Mets Trade Rumors: 5 Available Players Who Could Clinch the Mets a Playoff Spot

Vinny Messana@v1nsaneCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2012

Mets Trade Rumors: 5 Available Players Who Could Clinch the Mets a Playoff Spot

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    Despite their recent six-game losing streak, the New York Mets remain in contention for a Wild Card spot, and they can thank Mr. Selig for the addition of the extra playoff team.

    If they have any chance of clinching a berth, they can not stand pat at the trade deadline on July 31.

    They must address their needs—namely, relief help and a right-handed power bat .

    Here are five players that will impact their season positively and potentially land them a spot in the playoffs.

5. Kelly Shoppach, Catcher

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    According to Peter Gammons via Twitter, the Mets have discussed trading for catcher Kelly Shoppach of the Boston Red Sox.

    He may not be the name that fans have been clamoring for, but he would significantly improve their offensive production from the catching position.

    He has been a subpar hitter against right-handed pitchers but he would make for a solid platoon with Josh Thole, who is hitting .195 against southpaws.

    The 32-year-old catcher has produced consistently in his career, racking up an RBI once every 7.2 at-bats.

    This season has not been a particularly impressive one in his limited playing time with Boston, but perhaps a change of scenery would spark his bat.

    Shoppach has a career .900 OPS against left-handed pitchers, which is extremely effective for a catcher.

    Additionally, he has hit 34 career second-half home runs in a little more than a season's worth of at-bats.

    The addition of Shoppach may not light the Twitter world on fire, but it could be enough of an improvement over Nickeas to help the Mets offense behind the plate, which has posted a .602 SLG this season.

    Again, catchers are not the most productive position in the MLB, so the elite ones are not available on the open market. Of the ones that could be traded for, Shoppach may be the Mets' best and most affordable option.

    For those who prefer Ramon Hernandez, take a glance at his 2012 statistics before you make a compelling argument.

4. Jason Vargas, Pitcher

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    The Mets actually traded for Jason Vargas just prior to the 2007 season in a package that sent relievers Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens to the Florida Marlins.

    He started two games for the Mets that season in place of an injured Mike Pelfrey. They did not go very well, and he was charged with nine earned runs in 3.1 innings in his final start.

    The Mets sent him to Seattle in the seven-player deal that involved Aaron Heilman.

    Since that time, Vargas has gone from being a fringe-at-best type of pitcher into a very effective starting pitcher in the difficult American League West.

    The Mariners are in a distant fourth place, and Paul Morosi of FOX Sports noted that they could look to improve their dreadful offense by shopping Vargas.

    Vargas could add consistency to the rotation, which has been scuffling of late, and he could prove to be dominant in the National League, considering most of the hitters have never faced him.

    His 126 innings pitched rank sixth in the MLB, and that production would help keep the bullpen from being overworked.

    He has limited batters to 8.1 H/9 and 2.3 BB/9, which bodes well for future performance, and a switch to the NL would probably cause for a drop in his 4.07 ERA.

    If the Mets could construct a package built around minor league prospects such as Cesar Puello or Matt Den Dekker, perhaps they could bolster their rotation significantly.

3. Joe Thatcher, Left-Handed Relief Pitcher

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    It is no secret the Mets' bullpen has not exactly dominated this season. They rank dead last in the MLB with a 5.03 team ERA.

    Tim Byrdak has done a solid job as the lone left-handed reliever for the majority of the season.

    He has been joined recently by Josh Edgin. In the minors, the 25-year-old put up a solid ERA of 3.53 over 43 innings, but he is young and untested.

    The addition of Joe Thatcher would solidify the bullpen and would take some of the burden off Byrdak to be effective every single time out.

    The 30-year-old Thatcher has been dependable this season and has held lefties to a dismal .135 BAA in 2012.

    His services are going unnoticed for the San Diego Padres, but he is capable of getting important outs for the Mets down the stretch.

    Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reported that the Boston Red Sox could have interest in the reliever, so the Mets would not be alone in their desire.

    Thatcher has held hitters to an incredible .316 slugging percentage. which is downright filthy. His presence will help limit base runners in the late innings and help the bullpen as a whole.

2. Josh Willingham, Outfielder

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    I really wanted to use an out-of-the-box approach and offer a player that has not been mentioned much in the rumor mill.

    However, there is just no ignoring that Willingham provides what the Mets desperately need—a power bat that thrives against left-handed pitchers.

    The 33-year-old outfielder has never been a premier player in the league but has put up respectable numbers every year, especially against left-handed pitchers.

    With the Mets' lineup being extremely reliant on their lefty bats, Willingham will provide exactly what they have been lacking.

    He has actually gotten better with age, as he hit 29 home runs last season in Oakland and is on pace to surpass those numbers this season.

    Josh is familiar with the National League as well, as he played with Washington and Florida for the first seven years of his career.

    There is no doubt he would be a highly-valued commodity at the deadline, considering the Minnesota Twins have no reason to keep the veteran when they could bolster their depleted farm system by packaging him.

    Currently, ESPN 1500 has reported that the Twins are not "actively shopping him" but have not declared him "off-limits."

    Clearly, the Mets will not be the only team interested in a hitter with 22 home runs, but they should certainly attempt to construct a package to get him because their offense would benefit tremendously.

    Willingham leads the MLB in home runs against left-handed pitching with 12. With Scott Hairston tied for second with nine, Willingham and Hairston could make quite the tandem against the left-handed pitchers of the National League.

1. Huston Street, Right-Handed Relief Pitcher

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    The Mets do not simply need one effective reliever, they need multiple arms.

    During their days in Oakland, Mets' bench coach Bob Geren and closer Huston Street were not on the best of terms, which led Street to tell the San Francisco Chronicle that Geren is "my least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports from age 6 to 27."

    Since then he has squashed the beef and announced he would be willing to come to the Mets if he were to be traded.

    The Mets could certainly use the 28-year-old right-hander who has posted tremendous numbers this season. 

    In 25 innings this season, he has posted a 2-0 record with a 1.08 ERA while pitching in the spacious Petco Park in San Diego.

    Some could argue that his numbers are a bit skewed by pitching in such a cavernous yard, but that would ignore his three solid seasons while pitching in the hitter-friendly Coors Field.

    Street has not only limited runs scored this season but has a 4.13 K/BB ratio and a 0.72 WHIP, which is precisely what the Mets need in the back of the bullpen.

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