Looking Ahead: Summer Trade Season To Begin

Tomorrow is June 1st, and with June comes the start of trade rumors galore. I’m not a big trade rumors guy to be honest. I think reporters do get valuable information, but I think so much changes on a day to day basis that trade talks can end before they are even reported.

The Mets will wake up on June 1st as the 2nd National League wildcard team. Maybe I am crazy, but I think they will be adding rather than subtracting leading up to July 31st.

The trade deadline will be very interesting this year. With an added playoff berth, most teams will think they still have a shot which creates a seller’s market. On the flip side, the compensation rules have changed, which means teams may be willing to deal players they otherwise normally wouldn’t have dealt.

If you assume (like I do) that this team can compete through July for a playoff spot, especially with 3 healthy starters returning soon then you have to start looking to see what might be obtainable.

For me right off the bat, I cross off any high priced talent. I’m not okay with the Mets trading any of their highly touted arms, and most high priced star players would probably need something like that in return.

I look at the C spot, and while I am not in love with Thole, I think he’s shown me a lot this year at the plate.

1B is a big question mark. Ike Davis is still below .200, so this is a roster spot I circle. Now don’t flip out on me, I’m not suggesting the Mets trade him or get an upgrade to replace him. I don’t think they will do that. Getting a right handed hitting 1B though is an option.

2B, SS, 3B you know are set. Heck, we have 5 SS.

The OF is a possibility, but I do think there is enough talent there to get by. Kirk, Duda, Bay, Hairston, Torres, Baxter. That’s 6 guys, so I think it’s more likely one of them goes rather than the Mets bringing somebody in.

I also think Hairston and Baxter have a better shot at stealing a job from Bay if he struggles, rather than the Mets trading for another OF.

Here’s a bold prediction for you. Andres Torres will not finish 2012 on the Mets roster.

Your 4 rotation spots are locked up. Johan, Dickey, Niese and Gee are not being pushed out of this rotation.

What happens with Chris Young is a HUGE factor moving forward. June will either lead to the Mets badly needing another starter, or feeling okay about Young with guys like Batista, Hefner, etc. as backups in case of injury.

Then you have the bullpen. The bullpen has big a disappointment, no doubt about it. I do not think you’ll see any deletions from the pen. I think barring injury, Byrdak, Parnell, Ramirez, Rauch and Francisco are here. So if you’re getting any bullpen help at all, it’s another lefty or a guy who can take work off of the plates of Parnell/Ramirez.

So we’re looking at: Right Handed 1B, maybe a #5 Starter, and either another lefty bullpen arm or a prototypical middle reliever.

So who is out there?

In the National League, I believe the Padres, Cubs, Pirates, Astros, and Rockies will be your only true sellers.

In the American League, I am going with Minnesota, Kansas City, Oakland, and Seattle.

Right Handed 1B:

Carlos Lee (HOU) – I think the fact he has turned down trades in the past, and his name value to the franchise will set the price too high.

Hm. So I expected to make a list of at least 3 or 4 guys I thought could be had, and were right handed 1B. Lee is the only one I got.

So, I guess that means the Mets really need Ike to turn this around, either that or hope Turner can heal up fast because unless Carlos Lee is a Met, I don’t know what else they can snag at the deadline.

4/5 Starter:

Bartolo Colon (OAK): He’s a very interesting story. A revival of his career actually occurred in New York, so you know he’s not going to shy away from that type of spot. He’s signed on a 1 year deal, so you know Beane would likely love to trade him. He’s pitching to a 4.52 ERA right now, and is 4-5.

Jason Vargas (SEA): Vargas signed a 1 year deal to avoid arbitration this year. He has consistently been around the mid 4’s in ERA over the last 4 years. He could be a nice addition, but I wonder if he’d be a bit too expensive?

Kevin Millwood (SEA): I know some people love Millwood. I am not one of them. I think he is too inconsistent. However, if the Mets needed an arm, I don’t think Millwood would be too expensive and could be worth checking into.

Paul Maholm (CHC): I think the only way he gets dealt is if the Cubs decide to just totally clean house. Garza would go first, and I think the Mets should avoid the Garza negotiations even though it will irk some Mets fans. I just think what he gives the Mets is not going to last long enough to make it worth losing out on Harvey/Wheeler/Familia/Mejia. (Though I could be persuaded on dealing Mejia there).

Jeremy Guthrie (COL): I think the Rockies are approaching a clean house moment. They have absolutely no pitching right now, and outside of Tulo and CarGo, they are borderline anemic. Guthrie has a 5.31 ERA right now, but has a 9+ ERA in Colorado. He’d go from their #1, to our #4.5.

A.J. Burnett (PIT): It’d be a brave move, but I don’t think it will happen. If he was on an expiring deal, I’d say go for it. But I don’t want him staking claim to a rotation spot entering 2013.

Erik Bedard (PIT): At 33 years old, Bedard is looking real good this year. He’s looking healthy for once, and is pitching to a 3.12 ERA. He’s somebody to keep a close eye on.

Guys I left off: I don’t think pitchers like Bruce Chen, Jeff Suppan, Carl Pavano, or the Houston pitchers will either be moved or will be worth the asking price. Suppan is an interesting situation, but he’s looking like his career is ending soon.

Lefty Bullpen or Typical Middle Reliever:

Brian Duensing (MIN): At 29 years old, he’s an arbitration pitcher, who has appeared in 22 games with a 3.20 ERA. He’s a nice arm to have for sure.

Grant Balfour (OAK): He has pitched in a playoff atmosphere before with Tampa Bay, and at 34 years old, he is at the end of his contract with Oakland. He does have a club option for next year. In 26 appearances he has a 3.55 ERA.

Wilton Lopez (HOU): He’s been borderline dominant this year. 27 appearances, a WHIP of 0.98 and an ERA of just over 2.00. He’s an inexpensive contract right now, so he may just be a dream.

Brandon Lyon (HOU): Lyon however is somebody I think that may go at the deadline. His contract is expiring, and he’s having a great year. In 20 appearances, he has a 1.03 WHIP with a 1.40 ERA.

Jason Grilli (PIT): At 35 years old, I cannot imagine Pittsburgh would demand a lot for Grilli. In 21 games, he’s thrown to a 1.10 WHIP and 1.80 ERA.

I’m honestly not sure what LHP would be a) available, and b) worth it. Do the Mets need a middle reliever more than a 2nd lefty? I think so.

The Bottom Line:

For the 2012 Mets, there are limited options with regards to adding talent. You cannot (and they will not) give up the future for the sake of acquiring talent. Most of the players on the roster have a spot moving forward.

If you agree that the Mets biggest needs barring injury would be RH 1B, back end rotation, and middle reliever.

So these are the guys I will keep on my radar for now. So much can change from tomorrow through July. A massive losing streak could change this piece into a “what should we trade?” argument. A big injury could have us looking at other positions.

But for now, for these 2012 Mets, these are guys I’m looking at as potential new additions by July 31st.

About Michael Branda 267 Articles
Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.