The New York Mets have taken over the MLB Trade Deadline. As what exactly? No one is entirely sure, as they’ve bought Marcus Stroman and in talks to sell big parts of their roster. If this seems like a bad idea, it probably is. Evidently, Brodie Van Wagenen, the team’s rookie GM, has learned nothing from the Robinson Cano debacle that dealt two of his most promising prospects, Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, promising to certainly be the worst trade in recent team history if the young kids star in Seattle like I expect them as future all stars. Moving another first rounder of Sandy Anderson’s in Anthony Kay does not hurt much but he is sure to be a mid rotation starter and the Mets have shown no willingness to want to pay for those in past in free agency. What does is the letting go of 18 year old Simeon Woods Richardson, a player I profiled in a previous draft class preview and liked very much. No one expected someone so new to the mound to take off the way he did this with impeccable control, strong frame and fastball so Van Wagenen, instead of thank his lucky stars, decided to yet again prematurely exchange someone who was on the cusp of top 50 status in just a calendar year instead of really getting the most for him. This issue of timing and making big, franchise altering decisions on the whim is preciously what has got the former agent in trouble and he is threatening to do it again by more wholesale changes to the makeup of the roster. Vowing not to rebuild and instead retool, as probably got him the job over a more qualified wiz kid Chaim Bloom, Brodie is trying to juggle more than one thing at once in his version of the Big Apple Circus and failing to this point. Thankfully, there is a way out and blue print forward. The answer lies not in trading more valuable assets for only those already at the major league level as he’s reported to want to do but instead for building blocks extremely close to it who can help in 2020 and not this year because let’s face it, Brodie’s been got just as he challenged. The first piece to the puzzle involves Noah Syndergaard. Sadly, it looks like his time in Queens is soon coming to an end be it Wednesday or this winter. What must not happen, however, is the selling low on one of true aces in the game. He’s struggled in 2019 but he ranks in the top five in ERA the last several years. His defense, probably the worst in the league with almost everyone playing out of position or with old legs, has not helped matters but make no mistake – Thor is a difference maker and can help a contender win the World Series in November with just a few adjustments, mainly getting him to stop throwing his sinker. Justin Verlander is proof that such changes aren’t so hard and pay off in the postseason where Syndergaard has sparkled in his exposure with the Mets. I see only three teams who don’t just have the farm system needed to pull off the unique opportunity to obtain one of the true all time talents in MLB today. They should see he has better stuff than probably anybody else and can provide him what he needs to take the Nolan Ryan jump after leaving Flushing.
First up is the Braves. Now that I’ve caught your attention, yes this will hurt. But it should also transform both teams extremely positively in a rather weird way. It’ll pain our division rivals in Atlanta but also give them an anchor of the staff they’ve searched for and replicate the 90s with Mike Soroka and more already there. The ideal package for the Mets would include the Brave that took the NL East by storm the first few months of the season in Austin Riley. Riley has since cooled down considerably but is playing out of position and is learning to play while Josh Donaldson has carried them. It makes sense for them to extend the former MVP and Braves fan while selling high on their prized possession. With the Mets, he could play either his natural third or get better at left to share the lineup with JD Davis who he’s somewhat like. But he is not the only player coming back. Kyle Wright and Sean Newcomb are the second and third parts to the deal. Wright, my preferred pitching prospect, has struggled in the minors but is not adequately being challenged enough as an advanced arm who should be up. Newcomb has transitioned to the pen after flaming out as a starter in the second half last year and has done an admirable job. Both could join the Mets rotation with deGrom and Stroman in a dream scenario like this. However, we don’t always get what we want and I’m prepared for that. In the event the Braves balk at any of these players, there is another trio that could potentially get the trade done for Noah starting off with Cristian Pache. It’s no secret the Mets have struggled up the middle for years now and Pache could fix this in an instant. He’s bigger than he looks and great friends with Acuna who he tries to emulate. He will win a Gold Glove someday and the bat is coming around too. The Braves keep Georgia native Drew Waters who they love but they can’t possibly have multiple future center fielders. Ian Anderson and Mike Foltynewicz are the rest of the trade and similarly slot into the Mets rotation as Wright and Newcomb were supposed to earlier. Anderson is from New York State and a top draftee as well with a bright future and staggering arsenal that has been improving its control. He doesn’t give up homers and strikes many out. Folty has fallen flat on his face from his breakout and been back in the minors. The potential has always been there and the Mets could get it out of him soon.
