The Mets interest in Chone Figgins is nothing new. In fact, after the season ended a little of a month ago, the club targeted the speedy leadoff man as one of their targets during this offseason.
If they can nab the 31 year-old, it would be a real step in the right direction for the Mets. Yet, there’s still a lot of work to do before Figgins hoists his No. 9 jersey at Citi Field.
First they have to figure out where he would play. A third baseman last season, that position is secured by David Wright, so the Mets would have to move Figgins to either second base or left field. Although a huge hole is open in left, the team would prefer to have the free agent play second base, where he would be continue his one-two punch with Jose Reyes out in the field.
Of course, Luis Castillo is still on the team with two years and about $12 million coming to him, so general manager Omar Minaya is shopping his incumbent to open the door for a new, more multi-dimensional player. Already there have been rumors about Chris Snyder and Lyle Overbay, so the feeling is something will happen with the Mets much maligned second baseman.
Yet, more is needed than just Figgins. The Mets also will kick the tires for Matt Holliday and inquire about ace Roy Halladay, but something tells me that the organization will come up short there.
Although COO Jeff Wilpon told fans in a letter and the press a day after the season, the Mets will have a similar payroll as last season, it also means the club will need to make some tough decisions when it comes to filling positions. Make no mistake, the club won’t have a Yankee-like payroll of $200 million, rather, it will come in between $145 – $150 million, so there will be some limitations here.
All of that means the Mets will have between $25 – $30 million to play with coming into this offseason with the expiring contracts coming off the books, and factoring in pay raises for next season. Figgins will cost between $8 – $10 million so right off the bat, you are down to $22 million for a couple of bats and a starter.
If they can dump Castillo, they will probably have to take a similar contract back, which means that will be somewhat of a wash. Yet if it fills a hole, like catcher with Snyder or first base with Overbay, it will mean more money to spend elsewhere.
It also means the high priced free agents will be too rich for the Mets if they get Figgins. Scott Boras wants $18 million a season for Holliday and if they Mets could pull off the trade for Halladay, he will command a Johan Santana kind of contract of $22 million a season.
If Holliday’s price comes down to say between $12-$15 million per season, then the Mets would be able to afford the former Rockies outfielder. It will also allow the club to start the season with Omir Santos behind the plate if Castillo can’t fetch a catcher like Snyder. It will also allow the team to use Daniel Murphy at first with Ike Davis waiting in the wings down in Buffalo.
The bottom line is this though…the Mets will only have about $15 million to spend on a big bopper in the lineup if they add Figgins.
Then the Mets will have about $7 – $10 million to get another starter, like Jason Marquis or Randy Wolf, and fill in the bullpen.
All of this sounds nice in November and will mean nothing if Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, and David Wright are not healthy next season. But it is a plan and a start, which is all a Met fan can hope for right now.