It was unthinkable five months ago that Carlos Delgado would have a future with the New York Mets. He hit .232 through the season's first two months with eight homers and 25 RBI. Given his customary awful defense, that wasn't enough to justify a $12 million option for the 2009 season. There was even talk that the Mets would make an in-season move to replace a player who looked like he wasn't just over the hill, he had crashed into the bottom of it.
Delgado came back, though, and pounded NL pitching for the remainder of the season. His turnaround coincided, some would say not coincidentally, with the departure of Willie Randolph from the Met dugout. The last month it wasn't uncommon to hear chants of "MVP" when he came to the plate at Shea Stadium. He wasn't the MVP but he turned in a darn fine season, which led the Mets to exercise that option this morning.
That option doesn't guarantee he'll be back with the team in '09. $12 million is a very reasonable salary for a player who produced Delgado's line in 2008. The Mets could try to do what the Yankees did a few years back when they traded Gary Sheffield after exercising his option. That would enable them to get a little younger or get a little deeper in the bullpen while getting rid of a player who can be a bit prickly, just as Sheffield was with the Yankees.
That choice will depend on what else is out there for the team at first base. Losing Delgado would hurt a lineup that's already got question marks in the outfield corners, and that salary is just as reasonable for them as it is for other teams. If they sign someone like Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell, however, it's a good bet that Delgado will be playing elsewhere next April.