Throughout the recent series between the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs, it was obvious to everyone how well the two teams would matchup in a potential offseason trade. The Mets have what many consider to be a surplus of young pitching, which they could use to trade for one of the Cubs’ many shortstops, namely Starlin Castro, Javier Baez and Addison Russell. The Cubs could easily trade any of the three and be just fine, but the one that the Mets should covet the most is Russell.
The Cubs may be most willing to trade Castro, although rumors indicate he’s the Mets least favorite of the three, making them unlikely to part with Zack Wheeler or top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard in order to get him. Not only would the Mets need to give up a lot in a trade, but they’d also be responsible for most of the eight-year, $60 million contract Castro has already signed. That’s a major commitment for a player who doesn’t fit the team’s hitting philosophy and whose hustle and effort has been questioned on occasion since signing that big contract, making the Mets wise to steer clear of him if possible.
Baez would be an interesting addition, as he would add some power to the Mets lineup. However, defensively he fits better at second base than he does at shortstop in the long term, and the Mets already have a second baseman of the present in Daniel Murphy and a second baseman of the future in Dilson Herrera. The Mets could acquire Baez and keep him at shortstop, but ultimately that could have a negative effect on their middle infield defense, which is something they’d be wise to avoid.
That leaves Russell, who the Cubs only recently acquired in a trade with the Oakland A’s. He has the defensive skills to stay at shortstop and figures to develop into an above-average hitter with above-average power, which is just what the Mets need. The Mets would likely need to put together a package of prospects headlined by Syndergaard in order to acquire Russell, but he would be well worth the price, more so than Castro or Baez.
The lone drawback with Russell is that he’s unlikely to be major league ready for the start of the 2015 season. However, that’s an issue the Mets could deal with, as they have a number of candidates to be placeholders for Russell. They could choose to keep Ruben Tejada around, although that’s not advisable after the season he’s had. The Mets could keep Wilmer Flores at shortstop and hope by the time Russell is ready Flores has hit enough in the majors to be a viable trade chip. Matt Reynolds could also be used as the everyday shortstop and then phased into a utility role when Russell is ready.
When the offseason arrives for the Mets and Cubs, these two rebuilding franchises will likely have a lot to talk about. The Cubs are a great place for the Mets to find a shortstop, while they could get the young pitching they covet from the Mets. Obviously, the Mets can look elsewhere to find their shortstop of the future, but if they end up getting one from the Cubs, Russell is the one they want.