The Mets organization is in need of some real cash flows. So much so that their owner, Fred Wilpon, is apparently looking to sell up to 25% of the team to a new minority owner. In addition to this, the team as a whole underperformed in 2010, has Johan Santana‘s health to worry about already in 2011, and still may have health issues related to both Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran.
Enter the silent assassin, Alex Anthopolous, who just cleared a ton of room off the books. He’s been known to prey on desperate teams, such as the most recent deal with the Angels, and can usually find a way to make things work. Is there a deal to be done between the NY Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays? I’m not sure and it seems that Alex Anthopolous is becoming fairly comfortable with what he’s got on board. But, if I’m Fred Wilpon looking at the finances in place and so many soon-to-be free agents on board, I’m pressuring the GM to find me some outs and some cash ASAP.
Here’s a list of trade candidates for the Mets and how things may work in a deal with the Jays, not that I believe it’s likely to happen, but only because anything can happen and these are intriguing thoughts:
If the Mets want cash, here’s a great place to start. Carlos proved in 2010 that his bat still works with 11 doubles and 7 HRs in 220 AB and a .341 OBP, although his .255 average and only 3 SB did indicate that he was rusty overall after a lay off. Still, he got better as the season wore on after a July return, and hit .321/.365/.603 in September/October and hit 5 of his 7 HRs that month. This guy had the cost of a batting cage included in his contract for a reason, he absolutely eats, sleeps, and lives through baseball. He still has a lot to give baseball, but does come with some major injury issues.
With only 2011 remaining on his contract, Carlos will want to prove his worth in order to sign a new contract at age 34. If he hits as expected in 2011 and can remain healthy, the team with his rights can either trade him to a contender for prospects, or let him walk as what should be a Type A FA in order to garner 2 top-notch picks. The Mets should be the team going along with this strategy, but can they afford to wait until then to do so? If a team did acquire Carlos, the cost would depend on the return and the amount of his salary taken on. If someone comes along and eats the entire salary, the cost in players may be minimal. If not, then the demands made by the Mets in prospects or players could be substantial.
In terms of the Jays side of things, I’m not going to throw anyone out there other than Juan Rivera, a player who the Mets could easily slide into the 4th OF role, while shifting Angel Pagan to CF and bringing their #1 OF prospect Fernando Martinez into a full-time role. They also recently signed Scott Hairston who can play all 3 OF positions for the Mets. Making Rivera part of the deal would also minimize the amount of contract eaten up by the Jays to approximately $15 million or so. If others are included, whether it be prospects or players, it would lower the costs taken on by the Jays simultaneously. From Darin Mastroianni to Eric Thames, there are prospects the Jays have that could seriously interest the cash-strapped Mets.
With Carlos Beltran on board, the Jays could either slide him into LF or put Rajai Davis there instead. Either way, it gives the Jays 2 outfielders who can play all 3 OF spots. He’d easily replace Vernon Wells in the 3-hole in the lineup, and would immediately provide similar stats with the possibility of a better OBP and more speed.
Dealing Jose Reyes would not clear that much off the books for the Mets, so it may not be their favorite option. Star short-stops are not easy to come by, and as their lead off hitter, Jose is the catalyst for their entire offense. Still, relations between him and the Mets have been strained to say the least, mostly due to the way his injuries have been handled, so both sides may be open to a deal should one come to fruition. However, he has stated of late that he is open to re-signing with the Mets, so all is not lost for them.
The Jays are said to be looking for a 3B, right? Well, what if they bring Reyes on board, shift Yunel Escobar to 2B (something likely to happen anyhow when Adeiny Hechavarria arrives) and move Aaron Hill to 3B? Jose Bautista goes back to RF, Travis Snider moves to LF, and Juan Rivera – if he’s still around after the trade – becomes a 4th outfielder.
The problem I have with this acquisition suggestion is that I have no idea what the Mets would demand in return, and I really don’t want Reyes blocking what could be an emerging Hechavarria in 2012, should the Jays sign Reyes to an extension at some point in 2011. Still, at only 28 years old and as one of the most talented lead off hitters in MLB, you can’t help but wonder if he’d be a good fit at the top of the Jays lineup.
Due to the strained relations between him and the Mets and their cash issues, I make him the most likely on this list to be on a new team in 2012. Whether or not he’s with the Jays is unknown and most likely an unlikely proposition, but it’s still a small possibility.
David Wright – Owed $14 million in 2011, $15 million in 2012, and has a club option of $16 million in 2013 with a $1 million buyout (Courtesy of Cot’s) – Becomes a FA in 2013 or 2014 if the Option is taken
The cornerstone to their franchise, 28-year old Wright is extremely unlikely to be dealt unless the Mets receive a king’s ransom. Still, desperate times call for desperate measures, so you never know for certain. Dealing Wright would immediately bring 4-6 prospects into the Mets organization, and the possible dealings of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran could bring in a ton as well. If the Mets decide to “blow it up”, as is often said when an organization decides to rebuild, they could be convinced to deal Wright. He’s not going to become any cheaper anytime soon.
I’m not going to spend much time on evaluating Wright’s move to the Jays because I really don’t believe the Jays could land him without dealing a ton of their newly acquired depth and youthful talent. Still, we can never count Alex Anthopolous out of any deal, so I throw him out there as a player that would resolve the issues the Jays are facing at 3B for the long term, and who would resolve some of the money woes the Mets are having while giving them a ton of players to rebuild with.
I’m obviously throwing this post out there as a long shot and one that has parts which make more sense than others. It was just too tempting to do with all of the talk of financial issues in New York. I fully understand that the Jays are likely to seek minor league players with some of their freed up cash and would never expect Alex Anthopolous to go on a spending spree. But, if he can land one of the 3 players above at a discount since he’s covering the majority of that player’s contract, I can envision a deal being conducted between these 2 teams. The probability of it happening is likely below 10%, but it is impactfull enough a possible deal to warrant a look to see how it would impact the Jays.
A Beltran acquisition would essentially replace Wells and result in future benefits in terms of picks or an attractive trade piece at the deadline, a Reyes acquisition does the same in terms of picks or trade piece while allowing Bautista to return to RF, and a Wright acquisition would resolve the 3B issues faced by the Jays through 2013 while also shifting Bautista to RF and replacing Wells in the 3-hole. Each possible deal solves issues for the Jays. The problems include the fact that they are all on relatively short deals which may not match what the Jays see as affordable when compared to financial or prospect costs, and that all 3 are players the Mets are built around and will therefore not be easy to acquire.
It’s fun to dream of a Jays lineup with any of these 3 included, as I’m sure it would make the Jays much better in the long term. Having considered all 3 scenarios at length, I see a Carlos Beltran acquisition as most likely to occur of the 3, even if it is still extremely unlikely. This is partially due to the possibility of having Brett Lawrie as a 3B in the very near future, the fact that Beltran is owed the most in 2011, and that he also has a lot of injury risk that the Mets may want to mitigate against by dealing him before the season starts. His leadership would also be welcomed on a young Jays club, and he is about as dedicated a baseball player as you can find in all of MLB, making a great example for the younger guys on the club.
That’s my take on the Mets situation and how it may peak the interest of Alex Anthopolous and the Jays. It’s a scenario that’s unlikely to develop into reality, but one that I enjoyed pondering. How can I not when the chances of the Mets extending either Reyes or Beltran past 2011 are slimmer than the chances of a deal between the Jays and Mets!