The Mets have held firm on their stance that none of their healthy young starting pitchers are available in a trade this winter.
That group is inclusive of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard.
But in November, assistant GM John Ricco left open the possibility Zack Wheeler could be moved in a trade under the right circumstances, since he won’t be available or 100 percent for most of the 2016 season.
And on Sunday in Nashville, Ricco went as far as to say Wheeler’s placeholder in the rotation – Jon Niese – could also be available in a trade this winter.
Ricco suggested Rafael Montero could serve as a placeholder for Wheeler instead, even though he missed most of the 2015 season with a strained right rotator cuff.
Ricco also said the Mets are weighing the possibility to re-signing Bartolo Colon to serve as a swingman in and out of the bullpen, and the 42-year-old pitcher is open to returning to the Mets in that role.
“The door is still open with him,” Ricco explained. “And I think we’ll meet with his guys out here. I can see a fit there. His versatility and the success he had in the playoffs in that role, and where he is in his career, I think he could fit us on a number of levels. Everything I’ve heard, he would be open to that type of role.”
From a dollars and cents perspective, it might be worth it for the Mets to explore moving Niese and replacing him with Colon. Niese is set to earn $9 million in 2016, and is all but sure to go back to the bullpen when Wheeler is activated from the disabled list, which will take place sometime in June or July.
Colon will presumably command significantly less than the $11 million he earned in the final year of his two-year contract in 2015, and less than the $9 million Niese is set to earn next year as well. And the Mets could then use that cost savings for other assets they’re interested in signing this winter.
Ricco said the club will meet with Colon’s agents at the Winter Meetings this week.