In a previous article where I postulated that it was time for the Mets to trade quantity for quality, a common sentiment from readers was that we need to trade for hitting, not for pitching.
I stayed away from discussing hitting targets as acquiring one would not only involve a speculated trade scenario, it would also involve speculation on how players will be shifted or moved internally. However, since I opened up that can of worms, I have no choice but to finish what I started.
Once again, the scenarios discussed in this article are not based off rumors or insight. They should not be taken as news but rather as possible targets for the Mets to go after.
Unrealistic Trade Targets
Before I get into who we could trade for, I’d like to list out a few players who I believe are untouchable for their respective organizations.
CLE – Francisco Lindor
CHI – Addison Russell
HOU – Carlos Correa
BOS – Xander Bogaerts
The only player out of these four that has remotely a chance of being moved is Russell in my opinion. This is only because the Cubs have Baez, Castro and Bryant, three young potential stars at 2B, SS and 3B respectively. But even with that depth, there is no reason for them trade Russell unless they receive someone of Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz‘s caliber.
Mets Trading Block
Other than Dillon Gee and Jon Niese, one name that will likely be discussed in every trade scenario is Rafael Montero. This is not because I am down on him, in fact, I believe he will eventually be a mid rotation starter who gives his team a couple of ace like seasons. However, it seems the organization and fans alike hold Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz as their untouchables, leaving Montero to be the odd man out.
Along with Montero, I believe one of Matt Reynolds or Gavin Cecchini should be traded to open up a path for Amed Rosario to progress in the minors. Conversely, I would not hesitate to deal Rosario for an impact player at the MLB level either.
Finally, we have a quartet of starting pitchers in the upper minors who have good potential to be mid rotation starters. I believe other organizations would have interest in at least one of Gabriel Ynoa, Rainy Lara, Luis Cessa or Michael Fulmer.
Oakland Athletics, Josh Reddick
The first trade target is the Oakland A’s Josh Reddick. Credit goes to TRS86 for citing Reddick as a candidate. The RF former gold glover is having a great season offensively and should be conceivably available if the A’s fall out of contention by mid season. The 28 y/o Reddick has one more arbitration year remaining (estimated $7-8M) before becoming a free agent at the end of 2016.
As for what his cost will come out to, I don’t think anyone really knows. Billy Beane has been making some very erratic transactions the past few years so it will be hard to predict what he wants in return.
Colorado Rockies, Carlos Gonzalez
The Rockies can try to hide their desperation as much as they want, it seems pretty obvious that they are heading towards a rebuild. Carlos Gonzalez is batting .251/.326/.387 with 6 HRs as I write this article. Not exactly eye popping stuff and he might even remind you of our own Curtis Granderson. But dig deeper and you will realize that Gonzalez has a 29% line drive rate (25% for his career, 20% is MLB average) and his BABIP is 50 points below his career line. This means that he should probably be batting closer to .275-.300 for the season.
I don’t think Gonzalez will ever hit 30 HRs again but I do believe he will immediately be the Mets second best bat behind Lucas Duda. At age 29, he is signed to his age 32 season so he should not experience any sharp decline these next few years. Additionally, his larger contract means that the Mets have an opportunity to give up less in a trade IF they are willing to take on most or all of his salary. Gonzalez has about 2.5 years and $45M remaining on his contract ($18M/year). My guess is that two or three non top prospects can get it done if the Mets take on the whole contract but if the Rockies eat some salary, they will surely ask for at least Nimmo, Montero or both.
The Indians are in last place and have a mixture of high paid veterans (Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn), medium cost contributors (Brantley, Kluber, Kipnis) and young prospects (Francisco Lindor, Trevor Bauer). From an outsider’s perspective, they seem to be caught somewhere between competing and rebuilding.
Brantley is 28 years old and cost controlled until 2018. I think any discussion about Brantley would start with Syndergaard and one of Lagares/Nimmo/Conforto. If there is one hitter I feel comfortable parting with Nimmo or Conforto with, it would be Brantley. He would be the grand prize but it’s highly unlikely we strike a deal as Sandy seems to love his prospects.
