Assessing The Mets Second Base Trade Targets
Looking over the free agent roster and the Mets internal options, second base may be the most difficult position to fill. Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and T.J. Rivera each have the bat, but they don’t have the glove. Additionally, Rivera is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Gavin Cecchini and Phillip Evans have the glove, but they don’t have the bat.
Accordingly, the Mets may best suited to make a trade for a second baseman. There are some interesting, yet flawed, candidates available:
2017 Stats: .308/.341/.375, 20 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 60 SB, 16 CS
Advanced: 3.4 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR, 94 OPS, 92 wRC+, 3 DRS
Salary: 3 years, $37.9, 2021 option ($1 million buyout)
For Mets fans, Gordon seems to be the cure to many ills. He is a top of the order hitter who steals bases and has a good defensive reputation. The problem with Gordon is much of his reputation is based upon a career year in 2015, and he has yet to replicate that season. Overall, he’s been a great base stealer, average defender, and someone who does not walk nearly enough to hit atop the order. Between that and the salary, the Mets should look elsewhere.
2017 Stats: .272/.339/.432, 26 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB, 4 CS
Advanced: 3.3 bWAR, 2.6 fWAR, 101 OPS+, 104 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $10.25 million (Team options next two seasons)
Harrison seems to be the type of player the Mets covet this offseason due to his versatility. He’s been a good defender at second, and he can handle himself at third and both corner outfield positions. He also has a reasonable contract with reasonable team options in succeeding years. There are two caveats with Harrison. First, Harrison does not draw many walks. More importantly for a Mets team unable to keep players on the field, Harrison has his own injury issues.
2017 Stats: .236/.313/.412, 25 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 52 RBI, 14 SB, 5 CS
Advanced: 2.1 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR, 90 OPS+, 91 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $11 million
With the season Kinsler just had, it’s fair to question whether he’s done at 35 years old. Even with the dropoff, he was still a good defender at second, and he maintained a respectable 9.0% walk rate. Like most of his career, he had a good start to the season, hit lefties well, and he tapered off as the season progressed. It’s possible being put in a new situation with a new manager will be able to rejuvenate him. Even if it doesn’t, you’re still getting a good defender with a solid clubhouse presence at a somewhat reasonable cost.
2017 Stats: .232/.291/.414, 25 2B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 6 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.4 bWAR, 0.7 fWAR, 81 OPS+, 82 wRC+, -2 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $28.3 million ($16.5 million 2020 option)
After being a reasonably healthy player, Kipnis had an injury plagued year that kept him off the field and helped lead to a career worst year. Ever the team player, Kipnis came back from the disabled list, and with him having been supplanted at second base by Jose Ramirez, he went to center field. With Ramirez playing a terrific second and the emergence of Yandy Diaz, it’s rumored the Indians may be willing to move Kipnis.
It’s also likely it’s going to be a high price tag. Kipnis has a reasonably salary, and the Indians could use him at either first of the outfield depending on what happens with Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce. Considering he’s a 4.0+ WAR player when healthy, he might just be worth whatever price the Indians demand.
2017 Stats: .232/.318/.375, 20 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.5 bWAR, 0.3 fWAR 79 OPS+, 82 wRC+, 5 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $29 million
After the 2015 season, the Mets thought Zobrist might be the player to take them over the top, and they vigorously pursued him in free agency. The Mets were proven to be correct when Zobrist was the 2016 World Series MVP. For those that believed Zobrist’s deal was going to be harsh at the tail end, they seemed to be proven correct with Zobrist having a poor year where he looked every bit of his 36 years of age.
Still, Zobrist is just one year off of being a good major league player, a good defender at second, and every bit as versatile as he’s always been. While he’s not officially on the trade block, the Cubs are nearing a bit of a roster crunch with Albert Almora staking a claim in CF and Ian Happ proving he should be an everyday player. Unless the Cubs want to pay Zobrist big bucks to be a utility player, they may look to move him, and the team has been known to like Seth Lugo. This isn’t saying that’s what gets it done for both sides. Still, it’s interesting the Cubs have a player the Mets want, and the Mets have a player the Cubs want. This could lead to trade discussions, and Sandy getting a player he has long coveted.
Overall, the Mets would be improved by getting anyone of these players, but that does not necessarily mean that is the best allocation of resources. Given the contract length and what should be a relatively low sales price, it would seem Kinsler should be the Mets top target. If the Mets had more talent available in their farm system, perhaps then you may be more willing to pursue a Kipnis or Harrison.