6 Spring Trade Scenarios To Fix New York Mets
Elvis Andrus Coming to Queens?
At the same time, manager Terry Collins wants Eric Young, Jr. to bat leadoff, Lucas Duda may very well be the starting first baseman and the bullpen is relying on Bobby Parnell’s creaky neck, Kyle Farnsworth’s laser-like focus, plus half a dozen guys with a combined ten minutes of Major League Baseball experience.
And no one, anywhere it seems, is particularly fond of Miguel Tejada.
A 16-win improvement over last year is asking a lot.
It almost seems like Alderson slipped into a temporal paradox where he thought it was 2015 and Matt Harvey was back on the team.
While crazy time-displacement theories are totally within bounds when discussing the Mets’ front office strategy, there are plenty of options on the table for the team to improve, in current space-time, even with Harvey on the shelf.
First, there needs to be some house cleaning. The 2014 Mets have too many moving parts; players who have no defined roles or whose names don't inspire overwhelming confidence from the fanbase.
Meanwhile, the Mets are stacked with tantalizing young players at the one position everyone always needs – pitching.
Harvey, Zach Wheeler, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia can’t all make the rotation, so why not use some of them to improve the team right now?
Instead of treading water until Harvey returns, the Mets should build a team with a realistic shot at 90 wins this year. Then, adding an All-World pitcher in 2015 would be a World Series-sized cherry on top.
It’s early and maybe I’m daydreaming a bit, but hear me out – here are six trades the Mets need be exploring yesterday.
6. Brandon Belt for Ike Davis, Dillon Gee and Gonzalez Germen
Gee is a proven starter and Gonzalez Germen is on the cusp.
If Ike Davis plays to his potential, or close to it, he can be a suitable replacement for Belt, especially as Buster Posey transitions to first (.365 BA over 19 games played there in 2013).
Belt’s 2013 stats: 150 games played, .289 BA, .360 OBP, .481 SLG, 4.4 WAR
5. Eric Hosmer for Ike Davis, Dillon Gee and Gonzalez Germen
Why? Well, there’s a twist.
The Royals are in win-now mode, so giving up a stud like Eric Hosmer might not seem to make sense.
However, Billy Butler is still producing for the team and if Davis’ potential isn’t convincing enough, Gee and Germen represent two young, cheap players who can help the team from Opening Day.
Behind the scenes, Hosmer is represented by Scott Boras, who foams at the mouth at the very thought of bringing young stars to New York; Boras also represents Stephen Drew.
Is it really that crazy to believe Boras wouldn’t push this deal if the Mets agreed to work with Drew on sweetening his contract offer?
I don't think so.
Hosmer’s 2013 stats: 159 GP, .302/.353/.448, 3.6 WAR
4. Asdrubal Cabrera for Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores and Michael Fulmer
This could work.
The Cleveland Indians have a top-10 prospect in Francisco Lindor who might be ready and the Mets would only have to commit to Asdrubal Cabrera for this season, with an eye to 2015's free agent shortstops.
They would also clean house a little – Wilmer Flores doesn’t have a position, anyway – and the Mets would help calm Ike Davis by giving him their seal of approval.
On the other hand, this seems like a lot to give up for a below-average defensive shortstop who batted .242 last season and is making $10 million in 2014.
The team can do better with these assets. The idea came from Ohio sports gossip, anyway. Moving on.
Cabrera’s 2013 stats: 136 GP, .242/.299/.402. 1.2 WAR
3. Tim Stauffer and Robbie Erlin for Matt den Dekker, Eric Young, Jr. and Kevin Plawecki
The Mets need bullpen help. With a rash of recent injuries, the San Diego Padres need a little of everything except bullpen help.
Tim Stauffer is the reliable veteran arm the Mets are missing late in games. He doesn’t change everything by himself, but he puts the team in position to turn a negative attribute into a positive one. Robbie Erlin is a young prospect, but he is also a southpaw and could help at the back end of the rotation.
Matt Den Dekker would automatically compete for the Padres' center field position and Young becomes very valuable for a team that may have multiple holes to fill. In Kevin Plawecki, the Mets would be giving up an insurance policy, but it is one that the Padres may need more right now.
Stauffer’s 2013 stats: 43 GP, 69.2 innings pitched, 3.75 ERA, 0.3 WAR
Erlin's 2013 stats: 11 GP, 54.2 IP, 4.12 ERA, 0.3 WAR
2. Joakim Soria and Elvis Andrus for Jacob deGrom, Ruben Tejada, Dillon Gee and Gonzalez Germen
Jacob deGrom and Gonzalez Germen are highly touted prospects months away from being MLB-ready; Gee would easily be the Rangers' second or third starter with Derek Holland out until at least the All-Star break and Matt Harrison's back acting up.
They all wouldn’t be in the deal if not for Elvis Andrus, whose offense wouldn’t be missed as much in Texas as it is desperately needed on the Mets.
The hitch here from the Mets' perspective -- and it’s a big one -- is Andrus’ contract. After a below-market $6.5 million in 2014, he’s set to earn $118 million over the subsequent eight years with a vesting option for another $15 million in 2023.
They would have to be in love with Andrus, and I don’t think they’re quite that enamored.
Soria’s 2013 stats: 26 GP 23.2 IP 3.80 ERA 0.2 WAR
Andrus’ 2013 stats: 156 GP .271/.328/.331 4.3 WAR
1. The Moonshot
The plan will take timing, finesse, the guile of a crocodile and the black-eyed nerve of one, too. This might not be a job for Sandy Alderson, but if the Mets trade Davis, Gee and Germen for Hosmer, sign Drew at shortstop, trade den Dekker, Young and Plawecki for Stauffer and Erlin, trade deGrom and Duda for Soria and Tanner Scheppers, the everyday lineup would look like this:
Chris Young, OF
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Wouldn't that make you a little more comfortable heading into April? Yeah, Tejada's still on the team, but I'm sure when the games start someone will find an extra bag of balls laying around they can give up for him.
The rotation would still be a crapshoot at the back end until Syndergaard is called up, but the bullpen has lock-down potential.
What makes this slightly more likely is that even after all this maneuvering, the Mets' 2014 payroll would stay below the $100 million threshold.
Owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon still get to be cheap and field a winning baseball team, as long as they promise to pay up a little next year.
That wasn’t so hard, was it?