Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz have been mentioned in trade possibilities over the past few weeks. The New York Mets shouldn’t listen.
By Gregg Cambareri
Okay, so the MLB winter meetings aren’t for another few weeks, but that of course hasn’t stopped the trade rumors. Recently, John Harper of the New York Daily News, and SNY’s Jim Duquette, each proposed potential trades for the New York Mets. Both suggested the Mets move one of their young aces for an impact outfielder.
We’ve heard the Mets should trade some of their top pitchers to help improve the offense countless times, and it still hasn’t happened. Well, the team just went to it’s first World Series in 15 years, so why do you think it still hasn’t happened? Ah, that’s right, the pitching depth helped.
Let’s examine Harper’s proposal first:
Mets trade Zack Wheeler to the Yankees in exchange for Brett Gardner and Adam Warren.
There are several reasons why this would never happen. First, the financial issue comes into play. Even if the Mets were to consider this deal, they would have to pay Gardner’s 3 years and $38 million left on his contract (not to mention his option for 2019). Why trade for a player owed this kind of money when you can probably get similar production by simply signing Gerrado Parra or Dexter Fowler? Wheeler, on the other hand, isn’t even arbitration eligible yet.
Secondly, Gardner profiles better as a corner outfielder. He has the speed to cover center field, and would be a nice lefty compliment to Juan Lagares, but lacks the arm strength to man the position. The Mets are already overloaded with Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Cuddyer in the corners, so Garnder doesn’t have an ideal position on the Mets.
Let’s also consider the age of both players. Gardner is 32, and was hampered by wrist injuries for a large part of last year. While he still looks like he should be a productive player, I’m not willing to acquire someone entering their mid 30s for a young ace just 25 years old. Alright, I understand Wheeler is coming off Tommy John surgery, but the success rate of the operation is fairly high, evidenced by the fact that Harvey, DeGrom, and Matz have all had the procedure.
Let’s also consider the Mets and Yankees don’t often trade with each other. When they have, there aren’t any blockbusters that come to mind, either. If Wheeler were to become a perennial all star in the Bronx, Mets fans would have to hear about it forever from their cross town rivals. The front office cannot risk that kind of PR disaster.
Adam Warren is not to be discounted, though. He has done an exceptional job as a swingman over the past three seasons, performing well in both starter and reliever roles. However, his value isn’t nearly enough to get the Mets to ship Wheeler to the Bronx.
Now, let’s examine Duquette’s even more ridiculous proposal:
Mets trade Steven Matz, top outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo, and reliever Hansel Robles or AA starter Gabriel Ynoa to Colorado in exchange for outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
There’s a reason why Duquette is no longer a General Manager anymore. Where do we begin…
Whenever a star player comes along, you have to consider his contract. Well, at least you do if you have a mid-tier payroll like the Mets. Gonzalez is owed $37 million over the next two seasons. That really isn’t too outrageous, especially for a player only 30 years old coming off a 40 homer, 97 RBI season. Until Met ownership proves they can increase payroll though, I’d assume Sandy Alderson asks financially restricted Colorado to eat some of the money owed to Gonzalez, which is unlikely. The Rockies are rebuilding and looking to shed payroll.
Similar to Gardner, Gonzalez finds himself in a positional logjam in an already crowded Mets outfield. He has 200 career games played in center field, but injuries have reduced his range and speed, as he profiles as more of a corner outfielder. He has three gold gloves to his name, thanks in part to a powerful throwing arm, but has stolen just five bases over the past two years. His speed was once a big part of his game, but lower body injuries have altered his ability. If he can’t man center, I don’t believe many of us are comfortable with Curtis Granderson becoming the full time center fielder.
Gonzalez when healthy is a no doubt all star caliber bat and above average defensive player. His injuries and contract make him a risky acquisition, however. That being said, the Mets are supposed to trade a young, cost controllable, front of the rotation projected arm in Steven Matz, their best outfield prospect in Brandon Nimmo (who will begin the year in AAA, almost ready for the big leagues), and either a hard throwing reliever (Robles) or a future back end starter (or bullpen piece, depending on which scout you ask) in Ynoa.
Yes, the Mets are a win now team, and Colorado is building for the future. However, do two expensive years of Gonzalez equal several cheap seasons of Matz, Nimmo, and Robles/Ynoa? Find me someone who thinks that’s a fair deal, because I haven’t yet.
Trade rumors are fun, but much better when they’re actually realistic. The Mets have a chance to have an unprecedented rotation of dominance when Wheeler returns next year. It’s hard to imagine any of the young guns getting moved, unless the return is too good to be true. Let’s see what the winter meetings bring us in a few weeks, when the hot stove really gets cooking.
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