Signing Anthony Swarzak to a two-year deal that was officially announced Friday figures to be the tip of the iceberg in regards to offseason moves for Sandy Alderson and the Mets.
The priority now will likely shift to second base. New York missed out on Ian Kinsler, who refused to waive his no-trade clause to play in Queens. With the free agent class leaving something to be desired, the Mets could choose to still go the trade route. They have recently been linked to Jason Kipnis, Cesar Hernandez and Josh Harrison.
According to Marc Carig of Newsday, New York could choose to absorb some salary in a trade if that meant protecting some of the limited assets they have left in their farm system.
“I think that the meetings were helpful to help us resolve the bullpen situation and give us a little more clarity on options at other positions,” Alderson said shortly before departing the Winter Meetings. “So I think we’re relatively happy going home.”
Carig adds that the Mets were in serious talks with the Detroit Tigers about acquiring Kinsler, with Rafael Montero‘s name being thrown around as a possible trade piece. He also notes that in order to make a splash at second, the team may have to part with a young arm such as Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman.
Of the aforementioned names, Hernandez would be the most appealing trade target as he is under team control through 2020.
In 128 games this past season with the Philadelphia Phillies, the 27-year-old hit to a .294/.373/.421 clip with nine homers and 34 RBI over 577 plate appearances.
However, in order to acquire him, the Mets would likely have to send the Phillies back a nice package of young talent, which they just do not have.
As for Kipnis, the 30-year-old is owed $30.5 million in guaranteed money, but might be able to be had with a lesser package if the team bends and picks up his salary.
For his career, he is a .268/.340/.422 hitter in 3,737 plate appearances with 88 long balls and 389 RBI. In his last full season in 2016, he also had a 116 wRC+ and a .347 wOBA.
In 620 innings at the keystone in 2017, the 30-year old Kipnis had seven errors with -2 DRS and a -1.5 UZR. However, the year prior his advanced metrics were better, with 4 DRS and a 7.3 UZR in 1,309 innings.
Harrison is under team control next year and the following two seasons via a pair of team-friendly options.
New York is one of few teams with a pressing need at the keystone, and believe they have options.
“It leaves us with a lot of other choices,” Alderson said Thursday. “We spent part of this morning looking at that position, reordering our options. There are still many different possibilities. We’ll go home and keep an eye on that board and see what transpires over the next few weeks.”
The team has also said that if nothing transpires, Jose Reyes could be a fallback option to bring back into the fold.