Since Michael Bourn arrived in Cleveland, he has been producing below expectations. He hasn’t been disastrous the way Jason Bay was for the Mets by any means but he is hitting about 20 points below his career average and is no longer the base stealing beast that he was in his Houston and Atlanta days. Bourn is still a respectable on base threat as well as a solid defender and with $14M left on his contract for 2016 as well as a vesting option for the following year, I believe a swap for Jon Niese can be considered for both sides.
The reasoning here is that Niese shores up the Cleveland rotation immediately as well as for the next few years with a bonus of returning to his home state. CLE also has the benefit of opening up CF for their 2012 1st rd pick Tyler Naquin. The Mets will finally get a lead off hitter (kind of) and add depth in the OF. They will have four OFers with varying skill sets who are all borderline starters when playing full time. Perhaps having two LHHs and two RHHs can help the Mets put together above average production from this quartet.
Finally, the Indians also have David Murphy who seems to be doing a very good impression of our Daniel Murphy as a hitter this season. He is also a free agent at the end of the season and would serve as a half year rental. A pair of non top prospects would likely be where his value falls.
Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt
I saw this name come up just last week by several MMO posters and started researching Holt. He is a 27 year old super utility player that has seen time at ALL positions except catcher at the major league level. He is currently slashing .298/.392/.419 which has Red Sox fans declaring him the cheaper, younger, better version of Ben Zobrist.
However, upon further review of his ridiculously high line drive rate of 39% and BABIP of .371, combined with the fact that he was never regarded as a top prospect, I am willing to wager that he will settle in closer to be a .250-.275 hitter for the next few years. With that said, I still think he would be a great fit for the Mets given all of our injuries and our need for flexibility.
The Red Sox have been searching for an ace since the offseason and while I don’t see us sending them one of ours, I wonder if we could put together a deal involving Niese and Campbell for Justin Masterson and Brock Holt.
Masterson signed a 1 year $9.5M deal as a reclamation project for the Sox and has put up some ugly numbers. We could make this trade and move Masterson to the bullpen for a 30 day trial and DFA him if he does not work out. For the Red Sox, they move a super utility player who is at the top of his stock for a middle of the rotation pitcher and a serviceable utility player to replace Holt.
Houston Astros, Preston Tucker
User Mets Fan In Paris has been the most frequent advocate for Preston Tucker here. I started writing about a possible Preston Tucker trade but during my research found out that the Astros selected his brother Kyle Tucker 5th overall in this year’s draft. While it is not impossible for Tucker to be moved, I have to believe it will only be for someone on Noah Syndergaard’s caliber.
Once their outfield is fully healthy, the Dodgers will have a severe logjam in the grassy part of their field. Pederson and Puig are shoo-ins for the future of this organization and the other three all have merits to be starters on some team.
Ethier has had a nice bounce back season but as he is 33 years old, I think his production moving forward will be a tad below his career numbers, maybe around .275/.350/.450 with 15 HRs. Defensively, he has always had a strong arm and still moves well enough to even play CF in emergencies. He is owed $35.5M from 2016-2017 with a $2.5M buyout on a $17.5M vesting option in 2018. His value is very similar to the values of Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Bourn. Would Niese for Ethier work for both sides?
Carl Crawford is recovering from a torn oblique and could be back by July. He is an older, more expensive, more injury prone version of Michael Bourn. However, he is also a better hitter when healthy (I’d project .275/.325/.400 with 20 SBs a year moving forward). With over $50M left on his contract from now to 2017, he would be too expensive for us to even contemplate if the Dodgers do not eat his contract.
For those who don’t know, Scott Van Slyke is a personal favorite of mine. He is a big, strong hitter with surprising ability to play both CF and 1B adequately. Used primarily as a platoon hitter against LHP, he needs an opportunity to play more and I believe he would reward the team that gives him a chance. His career and minor league splits against righties and lefties are minimal which makes me believe he can hold his own as an everyday player. If the Dodgers see him as their 4th or 5th OFer, perhaps they would be willing to move him for a starter.
Wrapping It Up
The options that are available are not perfect but the primary goal is to clear a rotation spot so we can add Steven Matz to the team. If we can get solid value in return that doesn’t cost us significantly for the future, we should make the move without hesitation.
So tell us who do you want to see the Mets go after? Which scenario do you like the best? Which one do you hate the most?