The Dodgers intrigue me in some ways more than the Braves. They churn out studs constantly and have the best player development system in the majors. A year ago, Walker Buehler was someone you could have gotten for Jacob deGrom but the chance is still there to get players perhaps as impactful starting with Gavin Lux. For those heartbroken as I am about Kelenic, Lux is from the same area and similarly amazing as a face of your team type. Having the best offensive season of maybe any minor leaguer, he’s a Max Muncy clone except he can play at shortstop, the Mets’ second biggest positional weakness. Dustin May would put icing on the cake on this trade for the Mets as his best comparison is well, Noah Syndergaard. With his athletic delivery and height, there are few harder to hit and he would be a perfect long term replacement. These two alone would be enough for me to pull the trigger but I’m intrigued with adding Andre Jackson, a position player turned pitcher who just entered the Dodgers top 30 list and is on his way to being their next pitching gem out of nowhere when he’s imitating Max Scherzer and coming back better than ever from injury right after being drafted. I just don’t see the ceiling with him and he’d be great to move at this point is we had Lux at short and Amed Rosario moved to center as I think he should be ASAP. The more likely trade is disappointing but has to be addressed and it starts with Alex Verdugo who I’m not the biggest fan of but see value in. He is a winner and brings spark when he plays. Verdugo can hit with an attitude and is good defensively, not to mention he’d probably shift to another gear if moved. Kelbert Ruiz is another Dodger the industry likes more than me but he is also a good hitter and highly thought of, a coup as the second prospect in this deal. He’s not really an effective switch hitter or thrower behind the plate though and is growing into more pop. Jeter Downs would be my choice as the third player going to New York. Do I have to explain why a shortstop with his name is perfect for this town? He just plays his heart out and with his hair on fire which gets his stats to look like that of a five tool player half a foot taller than him. LA stole him from the Reds for Puig and it would be nice to do the same for once.
Finally, when it comes to Thor, the Twins are the last team on my list but actually have my favorite collection of prospects that best fit the Mets’ needs. Royce Lewis, a number one overall selection, acts and looks the part. He is a natural leader in the mold of David Wright and is probably the best prospect attainable in all the minor leagues. He’s toned down his leg kick some but is at his best when he’s allowed to use his instincts. His ability is off the charts like a Pat Mahomes who he resembles just a little bit and has always been the youngest in his leagues. When he catches us to the competition it will be scary and likely in the bigs, hopefully in orange and blue if Minnesota is convinced to give him up. Ideally, he comes with Brusdar Graterol who is a special pitcher that will touch triple digits. Graterol throws and is competitive like fellow Venezuelan Felix Hernandez, wearing his cap just like him sideways with mojo. His pitches has natural sink to them and keep their velocity through his starts. The last piece I would ask for is Trevor Larnach, an outfielder similar in skill set to Michael Conforto and fellow Oregon State product but if that is too steep, settling for Ryan Jeffers wouldn’t be bad as someone who is being slept on like Mitch Garver before this current tear that he’s on and it’s possible Jeffers takes that step to outperform most evaluations. He’s smart with prodigious power, and not quite the top five prospect in the Twins system Larnach is right now. Yet, it’s possible that Minnesota could offer other players, in which case I would want any other proposal headlined with Alex Kirilloff, a future middle of the order bat who’s hasn’t quite replicated last season and seems to be blocked on their depth chart with their abundance of talented outfielders. This is good news for us since he’s a pure hitter who is only filling out and can look physically like Joey Votto one day. If that’s not exciting, someone on their team right now who isn’t playing as much as he should certainly is. Luis Arraez, who’s come out of nowhere to baseball fans like Jeff McNeil has is just as good a contact hitter and a spark plug. Players like them should be sought after now more than ever but it would not surprise me to see the Twins hold on to him which makes it difficult as him with McNeil is just so fun to dream about for me. Jhoan Duran hasn’t moved up prospect lists much despite pitching well and his measurements. I could see him starting or becoming a shut down late inning arm in the mold of a Jeurys Familia, who was once a starter and threw like him.
