Potential Winter Meetings targets for the Mets

Winter MeetingsAre we all ready for the winter meetings? Given the general lack of talent in the free agent group it has been speculated that there may be more than the typical number of trades.

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.

23 comments for “Potential Winter Meetings targets for the Mets

  1. December 4, 2016 at 9:45 am

    I think the Tigers are more interested in paring down their payroll.That being the case Miggy and Victor Martinez should be available as well.I believe J.D. is eligible for FA after 2017 so how much do the Tigers expect back in return for a one year rental? Miggy has always intrigued me. Put him on first base and give the Tigers Wheeler, Duda, Comforto and ? If and when Wright goes down you still will have a formidable offense. Obviously need to move Grandy or Bruce to accommodate Cabrera’s salary

    • Chris F
      December 4, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      Pete, look at Pujols. Im sure the Angels regret every second of that contract. Plus you have a guy changing leagues, and ultimately more suited to DH. No thanks.

  2. Matty Mets
    December 4, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Pete – look up Miggy’s contract and tell me if you’re still interested.

    • December 4, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      The Mets are paying Cespedes 27.5 million dollars for 4 years (average). Miggy gets 28, 30, 30 30 in the same 4 years.Yes I do realize that Yoenis is 3 years younger, But if Detroit is looking to dump payroll then I wonder if maybe asking for Detroit to pay a portion of his salary might help. Wright’s money will be off the books by then

  3. Metsense
    December 4, 2016 at 10:53 am

    An interesting and apropos read for a Sunday morning.
    Swihart was sent down last year because of his defensive shortcomings but he can hit. He sounds like TDA when TDA was hitting. Swihart hits enough to play DH, LF and be the Bosox backup catcher. The target should have been Vazquez, who is out of options and is a better defensive catcher than Rivera and cheaper. The fact that Rivera was just signed has made this unnecessary. Gattis , who is a slightly below average defensive catcher, but better than TDA, would be an upgrade at the position. Houston may be a nice trade partner.

  4. Larry Smith
    December 4, 2016 at 11:11 am

    One of the fun things about Winter Meetings week is that other teams’ signings and trades can impact the dynamic quickly. The column was written before the ‘Stros signed Carlos Beltran. Beltran, at his advanced baseball age, figures to be mostly a DH but that’s where Gattis figured to be on those days when McCann was catching. Either this makes Gattis more expendable or it will force Houston to use him in the outfield (where he is awful) or at 1B where he is somewhat acceptable.

    • justin
      December 4, 2016 at 11:55 am

      read an article this morning that said astros are shopping gattis now. could make a lot of sense, maybe for a gsellman?

  5. Jerryk
    December 4, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Gattis is not a catcher. D’Arnaud is a better catcher. GAttis is a DH.

    • Larry Smith
      December 4, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Beg to differ. Career caught stealing % for d’Arnaud: 23%, for Gattis: 29%. Neither has ever gotten great grades in pitch framing. Meanwhile offensively d’Arnaud 704 OPS, Gattis 786.
      Alderson teams have played non-SS Wilmer Flores at short and not-fast-enough-to-play-center Granderson and Michael Conforto in CF. In Met-land the bats trump the gloves. If the Mets could land Gattis he’d be a catcher.

    • Chris F
      December 4, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      I agree Jerry. Gattis is not an every day C, and more a DH. Its not a move I would make.

      The main thing is, it is clear now that the moves Alderson makes are going to be unloading left-hand hitting outfielders and acquiring relief pitching. I cant even imagine JD Mart, Swihart, Gattis, or Espinoza even being considered by Alderson.

      With the addition of Sherlock, the plan is clearly to fix TdA (and KP?). I cannot imagine SA trading Conforto for 1 year of JD Mart. With all the infielders we have, why on earth would sandy be looking to add a guy who cannot hit a baseball?

      • MattyMets
        December 5, 2016 at 11:23 am

        I’m baffled by all the enthusiasm about Sherlock. Sure, it’s great to have a catching coach to work with TDA and Plawecki, but those guys need more time with Kevin Long. It’s their hitting that really stinks.

