As Tampa Bay Prepares to Sell, Mets Should Consider Buying

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times suggests that with Kevin Kiermaier out for the next 12 weeks with a torn ligament in his thumb, the Tampa Bay Rays could possibly begin selling off players who don’t factor into the foreseeable future. Names like Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, and Adeiny Hechavarria could find themselves on the trading block sooner rather than later, while Chris Archer will likely stay put until the trade deadline in July.

Another two intriguing names in the potential shuffle are catcher Wilson Ramos and closer Alex Colome, both of whom could be of use to a Mets team that, although 12-4, still could benefit from some outside help. The current catching tandem of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido, although only a week old, have combined for a bleak .143 average and have failed to throw out any of the first eight runners to try. Although Kevin Plawecki and his broken hand are expected back by the beginning of May, the Mets could still upgrade behind the plate for the time being and take it slow with the promising 27-year old backstop as he recovers.

Unfortunately, even a dose of Ramos and his $10.5 million contract may be a dangerous endeavor. While many fans remember his offensive and defensive successes with the Washington Nationals not too long ago, the 30-year old has been in a tailspin since signing with the Rays. In 49 plate appearances this year, Ramos is hitting .217/.265/.239 and is 0-8 against base stealers, a rather poor compliment to his .260/.290/.447 line and 17% caught-stealing rate (equalling that of Travis d’Arnaud) in an injury-plagued, 64 game 2017 season. This is not to say a change of scenery wouldn’t have its positives, but instead that a $10.5 million change may not be the most proportional response to a rather temporary issue at the catchers’ spot.

In a similar vein, attempting to adjust the bullpen may present an effort to fix something that, up until last night’s seven-run meltdown, seemed far from broken. Jerry Blevins has a 3.38 ERA, the highest such number among active relievers on the roster.

That said, however, relievers have not exactly cruised during this time, combining for 62 appearances, a mark fourth in the National League behind the Marlins, Rockies, and Padres. We were treated to an eerily similar narrative through the first 16 games of the 2017 campaign, in which the notoriously overworked bullpen combined for a 3.00 ERA before crashing and burning with what would become the rest of the season. The bullpen’s 2.23 ERA doesn’t hold up as confidently against its 3.90 FIP (primarily soured by the works of Blevins and AJ Ramos, who have posted a 4.96 and 5.04, respectively), not to mention Anthony Swarzak is still “multiple weeks” from returning from a reoccurring oblique injury. Making a bid for a hard-throwing reliever like Colome is not nearly as rash as it is precautionary.

Of course, like his batterymate Ramos, Colome is struggling, as his 10.80 ERA, 3.200 WHIP, and 7.2 BB/9 can attest. With that said, the hard-hit rate has remained mostly the same as it did through his career work at just 27.3% (28.5% since his debut in 2013), and his diminished fastball use (just 25.4% this season compared to 32.7% in 2017 and 51.9% in 2016) may be the root cause of what has really manifested itself as a correctable lapse in approach rather than loss of feel.

Colome’s career 3.24 ERA and 84 saves in 98 opportunities since 2015 (his first full season) would definitely strengthen a bullpen that, although still strong, could use reinforcement outside the organization. Admittedly, the recent promotion of Gerson Bautista, who pitched one inning last night while walking one and striking out one batter as well, could have lasting ramifications if it pays off, but the righty has just four career appearances above high-A.

Throwing 100 miles per hour while also avoiding walks is tough to pull off at the big-league level on its own, even more so with little experience at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Remember when Akeel Morris went from St. Lucie to the big-leagues in 2015? He recorded two outs while also allowing five earned runs and three walks and never pitched in a Met uniform again.

Making a deal with Tampa Bay for a relief arm, however unlikely it may be given Sandy Alderson’s aversion towards early trades, would likely cost very little, seeing as the Rays received next to nothing in the Evan Longoria trade this past winter and still have a golden goose in Archer among a slew of small-market commodities that will be dealt in the near future. This is a team that DFA’d All-Star Corey Dickerson to make room for C.J. Cron not too long ago. Any prospects will be good prospects for Tampa.

About Jack Hendon 179 Articles
Jack Hendon (@jack_hendon99 on Twitter) is a sophomore at Haverford College, special assistant/statistician for the baseball team, prospective English major and psychology minor, and contributor to MetsMerized Online. He was seven when he saw Carlos Beltran take strike three in the 2006 NLCS, and since then has concentrated his love for the Mets through writing about particular fan memories, while also devoting time to recapping games, analyzing pitchers, and heckling (when appropriate) at Citi Field. LGM!