When it comes to Syndergaard, the team connected to him the most are the San Diego Padres but they are a non starter to me despite their strong youth. The reason is that I don’t think it makes any sense to accept a call from any team who doesn’t want to move any of their top three prospects. Their unwillingness to budge on Luis Urias who’s had a rough go in the big leagues and Luis Patino, a huge Stroman fan, is concerning since no one is even asking for MacKenzie Gore from them as we all know their answer. An offer centered around Adrian Morejon or Logan Allen, fine hurlers but not even in the same breath of even a Ryan Weathers, and Manny Margot, a bust who’s no Hunter Renfroe or Franmil Reyes, is just an insult, not deserving to even be talked about when they have so much more to put on the table for a pitcher of Syndergaard’s caliber. In reality, AJ Preller should dangle Chris Paddack for Syndergaard if that’s all it would take but Pete Alonso probably wouldn’t be too pleased! Asking for the two Luises should not be seen as a request for Fernando Tatis Jr. in the least especially when that is the price you have to pay these days when looking at the Chris Archer or Jose Quintana deals of past deadline and considering this one is as weak as it is with a market previously with Mike Minor and Robbie Ray at the top after Bumgarner was removed from talks. The Yankees also did not make the cut as they appear unwilling to dangle Gleyber Torres after getting him for free and batting him last most games. There is no pathway to Thor in pinstripes without him unless the Yankees want to start with a package of Deivi Garcia, Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar plus more for the crosstown tax. The funny part is the Yanks may not have enough space for all their infielders once healthy and might let Didi Gregorious walk. If this happens, the Mets should run to give him a large contract.
Minor and Ray, for my money, are not better than Zack Wheeler especially for what it will cost. Still, Wheeler should bring back at least one really good or a couple solid prospects. He after all has ability not many others have and pitched amazingly in the second half last year when teams could have traded for him but didn’t want to. The Astros are a team I originally envisioned and hoped would make a play for Noah Syndergaard but the emergence of Yordan Alvarez into one of MLB’s best and a Carlos Beltran clone has made them think twice of moving anyone like him at all, namely Kyle Tucker and presumably Forrest Whitley despite struggle. While disappointing, Houston has other talents that could be appealing for a trade such of this involving a rental mid rotation starter who can pitch like a 2. Corbin Martin recently having Tommy John surgery presents an interesting opportunity for the Mets to take advantage of someone the Astros may not wait around for because of trying to win now. He stands to miss next season but could come back with an absolute vengeance and as a starter in AAA right away ready to get back once his rehab allows. Martin opened many eyes and has made believers of those who thought he was a reliever out of college. With a little patience, this can be a steal that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise the way he was going. A lottery ticket like Freudis Nova, who they’d trade, as well as Bryan Abreu and another former A&M pitcher in Tyler Ivey if the Astros don’t bite on Martin or Josh James who I like a lot as a fire baller, are the types of players I would target otherwise. Nova was busted for PEDs during the international signing process but has extraordinary gifts like a hose at short with the makings of a strong offensive player. James reminds me of the legend JR Richard whose career was cut way short but dominated at every turn. I wish he was able to showcase himself in a big league rotation and given more leash. Abreu gets hit hard but not much and what I look for in pitchers with his deadly curve and slider combo. If velocity is consistent, he can become more than the closer I see now. Ivey has a funky delivery and is hard to pick up, leading to a lot of Ks for him despite average offerings and he needs to throw more innings.
