John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Unless the Mets are pulling a heck of a misdirection play, all indications are they don't plan to spend significantly for the pitching help that they figure to need if they're serious about winning the NL East next season.
So how do they get creative, to use the strategy that Brodie Van Wagenen has referenced in speaking of this offseason?
Their most obvious trade chip is Dom Smith, mostly because he's blocked at first base by Pete Alonso and would be a liability in left field. Smith has value after proving last season that he can do damage with the bat, but the Mets almost certainly see J.D. Davis as a better fit, since he can play third base and left field.
So what could the Mets get for Smith? It all depends what other teams think of him.
"He showed he can hit and he has a good glove at first base," one major-league scout told me on Monday. "Some teams might want more power at first base but he's an everyday player on the right team."
A second scout offered similar a similar take, saying, "I like his game but there aren't a lot of teams that need a first baseman."
I concur after trying to find trades for Smith that would make sense for both teams. The Mets, after all, will be looking for pitching in any such deal and teams may not be willing to give up quality arms, either starters or relievers, for a first baseman who's not going to put up big power numbers.
Nevertheless, I came up with three possibilities, one of which I mentioned on SNY's Hot Stove show Sunday night and at least one of the scouts said he thought could happen because it involved the Red Sox shedding salary, which is a priority for them this winter.
Starting with that one, then, here are my three trade suggestions:
Smith and Jeurys Familia to the Red Sox for Nathan Eovaldi and Brandon Workman
The appeal here for the Mets is at least partly to dump the remaining two years and $22 million of Familia's contract, with the belief his control problems will continue to plague him and prevent him from recapturing his once-dominant form.
To do that the Mets would have to take the three years, $51 million remaining on Eovaldi's deal, which would be a savings of $29 million for the Red Sox, who seem determined to find ways to lower their high payroll.
It would be a gamble for the Mets, with Eovaldi coming off an injury-plagued season in which he posted a 5.99 ERA, missing three months because of surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow.
However, the right-hander is still only 29, and one year removed from a strong season in Boston that earned him his four-year, $68 million contract, which makes it realistic to think he'll bounce back to be at least an effective No. 4 or 5-type starter.
Meanwhile, the Mets have big money coming off the books after the contracts of Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright expire at the end of the 2020 season, which should allow them to absorb the extra years and money.
The wild card to sell the deal for the Mets would be the 31-year old Workman, a solid reliever who had a dominant season in 2019, pitching to a 1.88 ERA and taking over closing duties for the Sox late in the year. He figures to make $4-5 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agency next fall.
Would the Sox give him up?
"Depends how much they want to get rid of Eovaldi's money," one scout said. "And Smith would give them an affordable first baseman, which they need. Maybe it could work."
Smith to the Blue Jays for Ken Giles and Simeon Woods Richardson
Yes, that's the same former second-round draft choice the Mets traded to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman trade last summer, and, well, he still offers the potential of a power-armed starter, so why not?
Of course, Woods Richardson is still only 19, and probably two years away from the big leagues, but Giles would give the Mets a proven late-inning reliever coming off a dominant season, pitching to a 1.87 ERA for the Blue Jays.
He's a year away from free agency, which is why the rebuilding Blue Jays might be willing to trade him. And while Giles has had issues in the past, getting traded by the Astros after famously punching himself in the face upon giving up a costly home run to Gary Sanchez, he's only 29 and has what one scout called "great, power stuff."
Smith, meanwhile, who still has five years of contractual control, could be a nice way for the Blue Jays to round out the young infield they're building with the likes of Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio.
Smith and David Peterson to the Tigers for Buck Farmer and Tarik Skubal
Farmer is a decent reliever with three years of contractual control who would offer some help for the Mets' bullpen, but in this deal Skubal would be the key. He's a 23-year old lefty who had a breakout year in the minors in 2019, pitching to a 2.42 ERA in high A and Double-A, while racking up 179 strikeouts in 122 2/3 innings.
Skubal wasn't considered a blue-chipper in the 2018 draft, selected in the ninth round out of Seattle University by the Tigers, but he's now ranked No. 74 in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects.
So why would the Tigers give him up? They have a lot of highly-regarded young pitching coming as part of their rebuild, and in Smith they'd get a core position-player who will be there when they're ready to win in a couple of years, as well as Peterson, a solid lefty whose ceiling isn't as high as that of Skubal.