This is the first in what hopefully is a series of looks into possible trade partners to asses what trade chips they have and their value. The New York Metropolitans are 34 and 32 just two games back of the Phillies. Mets management is on the hot hot hot seat after collapses the last two years. The lack of job security for Omar Minaya could provide Billy Beane an increased leverage in any dealing between the two clubs. Lets look at the Mets needs and what they have to offer.
The Mets currently have the NL's 4th best offense as measured by wOBA . However, they are severely lacking production at the corner positions have suffered a rash of injuries to All Star SS Jose Reyes, 1b Carlos Delgado, CF Carlos Beltran. Recently Jon Heyman described the Mets needs:
Competing GMs say Mets GM Omar Minaya is out looking for offense now. But it's not an easy chore.
While the Mets' biggest issues may be their defense and baserunning, those issues can't be fixed through trades. We'll see if the offensive issue can be. Their production at the corners has been close to the worst in baseball. So that's what Minaya's looking into.
With Carlos Delgado expected back by the end of August, they'd optimally like to find an offensive player who can play both first base and the outfield so they could use him at either spot now, then switch him to the outfield once Delgado returns. These four come to mind: Brad Hawpe, Adam Dunn, Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa.
The A's don't really have a 1b/OF that fits the mold. However, the Rockies have said that they don't want to trade Hawpe and if they did that would be the type of move they wait till the off season to make. Similarly, it appears that the Nationals are according to Heyman "Nationals are said to be seeking to hit a grand slam with trades. "They want a dollar and a quarter for a dollar," one competing GM complained," which goes for both Adam Dunn and Nick Johnson. Huff would probably be a good candidate for the Mets except he regressed back into a 1-2 WAR player which the Mets have internally. Mark DeRosa theoretically could play both 1rst and the OF but he has only ever started 9 games at first in his career, and his bat (which magically got good about a year and a half ago) plays better at 2b or in a super utility role.
This means that the Mets would probably be in on Holliday. Their corner outfield situation is fairly bleak. Gary Sheffield (who seemed to forget that he is 40 and was suppose to be done) is hitting to the tune of a 870 OPS, unfortunately for the Mets his body hasn't forgotten that it is best suited for a DH role rather than playing the outfield. Beyond an acceptable Sheff, the other corner outfield spot is manned by Ryan Church, Daniel Murphy, Fernando Tatis, Angel Pagan, Chris Snelling, and formerly our favorite DFA candidate Emil Brown. Tatis has been playing 1b in the absence of Delgado as has Murphy.
The problem with trading for Holliday presents like this. The Mets have 13 pitchers right now and only 1 SS so when Reyes comes back he should take that extra pitchers spot. If the Mets trade for Holliday they can send out Nick Evans who kinda sucks and platoon Murphy and Tatis at 1b leaving Church and Sheffield to play the other corner OF position. Things get more complicated when Delgado returns. Now one of Pagan/Reed is needed to be kept DL till August 1 or they must be released since I believe both are out of options, but the other needs to be kept so that there is a back up CFer. Holliday, Beltran, Pagan/Reed, Sheffield, Church in the outfield means that one of Murphy/Tatis or Church will be squeezed from the roster.
While it would be possible to send Murphy down to AAA, DFA Tatis, or trade Church, the Mets do need two starting caliber corner OFers next year. Church due to his expense and sub par play over the last two years doesn't seem to be someone that the A's would target, nor does Tatis. Murphy however might be. A natural third basemen Murphy busted on to the scene scorching AA pitching on his way to big club last year after being ranked a C prospect by Sickles. Scouting reports say Murphy's defense is rough but his minor league Total Zone rating is right around average. If Murphy plays average to -2.5 runs below average defense at third, coupled with a potentially league average bat would make him a two win player. However projecting his ceiling beyond 3 wins (10 RAA with the bat and average defense) is a stretch and isn't exactly the high upside 3b candidate we have been drooling over but sufficient.
The Mets minor league system is intriguing, as it is both a bad system and extremely promising at the same time. This is due to the fact that so many of the Mets prospects are low level lottery tickets. Sickles broke down their top 20 and these are the prospects that I think the A's would be interested in.
1) Wilmer Flores, SS-3B, Grade B+: I might take some flack for this, but in this case I think his upside is higher than F-Mart. If I could have just one of them, I’d pick Flores.
2) Fernando Martinez, OF, Grade B+: Still extremely young, though at some point he’s got to produce better than he has. You can flip him with Flores if you prefer the guy closer to the majors.
5) Reese Havens, SS, Grade B: Assuming he’s healthy, I think he’s going to be a strong across-the-board player with a high OBP.
6) Jefry Marte, 3B, Grade C+: Could be a star if it all comes together, but still rather raw. Considering B- but for me that’s aggressive for a rookie ball guy.
7) Jenrry Mejia, RHP, Grade C+ Pitching version of Marte: lots of talent, but skills are in the developmental stages and may not pan out.
16) Ruben Tejada, SS, Grade C+: Gets slack on the grade because he was massively rushed to the Florida State League. Controls the strike zone, has promise with the glove, very young.
Flores has had a rough year, but still has tons of potential. He doesn't project to have much of an OBP (<.340), but that could come with 20-30 HR power and is years away. F-Mart may just be beginning to capitalize on the tool shed in his back yard and could be the answer to our CF problem, so much so that the Mets probably want to keep him. Reese Havens is hitting well in one of the most difficult hitting environments in the big leagues and playing adequate defense. Yes we're about to get Grant Greene in the system but there is a certain bust potential and Havens might have the bat to play 3b. Marte has been terrible terrible terrible this year but is super young and really raw. Mejia has become one of the top pitching prospects in baseball with a break out year, and the Mets should be very reluctant to part with him. He is the only Mets pitching prospect that I have include on the list because with our current level of pitching depth we only need truly elite pitching talent. Tejada has been pushed way too fast and has a possibly elite glove to go with holding his own with the bat in AA. He could be ready to be a full time starting short stop in late 2010.
Any Holliday package would likely contain one of F-Mart, Mejia, or Flores and a throw in (C/C+/Matt Spencer type) which was similar to the return on Texiera last year, or two of Havens, Murphy, Tejada, Marte and a similar throw in. If the A's took on the salary of Holliday (due to the Wilpons dealings with ponzi schemer Bernie Maddoff and Citi field being less fruitful than hoped the Mets are slightly brokish after handing out some stupid contracts this off season) you might get one prospect from each group.