Bobby Parnell has flourished in his first full season as the Mets' closer.
The 28-year-old has locked down 17 of 20 save opportunities to go with a strong 2.30 ERA in 41 innings pitched through the All-Star break.
His average fastball velocity clocks at an impressive 95.2 mph, according to Fangraphs, which is the same average speed of Matt Harvey’s fastball. Parnell also has yet to allow a home run this season. By all accounts, Parnell is rising star who could be a mainstay in the Mets' bullpen for years to come.
As a result, Parnell’s name has been floated as potential trade bait, but the Mets’ front office has rejected that notion at every turn.
While Parnell isn’t untouchable, it’ll likely take a significant package of major league-ready prospects to acquire the closer.
So, should the Mets seek a trade of Parnell prior to the July 31 trade deadline? Here are the pros and cons of doing so.
Pros of trading Parnell
Should the Mets choose to shop Parnell, he would be one of—if not the—top relievers on the trade market this season. Fittingly, there are a significant number of division contenders that are in desperate need of relief pitching.
As of now, the Mets are inclined to hold onto Parnell, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, but it can’t hurt to at least listen to what contending teams are offering.
The Detroit Tigers, for example, boast one of the deepest rosters in MLB, but still sport one of the league’s worst bullpens. Detroit’s relievers have accumulated a 4.15 ERA through the All-Star break, which is third-worst in the American League.
Current save leader Jose Valverde isn’t even on the team. Joaquin Benoit has been impressive of late, but the Tigers could certainly use some insurance in the back end of their bullpen. Detroit isn’t going to sacrifice a chance at a return trip to the World Series because of a shoddy bullpen.
The Mets would have to consider a deal featuring Tigers' top prospect Nick Castellanos. Similarly, the Mets would be forced to a consider a deal if the Red Sox were willing to part with their top-25 prospect, Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Mets prefer not to trade Parnell, but it’s conceivable they’ll be offered a deal that’s too good to refuse.
GM Sandy Alderson is right to favor keeping Parnell as part of a Mets' team that expects to contend next season. However, Alderson will be forced to listen to offers if teams are willing to trade top prospects to obtain Parnell’s services for the second half of this season.
Cons for trading Parnell
Parnell’s value is at an all-time high this summer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Mets will attempt to move him.
He’s making just $1.7 million this season and is arbitration-eligible for the first time in the upcoming offseason. He won’t become a free agent for the first time until 2016.
Compare Parnell’s current status to that of Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon, who’s making $13 million this season, in the second year of a $50 million deal. The closers are similar in effectiveness, but Parnell is far more valuable because of his preferable contract situation.
Contenders wouldn’t be acquiring just a rental player in Parnell, but getting a proven closer with a low-rent contract and All-Star potential. That’s why the Mets are inclined to hold onto Parnell as they seek a return to contention in 2014.
The Mets appear to have finally found their closer of the future after cycling through expensive underachievers like Francisco Rodriguez and Frank Francisco. It’d certainly be disheartening for the Mets' fanbase if the team decided to trade Parnell after all the progress he’s made over the past few seasons.
There’s no doubt Parnell has made great strides since the 2009 season, when he finished with a 5.30 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in 88.1 innings.
Parnell is relatively young, cheap and improving. For those reasons, the Mets would need to be “blown away” by an offer for him.
In 2011, Alderson traded soon-to-be free agent Carlos Beltran to the Giants for top-pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. It’s reasonable to assume that a prospect of Wheeler’s caliber wouldn’t be enough to pry Parnell away from the Mets this summer.
The Mets realize they own a valuable trading chip in Parnell, but it’s clearly going to take a major haul to acquire him.
With that being the case, Parnell is likely to remain with the Mets.