Trades and free agents the Mets might consider this winter to upgrade their infield

Herrera Desmond Zobrist Ramirez


–Originally posted November 8, 2015–

With what is the likely departure of Daniel Murphy, the Mets are faced with a choice on how to proceed at the position, either by filling their need internally or going to the markets and looking for a solution either in free agency or trade.

But the Mets might also need to consider bulking up at shortstop, especially if they decide to fill their need at second base internally.

Simply put, the Mets middle infield defense was utterly dreadful in 2015.

How bad was it? If the Mets had even league average defense at those two positions, it might have been enough to win the World Series.

Mets shortstops were tenth in the league with a 2.9 WAR, largely being carried by their offense as they were 26th in the league with a -9.0 ultimate zone rating (UZR) and dead last with -26 defensive runs saved (DRS).

That along with -10 DRS from Mets second basemen – fifth worst in the league – and a 2.9 UZR – 15th best – make for a dire need to upgrade their middle infield defense in general.

They could also stand to get a little more right-handed/versatile at the plate to limit a weakness late in games and force the opposing manager’s hand with their bullpen more often.

Here’s a look at how the Mets might choose to upgrade their middle infield… Continue reading

Report: Dodgers, Cubs have discussed the possibility of acquiring Jon Niese

Jon Niese

BaronWith the Mets still needing at least one infielder and the Cubs continuing to search for starting pitching, the two teams continue matchup well for a potential deal at some point.

As such, the Cubs have discussed the possibility of acquiring Mets LHP Jon Niese, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

However, Rosenthal believes the Cubs would probably prefer someone better than Niese right now.

In addition, the Cubs interest has dwindled in Niese, and his market does not appear particularly robust at the moment, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Rosenthal opines if the Mets want to move Niese and acquire anything of significance in return from the Cubs, he would have to be part of a larger deal.

The Cubs and Mets could eventually come together on a deal. In fact, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times last month a deal will, “happen at some point,” between the Mets and Cubs and expects to speak with the Mets in the future.

Wittenmyer believes a deal is more likely to involve Javier Baez, who has played some shortstop at Triple-A Iowa this season. In fact, Wittenmyer recently reported the Cubs reached out to the Mets about Baez.

Baez comes with his share of problems, specifically with his high strikeout rate and inability to adjust. He got a cup of coffee last year with the Cubs and showed all of that power potential at this level, but also featured a big, one-dimensional swing which didn’t produce much else. He hasn’t played in the big leagues this year and broke his thumb recently, so maybe the two sides could eventually come to terms on a deal at a reduced cost for the Mets.

There’s no denying Baez is young, has a ton of power potential, has decent speed and could eventually evolve into the transformation bat they seek. The problem is, that may not happen this year.

In addition to the Cubs, Rosenthal said on Sunday afternoon the Dodgers have expressed interest in Niese as well, although no active discussions are ongoing.

Last month, Dodgers President Andrew Friedman said he would be seeking starting pitching in the trade market this summer. Even though they traded Juan Uribe to the Braves, they still have Justin Turner, Jimmy Rollins, Hector Olivera, and Alex Guerrero with Corey Seager on the way. So, the Dodgers still have infielders to deal despite shedding their most expensive contract in Uribe.

“Having as many good players as possible not only helps you in constructing your own roster, but allows you the opportunity to have more good players to talk about with other teams,” Friedman explained to reporters in May.

The most appealing of Friedman’s surplus is obviously Guerrero. He’s not particularly young, but he played for a long time in Cuba before defecting and joining the Dodgers as a free agent in 2013. He has shown good power so far this season although he hasn’t walked very much.

His glove seems to be that of a utility infielder: he can play second, shortstop or third, although has yet to play short in the big leagues. He did play a little bit there last season and has experience playing there in Cuba. He’s probably best suited at second base – he’s relatively raw at third and hasn’t played more than seven games at shortstop since 2010. He is owed $21.5 million through 2017 and can opt out of his deal if traded, but if he stays he will only be arbitration eligible when that contract expires and can be controlled through 2021. However, he will be about 32 when he becomes arbitration eligible, which makes the situation a little risky for any interested party.

