October 23, 2013

Making the Call about Making the Call

Over at ESPN Adam Rubin has been taking a look at possible trades that Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson could make this offseason. It's always fun to speculate in the off-season...so...I am going to take the time to react to each of the suggestions contained in Adam's posts. It seems in each post Rubin speaks to Jim Bowden of ESPN and a former MLB GM to gage what it would take to land each prospective player. I will use Bowden's expectations as a base for whether or not I make the deal and perhaps suggest what I would do.

In his first post, Adam discusses the possibility of trading for Tampa Bay Rays ace left-hander, David Price. Rubin notes that the Rays have a history of trading star pitchers two years before they leave for free agency and that Price is at that point in his current contract. Jim Bowden expects that any deal with the Rays for Price would have to include Zach Wheeler. This sounds right to me. The Rays love their young cheap pitching and that's exactly what Wheeler is, for several more years no less.

However, what makes him attractive to the Rays should also make him attractive to the Mets. Wheeler is cheap...and will continue to be so for a while...and as a team with many holes to fill, the Mets need to value what they do control that doesn't cost a lot.

Additionally, as Rubin notes, Price is only under control for two more years.  He WILL test free agency after the 2015 season.  With Harvey out next year, if you trade for Price (and it doesn't include an extension) you would only assure yourself one year of that 1-2 punch of Harvey/Price.  While that does sound tantalizing, you don't trade a Wheeler type prospect for only 2 years of Price, only half of which would be with your other star pitcher.

I don't believe in prospects like others do. Price is a proven commodity and Wheeler is not. You don't hold on to a prospect just because you like him. However, the length of Price's contract combined with Harvey's injury and my realistic expectations for the 2014 Mets lead me to say no to this deal.  Perhaps I could be so inclined if the trade included a big extension for Price, to guarantee me at least 2-3 years of Price/Harvey. Without that, Wheeler's price-tag is too much for me to give up.

In Rubin's second post, he posits the idea of trading for Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. Jim Bowden believes Bautista could be obtained in a package that includes Jonathan Niese and two prospects, including Cesar Puello.  Set aside for the moment that this sounds a bit light, and that if I were the Blue Jays, I would be looking for revenge for the fleecing Sandy gave them last year (see: Dickey for d'Arnaud/Syndergaard).

As Rubin notes, Bautista is a premiere right-handed power hitting corner outfielder with a strong arm and a good walk rate. This sounds right in Sandy Alderson's wheelhouse. Combine that with the Mets and Blue Jays past of working with each other, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is an avenue the Mets actually go down.

Bautista is 33 years old, about the age where players (nowadays) begin to decline.  However, Bautista didn't begin playing full time until he was 26 years old. He doesn't have the mileage on him that others players at his age may have.  Additionally, he is under team control through the 2016 (there is a team option for the 2016 season - so if he gets old quick - you can cut ties after 2015 season) at the reasonable price of $14M per year. This means he would come off the books prior to turning 35 or 36, whichever the team chose.  He has a team favorable contract.

At the price Bowden suggests, I would jump at this deal. Niese is a nice mid-to-back of the rotation type of guy....but you can get those guys and the Mets have a glut of young pitching but no young hitting. Puello showed flashes of great talent this year, however, he only did that this year.  Prior to this season, he was ranked the 18th best Mets prospect by Baseball America. Add his PED suspension to that and he become expendable in my mind, particularly if you can land a bat now.

I think Bowden is being a little unrealistic with the package he proposes. I would think the Blue Jays would ask about Wheeler and Sydergaard. However, if the Niese/Puello package were possible, I would hand deliver the papers myself. Bautista is precisely what the Mets need, and he comes at a good price. Go get'em Sandy.

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