3 Trades the Mets Should Consider


With an impressive balance of power arms, consistent bats, and major league ready talent, the Mets have a consensus top-five minor league system. They also, at least in my opinion, have a darn good major league team as well.

The big club definitely has some holes though, notably at shortstop, but otherwise there seems to be no huge area of weakness.

The rotation is already overflowing with talent and will receive an influx of young arms at midseason. The outfield, while aged in the corners, has two not-so-far-away replacements in Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. I haven’t even mentioned Gold Glover Juan Lagares, recently inked to a four year contract extension.

But if the Mets are serious about contending this season and even beyond, Sandy Alderson needs to make a big splash.

We all know the saying that “Prospects will break your heart.” But the Mets actions (or lack thereof) seem to suggest the team plans on fielding a roster completely composed of prospects over the next few seasons.

Consider the Daniel Murphy situation. For all his faults, Murph loves Queens and would not seem to command much more than a three year, $24M deal.

Granted, the Mets would be paying for a player in his age 30-33 seasons, not ideal, but this man has been the most consistent and reliable Met of recent years, producing a combined 10.9 WAR in four full big league campaigns.

Alderson and co. seem content to let Murphy walk and hand over the job to rookies Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that approach, but as the Mets move closer to contention, they should be emphasizing proven talent over potential.

Seven Mets prospects were named to Baseball America’s annual top 100 list. But looking at the correlation between BA prospect ranking and career WAR values (credit fivethirtyeight.com) you can see relying on prospects yields frugal results at best.

If history is any indication, Syndergaard (#11) will produce around a 10.0 WAR during his career, Matz (#33) around a 7.0 figure, Nimmo and Herrera (#45 and #46) near 6.0, Kevin Plawecki (#63) around 4.9, Conforto (#80) at approximately 4.0, and Amed Rosario at 3.0. Keep in mind that Ruben Tejada has totaled a 4.0 WAR in his brief major league career, so these marks are all very underwhelming.

Certainly, though, there are many flaws in using this graph. For one, Rosario, Conforto, Matz, and even Nimmo have not yet reached their peak prospect ranking. Furthermore, the rankings are completely arbitrary and say nothing in particular about the Mets current crop of talent.

Still, it is clear that, after moving past the top five ranked prospects, there is little guarantee when it comes to young players. If the Mets are smart, they will select the prospects they believe have the highest chance at success, and deal away the players with too many question marks.

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My list of “untouchable” players would be as follows: Syndergaard, Nimmo/Conforto, Rosario, and Plawecki.

The logic behind my picks is simple. Syndergaard must stay, as pitching is expensive and free agent arms often come with a checked injury past.

Herrera looks to be the heir to Murphy’s second base throne, but I think the Mets can find equal production in Wilmer Flores or Matt Reynolds once Murphy leaves. In short, Herrera is replaceable.

Catchers are prone to injury and need heavy rest. Therefore, Plawecki will play a significant role on the Mets whether or not d’Arnaud is healthy and is an excellent backup at worst.

Conforto and Nimmo are very similar players: both have a polished swing, a good eye, a strong chance at reaching the majors, but also a relatively limited ceiling. Nimmo is the more explosive player, but there is so much overlap between these two players that I will leave this decision up to the front office.

That leaves all the prospects at their highest values, Matz, Herrera, and probably Conforto (as Nimmo is a true ‘Alderson guy’) as trade bait. 

Now, using these three players and some unmentioned less-heralded prospects, let’s see if we can find a few realistic deals that the Mets should consider.

It is very hard to acquire proven major talent, so I will do my best to present scenarios in which the trades are as fair as possible.

Next: Trade Option 1: An Outfielder

Jul 23, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Texas Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin (2) hits a triple against the New York Yankees during the fifth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers OF Leonys Martin in exchange for OF Michael Conforto and OF Kyle Johnson

Whether they admit it or not, the Rangers are in full rebuilding mode after a dismal season. Martin is not exactly a great hitter (career 91 OPS+), but he can post a solid batting average and play stellar defense.

Last year, the 27-year-old posted a 4.6 WAR largely due to his stellar glove. In fact, besides Juan Lagares, Martin saved the most runs of any outfielder last season.

It may not be the sexiest move, but as a pitching-dominant ball club, pairing another elite defender with an all-world centerfielder like Lagares would be a huge upgrade for the Mets.

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The Rangers net promising outfielder Michael Conforto, who should develop into a better hitter than Martin, and Kyle Johnson, who has an intriguing blend of power and speed.

On the Mets side, this move would create an outfield logjam in Queens, but that is less of an issue than it originally appears. Cuddyer and Graderson are both on the wrong side of thirty and will both need plenty of rest. Cuddyer also knows how to handle first base, so manager Terry Collins could play him at first in favor of Lucas Duda against southpaws. The Mets could also utilize a three-way rotation for the two corner outfield spots, with Lagares holding the only full-time job, and adjust the lineups based on match-ups for maximum success.

Next: Trade Option 2: A Shortstop

Mar 27, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (13) warms up before a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs SS Starlin Castro in exchange for SP Jon Niese, SP Steven Matz, and SP Matthew Bowman,

This may be the toughest deal for Mets fan to swallow, but it could prove well worth the cost. Castro has shown he can hit and defend in the past five seasons and will not reach the open market until 2020.

The Mets do have Amed Rosario and Milton Ramos down on the farm, but they are years from contributing the major league club and should not factor into this decision.

From Chicago’s perspective, this deal could balance out their current roster. The Cubs undoubtedly have the best offensive prospects in the game, coupled with a strong major league lineup, but they lack pitching pitching at both the major and minor league levels.

Furthermore, Castro is not even the club’s shortstop of the future. That denotation belongs to Addison Russell, who could very well see time this season if the Cubs feel he is ready. Niese would immediately become the team’s number three starter and Matz could grow into the number two role behind Jon Lester. Bowman has the ability to contribute to a big league rotation in the near future as well.

For the Mets, it hurts to lose three talented pitchers, but Sandy has more than enough arms to compensate for the lose of Niese, Matz, and Bowman.

Not only does Castro perfectly fit the Mets shortstop hole, but he has a very-team friendly team deal and could be the young star the Mets desperately need.

Further adding to the pros of this deal, New York could move Flores back to second base or opt to go with Dilson Herrera for the 2016 season, leaving them with a very strong infield in either case.

Next: Trade Option 3: Plan B at Shortstop

Sep 9, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (left) scores a run on an error beside Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) in the third inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveleand Indians SS Jose Ramirez in exchange for OF Michael Conforto, SP Robert Whalen, and OF Cesar Puello

Assuming the Mets strike out on Castro, Cleveland shortstop Jose Ramirez would be a nice Plan B. He does not have much power or an elite bat, but he could develop into about a league average hitter in the right situation.

More importantly, Ramirez plays excellent defense at short, is just 22 years old, and does not become a free agent until 2021.

Conforto could solve the Indians’ outfield problem as soon as 2016, conveniently the same year Nick Swisher’s huge contact comes off the books. Whalen (2.01 ERA in Low-A last season) and Puello are solid throw-ins and will push this deal through.

Three solid prospects may seem like a hefty sum for a not-so-flashy player, but Ramirez is a proven major league defender, incredibly young, holds his own with the bat, and would be a great fit behind the Mets power arms.

Speaking of those arms, New York improves their shortstop situation without giving up any in this trade. That should be a win itself. 

Now it’s your turn. If you were the Mets General Manger, would you agree to any of these trades?