Coming into the offseason, the New York Mets had a gaping hole in the bullpen and the middle of their rotation. GM Omar Minaya addressed the bullpen early by signing Fransisco Rodriguez away from the LA Angels and acquiring J.J. Putz from the Seattle Mariners. Incidentally, Minaya may have also improved his bullpen by trading away Aaron Heilman in the Putz deal, but we will save that topic for another day.
Rodriguez, as even casual fans know, set the Major League record for saves in a season (62) last year. Unfortunately for the Mets, Rodriguez was labeled as a Type A free agent meaning the team that signed him - in this case the Mets - would have to surrender its first round pick (assuming the signing team's first round pick fell outside the top 15 picks). In addition, the team "losing" the Type A free agent receives a supplemental first round pick. Because of this, the Mets' first pick will be (approximately) number 66 overall.
Lowe vs. Perez
After strengthening the 'pen, the Mets honed in on Type A free agent Derek Lowe of the LA Dodgers and their own Type A free agent, Oliver Perez. Who should the Mets have signed?
Assuming that the Mets could only afford either Lowe or Perez, it would seem to me that Lowe should have been the choice.
As mentioned above, by signing K-Rod, the Mets were forced to surrender their first round selection. So, if they would have signed another Type A free agent, they would have "only" sacrificed their second round choice. Let's assume this Type A free was Derek Lowe. The Dodgers would receive pick 66 and a supplemental first rounder from the league. Using logic from above, the Mets would not have been able to re-sign Perez.
The team signing Perez would then owe the Mets its first round pick (or second round pick if it picked outside the top 15). For argument's sake, let's assume the Atlanta Braves who actually signed Lowe decided to sign Perez with all their excess cash. The Mets would receive the Braves' second round pick (approximately number 50 overall) and a supplemental first round (approximately number 41).
Let's play a quick game of multiple choice. Which package would you rather have:
A) Oliver Perez and pick 66; or
B) Derek Lowe, pick 41 and pick 50 (with the possibility that this pick could end up being a late first rounder if a team picking outside the top 15 - possibly the Diamondbacks or Dodgers - signed Perez).
The Mets' farm system can be described as mediocre at best. (Keith Law ranked their system 17th best in the Majors, but that seems awfully kind.) Letting Perez sign elsewhere would have been an intelligent way to recoup some draft picks. Now, Omar Minaya's hand is somewhat forced. He will probably have to re-sign Perez, because without him, the rotation would be in shambles.
When trying to replenish a farm system that has been somewhat depleted by trades, it would have made more sense to pursue Lowe more aggresively rather than re-signing Perez.