Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011-2012 Non-Tenders: Slim Pickings

A huge shout out to the estimable MLB Trade Rumors site for putting together the list of the 29 players non-tendered by their teams this offseason and who are now free agents.  In the past I have enjoyed putting together a comprehensive list of non-tenders and free agents who I thought would make sense for the Mets -- unfortunately, due to time, I will only be able to review a few this time around. 

Without further adieu, a reproduction of the entire list, and a highlight of the players I like:

Catchers (5)
     Chris Gimenez, Koyie Hill, Ronny Paulino, Eli Whiteside, Jason Jaramillo
 Second basemen (2)
     Jeff Keppinger, Will Rhymes
 Shortstops (1)
     Pedro Ciriaco
 Outfielders (5)
     Mike Baxter, Cole Garner, Jeremy Hermida, Luke Scott, Ryan Spilborghs
 Utility infielders (2)
     Brooks Conrad, Ryan Theriot
 Starting Pitchers (2)
     Jo-Jo Reyes, Joe Saunders
 Right-handed relievers (7)
     Fabio Castillo, Dan Cortes, Willie Eyre, Clay Hensley, Peter Moylan, Micah Owings, Andy Sonnanstine
 Left-handed relievers (5)
     Rich Hill, Hong-Chih Kuo, Aaron Laffey, Jose Mijares, Doug Slaten
The players that I select will be selected in light of what their projected cost might be and the needs of our squad.  For that reason, you won't see guys like Hong-Chih Kuo (too expensive), Joe Saunders (too expensive), Micah Owings (will likely return to current team), or Mike Baxter (just non-tendered him) on this list.

#1 - 2B Will Rhymes
Rhymes, aside from having a great name, is 28 years old and was non-tendered by Detroit this year after a disappointing season where he hit .235/.323/.271 in 99 at bats.  Rhymes is a very disciplined hitter -- he made contact on 92.6% of his swings in the majors -- and plays passable defense at second base (-3.6 UZR/150 in 600 innings).  

Rhymes is not going to light anyone's hair on fire, but he has hit .305 and .306 in Triple-A over the last two seasons, and posted an OPS of around 770.  In my book, he's worthy of bringing in as an non-roster invite to compete with Murphy at second base in light of the lack of other options (and don't say Jeff Keppinger to me, as his defense appears to be falling off a cliff and he's got no value if he isn't batting .320).

#2 - OF Jeremy Hermida
You know who this guy is.  And I say, why the hell not.  What happened to Jeremy Hermida is one of the great mysteries of modern times (along with Lastings Milledge, Elvis, and Pop Tarts) but even so he has been moderately valuable over the last few years.

Hermida has remained an average defender in right field for his career, and has posted excellent UZR's in his last two seasons in right (approximately +30 UZR/150 in a small sample of 275 innings).  Although he batted .190 in his last stint in the majors, he possesses a career 749 major league OPS and is only 27 years of age.  Given regular playing time in the minors for Cincinnati, Hermida put up a .319 average and 924 OPS.  

If Hermida can play good defense and hit .250, he'll definitely provide positive value, provided how tarnished his stock has become.  Hermida will likely latch on somewhere as a non-roster invite and make the major league minimum.  He is an adequate fifth outfielder option with some upside (I would start him every day in Triple-A).

#3 - RP Clay Hensley
I realize the Mets have added epic depth to their bullpen, but in terms of above non-tenders who they can afford who have a little upside, Hensley fits the bill.  Hensley, like the others, struggled last year, posting a 5.19 ERA and -0.1 WAR. 

However, Hensley is also the possessor of a 3.94 career ERA and is coming off a season where he posted a 2.16 ERA (2.87 FIP) for the Marlins in 2010.  His peripherals supported the performance, as Hensley struck out 9.24 batters per nine innings in his season-long dominant performance.

Hensley missed time with injury last season, but provided that he is healthy, would be a great addition for the Mets to keep or to trade at the deadline as I've heard so many suggest about our other bullpen acquisitions (though seriously people, this does not happen as often as you think).

#4 - SP Rich Hill
Hill had a breakthrough performance in 2007, striking out 183 batters and posting a WHIP of only 1.19.  Unfortunately for him, he's been derailed by injuries (bad) and forced to play for the Orioles (worse).

His last four seasons, Hill has pitched only 89 major league innings, and struggled in almost all of them and underwent Tommy John surgery in June of last year.  He still had the "stuff" the last two years before going down with injury, so he's an intriguing flier.  He won't contribute to the squad in 2012, but he may be worthy of a look for late next season or for 2013.

I Also Like...
Peter Moylan and Luke Scott, should the price be right.

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