There were dozens of players across baseball who were non tendered on Monday and instanty became free agents. The following five should all come at a reasonable price and I hope will be under consideration by Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets...
Kevin Pillar, OF
The Mets are reportedly looking to add a center fielder. Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo can both play center field and their bats are needed in the lineup, so a defense-first option could make for a strong fit on the roster.
Pillar, 30, is a slightly better fielding center fielder than Nimmo, but more important he has logged significantly more innings at the position. His experience has value.
His .259 average and .287 OBP are not very exciting, but he still has ability to hit 20 home runs and keep the ball in play. He may not provide the best overall upgrade, but with Jeff McNeil at third base and J.D. Davis able to play left field, having Pillar's glove regularly in center field would be a nice benefit.
There are not many options like Pillar on the open market and any similar player will cost too much in trade. Therefore, if center field is truly in need of a better glove than Nimmo, given how the move also helps the starting rotation, giving a one-year deal to Pillar could be worh it.
Domingo Santana, OF
The other way to play it is to sign a corner outfielder instead of a center fielder and split the middle position between Nimmo and Conforto. In doing so, the Mets could also trade J.D. Davis for a zero-to-three starting pitcher making the league minimum and instead spend money needed for a fifth starter on one or two relievers.
In that scenario, Santana, 27, is an option. He had a career year in 2017, crushing 30 home runs with 85 RBI. He dipped in 2018 and hit .253/.329/.441 with 21 homers in 121 games in 2019.
However, he is expected to earn roughly $4-5 million in 2020. He's also just 27 years old so it's reasonable to think he could again find that missing power in his swing.
He's not the ideal solution. I'd rather Davis in left field, frankly. But, by trading Davis for an arm, it would mean getting Santana, 20 or so home runs in left field, and a young, inexpensive starting pitcher for no more than $5 million. Plus, both acquired players can be retained beyond the 2020 season.
Kevin Gausman, RHP
Gausman, 28, is capable of pitching out of the rotation or bullpen. And, given the team's need in both areas, he could provide a backup option for both spots at what will likely be a $4-5 million salary. It was a tale of two seasons for Gausman in 2019, though, and his career has been similarly sporadic.
As a starter this past season, he had a 4.20 FIP with the Braves, who non-tendered him early in the season. He later latched on as a reliever with the Reds and turned his season around with a 3.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He also had a significant uptick in strikeouts, giving further support to the idea that relievers are unpredictable and always worth taking a chance on if the price is right.
My hunch is Van Wagenen will find better ways to use the money needed to sign Gausman, but he has to at least be intrigued knowing the pitcher can serve in multiple roles.
Blake Treinen, RHP
Treinen is a year removed from arguably being the best closer in baseball. In fact, the idea of him being non-tendered would have been laughable after 2018, when he had a 0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings. However, a disastrous 2019 (4.91 ERA, 5.14 FIP) and an expected salary of roughly $8 million in 2020 before being a free agent and -- here he is -- on the open market a year earlier than expected.
There are plenty of teams in need of relief pitching, all of which have the money and are able to take on risk, so Treinen will have suitors -- specifically the Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies and possibly the Yankees. The Mets already have one reclamation project in Edwin Diaz, who like Treinen lost command of his slider in 2019. So adding another one of these guys might be more than the Mets should be taking on at this point. But, in a world where Van Wagenen signs Treinen for one season and he and Diaz can return to their former glory, the Mets will have without question the best bullpen in the National League.
Josh Phegley, C
Phegley, 31, is hardly a household name. He's also not necessarily a starting catcher. However, the Mets have that area covered with Wilson Ramos. On the other hand, Phegley is an ideal backup, which is something the Mets clearly have interest in adding given reports of Van Wagenen being in contact with free agent C Robinson Chirinos.
Phegley is likely to earn around $2 million in 2020. He isn't going to hit for average, though he did hit 12 home runs with 62 RBI in 106 games for the A's in 2019.
Most important, though, he threw out 32 percent of base stealers during his 90 starts, which is an area are in major need of help, especially when Noah Syndergaard is on the mound.
Frankly, if it makes Syndergaard a better pitcher, Phegley could be worth the $2 million even if he only starts in those 30 games. Syndergaard with fewer runners in scoring position is enticing, no doubt...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.