While the Yankees continue to sit idly by this offseason, the Mets made two minor splashes recently.
According to a story in the New York Post, the Mets plan to work out former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson for a second time. The Mets were reportedly not so high on Wilson after the first workout. Wilson barely pitched in 2012, going down early in the season and getting a second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
The Mets’ bullpen was atrocious last season and was a big reason why the team collapsed in the second half after a surprising start to the season up to the All-Star break. Wilson, if fully healthy, would probably only pitch 60 or so innings as the Mets’ closer – presuming Frank Francisco gets pushed back to a set-up role – but by pushing everyone in the bullpen back one slot, that could easily mean a few more wins over the course of a season. If the Mets can sign Wilson to a reasonable one-year deal, it would be a great no-risk signing, just like how they acquired starter Shaun Marcum last week.
The other piece of Mets news today, from Post beat writer Mike Puma, is that center fielder Michael Bourn, a free agent client of Scott Boras, is looking for at least five years on a potential contract. That would probably be enough to scare the Mets away, but should they sign Bourn, who rejected a $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Braves, the Mets would have to surrender the No. 11 pick in the June draft.
Technically, the Mets had the 10th-worst record in baseball last year, but will have the No. 11 pick because Pittsburgh failed to sign its first round pick in 2012, sliding everyone after the Pirates back one spot. The Mets have reportedly been making a push to the MLB to have that picked protected should they sign Bourn. In that case, they’d lose their second-round pick instead. At this point, however, it doesn’t appear as if the league would rule in the Mets’ favor in that regard.
There’s no doubt that Bourn would fill some needs for the 2013 Mets – center field, leadoff hitter – but at what cost? Is he worth the money, especially if he’s looking for something in the range of $75 million or so over five or six years? Is he worth losing the 11th-best high school or college player that the Mets could draft, keeping him cheaply under team control for years? It sounds like Mets’ general manager Sandy Alderson would like to build the farm system for the long haul rather than sign risky free agents, so at this point I’d doubt we’ll ever seen Bourn in a Mets uniform.
The only way that Bourn winds up in New York is if Bourn’s price drops drastically – and he has very few other suitors at this point – and if the Mets can find a way to legally protect the No. 11 pick. He’d be worth acquiring if those factors could be met, but those are both out of the Mets’ control.
Update, 6:02 p.m.: Looks like I spoke a little too soon about the Yankees, who announced late this afternoon that they’ve agreed with outfielder Juan Rivera on a minor league deal.
Rivera began his career with the Yankees in 2001. He also made short stints with the team in 2002 and 2003 before being traded to Montreal for Javier Vasquez. Rivera was later traded to Anaheim, where he spent six seasons, hitting .277 with 92 home runs in 595 games. He spent the last two seasons with the Dodgers, hitting .256 with 14 home runs and 93 RBI in 171 games.
A right-handed hitting and throwing corner outfield and first baseman-type, Rivera will contend for the Yankees’ open fourth outfielder and platoon DH spots. Russ Canzler and Matt Diaz are similar players who will be competing with Rivera in spring training.
Spring training starts in two weeks. Have the Yankees and Mets done enough to compete in very tough divisions in 2013? Let me know what you think on Twitter: @THR_Montgomery.