras is definitely not easy, and by keeping on his poker face, Minaya has come up aces up to now.
They may have done that in the Bronx, as well, but paid dearly for it.