With Yoenis Cespedes signed and sealed as an early Christmas present for Mets fans, it’s time for Sandy Alderson to turn his attention to the bullpen.
Now the 2016 bullpen had its moments. They were sixth in all baseball with a 3.53 ERA, second in saves with 55 and fifth in strike outs with 569. But there were concerns about the lack of depth in the bullpen causing Addison Reed to appear in 80 games (third in baseball) and Jeurys Familia to appear in 78 (sixth).
Beyond these two arms there was a lot of inconsistent performances and hand wringing from the coaches and fans. And with Familia’s alleged domestic violence incident still haunting the specter of the offseason, there is a strong possibility (maybe even probability) that our closer will have a long suspension to start the 2017 season. Simply put, we need to shore up the backend of our bullpen.
And that brings us back to the Cespedes re-signing, which kept our slugger at Citi Field and gave us a plethora of outfielders. We have already heard the Blue Jays and Orioles come up as potential trade partners for some of our surplus outfielders…but perhaps the Royals’ needs match our strengths even better.
The Royals let it be known that closer Wade Davis was available at the end of last season, and while injuries shortened his season they didn’t slow him; he finished the year with a 1.87 ERA, 27 saves, a WHIP a shade over 1.1 and 9.8 strike outs per inning.
The Giants went after Davis before the trading deadline in 2016 and were rebuffed. The Nationals were going heavy for Davis and the Royals were clear on what they wanted: controllable young pitching, like top Nationals pitching prospect Lucas Giolito. The Nationals balked at the asking price and Davis finished out the season with the Royals.
The Royals picked up Davis’ option this year at $10 million and are still open to trading him. Davis is exactly what the Mets need; he can fill in for Familia while he is suspended, allowing Reed to stay in the 8th inning where he has thrived. And when Familia comes back the Mets would have a comparable bullpen to any in all baseball, and the playoffs showed the value of that. Couple that with top of the line starting pitching and Davis would make the Mets an early favorite for a deep playoff run.
But what can the Mets offer back? It turns out the Mets have exactly the players the Royals need to pull off a trade. The Royals, in fact, want three things: a young controllable arm, a slugger to take the place of Kendrys Morales who signed with the Blue Jays (they have been linked to Chris Carter, recently non tendered by the Brewers), and salary relief. The Mets can offer all three in a four player deal.
Robert Gsellman would have to be the cornerstone of the trade. After his late season call up he showed poise and outstanding stuff, pitching to a 2.42 ERA in 45 pressure packed innings with 42 strike outs while holding opponents to less than a hit an inning and allowing only one home run. He is still just 23 and Baseball Prospectus named him our second best prospect, right behind Amed Rosario and before names like Dominic Smith and Justin Dunn. He’s ready for the majors now and is exactly the kind of young arm the Royals seek.
We also have the bat they seek, as Jay Bruce had similar numbers to Morales’ 2016, where Kendrys hit 30 homers and 93 RBIs. Bruce had 32 homers with 99 RBIs in 2016.
The rub would be taking another part back from the Royals to insure they get the salary relief they seek. Pitcher Chris Young would take care of that. He is owed about $7 million for 2017 (which includes the buyout for the last year of his contract) and while he had a terrible 2016 he was a highly effective pitcher in 2015 and 2014, winning 23 games with a 3.40 ERA and pitching well in the 2015 playoffs.
Young could give the Mets the veteran depth we would need going into the season with Bartolo Colon already gone and of course Gsellman moving in this potential deal. While the Royals would be paying Bruce’s $13 million, they would have also subtracted $26 million between Morales, Davis and Young.
While it would be tough to lose a young arm, it would give us a top arm in the back of the pen without making any financial commitment beyond 2017 and free up our logjam in the outfield.