Monday begins the GM Meetings down in Orlando, Florida. While the potential for any major move is slim, this week works as a chance for executives from every team to talk about possible deals as well as speaking with free agents.
The Mets are reportedly strapped for cash this offseason, having approximately $30-$40 million to spend on the open market. However, New York has several holes that need to be filled, so taking to the trade market could be another option.
There are several Mets whose names could be floated around as potential trade candidates that could net a return or packaged in another deal.
Zack Wheeler, RHP
The haul for outfielder Carlos Beltran prior to the trade deadline in 2011, Zack Wheeler was a highly-touted arm that was projected to help anchor the Mets pitching staff of the future.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t panned out that way.
The 27-year-old is at a crossroads in his Mets career and at this point, it’s unclear really what to make of him.
He’s coming off a season in which he had a 3-7 record with a 5.21 ERA, 5.03 FIP and 1.587 WHIP in 17 games started (86.1 innings pitched). He was sidelined in July with a stress reaction in his pitching arm and didn’t pitch for the remainder of the year.
Wheeler was coming off missing two seasons with Tommy John surgery, so ebbs and flows were to be expected, but at this point, if the Mets could include him in a deal to fill a void, it’s reasonable they could pull the trigger.
If not, Wheeler’s future with the Mets might be in the bullpen where he could be more effective over a shorter outing.
Dominic Smith, 1B
Dominic Smith had a very solid year with Triple-A Las Vegas, where he hit .330/.386/.519 with 16 homers and 76 RBI in 500 plate appearances. However, that didn’t necessarily translate to the bigs.
In 49 games with the Mets after his call-up in August, the 22-year-old hit just .198/.262/.395 with nine homers and 26 RBI in 183 plate appearances.
While the Mets shipped away Lucas Duda prior to the trade deadline and Smith concluded the season as the team’s starting first baseman, there is uncertainty surrounding his job security.
Smith could potentially start the season in the minor leagues with the Mets opting to sign a first baseman like Logan Morrison on a short-term pact, or the team could choose to float him around as a trade chip also.
While the Mets farm system isn’t as rich as it once was, Smith is a young, appealing name and trading him could help bring in a potential starter, reliever or outfielder.
In the wings, the team also has Peter Alonso, who had a quality season between Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton in 2017, hitting .289/.359/.524 with 18 homers and 63 RBI, so bringing in a short-term option while trading Smith could work as a bridge to Alonso.
Wilmer Flores, INF
There is going to come a season where Wilmer Flores‘s talent all culminates and he will hit 30 home runs. Whether that is with the Mets or not remains to be seen.
The 26-year-old has hit 15+ homers in each of the last seasons, topped off with a career high 18 this past year. At the dish, he also hit .271/.307/.488 in 110 games and 362 plate appearances.
The main issue with Flores is that he doesn’t have a set position. He has spent a good amount of time all around the infield, working as a super utility type player.
I think Flores’s skillset would work best as a first baseman, where he could see some time in 2018 if the Mets decide to trade the aforementioned Smith.
However, with Flores approaching the prime of his career and the Mets without a set every day role for him, his talents might be better appreciated by an external team.
The Mets plans this offseason are to bring in at least one of a second or third baseman, and of the two they don’t fill, Asdrubal Cabrera will likely get a majority of time at.
With T.J. Rivera also still on the team, it could make Flores’s name come up in trade talks.
Juan Lagares, OF
Juan Lagares has showed time and time again just how valuable he is as a center fielder. However, he has also had a hard time staying on the field the last two seasons, playing in just 79 and 94 games, respectively.
Since hitting .281/.321/.382 in 2014, it’s been a downward trend at the plate for the 28-year-old.
This year, he hit just .250/.296/.365 with three homers and 15 RBI. In his career, he has just 20 home runs in five big league seasons.
The Mets could live with Lagares in center on the strength of his defense alone, but that would require having a potent lineup to help make up for it.
He is currently signed through the next two seasons and could benefit a team that wants to shore up their outfield with a strong defender. While I think the plan currently is to keep Lagares and Brandon Nimmo as a platoon when Michael Conforto returns, Lagares’s name could come up as a trade candidate if the team brings in someone like Lorenzo Cain.
Robert Gsellman, RHP
The right-handed throwing Robert Gsellman had a rough campaign in 2017, pitching to an 8-7 record with a 5.19 ERA, 4.89 FIP and 1.504 WHIP in 25 games (22 started).
This coming on the heels of a strong showing in 2016 where he had a 4-2 record to go along with a 2.42 ERA in seven starts and was a key component in the Mets late season run to the playoffs.
Gsellman was sent down last season and had a minor tiff with general manager Sandy Alderson, who challenged him to pitch better, to which Gsellman responded “I don’t care.”
Sophomore slumps happen to many a players, and with the entirety of the rotation struggling or injured this past season, it would be unfair to put much blame on Gsellman, who was probably the sixth or seventh starter on the Mets depth chart going into the year.
However, he is a young arm who the Mets could move if they bring in an external arm or two and could maybe get a relief pitcher in return for.
His name kind of dovetails with Seth Lugo, who is another pitcher that has drawn interest on the trade front and could be dangled to other teams.
With Lugo, it would be more risky, as he is pitching with a partially torn UCL. However, teams such as the Cubs have said they think Lugo could be a breakout candidate and like the spin rate on his pitches.
Either way, I think both of these guys could fare well in the bullpen if neither are traded. Gsellman, however, might be a more likely name to stay in the rotation with Lugo’s injury and his frequency to run out of gas after the second time through the order.
In addition to the above players, another Met that I’m sure will be tossed around is Matt Harvey. However, since he is in his walk year and his value is at rock bottom, I think it’s conceivable the Mets keep their fingers crossed and hope Harvey can recover to be even a fraction of the pitcher he once was. Perhaps if he is having a strong year by the deadline and New York is out of it, they consider moving him.
Additionally, a name I’m sure will draw interest is Brandon Nimmo, who has been involved in trade discussions in the past. His name was mentioned in the Jay Bruce deal back in 2016 before the Reds ultimately acquired Dilson Herrera.
To a lesser extent, Gavin Cecchini‘s name could also be involved in trade rumors. It seems he has fallen out of contention with the Mets brass. However, he is a former first round pick and is still just 24 years old.