MMO Fan Shot: External Options for 3B in 2018

 

A MMO Fan Shot by Jonah Zuckerman

One of the reasons the 2017 team has struggled is due to not finding an adequate replacement for the all-but-retired David Wright. Wilmer Flores has plenty of power, but has struggled to hit right-handed pitching in his career, has limited range defensively, and makes too many wild throws. T.J. Rivera has hit at every level, but has average pop and is similarly limited defensively. Veterans Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker were once reasonably capable but have regressed due to injury. This article will outline some reasonable (not Longoria or Arenado) external options to solve the 3B problem in 2018.

Eduardo Nunez

Eduardo Núñez is perhaps the best free agent option this offseason. At age 30, he still has gas left in the tank and shouldn’t command too high a salary– roughly 3 years and 20-30 million. Núñez is enjoying a breakout season, slashing .317/.345/.445. While his defense is as poor as Flores’s (-3 DRS this season), he would transform the top of the lineup with 20-steal potential, which Flores can only dream of.

Josh Donaldson 

Donaldson is the biggest name on this list. Normally one of the best third basemen in all of baseball, Donaldson is suffering from a down year, ‘only’ slashing .243/.364/.442. At the top of his game, he would add a fourth .900 OPS bat to the lineup, assuming Jay Bruce re-ups with the club. Defensively, he would form a formidable infield with up-and-coming prospects Amed Rosario and Dom Smith. The rebuilding Jays could look to flip him in his walk year, and he wouldn’t be too costly. A package of Thomas Szapucki or Justin Dunn and Chris Flexen could elicit a ‘yes’ from Toronto and would be worth it even if Donaldson finds he doesn’t like playing alongside Syndergaard and leaves in the offseason.

Joey Gallo

Hold on, don’t skip to the comments section and flame me for this. Hear me out. Yes, Gallo makes some of the worst contact in the league at a clip of .200, but when he hits the ball, it goes FAR. Additionally, his OBP is 115 points higher at .315 and he slugs .519, for an OPS of .834, all told. Gallo is an average 3B (2 career DRS) with the biggest left-handed power stroke in the league and a cheap controllable contract. He could only cost Matz and a prospect from the Rangers, who have his replacement at DH in Willie Calhoun and are in win-soon mode.

Derek Dietrich

This is, admittedly, the worst of the six options in this article, and may be a hopeful inclusion on my part to prevent him from further killing the Mets. Dietrich is another buy-low candidate with the positional versatility to play 2B or 3B. He is more suited to playing 3B, where his metrics are -3 career DRS as opposed to -19 at 2B. He is having a down year after his breakout season, slashing .234/.311/.375– he must be looking to be hit rather than get one. Dietrich has two years left of arbitration and is the cheapest option on this list. A straight-up swap for Lugo would likely get it done.

Josh Harrison

Despite his defensive wizardry, Harrison has been wildly inconsistent offensively– this is only the second year of seven that he has a league average bat, slashing .278/.355/.428. Harrison would fit at either third (17 career DRS) or second (19 career DRS), and if he maintains his OBP will score plenty of runs with his speed at the top of the order. Harrison has occasionally missed time due to injury but can be counted on for 120+ games a season. Being a small market team, the Pirates are seemingly in a constant state of rebuild. They could be interested in a younger, stronger infielder in Flores and a Ray Searage special in Wheeler.

Eugenio Suarez

Not only is this Suárez’s best offensive season, it is also his performance at the hot corner. The normally average Suarez has posted a 7 DRS this year where his previous career high was 2. Suarez’s .257/.357/.480 slash could play high in the order for the last three years of his contract. While his OBP is terrific, there is cause for concern: Suarez for his career has a .693 OPS away from Great American Ballpark. Furthermore, he would put a serious dent in the farm system; Cincinnati will likely want several top 10 prospects. At least two of Szapucki, Dunn, Giménez, and Alonso could trade the blue and orange for white with red trim.

Honorable Mentions

Mike Moustakas is a free agent, but will command a high salary and his declining defense combined with low OBP are red flags. Yangervis Solarte has above-average numbers and a low K rate and little pop– a perfect Kevin Long project, but he plays 3B about as well as Flores (career -7 DRS at 3B).

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Jonah Zuckerman. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 20,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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