Buyers or Sellers
As we sit here in early July, the Mets are about a dozen games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. They are more than a half-dozen games behind the Washington Nationals for second in the division. In fact, they have the second-worst record in the National League, ahead of only the Miami Marlins. If the 2014 MLB draft order were selected today, the Mets would draft fifth overall. There is no question that the Mets will, or at least should, attempt to be sellers in July.
What They Need
What don’t the Mets need? David Wright (.914) is the lone Mets player with an OPS over. 802. Honestly, except for third, there isn’t a position at which the Mets could not make an improvement.
Wright is a cornerstone, and the Mets are starting to see the debut of a core of talented young pitchers. Matt Harvey (24) is one of baseball’s most exciting and talented young starters. Zach Wheeler (23) recently made his debut. Dillon Gee (27), Jonathan Niese (26, signed through 2016, with 2 option years) and Jeremy Hefner (27, 3.72 ERA) are a solid group of starters. Jeurys Familia (23) can be dominant out of the bullpen.
23-year-old shortstop Ruben Tejada is posting Florimonic offensive numbers. Ike Davis (26) hit 32 homers last year, but was finally sent to AAA after hitting .161 with little power this year. The outfield of Lucas Duda, Marlon Byrd and a rotation centerfielder can certainly be improved. John Buck is adequate at catcher and they do have Travis d’Arnaud waiting, injured, in the wings.
What Might Work
The Twins and the Mets should both be in the sellers category, so it is unlikely that these two teams line up real well. Marlon Byrd and closer Bobby Parnell should be available, but the Twins had best not be interested in either.
The Mets may be interested in acquiring a couple of veterans who are signed long-term in an attempt to compete a little more quickly. They have been rumored to have interest in the White Sox’ Alexei Ramirez. How do the Mets feel about feel about the future of Ike Davis? At the deadline could they be interested in a player like Justin Morneau and then try to lock him up for a couple of years?
There could be interest in bullpen arms like Brian Duensing and Casey Fien because of their low contracts with at least a couple years of team control. One other name that might garner interest from the Mets is Trevor Plouffe. He could platoon at 1B with Davis and potentially improve one of the Mets corner outfield spots. He will become arbitration-eligible following this season.
Gabriel Ynoa - RHP – Low-A - 20 years old
Ynoa is not currently a highly-ranked prospect. He throws into the low 90s with encouraging but inconsistent secondary pitches, as you would expect from such a young arm. At 6-2 and just 160 pounds, he has plenty of room to grow, and hopefully be able to add some velocity. This year, he is 9-3 with a 2.89 ERA. In 87.1 innings, he has given up just 73 hits, walked only 11 and struck out 73.
Matt Reynolds - SS - High A - 22 years old
The middle infielder was the team’s 2nd
round pick just a year ago out of the University of Arkansas where he teamed with DJ Baxendale and went to the College World Series. He is what scouts call a ball player. His tools are not great. He is not real fast. He doesn’t have huge power. He is a smart player who is quite poised on the field. Right now in the Florida State League, he is hitting .242/.327/.370 (.696) with 15 doubles, five triples, three homers and 30 RBI. It is believed that he can stick at short, but could play second, third or fulfill a utility role.
Steve Matz - LHP - Low-A - 22 years old
Matz was the Mets 2nd
round pick in 2009 out of high school. He had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and missed all of 2011 as well. He suffered some soreness early in 2012 and did not make his professional debut until last June. He is pitching in the Sally League this year. He is just 2-4 but has a 2.53 ERA. In 64 innings, he has given up just 53 hits, walked 20 and struck out 70. The reason he may be available is the injury risk, but it is still believed that he has very good stuff. Patience would be important.
We can dream of Harvey and Wheeler and d’Arnaud all we want, but with the two teams where they are, that’s not happening. For the names mentioned above, they wouldn’t likely get Top 10 prospects. I don’t see a fit with Glen Perkins, and if we did, someone like Noah Syndergaard would have to be in play. After much research, I would love to see the Twins target one of these following mid-level prospects for the above-mentioned Twins. It would also be an acceptable haul in a deal for Morneau, in my opinion.
Jack Leathersich - LHP - AAA – 22 years old
There are a lot of left-handed relievers out there; few are like Glen Perkins. Those that are can be quite valuable. Leathersich fits the Perkins mold. He is just 5-11. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s. He has a sharp curveball and is looking to develop a change-up. After signing in 2011, he struck out 26 in 12.2 innings. Between two levels in 2012, he struck out 113 batters in 72 innings. He began this season in AA and struck out 25 in 29.1 innings. He has been promoted to AAA where he has struck out 15 batters in eight innings (9 games). Worst case, Leathersich looks like a dominant LOOGY. Best case scenario, he becomes a second Glen Perkins.
Kevin Plawecki - C – High-A - 22 years old
Plawecki was the Mets’ first-round pick in 2012 out of Purdue, where he was the Big 10 Player of the Year. Like Twins’ 2013 draft picks Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver, Plawecki was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award as college’s top catcher. Catchers are valuable in the minor leagues, but the Mets do have Travis d’Arnaud as their catcher of the future. After hitting .314/.390/.494 (.884) with 24 doubles, a triple, six homers and 43 RBI in Low-A, Plawecki was recently promoted to the Florida State League where he is hitting .361 with four extra base hits in nine games. Hopefully Joe Mauer will be able to catch for several years, but it will be important to having catching options (to go along with the likes of Josmil Pinto) ready within the next two to three years.
The Twins have some high-upside prospects and some veterans. Together they will, we hope, make the Twins much better in 2014 and a contender by 2015. The Mets have the kind of young pitching that will make them a team to watch, potentially quickly, if they can score any runs.
Twins fans may recall the most recent trade between the Twin and the Mets. In that trade, one team (Mets) was a buyer, and the seller (Twins) received the #1, #2, #4 and #8 prospects of the Mets. It’s likely fair to say that despite the lofty rankings of those four players (Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey and Philip Humber), the Twins did not get much for the two-time Cy Young Award winner. Meanwhile, after a couple of very good years, the Mets paid a lot of money to Santana while he was on the Disabled List.
This year, both teams are sellers and likely unwilling to give up top prospects. So the only way the teams will deal with each other is a minor deal. Of course, those are the types of deals that Terry Ryan has made most years of his tenure. And, many of those trades have resulted in the Twins acquiring a not-highly-publicized prospect who becomes a solid contributor.