As the final MLB free agents begin to find their ultimate destinations, and trading heats up before the 2015 season, the New York Mets have many choices to make about how they will address positions of need, and leverage their depth.
The main expendables that the Mets could use in trade talks seem to be second baseman Daniel Murphy, and the trio of pitchers Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, and Dillon Gee. Both Murphy and Colon are in the final years of their contracts, which means they likely will not return to the Mets past 2015 even if they are not traded.
On the other hand, the Mets have some weaknesses that must be addressed before the season starts. While shortstop is thought of to be the biggest hole for the Mets, Wilmer Flores should be given a chance to duplicate his strong production at the end of last season.
With the talent on the market, the Mets should attempt to address their holes in the bullpen and the outfield before the season. If shortstop proves to be a glaring issue by July, the trade pieces still on the roster should be used to fill it by the deadline.
The first order of business is examining the pieces the Mets could get in return for Murphy, Niese, Colon, and Gee, and see how they fit in with the roster. The most intriguing name is Boston Red Sox outfield Yoenis Cespedes. The Red Sox currently have a plethora of outfielders, and are in need of strong starting pitching. This is a clear match for the Mets.
Cespedes would provide much needed power in the Mets’ lineup, as well as very strong defense in left field. The righty-lefty duo of Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson would also make up one of the best platoons in the MLB, in right field.
Possible trade to acquire Cespedes:
Red Sox receive – Staring pitchers Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon
Mets receive – Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes
As previously mentioned, the Red Sox are in need of starting pitching and the Mets can provide them with just that. The Sox get both a righty and a lefty, a veteran and a young arm, and a one year contract and a very reasonable multiyear deal. This deal gives the Red Sox a ton of flexibility, and allows for both teams to greatly improve.
Next up is Daniel Murphy. The next most important position for the Mets to address is finding a strong left handed reliever. The Brewers seem like a good fit, with pitcher Will Smith being the main return piece. The 25 year old lefty reliever has one of the top K/9 rates of all MLB relievers, and is not a free agent until 2020. In addition to Smith, the Mets could ask for a high risk/high reward prospect like Victor Roache.
Roache was the Brewers first round pick in 2012, but has not quite lived up to expectations. The 23 year old outfielder still has a ton of power potential though, and could become a good major leaguer if he could cut down on his strikeouts and raise his average. The Brewers could also use Murphy at both second and first base, depending on how their current players produce.
Murphy’s hitting ability makes him a valuable asset at whatever infield position he plays, and makes this trade a reasonable possibility for the Mets.
Possible trade to acquire Smith:
Brewers receive – Second baseman Daniel Murphy
Mets receive – Left handed pitcher Will Smith and Outfield prospect Victor Roache
Next up is analyzing where these trades leave the Mets heading into the season. First off is the starting rotation, which would be comprised of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee, and Noah Syndergaard.
Possible Pitching Staff:
Starting pitcher Harvey
Starting pitcher deGrom
Starting pitcher Wheeler
Starting pitcher Gee
Starting pitcher Syndergaard
Setup man Familia
At this point, the Mets don’t have anymore expendable pitchers unless one of their triple-A arms breaks out. Their top pitching prospect after Syndergaard, Steven Matz, will likely be in triple-A this year, and could serve as the most promising replacement for an injured starter. Matz could also be important to solving an issue that arises with the position players.
After the trades made, Cuddyer moves to right field to platoon with Curtis Granderson, as well as Lucas Duda occasionally, Cespedes replaces him in left field, and Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera man shortstop and second base respectively.
Both Flores and Herrera showed promise with the bat towards the end of last season, and should be given a chance to continue their success and become longterm options for the Mets. If either one struggles mightily though, there needs to be a plan B.
As has been widely documented, Wilmer Flores is not a strong defensive shortstop. Therefore, if either Flores struggles in the field, does not hit well enough to make up for his defense, or Dilson Herrera struggles at second base, both Flores and Herrera should be moved to second base to cover Flores’ defensive woes or Herrera’s hitting struggles. The duo could battle it out to prove the more valuable of the two, and who would ultimately play everyday down the stretch.
To fill the hole at shortstop created in this scenario, the Mets would once again need to dip into the pitching well. Either Dillon Gee or Steven Matz becomes the likely option to be traded, and the other to become the Mets fifth starter.
If Matz is not ready to pitch in the majors at this point in the season, he is the likely man to be shopped for a new shortstop. Sandy Alderson would need to find a decent defensive shortstop on a team looking for high ceiling young pitching. Depending on his play in the first half of 2015, the Angels’ Erick Aybar could be looked at:
Possible trade to acquire Aybar:
Angels receive: Starting pitcher Steven Matz and shortstop Ruben Tejada
Mets receive: Shortstop Erick Aybar
Tejada could be included to provide a mediocre replacement for Aybar, while the Angels receive a very cheap and highly touted long term option for their starting rotation. Of course, this transaction is only needed if Flores of Herrera has a lot of trouble to start the season, and either way, the revamped Mets’ roster looks poised to make a postseason run:
Possible Lineup Heading into 2015:
RF Granderson / Cuddyer (vs. RHP / vs. LHP)
OF den Dekker
*Aybar would slide into Flores’ spot in event of a mid-season trade