The New York Mets are five games out of the Wild Card. The two teams immediately ahead of them, the Diamondbacks and the Giants, appear to be selling. After the dust clears today, it would appear the Wild Card race is going to be the among the Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Nationals, Phillies, and maybe the Mets.
On the National League Central front, it is three teams fighting for the division. There will be a lot of head-to-head games between them, and it is possible one of those teams fall way out of the race. Reasonably speaking, that could be the Brewers who have a -17 run differential and don’t have the pitching they did last year. It should also be noted after a big May, the Cubs have been a sub .500 club.
In the National League East, the Mets have six games each against the Nationals and Phillies putting the Mets fate in their own hands. For that matter, they also have three at home against the Cubs. As things stand, the Mets can really help themselves against everyone against the Cardinals and Brewers.
This doesn’t mean the Mets have a good chance. They are four games under .500, and they are still without a real center fielder. With Dominic Smith on the Injured List, they are down one key bat. We have also seen Pete Alonso slump in the second half. And yet, the Mets still have a viable chance to claim a Wild Card.
After all, at the moment their starting five is Jacob deGrom–Noah Syndergaard–Marcus Stroman–Zack Wheeler–Steven Matz. There is no better starting five in baseball. With the pitchers going deeper into games, and with their bullpen arms being healthier, the bullpen has been better of late. Of course, it helps that the team has Seth Lugo, who is phenomenal.
The question for the Mets today is what do you do? Do you add, sell, or stand pat?
If the Mets are willing to give Wheeler a qualifying offer, the team should keep him unless they are getting an offer for a player significantly better than the player they could draft with their compensation pick. The team should not trade Edwin Diaz unless they are going to be like the Indians and get a package similar to Yasiel Puig, Franmil Reyes, Logan Allen, Scott Moss, and Victor Nova. Short of that, pass.
Under no circumstances should the Mets trade Syndergaard. It’s not worth it. You’re not going to improve the team this year or the next by doing it.
Overall, the Mets could trade Todd Frazier, but it would seem odd to do that when they just obtained Stroman who needs a good infield defense. The Mets could put Jeff McNeil at third, but they don’t have anyone to put in the outfield. The team should trade Wilson Ramos for whatever they can get. He’s not helping this year or the next. He’s a hindrance. Perhaps, the Mets could look for cost controlled relievers like Mychal Givens but only for the right price.
Overall, the Mets are in a limbo right now. They’re in a position where they could contend this year, but probably won’t. Still, their schedule will allow them to make a run. With Stroman, they are setting themselves up to compete next year, so they can’t purge long term pieces, and with them having a chance now, they shouldn’t be just salary dumping players like Frazier.
In the end, the Mets just need to stand pat. That is unless they are blown away with an offer for Diaz, or they could make an offer to get that center fielder not in their system or on the free agent market this offseason. There are so many different possibilities, but in the end, perhaps the best choice is just to do nothing and ride this out.
Yesterday, the Mets traded Jason Vargas to the Philadelphia Phillies for Double-A catcher Austin Bossart. Considering Bossart is a 25 year old catcher repeating Double-A hitting .195/.303/.335, this is nothing more than a salary dump. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with that.
Fact is, Jason Vargas hasn’t been good for the Mets, and he is expensive. The team needed to unload him, and it was going to be difficult to do so.
Since the 2017 All Star Break, Vargas has a 5.30 ERA with opposing batters hitting .264/.334/.472 off of him. He has walked 3.5 per nine, and he has averaged 4.2 innings per start over that stretch. No matter how you want to manipulate or massage those stats, that’s not good, and it is not befitting the production you need from a fifth starter.
His pitching that way really hurt the Mets early in the season. It caused them to go to the bullpen much earlier, and it was one of the biggest reasons why the Mets bullpen was so taxed early in the season. It is not even about the Mets being under .500 in his starts over the first few months, it was about the lasting effect on the team.
The counter-argument many will have is Vargas has been much better of late. To that point, over his last six starts, he is 3-2 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.165 WHIP. In a vacuum, that level of production is more than acceptable from a fifth starter. The problem is he’s not going to be able to maintain that level of production.
