While having too much pitching is deemed a myth by many baseball fans, I believe the New York Mets have officially reached this paradox. Rare as it is to have so much depth, the Mets are crossing the point from developing their prospects to perhaps hindering them by keeping them in the minor leagues.
When Zack Wheeler went down in the offseason, some fans pointed to injuries as a reason to keep all of our starting pitching, including the often rumored trade candidates Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee. However, I believe the Mets had enough depth to deal with multiple extensive injuries and that they could have easily shifted Rafael Montero into that 5th slot with Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz on notice to be called up in Triple-A.
All three of these prospects are major league ready. Montero was deemed ready by most scouts last offseason while Thor has taken the steps he needed in order to dominate in Vegas and work his way to the big-league team while Matz has advanced much faster than anyone had expected.
The depth at Triple-A is not limited to our pitching staff. Matt Reynolds continues to exceed expectations and Dilson Herrera has made Triple-A pitching look silly. We have spent years languishing in the big leagues to plant these seeds, now it is time to harvest the crops either by playing them or by trading them for useful pieces that will address the urgent needs of the team.
Here are some possible trade ideas and please remember that this is pure conjecture and not based on any actual rumors. Let’s have a little fun and look at a few hypothetical possibilities, and please feel free to share your own ideas and trade suggestions.
Trading Gee To The Giants
We know that GM Brian Sabean was at Citi Field to watch the Mets vs Marlins series during the previous home stand and there is speculation that the Giants may be interested in Daniel Murphy or Dillon Gee. I personally believe we should keep Murphy to balance our RHH lineup so I will focus on San Francisco being a possible destination for Gee, who is earning $5.3M this season. He will not net any top prospects, but I believe a minor league reliever such as Steven Okert could be a possible return.
SFG receives – Dillon Gee
NYM receives – Steven Okert
Okert is a lefty reliever with a low to mid 90s fastball and a wipeout slider, a pitcher who has the floor of a lefty specialist and the ceiling of a closer. He was ranked 10th on the Giants prospect list and graded as a C+/B- prospect by John Sickels prior to the season. If the Mets do not eat any of Gee’s salary in a trade, I believe Okert would be a fair swap straight up and if the Mets do take on some money, they may be able to net an additional lower level prospect.
Purpose For Each Team
The biggest motivator for the Mets is to open up a rotation slot for one of their prospects. It is very reasonable to believe that Thor or Matz can provide the same value that Gee does this season and provide much better value for the future. Okert comes with one tool that no Met reliever currently has and that is power pitching from the left side. He is available to contribute immediately but will more likely be counted on as depth for 2016.
The Giants on the other hand appear to be shopping for a reliable starter that will not cost them a significant prospect and Dillon Gee could fit that bill. With a spacious ballpark to work with, Gee can reasonably be expected to be at least a serviceable backend rotation pitcher.
Trading For Aroldis Chapman
This idea originated from an MMO user jokingly suggesting a Dilson Herrera for Aroldis Chapman trade. While I believe a Chapman for Herrera deal is reasonable, I think there are a number of other combinations that would be more beneficial to both teams. A package that makes sense to me would be based off the following:
CIN receives – Rafael Montero, Matt Reynolds/Gavin Cecchini, Jenrry Mejia/two prospects on Ynoa/Lara/Robles level.
NYM receives – Aroldis Chapman
To clarify, the Mets send Montero, Reynolds OR Cecchini, and either Mejia or two B-Level prospects to the Reds.
Purpose For Each Team
Jeurys Familia has been lights out for the Mets but who else besides Familia do you really trust in the back of that bullpen? Additionally, I do not have confidence in Terry to keep Familia’s innings low. If an injury should happen to him, at least the Mets would have another strong and reliable option to close games as I do not believe anyone wants to count on Parnell, Mejia or Robles to for that role come September or October.
As for the other pieces involved, Montero and Reynolds deserve to be on a major league roster somewhere and keeping them in the minors is counterproductive for them and the Mets. Gavin Cecchini is a higher ceiling but a less established option for the Reds to choose from and trading him will open up the path for Amed Rosario to advance through the Mets system.
There are two significant concerns with acquiring Chapman for the Mets. The first is his salary for 2016 (estimated $11-12M earnings in arbitration) and his potential price tag as an impending free agent the year after that. The second is the ever growing concern of a potential elbow injury for someone who throws as hard as Chapman. It may be a difficult decision to fork over $60-$75M over 5 years for a closer when 25% of active MLB pitchers have had Tommy John surgery and Chapman has yet to undergo this procedure.
From the Reds perspective, the team receives three young players who can contribute immediately as they look to capitalize on a quick rebuild before Joey Votto‘s prime years are up. Mejia is the wildcard in this proposal and while he has shown the potential to be a closer, he is not eligible to return from his suspension until early July and may not have enough time to re-establish himself to be a trade candidate for the Reds to be interested. Perhaps they’d prefer the two lower level prospects instead of him.
Three Way Trade Between Mets, Reds, Giants
SFG receives – Dillon Gee
CIN receives – Rafael Montero, Steven Okert, Matt Reynolds/Gavin Cecchini
NYM receives – Aroldis Chapman
In this combined trade scenario, the Mets hold onto Mejia or their two prospects while still moving Dillon Gee. The Reds receive a young starter, a potential closer and a shortstop who can all contribute immediately. The Giants deal away LHRP depth for the most consistent starter in baseball (51 consecutive starts of 5 innings) who should perform very well in their spacious ballpark.
Any time a player as elite as Chapman is discussed in a trade scenario, there will be differing opinions on his value. He is a closer that not only looks dominating, his numbers back it up (average 2.6 fWAR in past 3 seasons) and his peripherals show that his excellence is not a result of luck. However, he is set to earn a high salary in 2016 and with no closers being traded in recent memory other than Jim Johnson, it is difficult to draw a baseline of what his trade value should be.
Be Prepared For The Rumors
Trade rumors in the next two months should prove to be interesting for the New York Mets. Could the surprising division leaders Houston Astros be a buyer for Texas native Dillon Gee? If their top prospect Carlos Correa rips up Triple A, would Jed Lowrie be available? How about if the Cleveland Indians bring up Francisco Lindor? Does that make Jose Ramirez available?
Regardless who the Mets deal with, their depth will allow them to negotiate from a position of strength. I am hopeful that Alderson will be able to take his excess pieces and turn them into improvements for the major league roster. It is time we trade our quantity for quality.