Earlier this month, Baseball America listed 43 minor free agents — more have joined since then. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the infielders currently available.
Normally, I am the first to denigrate any trade proposals and I fully expect the Mets to do nothing of the sort, but given the dearth of news about the Mets these days, there really isn’t much else to write about and I need to scratch this itch. So here goes.
Boston added Craig at last year’s trade deadline, in exchange for John Lackey, a move that you may have missed due to some of the more dramatic trades made that week. A listfranc injury limited Craig to just 29 games for Boston in 2014. He batted a measly 128/234/191 for the Sawk, likely attributable to the injury. But in the previous five years with the Cardinals he hit 291/343/460 with OPS of 803. More on him in a minute.
In what most Met fans would consider as a disappointing year, Niese’s 1.28 WHIP was a career best and he logged 187 innings last year, three off his career high in 2012. With the exception of the now-departed Jon Lester, Niese statistically out-pitched every 2014 Boston starter and came close to matching Lester in several (good) categories. While not an ace, Jon represents the next tier of pitchers and is a solid, less costly left-handed alternative to Lester. The Red Sox have a glut of outfielders, first basemen and designated hitters, so the opportunity convert some of that into a pitcher such as Niese may prove hard for them to resist.
As for the Mets, they get a man who has been called one of the best pure hitters in the major leagues. A right handed hitter, he can provide relief for Lucas Duda or Matt den Dekker against tough lefties. He could hit anywhere from second to fifth in the lineup, extending both it and the bench. He has even played a little second base. It is worth repeating that the Mets don’t necessarily need to add a slugger as much as they need to add a slasher like Craig, who consistently puts the ball in play. And, he is not bereft of power— just ask the Texas Rangers.
Unfortunately, any Met trade discussion has to include salaries. Here’s the beauty of it, the Niese and Craig contracts are nearly identical for their duration:
Year Craig Niese
2015 $5.5M $7.0M
2016 $9.0M $9.0M
2017 $11.0M $10.0M*
2018 $13M* $11.0M*
On the flip side, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has been characterized as wanting to win every deal and this one carries some danger. The major risk for the Mets is Niese is two years younger than Craig and could be entering some of his prime years locked into a team-friendly contract. Craig’s foot injury is the type that might never heal and if so, his best years are behind him. That’s why you have team doctors check him out first. The betting here is that the Mets have enough pitching to cover Niese’s departure (even if this deal is made and then goes south). I also think that they actually run a greater risk with an ill-advised free agent signing or dealing away multiple prospects for a power hitter.
I am starting to talk myself into believing this could actually happen. What do you think? Sound off below.
So far it’s been an exciting and interesting postseason. I have to say, though, I’m surprised that both the Nationals and Dodgers are sitting home, as they seemed to me to be the best two teams in the NL — on paper.
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