It feels as if the New York Mets are well out of contention, but the fact remains that as of June 26, they are only 5.5 games out of first place in the National League East. If they remain this close to a playoff spot, they would be crazy not to at least consider pursuing players who they feel could put them over the top.
The Mets have a number of holes, mostly on offense. Starting pitching is the team’s strength, and their bullpen has turned into a positive with young arms like Jeurys Familia, Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia closing out games. However, their offense is often pitiful, and they’ll need more production if they seriously want to contend.
It is arguable that the Mets should go in the other direction, trading their current assets like Daniel Murphy and Bartolo Colon for future assets. However, that is not the purpose of this article; I am looking solely at a shopping list of players that the Mets would pursue for the purpose of competing now, if they choose to go down that route.
This shopping list also lacks superstars. I’ve written previously about the Mets acquiring a star bat during the season such as Matt Kemp or Alex Gordon, but this list is dedicated to smaller—but not minuscule—moves that the Mets could fill to moderately improve their roster.
These options are meant to be realistic as well. Unless the Mets are getting a star-caliber player they expect to be a part of the team for a long time, they won’t trade Noah Syndergaard. The players listed below are far from perfect, but the Mets aren’t realistically getting a perfect player unless they trade Syndergaard.
The San Diego Padres are not good, and with a new general manager on the horizon, they will be looking to deal their current assets for future assets.
Considering what the Padres have to offer, Everth Cabrera is the player that fits best on the Mets roster. He is having a poor season this year (.223/.261/.298), but that also means the Mets could acquire him for much less than his actual value.
As much as Ruben Tejada continues to play every day, he is not a viable starting shortstop for a playoff team. While Wilmer Flores has yet to prove it, I still believe he is an above-average major league hitter, but the Mets have yet to show faith in him—as evidenced by their recent demotion of him—and his defense will always be suspect as a shortstop.
Everth Cabrera would give Terry Collins the prototypical leadoff hitter he desires so badly. When on his game, Cabrera gets on base and steals bases with regularity while playing above-average defense.
His package is enticing, and with the Padres looking to unload their roster for the future, he could come at a reasonable price.
Alexei Ramirez is another shortstop who would significantly improve the Mets lineup.
He’s having a great season, hitting .297/.330/.418 with seven home runs and 13 stolen bases. The Mets—a team starved for offense—would be substantially better with that kind of production from the shortstop position
As the Chicago White Sox start falling further and further out of the playoff race—they’re currently last in the AL Central and 8.5 games out of first—the odds they trade Ramirez go up.
Trading for Ramirez would force the Mets to cough up some of their pitching prospects, but they could land him without giving up Noah Syndergaard.
Still, the Mets should only trade for Ramirez if they get closer to the division lead by the deadline and truly believe adding him would propel them to a playoff berth. If the Mets feel like Ramirez only makes them marginally better, they should hold off on adding a shortstop until the offseason.
Alex Rios isn’t the power hitter he’s often billed as—he has only three home runs this season—but he is arguably the perfect hitter for Citi Field. He hits line drives and balls in the gap, and he is a good athlete.
This season, Rios is hitting .312/.345/.451. While he is usually around a .280 hitter, he would still be a major improvement for the Mets outfield over Chris Young or Eric Young Jr.
Like all the other options on this list, the Mets should only trade for Rios if it either doesn’t cost them heavily in prospects or if they feel that Rios is the missing piece that makes them a playoff team.
Rios is 33 and has a club option for 2015 at $13.5 million. After that, he either becomes an overpaid outfielder entering the latter half of his 30s or he isn’t worth having on the roster. Either way, he likely wouldn’t be with the Mets past 2015, so trading for him would exclusively be a short-term move.
All statistics courtesy Baseball-Reference.
All contract information courtesy Cot's Baseball Contracts.
Follow Sean on Twitter: @SCunninghamPG.