  6. Name
    December 4, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Catching is a premium position, and is main reason Swihart was ranked so high as a prospect.
    Take away that and move him to another position, and he loses most if not all his luster. Ranked against other catchers, his offense would be considered above average. Ranked against OFers, and he ranks among the bottom.

    It always boggles my mind when teams try to use their catchers in other positions, unless they stink at catching because most of the time they aren’t really that good hitters, prime example Kevin Plawecki last year.

    • Jimmy P
      December 5, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Completely agree.

      There’s also a disrespect for the abilities required to field at a ML level. It’s not as simple as “give him a 1B glove.” Not if you care about defense.

  7. steve
    December 4, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    The Mets don’t want Swihart And don’t need Swihart ..What they need is another closer why not have the best pitching staff in baseball by having Three closers .when Familia comes back .. Familia Reed I love to sign.. I want Champman. They are Saving 30 million dollars almost by trading two outfielders you could afford 15 million for that closer!!! And two more arms for the bullpen.And you still have enough money left over for Dexter Fowler. Continue to leave reed in his familiar spot so he could can continue his success and they need to score runs another way besides the Home Run and Dexter will help. Dexter!!!

  8. TexasGusCC
    December 4, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    News is coming out now that E-5 has overpriced himself as it seems the most aggressive bidders were the Blue Jays and they took their 4/80 off the table when they signed Morales.

    With the money some of these guys think they deserve, Jay Bruce will become an interesting piece to many teams, including the Rangers (who hardly make a bad trade under Daniels), the Red Sox (payback Dambrowski), the Yankees, Blue Jays, Giants, Royals, Dodgers, Orioles, and even the offensively challenged AL Champions.

    While many of you will line up to beat me senseless for saying this, I feel the best return the Mets would get – and we can throw in an arm if need be – is to get a top third base prospects like Jomar Reyes or Colin Moran and sign a free agent reliever. Free agent relievers are aplenty; good third base prospects are not very available on the free agent market.

    • Chris F
      December 4, 2016 at 10:49 pm

      Im in. Good thought.

      • Jimmy P
        December 5, 2016 at 10:17 am

        I’m in, too.

        I was thinking yesterday that they could even go for a quality starting pitcher, if one is available. It would allow them to make a different move.

        My point — and I believe the “Moneyball” point — is to take advantage of market inefficiencies. One move leads to another. If the Mets are too fixed on getting back a reliever in a trade, they’ve greatly limited their possible trade partners.

        Carlo Beltran just signed for $16 million. The numbers for Granderson and Bruce are right in line with the marketplace. Mets will have options here and, to date, Alderson has been very good at finding the right deal.

        I’d be happy with quality prospects, as I’m not thrilled with the state of the Mets farm system.

        • Chris F
          December 5, 2016 at 10:44 am

          BA just released its top 10 Mets prospects. Its not great news.
          Here’s their list:
          1. Amed Rosario, ss;
          2. Dominic Smith, 1b;
          3. Justin Dunn, rhp;
          4. Desmond Lindsay, of;
          5. Brandon Nimmo, of;
          6. Gavin Cecchini, 2b/ss;
          7. Robert Gsellman, rhp;
          8. Thomas Szapucki, lhp;
          9. Gabriel Ynoa, rhp;
          10. Tomas Nido, c

          Rosario is legit; Smith could be legit. Nimmo and Cheech are not every day players. Several a long way off.

          • TexasGusCC
            December 5, 2016 at 11:00 am

            While we all look at these lists and take them as gospel, we do so because we believe they know more than us. However, it’s time to understand that they are based on a variety of reports and in scouting, most people share popular opinion in fear of being wrong and looking bad.

            Hence, I will accept the top two, but Nimmo should be #3. The next two guys are too far away to know how good they will be when they get to AAA and Nimmo did not look overmatched in his brief cameo last year. He was put in RBI batting positions by the idiot and that’s not what the kid was trained for in his five years of minor league ball.

            Also, while Dunn maybe good someday, we just saw Gsellman actually excel in his brief cup of coffee. Doesn’t that bear any weight?

