Backing Up The Truck: Six Tradeable Mets

This always happens around Labor Day with sub-500 baseball teams. Having realized that the current season is a lost cause, the hardcore fans join the team scribes, broadcasters and even some front office types in the therapeutic process of speculating about next year’s roster. Therapy started a bit early for the Mets this year, when GM Sandy Alderson appeared on the Mike’s On radio show in late August and clearly stated that major changes are coming to the 2013 team. He added that most of the changes would come via the trade market. This fueled a wave of speculation in the blogosphere, which soon reached the so-called mainstream media, culminating in last weekend’s Joel Sherman NYP article recommending trades of David Wright, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese.

While I agree with Alderson that the time for change has come, I reject Sherman’s notion that the Mets could trade Wright or Dickey for some blue chippers that could be plugged right into the lineup and return the team to respectability. Think about some of the deals made in the last five years involving big name players and what shape the teams that surrendered those players are in now. Since 2008, Texas, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cleveland, Seattle, Toronto, San Diego, Oakland, Houston and Minnesota have all unloaded star players for bushels of minor leaguers. With the exception of Texas and possibly Oakland, none of these teams will see the 2012 post season and most of them will likely finish with a record just as bad (if not worse) than the Mets this year.

It’s no secret that the Mets need to strengthen ¾ of their up the middle defense, jump start their offense by adding both speed and right-handed power, and acquire at least two reliable relief pitchers. That’s a tall order. Extracting a Wright or a Dickey from the roster only makes more work. So not only should the Mets retain Wright and Dickey, they need to work on extending them both before Spring Training.

If Wright and Dickey are the “Elite Mets”, then Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada fall into the category of “Successful Mets,” a group of players whose 2012 production cannot be replaced with an-house option. It’s not unreasonable to expect that the best from Ike and Rueben is yet to come. I would also put Niese in this category, as well as Matt Harvey. If I’m Alderson, I would hold out a king’s ransom in any trade that involves those aforementioned six players as well as minor leaguers Zack Wheeler, Michael Fulmer or Brandon Nimmo. So I don’t expect any blockbuster deals.

On the flip side, I don’t think the Mets could even give away Frank Francisco, Jason Bay or Johan Santana, let alone get anything of value in return. They also have no leverage with Chris Young, Scott Hairston, Kelly Shoppach, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Ronny Cedeno, Andres Torres and Mike Pelfrey, as they all have expiring contracts. I suspect Shoppach gets a nice contract extension to stay here and it isn’t too farfetched to suppose that Josh Edgin and Robert Carson are already penciled in as the bullpen LOOGYs. Rauch and Hairston might also be approached about a return.

So who’s left to trade? Surprisingly, for a team that has fallen as far and as fast as the Mets have, there are a few intriguing names. The challenge facing the brain trust is not only deciding on how accurate the 2012 performance is as a barometer of future results, but also exactly what metrics to use when making those measurements. Dreamt up trade proposals in which my team trades garbage for your team’s treasure are beneath this site and its readers. It is possible however, to have an intelligent discussion on just what the Mets realistically have to offer other teams. I would be very surprised if any more than two are moved. In other words, I didn’t believe Alderson when he talked with Jeter Booster Mike. That aside, here is my speculation on who is available, ranked in order of my perceived value:

1.Dillon Gee: In retrospect, Gee’s injury was the first major crack in the façade of the 2012 season. He may never be a top of the rotation starter, but he has shown long stretches of serviceability and could have a long and useful role in a contending team’s rotation. The injury that ended his season shouldn’t scare off teams as there was no apparent structure damage from the clot. I think he will have better seasons, but I wonder just how high his ceiling is.

2.Jennry Mejia or Jeurys Familia: Two enigmas, but also good reasons to pay attention to the Mets this September. Each has a good arm and can either relieve or start. Both have minor league numbers that are good, but not great. It may be a case of offering them separately around both leagues and taking the best package in return for one of them, with the other heading to the 2013 bullpen. One of them for Peter Bourjos perhaps? (Sorry– can’t resist).

3.Bobby Parnell: Looking at the glass as half full, the Mets do have some interesting arms to dangle. I love the fact that Parnell can throw as hard as he does and fear that once he escapes Dan Warthen, he will blossom into the shutdown reliever many of us thought he always would. But we have been waiting on Bobby to take the next step for four seasons now. Is he being poorly mentored/utilized or does he lack the necessary elements to be a consistently successful relief pitcher? He is heading for arbitration this year so it will now cost more to find out. I believe the latter fact makes both Parnell and Daniel Murphy, who is also arbi-eligible, near locks to be moved this offseason.

