The papers have been full of the rumor that the Mets may pursue Jorge Posada:
Industry sources are becoming increasingly baffled at the sluggish pace the Yankees have taken with the five-time All-Star catcher. Even though Posada has filed for free agency, the Bombers are in an exclusive 15-day negotiating rights period with the catcher but apparently have not presented an offer since the end of the season.
It appears inevitable that Posada will not sign a deal with the Yankees before Nov. 13, the date that other teams can get involved in the bidding, so the Bombers run the risk of another club blowing the catcher away with a huge offer.
The Yankees are believed to have internally discussed an offer of three years and $40 million, but one source believes it will take more than that to bring Posada back to the Bronx, most definitely if he gets out into the open market.
Mets sources say GM Omar Minaya has identified Posada at the top of the team’s list of free agent targets. Like he did with Pedro Martinez before the 2005 season, Minaya might be willing to go above and beyond to secure the rights of a possible Hall of Famer.
If the Mets offer Posada four years – or possibly five – it would leave the Yankees in a difficult spot, as they would be committing more years than they wish to a catcher who will turn 37 next summer.
Bidding against the Yankees always involves a high probability of failure, especially when you are talking about them re-signing a veteran who’s been in their organization his whole career. Cerrone notes that some reports are, wisely, suggesting that Posada may just be getting the Mets’ name in the mix to improve his leverage.
That said, what’s the downside? There are few big-money free agents that the Mets would otherwise pursue – I don’t really see them getting A-Rod – and there’s no question that, given their current roster, Posada would help the Mets more than anyone else on the market, especially since there are really no other quality catchers out there – the Tigers picked up Pudge’s option, Lo Duca and Kendall are basically just singles hitters, and Damian Miller is 38 (other than Posada, Michael Barrett, at 31 coming off a single bad year, may be the #2 guy on the market, and perhaps I should not be so quick to write him off). So, it’s worth a try.
Would he be worth a 4-5-year deal in the $50-70 million range? Well, after some of last season’s contracts, it’s hard to know where the market is, and you can’t evaluate dollars in a vacuum. Posada’s not young – he’s the same age as Lo Duca and only three years younger than Piazza. He’s a year younger than Javy Lopez and a year older than Mike Lieberthal, and both of those guys are finished. When I looked at comps for Piazza two years ago, I did not find the most encouraging signs even for the most elite catchers in their late 30s. Posada was not worked that hard in his youth, catching 110 games in a big league season for the first time at age 28, but he’s now caught 1360 games (not counting the minors and the postseason – he’s probably caught in nearly all 96 of his postseason games), and that takes its toll. He’s also not the greatest defensive catcher, although his arm is stronger than Lo Duca’s (faint praise, I know).
As with any free agent, it comes down to what the Mets are willing to lay out financially. The Mets have no significant catching prospects on the way, and short of waiting and hoping for Joe Mauer to go on the market, they aren’t likely to get an elite catcher any time soon. I’d make a run at him.