With an opportunistic approach, the New York Mets may find an offensive supplement in free agent slugger Mark Trumbo.Opportunity lies in the eye of the beholder.
In the New York Mets’ front office, work still remains undone while opportunity to strike glows. The team boasts at least one excess outfielder (take your pick — Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, or Jay Bruce) but lacks an experienced big-league left-hander for its bullpen.
Still, in what the club does have — a first baseman who’s reached the 30 home run plateau, Lucas Duda, and a catcher hailing from phenom prospect status, Travis d’Arnaud — much doubt hangs over, and, in positions occupied by mediocre customers, the Mets must squeeze out more value than reasonable projection.
d’Arnaud, 27, failed to play in more than 75 games in each of the last two seasons, and his play during those injury-plagued years was marred by poor run production and power droughts. Never cracking 41 RBI in a single season over his career, and driving in just 15 runs in 2016, d’Arnaud is a problem with the bat. And not only can he hurt the lineup, but d’Arnaud is an injury liability — and a backstop who’s consistently demonstrated an underperformance in throwing out runners.
Moving elsewhere, Lucas Duda, 30, played in just 47 games in 2016 in a largely limited role. In his timeshare with James Loney, Duda emerged to hit just .223 and slam a mere seven home runs. First base, too, is an area of concern for the Mets.
Looking at the market, and examining the fleeting nature of the catching availability, it is clear where the Mets must attack.
First base. Remind me, who’s on first?
Give me Mark Trumbo, a power-hitting righty who complements Duda perfectly and gives the Mets a bat to replace that of, if the baseball gods will it, Jay Bruce. The two-time All-Star crushed a league-leading 47 home runs last year while slashing a robust .256/.316/.533. Though things always haven’t sailed smoothly for Trumbo, who’s hit under .240 in two of his big league seasons, he’s a no-brainer fit on paper.
And that’s not why the Mets should chase him. Of course, Trumbo’s ability to help along a Mets championship run is reason for intrigue in its own right, but it is actually the state of the market that should draw a Sandy Alderson bid.
Consider past offseasons — take 2015 for example. Signing Ian Desmond a year ago would require his suitor to surrender a first round pick. That element of his market, the onus of which now lies on Trumbo, severely held Desmond back, and he eventually agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Texas Rangers. In other words, he settled for far less than the Washington Nationals’ qualifying offer.
Sound familiar? Maybe — and history tends to repeat itself. Trumbo probably won’t stoop to quite the level Desmond was compelled to, but — as we sit unknowing on January 4 — the potential exists. With his market fading, and his hometown Orioles backing out of an agreed-upon framework weeks ago, Trumbo figures to be open for business.
Which means just what it sounds: the opportunity exists for Alderson’s Mets. And it is in the eye of the beholder – a New York-driven club with rising revenue – that opportunity lies. That is, right in the lap of Sandy Alderson.
As the murky waters of Trumbo’s market unfold into maelstrom, it is Alderson who readies for a strike that could finish the puzzle to a Mets team brimming with ability — a team on the verge of World Series glory for which Flushing so yearningly clamors.