4.Daniel Murphy: Wasn’t it Branch Rickey who said he always wanted to move a player a year too soon rather than a year too late? In retrospect, Alderson should have made the trade rumored in 2011 with Detroit involving Murphy for outfielder Andy Dirks. I like Daniel, but I now think the time has come to move him. This winter, Alderson should go back to the Padres and ask if their offer of reliever Luke Gregerson for Murphy still stands. Gregerson would certainly be an improvement over anything the Mets have in the bullpen now. The Mets also have several potential replacements for Murphy in Wilmer Flores, Jordany Valdespin and Justin Turner, although either Wilmer and Jordany could be a blog post all by himself. There is always the possibility that the Flores/Jordany market heats up this winter, meaning one or both of them go and Murphy stays. Boy, being GM is complicated!

5.Lucas Duda: I almost put Jeremy Hefner on this list instead. Duda’s power potential is definitely there, but that may take a few years to develop. He also looks overmatched in the outfield, either at left or right. I could see Lucas being dealt for what he one day might become, a slow footed outfielder, one capable of hitting 20-25 homers. In a less imperfect world, this outfielder also hits right-handed.

This is a key offseason for the Mets; decisions made in the next few months could very well impact the direction of the franchise for the rest of the decade. Time for Sandy to earn his salary, don’t you think?

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Manager in the Bulk Materials Handling industry. He lives in Bethlehem PA with his wife and son, neither of whom fully get his obsession with the Mets.
  1. MikeT September 7, 2012 at 10:48 am
    I made my feelings known yesterday. I think the Mets can deal Murphy, Duda, and Thole in separate or packaged deals and get in return a bullpen piece (middle innings) and a right handed hitting controllable OFer (this is basically a swap for a righty hitting Duda).

    The Mets actually have a luxury that most don’t realize: pitching depth. Between Santana, Young, Gee, Harvey, Hefner, Dickey, Niese, Wheeler, McHugh, Familia, Mejia and possibly Pelfrey, the Mets have a number of pitchers potentially ready to contribute at some point next year. I would be okay with trading one or two in the hopes of getting a starting quality OFer (any position) that is controllable for a few years. In fact I will bet on this happening.

    • Izzy September 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm
      Mike T tremendously overvalues the Mets he wants to deal. A catcher better be able to hit or better be a great defensive catcher. thole fails both tests and is worthless on the market. Parnell. You need to watch games that don’t involve the Mets. Every team has a Parnell or two or three in their pens now. Lots of guys who were taught to throw as hard as they could but never taught to pitch. Parnell is useless. Duda. He may have value but only as first baseman and his year and stint in Buffalo and the pronouncements of his bad attitude down there have caused him to join the group of players Alderson should have traded already but was too busy sleeping.
      For Janish disagree on Wright and especially Dickey. We all hear the knuckleballer at 37 is young but his body ain’t young and what is the likelihood he performs this way ever again. And Wright? Are you keeping him for many years? If the same PR crap is being spewed out and he ain’t staying past next year, then they better trade him this Winter. And as for the uintradeability of overpirced guys. Well, Wells was dumped a couple years ago and the Sox certainly were able to dump a lot of crap in no time flat. Why can’t Alderson???? Maybe Met fans should really hope he doesn’t make any moves because in two years he gets a big fat F in his trades and his FA signings. Maybe a D if you want to be nice to the guy.
      • DaveSchneck September 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm
        I agree with most everything Izzy has here, but since I’m a nice guy I’ll give Alderson a C- for his $3 million per year performance. We amateur GMs will be bloviating for the next 3 months about acquisitions, but the bottom line is it depends on the markets for each individual player. I belieGorski ve that Dickey and Wright can be productive for the next 3 years, but at what price and length will they sign, ane what can they get for each on the trade market. If each can be had reasonably, say Wright 5/$100 and Dkickey 3/$27, and if neither can next multiple big league established players that are controllable for a few years, sign them. The also need to add a back end pen/closer, a CF/lead-off hitter, and that elusive righty power OF bat. I would be interested in trading for Chris Perez, say for a Duda/Gorski type package if acceptable. I would also look at Shane Victorino (it does pain my to type this) if he can be had on a 2 year reasonable deal. Who know what the market will be, but this FA class is very deep in big time CFs. Victorino can provide good D, be a decent lead-off hitter, and bring some attitude to this bunch. I would resign Shoppach and let Thole backup. If they can’t find a power RH OF, or run out of monry, I would sign Hairston and platoon him with Baxter or Captain Kirk. If they can’t find a taker for Bay I would give him a shot to platoon. Turner should return and get more of Murphy’s ABs. I like Cedeno returning as well to spell Tejada. I would be reluctant to trade any MLB pitching and certainly not any of the top 8 pitching prospects unless the get an all-star caliber player in his prime as part of a “big deal”. There, that was fun.
  2. fred figueroa September 7, 2012 at 11:34 am
    well at my age 70 i finally read an article on the mets that makes sense your fellow sports writers wax poetic and trash the mets but offer no solution they play fantasy baseball in their heads bravo the only other sports writer

