The Mets recent ill-fated pursuit of Michael Bourn, and the controversy surrounding the compensation issue, got me thinking: If MLB does eventually come around on the issue, should the Mets pursue Kyle Lohse?
Like Bourn, Lohse remains unsigned despite an excellent 2012, mostly because teams are wary of surrendering a first-round pick for declining talent. Lohse is in an even more precarious situation than Bourn was several weeks ago, given the fact he is clearly not the same-caliber player as Bourn. As a result, seemingly not one suitor has emerged for him.
The Mets rotation is currently set at the moment, but that’s why we have trades. But who to trade? Shaun Marcum just signed, so he can’t be traded. Johan Santana has little to no trade value at the moment. And Matt Harvey isn’t going anywhere.
So that leaves with us Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. Sure, it goes without saying that both Niese and Gee are very valuable to the Mets, and neither exactly makes for an obvious trade candidate. Niese is a 26 year-old left-hander signed to an extremely team-friendly deal, who is coming off the best season of his career. He is also the only pitcher in the Mets current rotation who pitched a full major league season in 2012. Gee, meanwhile, is under control for four more seasons. Based upon his vastly improved strikeout and walk rate before going down with a blood clot in 2012, Gee might be in for a breakout season of his own in 2013.
Lest I remind you, however, the Mets are also prepared to enter 2013 with the worst starting outfield in all of baseball. Yes, having already dealt R.A. Dickey, dealing either Niese or Gee on top of him would certainly raise plenty of additional questions regarding the team’s rotation. But even in that case, it’s hard to argue that the state of the team’s starting pitching — both now and in the future — would be worse that of the outfield. You’d still have Harvey. You’d still have Zack Wheeler. You’d have Lohse, Marcum, and Santana for this season. Even in the lower minors, the team’s pitching talent (Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Fulmer, etc.) far exceeds the organization’s outfield prospects.
The Mets current outfield, on the other hand, has essentially no proven big leaguers. Zero. It’s essentially the equivalent of a starting rotation headlined by Collin McHugh, Jeremy Hefner, and Jenrry Mejia. You can’t compare the two.
Now, believe you me, I can go on and on about to what degree Lohse is due for regression next season, whether Jon Niese had a career year in 2012 himself, etc. but that is beyond the scope of this article. The point is that Lohse potentially represents an opportunity for the Mets to pounce on what will almost certainly amount to a below-market deal. In turn, they can than acquire an outfielder (or two) that they desperately need by dealing from an area of relative strength.
And as we know, rest assured, plenty of teams can still use young starting pitching. Put either Niese or Gee on the open market, and you open up a litany of trade possibilities. Perhaps the Rangers are willing to re-discuss dealing Mike Olt. The Diamondbacks were still rumored to be interested in Rick Porcello a couple weeks ago; they could offer Gerardo Parra. The Indians may entertain dealing Michael Brantley now that they have Michael Bourn.
Of course, provided MLB continues to drag its heels regarding the compensation issue, this is all pure mental masturbation. But at least I can think about the Mets having a good outfielder next season.
What’s your thought? If their first-round pick can be protected, should the Mets pursue Lohse? Would you trade one of the Mets’ starting pitchers for an outfielder? Sound off in the comments.
About the Author
Matt is a high school student in New Jersey and avid Mets fan. He occasionally updates his blog at: matthimelfarb.wordpress.com