Sandy Alderson spoke to Mike Francesa for a half-hour yesterday, and revealed the new plan to add talent this offseason: trades. Alderson acknowledged that the Mets need to get better in 2013, “and not incrementally”.
He spoke of the prohibitive cost of adding power hitters via free agency, and while he still isn’t publicly acknowledging what payroll will be, we know from Adam Rubin’s report over the weekend that it isn’t likely to go up, only down, something we also knew from doing basic math.
But lets put all of that aside for a moment. If the Mets are to add an expensive power hitter via trade, that’s also additional salary. So we have to be talking about young, cost-controlled power hitters. You know, the thing that is about as prized by other teams as anything this side of young, cost-controlled frontline starting pitching.
That won’t come cheap via trade. Let’s take a look at exactly who the Mets can deal for such a thing.
DAVID WRIGHT: Obviously, Wright has value to a team looking to upgrade at third base. Potentially, the Mets can deal Wright for a power hitter and then some, with that hitter serving as the centerpiece of the deal. Even if we assume that a team has such a player but is willing to deal him-say, due to positional redundancy, for instance- the downgrade from Wright at third base makes it awfully hard to win that trade in 2013, which is, after all, the purpose of the new strategy set forth by Alderson.
R.A. DICKEY: The best pitcher on the Mets, and possibly the National League, is under control for just $5 million in 2013, thanks to a tremendous team option. He’d certainly bring back a power hitter in return, potentially, but the chances of bringing one back who can provide enough value to make up for the difference between a full season of Dickey and a full season of, say, Collin McHugh or Jenrry Mejia in 2013 is awfully slight.
RUBEN TEJADA: A young, cost-controlled shortstop would be valuable in trade. But the problem with doing so is obvious: if Tejada is dealt for a power-hitting shortstop, he’ll be a defensive downgrade for a team already near the bottom of the league defensively, and frankly, he probably doesn’t exist. If Tejada is dealt for a power hitter at another position, the Mets are left with a gaping hole at shortstop, no real internal options to fill it, and again, no money to spend.
JONATHON NIESE: Same problem as with Tejada, but at pitcher. Remember, the Mets have Dillon Gee, recovering from a blood clot, and Johan Santana, recovering from so much, as 40 percent of the projected 2013 rotation. Fallback plans are McHugh and Mejia, and maybe Wheeler, who has three middling starts at Triple-A to his name. And that’s it, really. So Niese is kind of important to keep.
MATT HARVEY: If the Mets deal Harvey for a young, cost-controlled power hitter, it would be based around the same idea that led to Seattle trading Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero. And it wouldn’t be crazy; teams can generally count on hitting prospects far more than pitching prospects. But man, it better be a great hitting prospect, because Harvey has been very strong in his six starts so far and has a world of talent. And the one thing more difficult than acquiring young power hitters is getting young frontline starting pitchers.
ZACK WHEELER: See Harvey, though purely from a 2013 standpoint, it would be quite possible to find a likelier bet to help the Mets immediately than Wheeler, who still needs time. But building for the future means stockpiling high-end arms, not trading them, since many of them will not pan out.
DANIEL MURPHY: If a team sees Murphy as a viable 2B or 3B, perhaps it would be willing to deal a young power hitter for him. But the market for Murphy this summer was more like the reliever Luke Gregorson. So it probably isn’t a great power hitter, and since that bat is unlikely to also play second base, it leaves the Mets with a huge 2013 infield hole and no one to plug it. (No, Jordany Valdespin is not a second baseman, even by Daniel Murphy standards.) So that’s not really a 2013 improvement trade.
As far as I can tell, that’s it. Who else is getting traded for a young, cost-controlled power hitter? Ike Davis, whose only tool this year has been power? Josh Thole, who hasn’t performed adequately for months? Some of the strong pitching prospects who are still several years away? Jason Bay?
Really, I’m at a loss. Feel free to tell me the trade candidates I’m missing in the comments.