The Mets don’t seem to be in a hurry to beat the Christmas rush of free-agent signings. But here’s a few Black Friday sales hard to resist…
Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen is in a more subdued mode than he was at this time last year. A bull in a china shop, he is no more.
With a full complement of analytics geniuses now on board with the Mets, Van Wagenen may or may not require advice, but I am always here to help.
Here are a few under the radar less than spectacular free agent and trade candidates the Mets would do good to look at while Black Friday sales are underway, and merchandise is still in stock.
Marcell Ozuna – Free agent outfielder
Marcel Ozuna is in for a rude awakening as a free agent. Extended a qualifying offer worth nearly $18 million, Ozuna refused the offer, despite credentials that are on the decline – but still good.
Like many players, Ozuna had one of those career years in 2017 that make life in the future difficult.
Batting .312 with 37 HR and 124 RBI for the Miami Marlins, Ozuna was rewarded with an escape to the St. Louis Cardinals in December of the same year.
Ozuna, nicknamed “Big Bear,” Ozuna would complement the Mets “Polar Bear” Pete Alonso in the middle of their lineup.
He has developed a reputation for teasing his teammates and is generally well-liked according to at least one report. That reputation includes being a bat thief, someone who will borrow teammates bats — then homer with them.
Ozuna will not come cheap, but if Van Wagenen plays it right, Ozuna’s price is bound to come down as the offseason moves on.
Ozuna has avoided injuries and has averaged almost 140 games a season over seven years. If Van Wagenen can dispose of Yoenis Cespedes, at 29 Ozuna can be the answer in left field for the next three to five years.
Jake Diekman – Left-Handed Reliever
Hardly a household name, Jake Diekman has proven to be a durable left-handed reliever. With the Royals and A’s in 2019, Diekman made 76 appearances.
A strikeout specialist (84 in 62 innings pitched, Diekman won’t kill you with a base-on-balls.
An under the radar prospect, Diekman will not break the bank and probably can be signed for $2.5 million on a one-year deal with performance bonuses as an option.
Daniel Hudson – Right-Handed Reliever
A latecomer to the Nationals, Hudson was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays at last year’s trade deadline.
It proved to be one of those magic carpet rides for both Hudson and the Nationals, the result of which is that Hudson’s value is on the rise.
Hudson worked cheap last year ($1.5 million), and at 32, he could be looking for a 2-year deal if it’s guaranteed for $3.5 million.
The Mets may need to shop on Black Friday though, as Hudson is reportedly on the radar of the Nationals again.
Joe Panik – Utility Infielder
Why Joe Panik is still unsigned by the Mets is beyond me. A late pick-up by the Mets when the San Francisco Giants released him, Panik did nothing spectacular for the Metropolitans – he just did everything right.
Panik was a “fit” from the day he walked into the clubhouse, and he could have finished out the season for the Mets at second base if Robinson Cano did not undergo an ill-fated immaculate recovery from injury, forcing his way into the lineup.
Panik worked his way up the ladder with the Giants, earning a salary of $3.8 million in 2019. Panik appears to be the type who is a realist, though, and he will not be expecting nearly that much.
Plus, Panik is a hometown boy of sorts, having grown up in Hopewell Junction, which is only an hour and a half from Citi Field.
This one should be in the no-brainer category for the Mets.
Mets: Role players make a team
The Mets can be counted on to be in the sweepstakes for the “big fish” in the pond like Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg. How earnestly they participate is another question yet to be answered.
But medium-sized fish are hiding behind the rocks. Seek, and ye shall find…it’s your turn, Brodie.