Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
As talks between the Mets and Pirates about a potential trade for Starling Marte have intensified, SNY's Andy Martino has reported that the Mets are "open" to dealing Brandon Nimmo to Pittsburgh.
Marte is a very good player, but so is Nimmo. And the Mets should be open to trading for Marte only if it means not including Nimmo in the deal (with one caveat). Here's why...
It would negatively impact the Mets' outfield defense
Brodie Van Wagenen has made improving the team's defense one of his main goals this offseason, and he did that when he acquired Jake Marisnick. But Marisnick profiles as a part-time player.
If the Mets trade for Marte and use Nimmo in left field and Michael Conforto in right field, they will be shoring up their defense in three areas. If they trade Nimmo for Marte, it would likely mean using J.D. Davis in left field, which would worsen their outfield defense in a big way.
It should be noted that Marte was worth -9 DRS in 1,141.1 innings in center field last season, though it may have been an aberration. Prior to 2019, Marte had been about average in center field every year of his career -- never worse than -2 DRS.
Basically, an average Marte in center field flanked by Nimmo and Conforto would be a big improvement over last season. That won't be the case if Davis is in left instead of Nimmo.
The Mets would be giving up a lot in terms of cost and control
Marte, 31, is owed $11.5 million in 2020 and has a $12.5 million player option for 2021.
Nimmo, 26, is projected to make roughly $1.7 million in 2020 via arbitration and is arbitration-eligible again in 2021 and 2022. He is eligible for free agency after the 2022 season.
In a Nimmo for Marte deal, the Mets would be taking on a significant amount of money and would be giving up an extra year of team control. And they could be doing so for a player that might not be much better than Nimmo on either side of the ball...
Marte might not be much of an upgrade over Nimmo, if at all
To repeat, if Marte's struggles defensively in 2019 were an aberration, he's a much better defender than Nimmo. But if it was a sign of things to come, he and Nimmo are close when it comes to defensive value in center field. Nimmo's numbers in center field in 2019 extrapolated over a full season come close to how Marte fared in 2019.
When it comes to offensive production, things are also close.
In his only full season in the majors in 2018, Nimmo hit .263/.404/.483 and was worth 4.5 fWAR. Nimmo struggled early in 2019 due in large part to attempting to play through a neck injury. After returning in September, he hit .261/.430/.565 in 26 games.
Marte had a tremendous season in 2019, hitting .295/.342/.503 with 23 homers in 132 games and was worth 3.0 fWAR after being worth 3.7 fWAR in 2018. For his career, Marte has hit .287/.341/.452 in eight seasons.
Again, Marte is very good. But so is Nimmo, who is also younger, less expensive, and under team control for one additional season. And the Mets should be looking to add good two-way players like Nimmo, not subtract them.
One caveat here would be if a Nimmo for Marte deal was much larger and involved other key pieces going both ways. In that case, the line of thinking here could change.
But if what's on the table is a Nimmo for Marte deal where they're the headliner, the Mets should simply say no thanks. If the Pirates are asking for another key piece in addition to Nimmo, the Mets should laugh and hang up the phone.