Alternatively, perhaps Friedman would elect to shop Jimmy Rollins with Seager closing in on his big league debut. Rollins has said the Mets were among his favorites as a landing spot this winter, so he might not be terribly upset if he were moved here. But he’s off to a bad start with  at the plate and he has not played well at shortstop, so he might not provide the Mets what they’re looking for in an upgrade right now.

The Dodgers might start out aiming higher in their quest to add starting pitching than what the Mets might be willing to offer. Cole Hamels remains available, albeit at a very high price, according to reports. If that price remains out of touch, perhaps the Dodgers would search the next tier of available pitching, which would make the Mets a theoretical fit for them.

Original post, June 28, 12:07 PM, updated June 28, 2:18 PM, June 29 at 11:15 AM, June 29, 5:20 PM

Cubs believe a deal could eventually transpire with the Mets

Noah Syndergaard Steven Matz

BaronThroughout the winter, logic suggested the Mets would entertain and eventually deal from their crop of top pitching prospects to acquire a difference-making bat, particularly on the middle infield.

However, such a trade never materialized.

Part of that was Zack Wheeler had a privately known injury to his elbow and was eventually lost for at least a full season. Knowing that limited the number of chips they could move, and would sacrifice much-needed starting pitching depth, something which has proved immediately necessary in their starting rotation.

The team’s strategy has not changed, particularly with both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, according to the Daily News’ John Harper, as team insiders said they’re now even less likely to trade either of them going forward.

Addison RussellPart of that, according to Harper, is the Mets prefer to proceed with their plan of having Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz as the future of their starting rotation. They also believe SS prospect Amed Rosario has a bright future, although he is still a couple of years away.

That hasn’t stopped the Mets from being interested in one of the Cubs young prospects, according to Harper of the Daily News.

Sandy Alderson was said to have contacted the Cubs about the availability of Addison Russell, Harper says, as he preferred Russell’s potential over Starlin Castro’s track record.

I had heard some rumblings the Mets made one of their pitching prospects available to teams under the right circumstances this winter. Presumably that meant the Mets could move one of their prizes for someone considered to be a difference maker, such as Russell or Troy Tulowitzki. However, the prices were well beyond just one of their pitching prospects, as I understood it, so nothing ever materialized.

For now, they look wise to retain these pitchers, considering everything that has happened. However, eventually the Mets must find a bat somewhere, and they have to find a way to get better defensively. They are not going to outhit the mistakes and lack of range on the middle infield in particular, even when David Wright eventually gets back and shores up their infield defense.

Harper says the Mets and Cubs could eventually come together on a trade. Cubs President Theo Epstein didn’t discount such a possibility in the future, although he is not motivated to make any hasty moves with his young and promising club.

“If there is, there is. Those things are always easier in internet chat rooms than they are in reality,” Epstein told Mike Vorkunov of the Star Ledger about the rumors and possibility of a deal between the Mets and Cubs.

Meanwhile, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times a deal will, “happen at some point,” between the Mets and Cubs and expects to speak with the Mets in the future.

“We haven’t made a deal yet, but there’s been matches that made sense, and I’m sure we’ll talk to them in the future,” Hoyer told Wittenmyer.

To clarify, Hoyer could simply be suggesting the two clubs matchup well to fit each other’s needs (which they have, do and will continue to do so), and it’s not a surprise at all the Cubs would be interested in the Mets pitching prospects. It’s all about price, for both sides, and whether or not they can eventually agree to terms of a deal. That may or may not happen, considering both sides have assigned extremely high values to their chips.

Wittenmyer believes a deal is more likely to involve Javier Baez, who is playing some shortstop at Triple-A Iowa.

Original Post, 10:42 am, updated 4:45 pm