While the Astros would certainly get the most out of Wheeler, the A’s might too with their analytical savy. Sandy works for their front office again and was who got Wheeler to the Mets in what he says is his proudest trade. The player I would eye from Oakland is Austin Beck. He has dropped quite a bit in status since being one of my favorite first rounders in his class but I believe the best is yet to come and that he is the rare change of scenery prospect. Beck possesses excellent bat speed and chases more than he should but if he can temper his aggressiveness and begin to tap into the power that’s clearly in him, the Mets will be very happy getting him alone. But luckily, the A’s have a number of prospects way further down their rankings in the 20s, both of whom are now one step away from the Show. Jonah Heim is not Sean Murphy but another catcher with unusual size behind the plate but is long and limber, besides being a switch hitter who is handling the bat better. He’s been traded and passed around a ton despite his glovework and solid line drive approach. Brian Howard is even taller at a gigantic 6’9. He doesn’t blow the radar gun away but is clearly an imposing figure who should be a backend starter at the very least for keeping the ball in the infield. Sheldon Neuse and Luis Barrera are the other pair of prospects that can reasonably be had in exchange for Wheeler that I think are being overlooked for different reasons. There’s a degree of prospect fatigue with Neuse that I understand having had high hopes for him coming out but he has shown signs he’s coming awfully close to his potential by absolutely raking in Las Vegas. He has the body type and stance of a Justin Turner as a hefty middle infielder where his value would be its highest. Barrera reminds me of Shane Victorino for how he plays and will profile. The A’s have seen Ramon Laureano surpass all expectations and he’s a similar late bloomer with less power.
The Brewers are facing something of a starting pitching crisis with all their injuries to the rotation so it would make sense for them to turn to a short term fix who they’ve coveted before and almost acquired before Wilmer cried. Milwaukee would not need to dangle any of their top hitters as they are reportedly ready to do if shortstop Brice Turang is included in the one for one swap. Turang is a ways away but can be a rewarding development project who has no true calling card or weakness like an Austin Meadows. He can easily take a leap and jump dozens of more spots on prospect lists so now is as decent time as any to get him. If the Daniel Murphy fan stays, the Brew Crew should have to give up the resurgence years in the making in Trent Grisham, Aaron Ashby and Trey Supak. Grisham, formerly Trenton Clark, was as hyped a high school outfielder I can remember and something has just clicked after all this time following horrible play. He’s standing upright and hitting balls farther than he ever has. There’s a shot something is going on with him that teams should try to take advantage of. I would take the plunge and leap of faith he is scratching the surface as I would that Ashby is a Steven Matz type. They have deception and nice curveballs, getting into trouble with counts. Likewise, Supak can be counted on to be an innings eater like few are with his lengthy record. He pounds strikes and has had overwhelming success of late. All of them, while not sexy, should be regular contributors.
