By Mike Steffanos
Happy New Year, everyone. Let's hope this is our year, Mets fans.
With the bullpen picture much clearer with Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz holding down the back end, it seems like we're within days of settling the rotation questions.
Apparently Derek Lowe has (not surprisingly) turned down the Mets initial offer reported to be 3 years/$36 million. I suspect they can get him for 3 years, or at least 3 with an incentive-based option for a fourth, but my guess is they're going to have to go over $40 million -- perhaps close to $45 million -- to get him.
Even at 36 years old, Lowe is a legitimate #2 guy in the rotation. His signing would not only solidify that slot but also take some pressure off John Maine and Mike Pelfrey. It makes too much sense not to happen, unless a team comes along with some sort of really crazy offer.
In the Daily News, Anthony McCarron suggests that a Lowe signing would preclude inking another decent veteran:
A baseball official with knowledge of the Mets' thinking said Wednesday that signing more than one free agent for the rotation is a possibility, but it depends on the price. The Mets would like to keep their payroll around the $143 million it was last season, so if they sign Lowe, they probably wouldn't add another expensive starter such as Oliver Perez or Randy Wolf.
... Realistically, if the Mets ink Lowe, they will likely bring in a back-of-the-rotation type free agent later this month to compete with Jon Niese or Bobby Parnell for the final starting slot and provide rotation depth.
While I would agree that a Lowe signing would probably mean saying goodbye to Ollie Perez, I'm not sure that Randy Wolf would be all that expensive. I think he is at this stage of his career a fourth or fifth starter, and might be had at a reasonable price. Signing Wolf should certainly be something that Minaya at least explores.
Pedro Martinez is another guy, given the right contract, might be a better option for the fifth slot than a kid like Niese or Parnell. In the long run, I think Parnell is going to be a reliever, and Niese needs to learn how to get batters out when he doesn't have his best curveball. I have no problem with these two guys competing for a spot, but not if the competition consists solely of other kids and Quadruple-A types.