            My list according to my eyes:
            Rosario, Smith, Nimmo, Gsellman, Dunn, Cecchini, Szapucki, Buccerra, Lindsey, Nido, Lugo, Flexen, Ynoa

            I might have forgotten someone, but this was just quickly off the top of my head.

            • Jimmy P
              December 5, 2016 at 12:14 pm

              Come on, Gus. No one takes these lists as “gospel.”

              I’ve seen folks on other sites present themselves as “experts” and they never see the actual players. They just read stuff, look at numbers, and make a list. Different lists emphasis “production” and nearness to the MLB, whereas others lean more heavily toward perceived high-end talent.

              When you write “according to my eyes,” is that accurate? Have you seen all those guys in multiple games? If not, it’s not really meaningful to me. No offense, I hope. Or I should say, the order is not really meaningful. To my mind, Szapucki is more interesting than Nimmo; and Ynoa does nothing for me at all. But who cares, it’s means nothing.

              No one knows!

              Nobody knows!

              That’s the beauty of it.

              What does mean something, I think, is the totality. You look at this top 10, for example, and wonder is any of them could be an impact hitter. Depth is another thing that people talk about when it comes to organizations. I believe that 5 or 6 of the Mets top 7 ML teams had below .500 records. It just seems mediocre, kind of blah. In contract, look at the guys the Phillies have climbing the system. At the same time, if Dunn and Lindsay max out, if Szapucki isn’t a lefty fluke merely dominating at the lower levels, if Smith can actually hit for BA and decent power and play 1B for 5 years . . . if, if, if. There’s a chance I’m very wrong to be pessimistic here and it all works out great. I sure didn’t see deGrom coming.

              • TexasGusCC
                December 5, 2016 at 12:34 pm

                Jimmy, I am not referring to Chris, or anyone specifically. My comment about “gospel” was in response to his saying that “it’s not great news” and I thought with a little readjustment it does seem much better.

                I simply gave my opinion and reason for such without necessarily criticizing BA’s opinion. In fact, many times when we are comparing minor leaguers from other organizations or even our own team, we tend to use the prospect grade/level given to form an opinion because we may not know enough about each player.

                We have all seen snipets of most of these guys, but I admit to only having seen about half of these guys in live games, but all the information collected (live and snipets) gives me a perspective into their instincts and their athleticism. Seems I offending you Jim… Sorry.

                • Chris F
                  December 5, 2016 at 1:31 pm

                  Gus, All these these projections are fraught with the wild subjectivity of comparing across ages/levels. How could a little adjustment make things look better? Whether Nimmo is 3 or 6 doesnt change that we are looking at more or less a 4th OF, not Andrew McCutchen.

                  But the totality is something to look at, and the stand-back look is important. Over at MLB pipeline, the Mets have 2 prospects in the top 100. Rosario is 11 and Smith is 54. So this puts Nimmo, Cecchini, Gsellman, Rivera, Reynolds etc, that is the guys close to the Show on the outside looking in — really the far far outside. I doubt any will become regular every day players (or pitchers), let alone impact players. We might dig out another deGrom with Gsellman or Lugo, but dont hold your breath.

                  So lets look at Rosario. He has been the light of the Mets position player prospects since he signed. He is our best prospect by far, and at that ranks 11 in the MLB, and 4th in SS prospects. So when I envision the farm as looking lean, it comes from where our guys are WRT all prospects. I like the direction Nido and Szapucki are headed.

  9. Eraff
    December 5, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Many Eyes…Many Times…and even That is not reliable until a player actually reaches the MLB level.

    As for Quality of players, based on “whatever it is that we can know”—the Phillies have an overwhelming number of position players who are simply battering their leagues…and these guys are at/below normal league age. I’m distrustful of scouting by stats and production, alone—but these are guys at AA or A+.

    Cheech and Smith and Nimmo seem like “well rounded guys”— but there is not the simple Athletic Dominance or Specific dominant Skill that you might look for in a Major Impact Player…maybe that is what we’ll get from Lindsey, Dunn, Rosario.

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