Sandy Alderson believes the Mets have the potential to improve by 10 wins

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After finishing at 79-83 in 2014, the Mets had two clear needs this offseason to emerge as legitimate contenders: A corner outfielder and a shortstop. They got off to an interesting start by signing Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contract (and surrendering their first-round pick for 2015 in the process) in November, but nothing of note has happened since unless you count John Mayberry, Jr. They have come up empty-handed in their efforts to acquire an upgrade over Wilmer Flores at shortstop and they still have a surplus of starting pitchers. Still, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is confident about their chances in 2015.

During an appearance on MLB Network’s “High Heat” with Christopher Russo today, Alderson said that one of the reasons they have been fairly quiet this winter is because he believes they have players in place who give them the potential to improve by 10 wins from 2014. He also made an interesting comparison between Cal Ripken, Jr. and Flores. Check out the full video below:

One of the other reasons they were “fairly quiet” this winter could be that they don’t have the money to bring in other players, but fine, we’ll roll with that. So where are those 10 wins going to come from? Well, they appear to be banking on the addition of Cuddyer and the return of Matt Harvey combined with improvement from their young players and rebounds from David Wright and Curtis Granderson. Could everything click to get them to 89 wins and a playoff berth? Maybe, but there’s also the chance for regression from players like Lucas Duda and Jacob deGrom. It works both ways. By failing to address their obvious need at shortstop, the Mets haven’t really distinguished themselves from a large group of teams who figure to be in the mix for a Wild Card spot.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.