A lot of hand-wringing is being done regarding how to fix the Mets roster. Anyone who’s seen their .418 play since the hot start ended is fully aware that scoring 3.4 runs per game is not going to cut it. However, no one seems willing to include any of the stud young pitchers – Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom, Noah Syndergaard or Steve Matz – unless the player coming back is of the Mike Trout ilk. That’s clearly not going to happen and the team would be crucified for bringing in a solid but unspectacular hitter like Will Venable in exchange for one of these pitching crown jewels.
How then do you keep this quartet intact and still improve the offense? I think it’s time to repeat the Carlos Beltran trade, but in reverse. This time let the Mets offer up a shiny bauble from the lower levels of their farm system in exchange for a free-agent-to-be rental player who could help them contend against a vulnerable Washington Nationals team. The more salary the trading partner is willing to eat, the shinier the bauble.
A great example would be the recently tried and immediately dispatched Akeel Morris. His minor league numbers are rather gaudy with a career 2.78 ERA, 334 Ks in 249 IP and a WHIP of just 1.107. Yes, we’d all like to see him in a Mets uniform at some point a year or two from now but Jeurys Familia is doing even better at the major league level. Consequently while it would hurt to lose someone with such obvious talent, it’s doable without having to break up your starting quartet.
Other top prospects in the lower levels that might be viable trade candidates include Gabriel Ynoa, Rainy Lara, Robert Gsellman, Michael Fulmer and one of the many shortstops behind Gavin Cecchini (not to mention the one currently in Las Vegas). A lot can happen on the way to the majors – just ask TJS victims like Jacob de Grom and Steve Matz, or people who hit a wall in their development like Matt Bowman has in AAA.
Let’s take a look at who has a solid bat that is a pending free agent and thus might be available for a relatively high quality low level minor leaguer in return:
- Ian Desmond (Here’s a trade that could happen as he’s having a miserable year after three consecutive 20+ HR campaigns. Would a change-of-scenery deal work? He’s not any better than Flores with the glove, but he is more experienced)
- Alexei Ramirez (He’s no kid anymore at 33 and having a bad year, but he is a solid shortstop defensively, a career .274 hitter and in a normal year is good for 10-15 HRs. The thing about a trade of this nature is that it opens up a trade of Wilmer Flores to another club in anticipation of Gavin Cecchini or Matt Reynolds next year)
- Howie Kendrick (It’s unlikely the Dodgers would want to move him, but as a FA at the end of the year anything is possible. This type of move might happen if David Wright is on the shelf for the remainder of the year and Daniel Murphy is moved to 3B)
- David Freese (Former World Series MVP Freese is demonstrating decent run production and power for the Angels but at a low .236 batting average. I’m not sure the team needs another Curtis Granderson but his power would be a significant improvement over what Ruben Tejada, Eric Campbell and Dilson Herrera have shown)
- Edwin Encarnacion (Another of the “it ain’t happenin’” variety, Encarnacion has become an offensive force since moving from Cincinnati to Toronto and over the past His batting average is down this year at .239 but he’s slammed 13 HRs and driven in 42. Would that kind of hitting help the Mets’ anemic offense?)
- Nori Aoki (An on-base machine, he solves the leadoff problem immediately).
- Jose Bautista (Never gonna happen, but he IS a pending FA)
- Yoenis Cespedes (The Tigers are underachieving but probably not ready to throw in the towel. Besides, Cespedes is one of those risky Cuban players the Mets avoid like illegal cigars…only hitting .300 with 9 HRs and 36 RBIs)
- Dexter Fowler (A big, skinny guy, he’d be a good “hold down the fort” option if Juan Lagares has to go under the knife)
- Alex Gordon (He’s their latter-day George Brett, probably will start and finish his career as a Royal. They’re not likely going to break up a winning lineup)
- Jason Heyward (While he’s probably underachieved a bit in his career compared to his one monster year at age 22, the young slugger and Gold Glove outfielder would definitely be an upgrade over the Mets’ most recent FA outfielder acquisitions)
- Adam Lind (Milwaukee is getting solid production out of him with 10 HRs and 36 RBIs to go along with a .276 average. There have been rumors about the Brewers breaking up the team as they are already 21 GB. He hasn’t played a lot of outfield lately, but has hit over 20 HRs each year he’s been a regular and is a career .271 hitter. Think left handed Kevin McReynolds)
- Colby Rasmus (The Astros’ surprising place atop their division makes obtaining the former Blue Jay unlikely, but he’s got 20 HR power and plays CF – another good option if Lagares is disabled)
- Denard Spann (Love to get him, but dealing with the Nationals for a productive player is not happening)
- Justin Upton (The Padres fired their manager; who knows what’s up A.J. Preller’s sleeve? Maybe he feels some heat for the underachieving after all of the high-dollar off-season moves and he might listen on his big man)
- Ben Zobrist (There have seemingly been rumors connecting the Mets to Zobrist for years but nothing’s ever transpired. This year he’s suffering through arguably his worst season since 2007, so it’s possible at age 34 his skills are simply deteriorating. Versatility remains his greatest strength as he can play all around both the infield and outfield)
Of this group, the ones I'd push hardest to obtain would be Cespedes, Encarnacion and Upton.