The Mets Finally Sign a Free Agent

Shaun Marcum becomes first major league free agent signed by Mets this offseason

The Mets are no longer the only team in baseball not to sign a major league free agent. 

Per multiple sources, the team has agreed to terms with right-handed starter Shaun Marcum on a contract. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports pegs the value at $4 million for one year's work with another $2 million available in incentives. 

It's a pretty good signing for a team that waited until the stuff from the bargain bins was just about gone to finally dip their toes in the free agent market. Marcum's turned in three straight seasons of above-average work that should make him a fixture in the rotation at Citi Field if last year's elbow issues don't crop up again. 

He's unlikely to replicate the season R.A. Dickey turned in, but the Mets aren't likely asking him to do that. Marcum's a solid veteran they'll look to for innings while waiting for Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to finish their progression to the top of the rotation. 

Even with being limited to 21 starts last season, Fangraphs pegs Marcum's value at $6.2 million so the Mets would seem to have found themselves a good deal if they can get something closer to a full season of work. And Marcum's not the only quality player still hanging on the market. 

Center fielder Michael Bourn has yet to sign with anyone and has spent the offseason watching teams with needs at the position (Boston, Philadelphia, Washington) link up with other choices while Atlanta signed B.J. Upton before trading for Upton's brother Justin to round out their outfield. Bourn's a good fielder with great speed and a mediocre approach (295 strikeouts, 123 walks in the last two seasons) at the plate, which would fit perfectly in a Mets outfield currently stocked with no one. 

With very little money on the books for 2014 and beyond, a multi-year deal for Bourn would make sense if not for one thing. Signing him would cost the Mets their first-round pick, the 11th overall in the draft, and it would seriously short-circuit the process Sandy Alderson started when he got here. 

The Mets are trying to get around the rule about only the top 10 picks being protected because the Pirates have an extra pick in the top 10 by virtue of failing to sign their first rounder last year. It's a bad argument because they knew about the top 10 provision and the replacement first rounder when they signed the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but we shall see what happens. 

If losing the pick is the price, it's one the Mets should see is too high to pay. Bourn isn't good enough to make a significant enough difference in the standings and there will be players with similar value available on the market next year. 

Marcum's a nice pickup, though. We've been waiting quite a while to say that about the Mets. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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