The Mets will almost assuredly lose several players to free agency this fall. What players on other clubs will be free agents available to fill those slots?
Contracts will expire with Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Francisco Rodriguez. A slew of active roster players for the Mets signed one-year contracts and will need to be re-signed, including Mike Pelfrey, Angel Pagan, Ronny Paulino, Chris Capuano, Chris Young, Willie Harris, Jason Isringhausen, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Ike Davis, and Taylor Buchholz.
Unless owner Fred Wilpon surprises everyone and finds money to spend on Beltran and Reyes, those stars will be employed elsewhere in 2012. And given the ongoing legal action facing the Wilpon family in regard to the Bernie Madoff fraud case, their departure is practically a done deal. Wilpon may have burned those bridges completely recently when he told New Yorker reporter Jeffrey Toobin that Reyes thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money ... he won't, and that he felt he was a schmuck for giving Beltran a $119 million, seven-year contract in 2005.
Angel Pagan is the heir apparent in center field, although he's currently on the disabled list with a strained oblique. Pagan was signed in the winter on a one-year contract for $3.5 million, although he's unlikely to come that cheap with the Mets in obvious need. Corey Patterson (.271, .431 slugging percentage, 1.000 fielding percentage) of the Toronto Blue Jays heads up a very thin class of free-agent center fielders.
Rumors abound that the Mets plan on slipping Ruben Tejada into the shortstop position next year. There are no interesting free agents in 2012, so the team will probably fill the gap internally. Tejada has seen some playing time at second base this season, mostly due to the injuries plaguing the Mets' lineup. His average is .231, but the 21-year-old boasted a .407 slugging percentage in 39 games in Triple-A Buffalo before he was called up, leading the team in RBIs.
Rodriguez, the Mets closer, has performed well this season, with a .76 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP, and one blown save. His option for 2012 is guaranteed if he closes 55 games this season and doctors clear him at the end of the season. The Mets will be on the hook for a $3.5 million termination buyout (versus $17.5 million salary for 2012) if the team doesn't exercise the option for 2012. Few good closers will become free agents in the fall, with Tampa's Kyle Farnsworth (1.76 ERA, .91 WHIP), and the White Sox's J.J. Putz (1.89 ERA, .95 WHIP) heading the pack. The Mets would be wise to hang onto K-Rod.