Over these six starts, Vargas has yielded a .227 BABIP while walking 3.4 BB/9. He is stranding 76.2 percent of batters. This is nowhere near what he is as a pitcher. In his career, Vargas has a .282 BABIP in his career with a 73.1 percent strand rate.
When you stablize his current BABIP and LOB% to his career norms, you get the pitcher you saw in 2018 and the first few months of this season. Put another way, you are getting a bad pitcher who you need to take out of the rotation. By trading Vargas now, they’re doing just that. They’re getting the bad pitcher out of the rotation now.
Even better, they’re dumping him on the Phillies. If you want to make that miracle run to the Wild Card, weaken one of your top competitors. While a small sample size, he’s allowed batters to hit .250/.362/.563 off of him in four starts there. It’s part of the reason he has a 6.23 ERA at that ballpark. Ultimately, he should prove to be a nightmare for the Phillies over the final two months of the season.
When you break it down, Vargas isn’t good, and every team knows it. None of them are going to buy in on six starts fueled by unrepeatable peripherals. Given what we know and have seen, the Mets were always going to have to salary dump him. They were lucky they found a team.
Really, if you want to criticize the deal it is taking on a complete non-prospect who was a former collegiate teammate of Jeff Wilpon’s son. Looking at that, it looks more like a favor to a friend than an actual baseball move. An actual baseball move here would have been to identify someone at the lower levels of the minors who had potential like the Rays did when they obtained Neraldo Catalina for Wilmer Font or the Brewers did when they got Felix Valerio in the Keon Broxton deal.
Ultimately, that is the result of the Mets not scouting those levels of the minor leagues. If you want to criticize the Mets for that, you absolutely should. Their actions on that front are indefensible. However, their actions salary dumping Vargas are eminently defensible as they are a better team without him, and the Phillies are worse off with him.
While Mets fans understandably liked Asdrubal Cabrera, it is important to note he is an impending free agent who has been the worst defensive second baseman in baseball this year. Couple that with the Mets apparent unwillingness to eat salary in any deal, and it is hard to believe the team would get a significant return for Cabrera.
Well, in what should prove to be quite a surprise, the Mets not only got a good return, they got a far better return for Cabrera than they received for Jeurys Familia.
While an imperfect comparison on many levels, this trade is akin to the Mets obtaining Zack Wheeler from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran. Certainly, it was easy to make this connection seeing both of them pitch yesterday with both of them providing their own run support and giving their team a chance to win.
Now, Beltran is a Hall of Famer, and Wheeler was a former sixth overall pick in the draft. Still, the comparisons of Wheeler to new Met Franklyn Kilome is quite interesting.
Both pitchers were in their early 20s at the time of the trade, and both were on the precipice of Top 100 prospect lists. With respect to both, while they could ramp it up into the upper 90s, and they both had secondary pitch and control issues.
Consider that at the time of the trade, Wheeler was walking 4.8 batters per nine for the Giants’ California (Single-A) affiliate. For his part, Kilome has been walking 4.5 batters per nine for the Phillies Double-A affiliate. Of course, the biggest difference between the two is Wheeler was able to put batters away.
In fact, Wheeler was striking out over ten batters per nine innings. For his part, Kilome has struck out 7.8 batters per nine in his minor league career. This includes a 7.3 K/9 with the Phillies prior to this year.
This is what makes Kilome an interesting prospect. This is a guy with tremendous stuff, who just needs someone to get through to him and unlock that potential. That task is first up to Rumble Ponies pitching coach Frank Viola.
Looking at Kilome’s first start with Binghamton, he walked just one batter in seven innings. It’s possible Viola has already started getting Kilome to make the tweaks he needs. It’s also possible this is a one start blip.
If the Mets get through to Kilome, they have a guy who could be a middle of the rotation starter. Maybe more. If not, they have another late inning bullpen arm who is living in the upper 90s. In either event, that’s not a bad ceiling or floor when you consider the Mets traded away a rental without a true position.
Everywhere you look, people have panned the Mets return for Jeurys Familia. The Mets poor return was again highlighted yesterday when the Baltimore Orioles got a much better return for Zach Britton than the return the Mets had received.
