The New York Mets have gone on a run recently, winning eight of their last 10 to give fans hope of playoff contention this season. However, they are still seven games out of first place in the National League East, and they could be better off selling at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline with their eyes on competing in 2015.
Below is a big board of prospects the Mets could realistically target if they are sellers at the deadline. The prospects are from teams that have needs which could be filled by the Mets' pitching depth, or clubs that could be interested in starter Bartolo Colon or second baseman Daniel Murphy.
While some of the prospects mentioned are elite and would change the Mets’ fortunes in the near future, others are less exciting but are realistic returns.
It is also possible that the Mets could try to buy at the deadline, but this big board is just for the purposes of targeting prospects whom the Mets could get if they are out of contention.
1. Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
If the Mets are in selling mode, trading for Joc Pederson makes all the sense in the world.
He’s a major league-ready corner outfielder with power and would be under team control for a long time, which makes sense for the Mets financially.
However, he would cost the Mets dearly in terms of talent. There is a conundrum the Mets are beginning to face: whether or not it makes sense for them to trade their pitching depth for bats or instead hold on to their arms because of the old adage of “you can’t have too much pitching.”
Pederson would make sense for the Mets whether or not they are in contention, as he is a major league-ready, impact bat, but the Los Angeles Dodgers would only trade him for a valuable major league asset. That means it would cost the Mets someone like lefty Jon Niese—whose trade value is diminished as long as the health of his throwing shoulder is in question—and right-hander Dillon Gee.
It’s also unclear whether or not one of the Mets' established starters would be enough to pry Pederson away from the Dodgers.
It makes sense for Los Angeles to trade Pederson because it doesn't have room for him in its outfield and arguably would be better off solidifying its rotation this season. That being said, the Dodgers already have a deep roster and could be comfortable standing pat, keeping Pederson in the minors until a spot opens up.
2. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs are loaded with position players and shortstops who are either major league ready or just a step away. The Mets would kill to have just one of the Cubs’ stars-in-waiting, with Javier Baez near the top of their list.
The Mets could also entertain trading for the Cubs' current starting shortstop, Starlin Castro, but this is a list dedicated to prospects—not current major leaguers—the Mets would target. Also, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reported recently that it is believed in the industry that trading for Baez is more realistic for the Mets than trading for Castro.
Baez is a polarizing player. He has arguably the highest ceiling in all of the minor leagues, as he has elite power for a player of any position, which is a tool that becomes even more valuable if he can remain at shortstop.
However, it’s also realistic that he never translates his talent into major league production, and it’s likely that at some point in the future he’ll have to switch positions, and in doing so he'll become less valuable.
The biggest issue with the Mets trading for Baez is that the Cubs are building for the future, and if the Mets make this deal, that most likely means their season is lost and they’ll also have the same mentality.
That means the more established major league pitchers the Mets could deal would appeal less to the Cubs than to other teams, while the Cubs would most certainly want a pitcher like Noah Syndergaard in return.
If the Mets are sellers at the deadline, they would almost certainly avoid trading their prized prospect, and regardless, prospect-for-prospect trades almost never happen because teams are much more comfortable with the risk of players already in their farm system, among other reasons.
Baez has the ability to change the Mets' outlook as a franchise with his talent, but there are a number of obstacles standing in the way of the Cubs dealing him to New York.
3. Franklin Barreto, Toronto Blue Jays
Franklin Barreto is different than the other prospects on this list in that he is further away from the big leagues. However, he is a prospect the Mets should target if they send Murphy to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Barreto is a Venezuelan shortstop playing in Low-A ball at just 18 years old. He signed as an international free agent in 2012 and looks like he has a tremendous future ahead of him.
Barreto exhibits an exceptional feel for hitting, and while many international players have issues with plate discipline, Barreto has a .400 OBP this season. He isn’t an immediate fix to the Mets' shortstop woes, but adding him to the farm system would be a major talent infusion.
The Mets already have talented young shortstops in the lower minors in Amed Rosario and Gavin Cecchini, but that shouldn’t stop them from trying to obtain Barreto from the Blue Jays in a Murphy trade. Especially when acquiring guys from the lower levels, the focus should be on adding the best players rather than worrying about organizational depth at a specific position.
Even though Barreto is far from the major leagues, he is more talented than the prospects closer to the pros whom the Mets could acquire for Murphy. By trading for a talented player in the lower levels, the Mets would be taking a bigger risk, but they would also be getting a much greater upside possibility.
4. Chris Taylor, Seattle Mariners
While many Mets fans think of Brad Miller or Nick Franklin as young shortstops the Mets should try to acquire in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, Chris Taylor could make the most sense as a target.
Taylor, a fifth-round pick in 2012 out of the University of Virginia, has solid tools across the board. There aren’t questions about his ability to play shortstop at the big league level like there are with Franklin, and he has a patient approach at the plate that would be appealing to the Mets.
Currently in Triple-A, he could be the Mets' shortstop very soon. While he has no elite tool like Baez’s power or Barreto’s hitting ability, he is a solid all-around player with no discernible flaws. He is a better option moving forward than Ruben Tejada and would be able to replace him as soon as this season.
Taylor would be a solid return for Colon. The Mariners are seven games over .500, and a solid starter like Colon would be enticing to them.
Colon will not get the Mets a star prospect in return because of his age (41), but Taylor has the ability to be a solid shortstop for a long time and is a realistic return for the veteran starter.
5. Randal Grichuk, St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals might be willing to part with outfield prospect Randal Grichuk at the trade deadline for Colon.
Grichuk made his major league debut this season, but it’s hard to see where he fits in the Cardinals’ future. St. Louis is already having problems finding a place for top prospect Oscar Taveras, and with a multitude of outfield options already in the organization, Grichuk is expendable.
Grichuk isn’t an elite prospect by any means, but he’s major league-ready and has some enticing tools. He has plus power and plays hard, and considering Colon’s value, he would be a nice return despite the swing-and-miss aspect of his hitting approach.
The Cardinals could really use Colon as they make their playoff push, and the Mets could take advantage of this by taking a chance on Grichuk, who could start in left field right now for New York.
All statistics courtesy Baseball-Reference.