As offseason rumors continue, the New York Mets are known to be in search of a few key components. They need power in the middle of the order. They need a viable everyday option at shortstop. They also need a third outfielder, preferably one who can provide the aforementioned power. Below are a few free agents the New York Mets should seriously consider pursuing.
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The Brewers’ Corey Hart is a nine-year veteran who plays a solid right field and can hit for power. Unlike many well-known sluggers, he’s not just an all-or-nothing threat; he’s a career .276 hitter, and he’s stolen 83 bases to go with his 154 home runs. He’s hit as many as 31 homers in a season, and he’s stolen 23 bases in a season twice. His presence in the Mets’ cleanup spot would be great protection for David Wright. It might also allow Lucas Duda to relax, stop pressing and become the hitter many think he can be. Just as importantly, at 31 years old, Hart’s still solidly in his peak years. Coming off surgery on both knees, he probably won’t be as costly as a lot of other free agents, either.
The Yankees’ Curtis Granderson is a proven run producer who has experience playing in the New York market. He’s a nine-year veteran, and his calm, centered presence might benefit the Mets’ youth-heavy clubhouse like Marlon Byrd did last season. But it’s not just about the intangibles. Granderson has 217 career home runs, many of which came while playing in Detroit’s pitcher-friendly Comerica Park. He’s also got 122 career stolen bases, adding an extra dimension in a lineup that’s increasingly predicated on taking extra bases. Having played the outfield in Detroit, it stands to reason that he’d be able to navigate Citi Field’s expanses. Last but not least, he’s a lefty bat.
The Rangers’ David Murphy is, at age 32, still a bit of an unknown quantity. Despite spending much of his career as a platoon player, Murphy posts a .275 career batting average over seven years and has shown an ability to be a real threat. He’s only got 86 home runs, but he’s had double-digit homers in each year since 2008 despite being moved around in the lineup and rarely having an everyday position. He’s got decent power, he’s a solid fielder and he could add righty power to the Mets’ outfield. Given a chance to play every day, he could post a decent batting average and 20-25 home runs. He hasn’t got a ton of mileage, either, so he could have years of decent production ahead of him.
The Rangers’ Nelson Cruz is a more known quantity than Murphy. He’s the player people have sometimes forgotten to mention when discussing the bountiful Texas lineups of recent seasons, but sluggers like Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre have benefited from his lineup protection. He’s a consistent threat to exceed 20 home runs, and he’s shown that he’s strong enough to hit them in a park like Citi Field. He’s also hit as many as 45 doubles in a year, which is important — willingness to drive it into the outfield gaps, and not just chase the fences, will be helpful at Mets’ home games. His skills in the outfield are limited, but he’s not as dramatically out of place as, say, Duda. He’s got years of experience in the outfield, and playing next to future Gold-Glover Juan Lagares will increase his margin of error. And the boost in run production he’d likely provide will be a suitable counterbalance, especially if his lineup protection allows Duda to blossom and Wright to replicate last year’s productivity. At 33, he’s near the tail end of his prime but younger than free agents like Carlos Beltran or Byrd.
If the New York Mets land one of the above outfielders, they’ll have added a true power bat to the middle of their lineup. They can also consider moving Eric Young, Jr. to second base, where he’s likely more comfortable, and shopping Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis while grooming Duda at first and batting fifth (or perhaps even second, where he oddly seemed to flourish down the stretch last season). Either way, adding a proven power-hitting outfielder to the lineup will allow the New York Mets greater flexibility to address other needs.