Some of that analysis was well-grounded. For example, Keith Law of ESPN said, “although his command isn’t close to back yet, so his market value wasn’t going to be great, and in that context the O’s did well to acquire some pitching depth in the form of three second- or third-tier prospects from a very deep Yankees system.”
As we recall, Keith Law’s analysis of the Famila trade was that it was embarrassing for the Mets organization and all of Major League Baseball. He went so far as to call for the Commissioner’s office to step in and force the Wilpons to sell the team.
Again, this analysis was grounded on well based knowledge of the prospects and the ensuing analysis of the returns. Agree or disagree with any of it, it’s a learned critique. Then, we see Jon Heyman’s critique of the trades:
not to pick on anyone when they're down, but the orioles did a lot better for Britton than the mets did for Familia. Tate is the yanks' No. 6 prospect (plus the other 2 guys going to Baltimore are solid), mets got Oakland's No. 17 prospect and a bit more.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 25, 2018
If you read that critically, you will understand it tells you absolutely nothing about the quality of the return each selling team received for selling off their respective closers.
Remember, no two farm systems are alike, and they have different strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, some systems are just flat out stronger than others. In that tweet, Heyman gave us no context for why the Yankees No. 6 prospect is better than the Athletics No. 17 prospect.
It’s also important to note, he didn’t tell us who’s ranking. That’s also important because some lists are certainly credible than others.
With respect to Tate, he’s a 24 year old pitcher in Double-A. In his 15 starts, he is 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.113 WHIP, and an 8.2 K/9. For the sake of comparison, 23 year old Nabil Crismatt, an undrafted free agent, made 16 starts in the same league this year. He was 8-5 with a 3.58 ERA, 1.237 WHIP, and a 9.1 K/9 before being promoted to Triple-A.
No, it’s not a perfect comparison, but it should be worth nothing the 2015 fourth overall pick cannot out-pitch an undrafted free agent. Think about that for a second, the Yankees seventh best prospect isn’t out-pitching an undrafted free agent.
It should also be noted many have panned the Mets farm system as being weak and towards the lower third in the majors. MLB Pipeline does not rank Crismatt among the Mets Top 30 prospects. Similarly, neither Baseball America nor Baseball Prospectus ranks Crismatt among the Mets top prospects.
Again, putting your personal like of either return aside, how can you accurately judge the trade when the Yankees purported seventh best prospect isn’t performing any better than an undrafted free agent who can’t even crack the Mets top prospect lists?
None of those outlets have Tate in their Top 100 this year.
With that in mind, how can we possibly point out the Yankees seventh best prospect is a much better return than the Athletics 17th best prospect? The Athletics seventh best prospect is a Top 100 prospect while the Yankees seventh best propsect can’t out-pitch an undrafted minor league free agent.
In the end, we can say the Orioles got a better return for Britton than the Mets did for Familia. That is fair and reasonable. However, when drawing that conclusion, we should not compare each player’s ranking among that organization’s top prospects. As shown, those rankings tell us absolutely nothing about who is the better prospect or what was the better return.
Bautista has a 12.46 ERA in five Major League appearances, and he has a 5.08 ERA in the minors.
Callahan had a 9.72 ERA in seven appearances for Las Vegas before going down with season ending shoulder surgery.
Nogosek has a 5.49 ERA with a 6.8 BB/9.
It is just one year, but the pieces received in exchange for Reed last year are actually worse than you could have imagined. What makes that all the worse is the return for Reed was deemed underwhelming at the time of the trade.
This is important to note because as noted by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the New York Mets had the audacity to liken the return they received from the Oakland Athletics for Jeurys Familia to what they received from the Boston Red Sox for Reed.
With that, you don’t need to go searching out for an analysis from a scouting outlet, reporter, or talking head. The Mets themselves are telling you they got a terrible return for not just their biggest trade piece, but also for the top reliever remaining on the trade market.
But don’t take it from the Mets, take it from Keith Law’s scathing review in his ESPN Insider piece on the topic:
If the New York Mets are just going to trade their most valuable major league trade assets for salary relief, rather than try to improve the club, then it’s time for MLB to step in and force the Wilpons to sell the team, just as the league did with Frank McCourt and the Dodgers. Trading Jeurys Familia for two fringe-at-best prospects is not how any team, regardless of payroll level, should operate in this environment. For a franchise that operates in the largest market in the league to do this — and do so ten days before the trade deadline rather than waiting for someone to offer a legitimate return — is embarrassing for the Mets and Major League Baseball as a whole.
