Who To Trade?
Last year, the Mets parted with number of pitching prospects in a drive to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2006. Over the course of this past year, we have seen some of them actually pitching in the major leagues:
- In 16 starts for the Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP. He is the leading candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and he should receive some Cy Young Award votes at the end of the season.
- The Tigers traded Luis Cessa in the offseason to the New York Yankees. Cessa has pitched briefly out of the bullpen for the Yankees this year. In his six appearances, he has pitched 13.2 innings going 1-0 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.244 WHIP.
- The Atlanta Braves do not seem quite sure what to make of John Gant and his quirky delivery, but they seem to be convinced he’s a major league caliber pitcher. Out of the bullpen, Gant has made seven appearances with no record, a 6.17 ERA, and a 1.714 WHIP. As a starter, Gant has performed considerably better going 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP.
As we know, the Mets got Yoenis Cespedes for Fulmer and Cessa. Gant was part of a trade that netted the Mets Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. The Mets also made trades of varying success to obtain Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, and Eric O’Flaherty. Overall, the Mets gave up valuable pieces to obtain major league players that helped them win the National League Pennant.
As of right now, the Mets are in a similar situation to where they were last season. They need to assess what they need (starter, reliever, and right handed bat off the bench) and what they are willing to trade to obtain those pieces. Sooner or later, the right player is going to come along, and the Mets are going to have to decide whether to trade next year’s Fulmer for this year’s Cespedes. The issue becomes who do you and who do you not trade. Here is a look at the Mets top prospects teams are sure to be inquiring about.
Each and every team is going to inquire on Rosario, and the answer time and time again is going to be no. It’s for good reason as well. When the Mets signed him out of the Dominican Republic, his defense was seen as a given, but there were concerns about his bat. Rosario has put many of those concerns to bed by hitting .321/.372/.464 with 19 doubles, 12 triples, three homers and 56 RBI between St. Lucie and Binghamton. He was a Florida State Leauge All Star, on the Team World Roster for the Future’s Game, and he was named MLB.com‘s 18th best prospect. Unless you are talking a Mike Trout trade, Rosario is off the table.
This is where things start to get a little interesting as Smith has really taken off since Rosario joined him in AA hitting .336/.398/.626 with five doubles, one triples, eight homers and 27 RBI. Smith is starting to show the power that could take him from a very good prospect to an elite prospect with the ranks of Rosario. Already, Smith is a plus defender at first base, and he has the ability to drive the ball gap-to-gap. If you trade him, you could be trading away the next John Olerud or worse if his power game continues to develop. If you keep him, you risk him becoming the next James Loney. Yes, Loney has been a quality major league first baseman, but Loney should never be what stands between you and getting an All Star or difference maker at the trade deadline that could put the team over the top.
It seems that since Herrera came to the Mets in the Marlon Byrd trade, he was touted as the Mets second baseman of the future. He was someone who could handle the position well defensively while being a real force at the plate. He showed that he has unique power for the position. Due to injuries in 2014, the Mets brought him up from AA to play in the majors. Last year, he was seen as an offensive spark when a number of players went down due to injury. This year he hasn’t been a consideration at all. He has struggled in AAA hitting .277/.331/.471 in the Pacific Coast League which is a hitter’s league. Part of that might be teams figuring him out. Part of that may be him dealing with a shoulder injury sapping him of some of his offensive ability and having him fall into bad habits at the plate. He is less patient at the plate, and he is lunging for balls he wouldn’t last year. If you move him, you are moving the guy that could be a multiple time All Star. If you don’t, you just might be hanging onto a guy that may never figure it out.
Cecchini is in a tough position in the Mets organization. He isn’t seen as good a prospect at short as Rosario, and he has had some trouble handling the position at Cashman Field, who has an infield that is not kind to infielders. He’s a good hitter hitting .315/.392/.441 with 18 doubles, two triples, five homers, and 40 RBI, and he reminds you of a right-handed Daniel Murphy at the plate. However, he is not considered as good of an offensive prospect as an Herrera. Furthermore, his bat does not have the power profile that would play at third or the outfield. By many accounts, Cecchini will play in the majors one day. What you don’t know is what he will be. Will he be the next Murphy at the plate with similar defensive versatility? With that in mind, will he develop power as he gets older and fills out like Murphy did? Will he turn into the next Matt Reynolds – a major league utility player? Again, you don’t want to lose the next Murphy for a rental, but you also don’t want to miss out on someone because you wnated to keep another Reynolds or Joe McEwing type of player.
Most Mets fans would jump at the opportunity to trade him. He hasn’t hit at all in the majors despite given extended looks on two different occassions. However, Plawecki has been a good defensive catcher and pitch framer. He was also once considered a prospect who could push Travis d’Arnaud for playing time. Keep in mind that since his demotion, Plawecki is hitting .291/.347/.512 with four doubles, five homers, and 21 RBI in 27 games. These numbers aren’t exciting, especially in the Pacific Coast League, but it shows he is starting to become more patient at the plate and more selective swinging at pitches. Also keep in mind that catcher is a position that players tend to develop later in their careers than other positions. Plawecki could still very well be the Mets catcher of the future, or he could be a solid backup. He may not be the type of player who should hold up a deal, but he definitively is a player you want to protect if at all possible.
Ultimately, it seems like one of the aforementioned players are going to have to be traded if the Mets want to acquire an impact player like Jonathan Lucroy. However, they need to be very careful about which one.
In an ideal world, Rosario and Smith are non-starters. These are two players who are excelling in AA at a young age, and they appear primed to contribute to the Mets sooner than expected. You do not ever want to give up a Rosario or a Smith. These players should prove to be fixtures in the Mets lineup for ten plus years. Still, you’re going to have to give up someone if you are going to want to add that last piece who could put the Mets over the top in 2016.
That piece appears to be between Herrera and Cecchini. The Mets may very well have a preference between these two players, and coming into this season, it seemed like Herrera. However, that does not mean they still feel the same way, nor does it mean that other teams think similarly. Regardless of how the Mets feel, a team may force their hand to trade one or the other to hopefully trade for this year’s version of Yoenis Cespedes. In the end, it seems like the Mets will be giving up a Herrera or a Cecchini like they did with Fulmer last year if they want to make a move.
The hope is that the player has the impact Cespedes did last year and that the Mets take the next step and win the 2016 World Series.
Editor’s Note: this was also published on Mets Minors