    i like is mikes mets

  3. NormE September 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm
    You make a good case for trading Murphy, Duda and Parnell.
    I’m not convinced that the Mets should move Gee unless the offer is overwhelming. With Chris Young gone (he’ll probably get a better offer than the Wilpons’ shallow pockets will allow) and Santana a real question mark (even if he is healthy), Gee could be an integral part of the Mets rotation in ’13.
    Mejia and Familia are crapshoots.
  4. Glenn September 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm
    Here’s my two cents on who I think the Mets should trade and who they should not:

    Dickey. I know he’s a knuckleballer and can pitch longer than other pitchers, but he’s still 37 and he’s at the top of his game, and therefore the top of his value. If you can get three good pieces for him, one of which is a young RH Of who is either in AAA or just made the bigs, you do this.

    Not trade:
    Niese. He has an affordable contract and is only in his third season. He will be getting better and the Mets control him for the next five to seven season.

    Murphy. I like Murphy but he’s replaceable either by Turner or Valdespin.

    Not trade:
    Thole, Duda:
    They have no value. The very reason people want to trade them away is the very reason you don’t trade them, unless you just hate them so much you want them gone. All you’ll get for these guys is guys just like them.

    Meija, Familia.
    You got to give to get. Part of the reason you have prospects is to trade them. Just so long as you don’t trade them to get some highly paid superstar. The Mets are not at that point yet where that makes sense.

    Not Trade:
    Potential aces are too special to deal.

    Bay, Santana.
    I would trade them but no one would do so. Unless….

    Not trade
    Bay and Santana
    If you have to take back someone like John Lackey, then do not trade these guys. Their contracts at least expire at the end of 2013. You don’t climb out of one hole only to jump back into the same kind of hole.

    Not trade
    You got to have a veteran presence, a leader. The 1986 Mets had Hernandez. The 2015 Mets will need David Wright.

    Not trade
    People forget, this guy missed most of 2011. Hard for a second yr player to miss that much time and have it not effect him. He can be a .270 30 100 guy for years to come.

    • Joe September 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm
      I think most of this works.

      Duda, however, does offer something to another team, especially if they are optimistic, and if they need a DH/1st Baseman type and you want to keep Davis, there is a chance that you will get back something else the Mets DO need.

      I don’t know if you will get as much back for Dickey as you say, but Keith Hernadez tossed him out there, so that’s a conversation. It also is a matter of how much he will cost. His age as a knuckleballer is not necessary as bad unless he wants a long term contract. If he is reasonable, he adds presence and is a fan favorite. That is a benefit, so it depends what other teams will offer.

  5. metfan4life September 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm
  6. Dan B September 8, 2012 at 10:01 am
    The Met’s problem is they don’t commit to a plan. Either trade away all valuable assets and rebuild or spend money to support the current players. For the past four years the only player we traded away in July for prospects was Beltran and that was a no brainer. Phillies and the Red Sod had one bad season and they restocked their farm systems.
    By the way, I still think we should trade Tejada while he is still at his peak value. If he hits his usual .270 with no home runs and no steals, we will regret the lost opportunity.
  7. jerseymet September 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm
    Sandy’s “Genius” is in being patient and cutting costs. The farm wll continue to provide our only bright spots. Free agency has provided only filler. I am dubious of Sandy’s promise to make significant change. Sandy’s focus is on 2014; adios Johan and Jason. The 23 million dollar loss is the most significant measure of this season. This, I believe, is what Sandy will focus on. Shedding Wright’s contract would cover the bulk of that. number. Niese was trade bait last winter and is even more expendable now. Dickey is a bargin; Sandy is
    unlikely to trade him. Hairston aside, I expect none of our free agents to be tendered,; plenty of AAAA stuff to be used. Look for rule 5 picks to be given sink or swim tries with the Mets; ala Emus. I expect Sandy to eat Bay’s contract before the team comes north next spring. Santana will start the year for us and be traded with lots of cash to a contender in July: ala Beltran.

    Lets go 2014 Mets!