What makes this all the more maddening is the Mets have recently been quite public about how they are now in “excellent financial health” and that this time, they would be willing to eat salary to improve their return in a trade.
The very first chance they go to do it, they proved they were lying. Sure, they can go and spin it any way they want, but plain and simple, the Mets were lying.
Remember, reports on Friday were the Mets were on the verge of completing a trade with the Athletics, and then there was a stall. As reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the money, not the return, was the issue. In fact, the reports were the holdup was there was another team more willing to take on more of Familia’s salary.
NOT another team jumping in with a better prospect haul. No, another team willing to pay more of Familia’s salary. The end result was the small market Athletics taking on all of Familia’s salary.
You have to look long and hard for a person who like the trade it prompted former General Manager and writer for The Athletic, Jim Bowden to write, “The return they got from Oakland was so light, I had to make calls and texts around both leagues to see if I was missing anything. I couldn’t get a single unbiased team to support the return the Mets got.”
Wahl is yet another one of the Mets newfound hard throwing right-handed relief prospects. He’s putting up really good numbers in Triple-A (albeit with scary peripherals), and like Matt Harvey, he’s a pitcher with TOS.
Toffey, well, he’s been described anywhere from a fringe prospect to a future bench player. Oh, and as Law noted, “I know [Toffey’s] father and J.P. Riccardi, one part of the Mets’ interm GM structure, are friends, but I don’t know if that was a factor in the deal.”
Naturally, John Ricco would come out and say it was Riccardi who ran point on the deal with the Athletics. Of course, this happened a day later because apparently one of the three GMs the Mets have had a previously scheduled engagement.
Think about that for a second. The trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and one of your GMs, the guy who is front and center with the media, has a previously scheduled engagement. Seriously?
So, basically, if you take the Mets at face value, he wasn’t around when the deal went down. But that’s fine because it was Riccardi who “ran point” on the trade because of his relationship with the Athletics.
Taking the Mets at face value, Riccardi made this deal, and yet, the former GM could not speak with the media because they needed the guy who has never been a GM and who has ducked the media in the past to be the point man with the media to speak on a deal he had no part (or very little part) in making.
And just when you didn’t think it could get any better, the Mets are hyping the international bonus pool money and what Omar Minaya can do with it. Being fair, seeing how he signed Familia for $100,000, that’s a reason to like the deal.
So, in the end, we have the Mets coaxing the Athletics to eat more of Familia’s salary rather than get a better return, one of the GMs obtaining his friend’s son in a lackluster return, one of the selling points being how one of the GMs could use the international bonus money, and the one guy who has nothing to do with the deal or how it will be utilized being the guy who answers questions about the trade and the return. Furthermore, the same front office is comparing the deal to a trade which has so far blown up in their faces.
Under normal circumstances, you would say this is display of complete and utter incompetence, and no organization would want to be embarrassed publicly in this fashion.
However, this is the Mets team run by the Wilpons. As a result, this is just business as usual for what has become a complete and utter mess of an organization.
Ultimately, if you want a succinct analysis of the Mets trading Familia, it’s shame on the Mets and the Wilpons for continuing to operate their team in this fashion.
The date was June 23rd. After being activated off the disabled list, the Mets informed Asdrubal Cabrera he was no longer the Mets shortstop. Instead, he would be the Mets second baseman.
Cabrera responded by demanding a trade.
Given his play and the Mets trending towards being sellers, the Mets informed Cabrera they would be happy to oblige. The Mets seemed committed to trading Cabrera, who was due a $2 million buy out at the end of the year, but the team found no takers by the July 31st non-waiver deadline.
With the uncertainty surrounding Jason Kipnis‘ right hamstring, Addison Russell going on the disabled list, Carlos Correa dealing with a thumb injury, and whatever other issues teams may have with their infield, there was hope the Mets could move him by the August 31st waiver deadline. That went double when you consider Cabrera is a second half player. It didn’t work out that way.