Let’s talk about Edwin Diaz for a minute. He has not been as advertised for the Mets. So why does it seem countless number of teams want him? Well, the advanced stats show a different side to his performance and has been way more forgiving than normal metrics like ERA although FIP has been nice too. Mainly, his stuff is still elite and his team control is hard to beat. Whereas as Wheeler is finished this year and Syndergaard 2021, Diaz has three more years left. Teams will be willing to give up a Kelenic type that the Mets paid at the time of the deal. This may well be the team’s to right the wrong made and it is important they not panick into anything since there is time past this week to get what you want. The Rays are particulally a good match as their relievers have not performed as well as they’d like me afternoon they’ve revived Travis d’Arnaud with their magical environment. They have the prospects required to strike a deal and it starts with young Jesus Sanchez. The Mets need Jesus and can use his beautiful swing that will one day generate tons of power. In a time when Latino talent has never been greater, he could be their answer to Juan Soto. He is a protypical right fielder where he will be a threat. He’s the prospect Yankee fans swear Estevan Florial to be and pray he were. Matthew Liberatore tacked on to Sanchez would get this done for Diaz as he can easily have three plus pitches as a lefty when he’s 21 with his tumbling change. If Tampa doesn’t want to build this offer, they could also move Willy Adames with Vidal Brujan for Diaz. Wander Franco will soon take over short for them and I would be prepared to send them Andres Gimenez too if they give back either Josh Lowe or Joe Ryan. Adames and Brujan would make a truly electrifying middle infield, DP combo as Willy has a bit of Carlos Gomez to him and Brujan is a Jose Reyes type. Lowe has become a premium center fielder with the glove and can improve as a hitter since he has the size to be physical. Ryan is as resilient as they come from small programs and being undrafted due to injury and not talent. He works quickly like Sonny Gray and misses more bats with not many question marks other than his durability. The Rays have enough depth to build a third offer around Brent Honeywell and Shane Baz, showing the unique position they’re in to make this happen but a little more may be needed as good as both pitchers are because of real health concerns.
The other two teams that should acquire Diaz are the Cubs and Nationals. Both are in fsscinating positions for not being able to spend much more money because of luxury tax concerns but luckily for them, Edwin is making the minimum. This should definitely cost them more in my view because they would still be under the threshold and make their owners thrillled while not sacrificing in the type of pitcher acquired because of low salary. Chicago signed Kimbrel and it’s been nothing short of a disaster so far. Putting Craig in the 8th would solve a lot of problems and give him breathing roomtil he’s ready to assume the role again in which case there would be quite a battle for Cubs closer. At first glance, the Cubs have a very weak system but I’m higher on some of their kids than others. Everyone seems to love Nico Hoerner, the sweet hitting Stanford shortstop and I’m sure Brodie does too as an alum. Pair Hoerner with Brennan Davis, who would automatically become our top outfield prospect, and you have potential core players at some point if Davis can keep improving as he has from raw high schooler to filled out man. It’s an organization’s job to identify and steal risers in other systems that will be nationally known in short order and he fits the bill. Brailyn Marquez throws serious gas from the left side as a potential front line starter and the training wheels are just coming off. The three? Yes please. I would not complain about sending Diaz to Washington either on one condition that is not negotiable: Carter Kieboom. Most may say it’s too steep to pay but it is Mike Rizzo’s choice to say goodbye to this miracle comeback his team has had or to a prospect who could be on the shelf anyway if/when Rendon re-signs with them as it looks like he wants to do. This GM has been looking for a closing pitcher since God knows when and has had failure after failure due to not wanting to go all the way and instead to older players who’ve closed before but are finished like Fernando Rodney now. Don’t waste that starting staff so get Edwin Diaz.
There have been reports that the Red Sox and Alex Cora want Diaz but while that’s alright, they don’t have the goods. Michael Chavis is a start but gets you maybe only halfway there. The way Boston can solve their bullpen as well as first base problem is through the Mets, just not Edwin. Rather, they should target arguably our best relief pitcher Seth Lugo and Dominic Smith. Dom will be out for sometime but would crush it in Fenway once Moreland expires. He’d Adrian Gonzalez the Green Monster and Lugo is invalubale for doing anything and everything you ask him to. The Sox should be ready to give up Andrew Benintendi in exchange after what he’s done. That makes 10 trades to different teams, three involving Noah Syndergaard, three involving Zack Wheeler, three involving Edwin Diaz and this additional one with Dom and Lugo. These ideas would change the Mets for the better and I have chosen to not explore trades for Todd Frazier or Wilson Ramos because of the likelihood of a salary dump getting nothing of value back like with Vargas!