We know that Sandy Alderson is looking to trade Jay Bruce and/or Curtis Granderson. The GM’s first goal is to fortify the bullpen (I think I’ve written this every early December since 1962) but other areas could use help too.
Here are just a few names of players that Alderson should at least inquire about.
J.D. Martinez– This right handed slugger seems to be on the block in Detroit. A late bloomer Martinez had three nondescript seasons before becoming potent in 2014. In that year he hit .315 with a marvelous OPS of 912. He followed that up in 2015 by blasting 38 home runs, driving in 102 runs, and putting up an OPS of 879. He OPS’d over 900 once again during 2016. If the Mets could acquire this formidable a righty bat and install him in right field the lineup would be stronger and more balanced than it currently is. This likely means that the team trades both Bruce and Granderson although it is unclear whether Detroit is looking for someone like that back or wants young prospects. The Tigers might target someone like Michael Conforto and while that’s a deal breaker to some I think it is worth considering.
Blake Swihart – A year ago the Red Sox saw this player about the same way the Mets saw Conforto. Where Conforto was the potential start left fielder of the future, batting 3rd no less, Swihart was to be Beantown’s backstop. He had recent series where he was rated higher as a prospect than Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi. After an injury plagued 2016 the team started thinking of him as a hybrid – someone who could catch some days but also start in left field on other days. The Sox now seem to think their catching future belongs to Sandy Leon and defensive wizard Christian Vazquez. Could Bruce or Granderson bring back Swihart? Alderson can’t know unless he asks. Swihart likely would be a better hitter than what we have seen from d’Arnaud and while he’s no Rene Rivera defensively he probably would be satisfactory.
Evan Gattis – Joel Sherman’s column in Friday’s New York Post suggests a blockbuster deal with Houston in which the Mets give up Bruce and Zack Wheeler and get in return Luke Gregerson and Gattis. Whether it is that kind of deal or a smaller one there is merit in looking at that player. Gattis is another late arrival like Martinez. He’s a catcher, turned outfielder/first baseman, turned designated hitter, turned catcher again. Whew. His catching skills are a bit suspect and his large thick body makes him someone who likely could not catch 120 or more games in a season. If the Mets acquired him they may want him to time share with d’Arnaud with each player starting about 80 games behind the dish. Meanwhile since Gattis can play first base one could envision him playing there a few dozen times so that Lucas Duda needn’t face a tough lefty starter.
One player I almost placed on this list but then scratched back off is the enigmatic Danny Espinosa of the Washington Nationals. As you know it looks likely that Andrew McCutchen will become a Nat very soon. If they give him center field then their outstanding young Trea Turner moves elsewhere, probably back to his original position: shortstop. Espinosa was the Nats’ shortstop last year and had a very odd year. He defended well and is probably a better defensive shortstop than Asdrubal Cabrera. Back when he played second base he was gold glove caliber. He hit 24 home runs in 2016 so he must be something special, right? Wrong. He batted .209, had a ridiculously low OPS of 684, and struck out a humongous 174 times.
My thinking was that Espinosa would start in a utility role and then find himself at second base pushing Walker to third when the inevitable David Wright injury hit. But given the presence of Jose Reyes and even T.J. Rivera taking on Espinosa’s odd talent set seems silly. And besides, would the Nats deal with the rival Mets right now? Have to doubt that.