Mostly, Cabrera happened. Since his trade demand, he’s only hitting .271/.340/.393 with 15 doubles, four homers, and 21 RBI.
In the field, he’s posted a -2 DRS at second, -1 DRS at third, and a -9 DRS at short. Fact is, he hasn’t even looked that good.
With the leg issues, he lacks mobility. As a result, he lacks range at all infield positions. He can’t run the bases.
The issues were obvious to everyone, and his manager did him no favors. Terry Collins pencilled his name in the lineup day-in and day-out. This didn’t allow Cabrera to rest his legs. This also allowed for all of his flaws to be consistently exposed to teams that MIGHT have been interested.
In the end, it was Cabrera’s play on the field that led to no one stepping up to obtain him. Considering the $2 million buy out, he wasn’t even a cheap option.
Overall, the guy who wanted the trade was the veteran who wasn’t traded, and he has no one to blame but himself with his poor play on the field.
It’s an interesting trade to say the least. When looking at a pitcher like Gonzalez, he has the stuff where trading him could haunt you one day. With that said, Gonzalez will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason meaning the Mets need to add him to the 40 man roster to protect him from the draft.
It’s no guarantee the Mets would add Gonzalez to the 40 man roster, and it was certainly plausible an organization would pick him in the draft. To that end, it certainly makes sense to get something for Gonzalez instead of losing him for nothing.
The deal should also help the Mets maximize the return for Addison Reed. All the teams who were in on Ramos were in on Reed. If someone really wants a late inning reliever, the cost for Reed is likely higher than it was yesterday as there is one less viable option.
These are all well and good reasons to like this trade. However, that’s not the reason why I like this trade for the Mets. The reason why I like this trade is what it signifies.
The New York Mets are going for it in 2018.
The Mets are in the middle of a fire sale. The team is likely getting younger with rookies Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario expected to be important parts of the team. The uncertainty of David Wright continues to hang over this organization. The players returning to the roster have all had injury issues. There’s a couple of holes that need to be filled.
On of those holes is the bullpen, and Ramos goes a long way towards filling it.
With his sinker-slider repertoire, he not only has the ability to return to his All Star form, but with his working with Dan Warthen, he could be even better.
Regardless of what happens, Mets fans should be excited about this deal. It is an indication the Mets will do all they need to be a much better team in 2018. That news alone should get that Mets fans excited.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on MMO
The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox unofficially opened trading season with the blockbuster deal sending LHP Jose Quintana to the Cubs for four prospects including top prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease. The trade was another large prospect haul for the White Sox who are masterfully rebuilding their team. The trade also addressed an area of need for the Cubs.
With the Cubs addressing a real area of need, it makes the Mets pipe-dream of acquiring the second Wild Card all that more improbable. It could also mean the Cubs could likely be out on the Mets biggest trade assets in Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins. With the Cubs getting that much better, it also makes you question how many of the National League teams within shouting distance of a postseason spot would be willing to now swing a deal with the Mets.
On the bright side, this is the second year in a row prices at the trade deadline have been high. The Yankees completely turned around their farm system with the Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller trades. The White Sox have just added two more big prospects. Considering Sandy Alderson was able to get Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud for R.A. Dickey, you can only imagine what the Mets are going to get for Reed, Blevins, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, and Curtis Granderson.
It appears the time to make a deal is now. It’s time for teams like the Brewers to make a big deal to try to solidy their spot atop the Central. The Diamondbacks and Rockies need to deal to fend off the Cubs as well. The Dodgers need another piece to try to make themselves a proverbial super team. As we know the Nationals need an entire bullpen. Throw in a wide open American League, and the Mets have an opportunity.
The time is now for the Mets to sell. Hopefully, they can take advantage of the this opportunity and bring back pieces that can help the Mets win in 2018.
Last year, the Mets were coming off an absolutely brutal loss to the San Diego Padres on the eve of the trade deadline. As the team blew a 7-1 lead, it seemed like all hope was lost.
