With Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker retained and Bartolo Colon headed to Atlanta, the Mets offseason appears to be all but over. Yet still, quite a few 2016 Mets remain available on the open market—including Jerry Blevins, Alejandro De Aza, and James Loney, among others.
Blevins is the most notable Met still on the market. It’s believed in the industry that, given large contracts awarded to Michael Dunn and Brett Cecil given by the Rockies and Cardinals respectively, Blevins will command more than the Mets’ payroll will allow. Brought over from Washington in the Matt den Dekker trade, Blevins accumulated an impressive 2.79 ERA in his short stint with the Mets—his best mark since 2012. Throughout the offseason, he’s been most strongly linked to the Blue Jays.
Alejandro De Aza is another intriguing name still left out there. The market for outfielders has evolved slowly, with similar players in Michael Bourn and Gregor Blanco still available—not to mention much more attractive options in Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders, Colby Rasmus, and Rajai Davis. Given the plethora of options, the market for De Aza has been understandably slow. The 32-year old slashed .205/.297/.321 with six homers in his first and probably only season with New York.
James Loney, an unlikely cog in the 2016 Mets machine, is another Met whose market has developed very slowly. After being acquired from the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate in April, Loney worked to a respectable .265/.307/.397 slash line with nine homers across 343 at-bats. In a similar situation as De Aza, Loney has to wait for his similar counterparts to fall off the first base market to evaluate his worth. With Mike Napoli, Adam Lind, Logan Morrison and Brandon Moss still available, Loney could be waiting a while.
Jim Henderson had a lackluster first season with the Mets, owning a 4.11 ERA across 35 major league innings pitched. The Mets picked up Henderson last winter post-Tommy John surgery with hope he would regain his 2013 form, when he posted impressive numbers as a closer in Milwaukee. Unfortunately for both sides, things did not go as planned, and Henderson will most likely need to accept a minor league contract if he hopes to continue his career.
Utility-man Kelly Johnson is still available, and has yet to re-sign with the Braves as he appears to do every winter. A case can be made for practically any team to sign Johnson, as his versatility and power off the bench are an asset to any team. He worked to a .268/.328/.459 slash line across 183 at-bats as a Met in 2016. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain similar numbers next year when he’s traded over from Atlanta at the trade deadline.
Another two-time Met in Jonathon Niese is unsurprisingly still available. Niese posted a 5.50 ERA in 2016, his worst of any qualifying season of his career. One report linked Niese to the White Sox in early December, but there is no indication of any imminent signing. In a thin free agent market for starting pitching, Niese is most likely looking at a major league deal despite a steady decline in production.
Lastly, reliever Fernando Salas‘ services are still on the open market. Brought over from the Angels at the waiver trade deadline, Salas was very effective in orange and blue. He posted a 2.08 ERA and 0.63 WHIP while limiting opposing hitters to a mere .177 batting average across 17.1 innings pitched. Given the strong finish to 2016, Salas should be rewarded in free agency with a major league contract—perhaps even a multiyear deal. It appears that of all the remaining Mets free agents, Salas is the most likely to return to Queens.