Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News spoke with New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil on Wednesday afternoon while the 26-year-old was taking part in the team’s Mets Holiday Shopping Spree at Target in Elmhurst.
Naturally, the topic of conversation was the trade rumors surrounding the organization and Mariners’ second baseman Robinson Cano. As per reports, Seattle is shopping the 36-year-old All-Star and the Mets are front-and-center in the pool of possible destinations for the Dominican native.
Cano, a lifetime .304/.355/.493 hitter, is coming off of a strange season that saw him serve an 80-game suspension for the use of a banned substance (furosemide) but also hit .303/.374/.471 with a 136 weighted runs created plus rating, .364 weighted on-base average, and a glowing 13.5 strikeout rate.
According to Ackert’s article, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has McNeil “penciled in” as the team’s starter at the keystone position. With the possibility of a potential future Hall of Famer coming on board, McNeil seems to be well aware of the situation he could be thrust into.
“I see [the rumors]. It’s hard not to see, but I try not to think too much about it,” McNeil said. “I just try to go about my business and do the same thing I was doing.”
That would surely suffice. The California native hit .329/.381/.471 in 248 plate appearances with a 140 OPS+ rating, .368 wOBA, and 137 wRC+. His .359 BABIP seems a bit unsustainable, but it’s clear that McNeil’s bat has the potential to play at the major-league level.
If Cano were to make his way to Queens, there is another path McNeil could take. Over the course of his six-year minor league career, the bulk of his time has been spent at second (1,776.1 innings, but he’s also played 1,277.1 innings at third base.
Whether the team is willing to shift incumbent third baseman Todd Frazier into a platoon role or expand Jeff McNeil’s duties to those of a true utility player, Van Wagenen and Mets skipper Mickey Callaway would certainly have options.