However, the Mets front office didn’t share the same sense of diapair. They were active on the phones trying to improve a team that was three games behind the Nationals. They were a team who had an extremely weak August schedule. They were a team in the mend with Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Cuddyer, and David Wright expected to return from the disabled list.
It was a good team getting healthy facing a favorable schedule ready for a three game set at home against the first place Nationals. It was behind this backdrop that the Yoenis Cespedes trade happened.
Seeing Cespedes hobbled out there is a stark reminder that this year is not last year. This is a Mets team that isn’t getting healthy. In fact, they’re falling like flies. Here is a list of the players currently on the disabled list:
This list also does not even include Asdrubal Cabrera who left yesterday’s game with what is initially being described as a strained patellar tendon. He seems as if he’s bound for the disabled list. With Cabrera going down, it will create another hole in not just the lineup, but with the defense.
With Cespedes’ injury and Lagares’ surgery, the Mets are left scrambling to find a center fielder. They have tried Curtis Granderson out there, and after one game, the Mets saw enough. Against righties, the Mets have tried Michael Conforto in center, and he has held his own. Just recently, the Mets signed Justin Ruggiano, who was playing in AAA before being released by the Rangers.
With Cabrera injured and seemingly bound for the disabled list, it leaves the Mets scrambling to find adequate defenders at the two most important defensive positions. It will also mean Neil Walker, who has hit .234/.316/.343 since May 1st, will be the only starting infielder remaining from the Opening Day Lineup.
By no means is Walker the only one struggling:
- 2015 – .259/.364/.457 with 33 doubles, two triples, 26 homers, and 70 RBI
- 2016 – .234/.326/.431 with 16 doubles, four triples, 16 homers, and 29 RBI
- 2015 – .270/.335/.506 with 14 doubles, nine homers, and 26 RBI
- 2016 – .225/.303/.419 with 14 doubles, or triple, 10 homers, homers, and 30 RBI
- 2015 – .268/.340/.485 with 14 doubles, one triple, 12 homers, and 42 RBI
- 2016 – .249/.290/.321 with five doubles, two homers, and 10 RBI
All across the diamond, the Mets are dealing with injuries, under performance, or both. According to Baseball Reference, the Mets have the lowest team WAR at shortstop, third base, and right field among National League teams in the playoff hunt.
Further exacerbating the Mets struggles is their August schedule. There are the four emotionally charged Subway Series games along with series against the Tigers, Giants, Cardinals, and Marlins. There is s short West Coast trip. The combined record of their opponents is 416-369, which is good for a .530 winning percentage. With this schedule and the state of the Mets roster, things can fall apart quickly.
In reality, neither Jonathan Lucroy nor Jay Bruce help these problems. They do not solve the defensive gap at short or center. They cannot heal the players on the disabled list. They cannot make the schedule any easier. No, the only thing they can do is to join the Mets and play well.
However, if the Mets don’t get healthy or start playing better, there’s no point in adding Lucroy or Bruce. They don’t solve the Mets real problems, and they likely don’t put the Mets over the top.
With that in mind, there’s no sense on buying at the deadline. You’re just purging prospects to help acquire players who will most likely not be difference makers. There’s also no sense to selling because this is a talented team that needs to find that next gear.
With that in mind, as frustrating as it might be, the Mets best option might be to stand pat.
There is probably not hotter prospect in all of baseball right now than Amed Rosario. He recently played in the Future’s Game, Keith Law recently ranked him as the number 14 overall prospect in all of baseball, and the Mets have called him untouchable in trade discussions thereby assuring he is going to be the Mets shortstop of the future. Given the fact that he is hitting .405/.471/.568 with six doubles and three triples in 17 games at AA Binghamton after dominating the Florida State League, the natural question arises as to when he will get called-up to AAA, so he can work on what he needs to work on there before taking over as the Mets shortstop for the next decade or more.
There’s one problem with aggressively promoting Rosario right now. Gavin Cecchini is currently the shortstop for the AAA Las Vegas 51s.
The 22 year old Cecchini was the Mets 2012 first round draft choice (12th overall). He is a well regarded prospect in his own right being listed as the 89th best prospect in all of baseball by Keith Law heading into the season. He was also MLB.com’s 87th best prospect. He was ranked so high as he hit .317/.377/.442 hitter with 26 doubles, four tripes, seven homers, and 51 RBI for AA Binghamton last year. His play in AA merited him a promotion to AAA where he has so far hit .319/.395/.447 with 17 doubles, two triples, five homers, and 40 RBI. Overall, Cecchini’s statistics alone establish that he’s a worthwhile prospect that should not yet be pushed aside.
Ultimately, statistics aside, Cecchini projects to be a good to very good major league hitter. He could quite possibly be the best contact hitter in the Mets’ minor league system. Cecchini has a nice compact swing who hits the ball with authority from gap to gap. In many ways, he reminds you of a right-handed younger Daniel Murphy at the plate. When his body begins to fill out some of those doubles may begin to turn into home runs at the big league level. While he may not be an All Star, he could very well be an above average regular.
There is one problem with Cecchini. Since he has been in the Mets system, he has mostly struggled defensively. This season is no different with him having an extremely poor .916 fielding percentage. While he has been willing to put in the work and do extra work on the side with Wally Backman, the results just aren’t there. Given the presence of Rosario, the natural inclination would be for the Mets to just move Cecchini to second base. This would create room for Rosario at shortstop, and the two can begin building a chemistry together as a future double play combination.
However, the Mets cannot do that as the Mets second baseman of the future, Dilson Herrera, is currently Cecchini’s double play partner in Las Vegas. The Mets have long been high on Herrera. Two years ago, the Mets gave him an 18 game cup of coffee due to a number of injuries. Last year, the Mets called him up to the majors rather quickly when both Murphy and David Wright went down with injuries. While Herrera didn’t produce much during either short stint in the majors, the tools are all there to be a very good major league hitter. He is still only 22 years old, and he has hit .302/.356/.487 while playing in AAA. Herrera can very well make an All Star Game or two on the basis of his bat alone.
And yet, there are some warning flags with Herrera. While he has good hands, he does not project to be a plus defender at second base. Additionally, he has seemingly taken a step back in AAA this year hitting only .278/.330/.465 in what has been an injury plagued year. He has become much less patient at the plate seemingly swinging at everything instead of working the count and getting a pitch to drive. It is somewhat troubling, but he is still only 22 years old, and he has shown he can be a terrific hitter. It is way too early to give up on player who can be a terrific hitter who has plus power for a middle infield position. Accordingly, you can’t just move Cecchini to second.
So what do you do with Cecchini? There are no easy answers.
The Mets could try to move him to third base where he could serve as insurance against David Wright‘s back. Given his lateral mobility and his arm, Cecchini could play the position. However, given Cecchini’s lack of true home run power, he doesn’t have the type of bat that could play at a corner infield position. Furthermore, removing Cecchini from shortstop would only serve to diminish his potential trade value.
Indeed, the Mets could look to trade him like they are apparently willing to do with any prospect named Amed Rosario. However, if the Mets were to do that, they would be parting with a player who has shown he could be a viable major league player. If the Mets were to part with Cecchini, they would be losing a big insurance policy. Rosario and Herrera could falter or get injured like some can’t miss prospects do. In the event that happens, Cecchini could prove to be a valuable piece who takes advantage of his opportunity. Mets fans saw this happen as recently as 2013 when Jacob deGrom established himself as a front line starting pitcher while Rafael Montero became an also ran. In essence, it is important to have depth, and Cecchini is certainly that.
Still, there is no doubt that Rosario and Herrera are the better prospects right now, and you cannot have Cecchini blocking their path to the majors no matter how good Cecchini is. The Mets could make him a third baseman or utility player thereby making him a better option for the big league club, but also diminishing his trade value. Overall, there are seemingly no good answers as to what the Mets should do with Cecchini. In some ways, it is a dilemma. In others, it is a good problem to have.
With the Mets looking to improve their roster in the hopes of both making the postseason and winning the World Series this year, the Mets may very well have to include him in a trade to get that player who puts them over the top. It’s also likely teams will force the Mets to give up Herrera in a trade. In either event, the problem will have been solved for the Mets. In the event that neither one is moved at the trading deadline, things will become interesting for the Mets. Ultimately, it is going to be very interesting to see how this whole situation eventually plays out.