It’s no secret that the Mets are struggling to keep their team healthy. Only a week or so ago, seventeen of their players sat on the injured list. Now, that number is down to thirteen. While this is certainly an unenviable position, things are slowly getting better. Despite this, the Mets would be smart to look to quickly patch these woes.
Initially, the Mets looked internally to find assistance for their injuries. Prospects Johneshwy Fargas and Khalil Lee were recalled from the Mets system in May. However, these players provided little assistance. Fargas played only seven games before injuring himself on a defensive play and joining the Injured List himself. Although he played well, recording a WAR of 0.3 in the seven games that he played, he was unable to stay healthy. In contrast, Lee played horribly, recording one hit in eighteen at-bats. In eleven games, Lee recorded a WAR of -0.4, a rate that displayed that he was likely not ready for the big leagues.
Aside from these players, many of the Mets’ top prospects are too young to make a positive impact in the major leagues. All of their top five prospects are under the age of 21, including Francisco Alvarez and Pete Crow-Armstrong, both of whom are only 19. Although these prospects have extremely high potentials, they are simply not ready to play on a big league level quite yet.
Since the Mets really do not have many internal options, they should begin to look outside of their organization. The Mets are no stranger to making season-altering trades. For example, their acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes in 2015 was a major factor in their World Series appearance that season. Therefore, if the Mets want to make midseason improvements, the trade market is probably the way to go.
Mets Target 1: Eduardo Escobar
Entering the season, it was no secret that the Mets were weak in the hot corner. Although veteran J.D. Davis was slotted to fill the third base spot, he was definitely not the Mets wanted to complete their infield. On top of this, Davis has been hurt often this year. His replacement, Jonathan Villar, has performed passably in Davis’ absence, slashing .241/.331/.406, he is still a weak link in the Mets’ infield. To patch their hole at third base, the Mets should target Eduardo Escobar of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Escobar is nowhere near an elite player. In fact, his slash line in 2021 looks a lot like Jonathan Villar’s. However, Escobar could prove to be a valuable asset for the Mets if they were to trade for him. In addition, he would likely come at a very low price. This is because he is in the last year of his contract. This means that Escobar is a rental player. Arizona could still have him back in the offseason if they desire. After all, the Diamondbacks are the worst team in the National League at the time of writing, so they probably are not too connected to any of their players.
Escobar’s value comes in the fact that he is a switch hitter with power. While he does not have a high batting average and does not reach base at a phenomenal rate, he can hit the ball out of the park better than anyone else in baseball, as he is in the top ten in home runs currently. His explosive bat is something the Mets could use to supplement their offense, which has been mostly dead to start the season.
Ultimately, Escobar would probably not become the Mets’ starting third baseman for the rest of the year. However, his ability to play both second and third alongside his explosive bat would make him a valuable asset on the Mets’ offense.
Target 2: Joey Gallo
Joey Gallo is an incredibly interesting player that I think would be a great fit on the Mets for the rest of the season. Gallo is a free agent after this season and is looking for a long-term deal. He would likely be pried pretty easily if the Rangers decide to let him go.
Gallo is an interesting player is because of the fact that he is essentially the basic power hitter. He has a low batting average (.208 for his career) and low on-base percentage (.330). However, at his best, can record an extremely high slugging percentage (.598 in 2019). He rarely steals any bases and is a pretty slow runner. However, in a good season, Gallo clobbers homers like almost nobody else. Between 2017 and 2018, he hit 81 total home runs, which is good for fourth in the league. This puts Gallo in company with elite sluggers like Khris Davis, J.D. Martinez, and Giancarlo Stanton.
Gallo performs well in his niche, which is hitting baseballs far. While the Mets already have their fair share of power hitters, including Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto, Gallo could be a valuable asset for the Mets offense as a powerful bat to provide their lineup with the occasional spark. On top of this, Gallo is flexible defensively and can play any outfield position, as well as either infield corner. Therefore, he could fit into many spots in the lineup at a moment’s notice.
Target 3: Joc Pederson
Joc Pederson is a very similar player to Gallo. They are both roughly the same age, both play the same position most of the time, and are both solid power hitters. For this reason, I want to compare the two. Pederson has participated in the home run derby twice and has 134 career home runs, which equates to about 27 HR per full season. Although this is far less than Gallo’s average of 39, Pederson is a slightly more well-rounded offensive player. He reaches base slightly more often and has a slightly higher batting average.
While Pederson may not be the explosive bat that Gallo is, he is somewhat more reliable. He strikes out far less, at an average of one hundred strikeouts less than Gallo in a full season. While both players each have their positives and negatives, they would likely come at the same price, as they both become free agents after this season. Pederson may be cheaper, as Gallo is more versatile defensively and is overall the better defender (0.4 career dWAR compared to Pederson’s -2.5), but Pederson would be a good acquisition nonetheless.
Target 4: Kyle Seager
Just like every other player on this list so far, Kyle Seager would be a rental player if acquired via trade. Although he does have a team option following this season, it is for $22 million, so it is unlikely that the Mariners would pick it up. However, it turns into a player option if he is traded. Although at first glance this could make teams wary of trading for him, it should not cause too much caution. This option is more than worth it for Seager, a reliable and consistent veteran who would fill the hot corner well for any team.
This trade actually has some semblance of reality to it rather than pure speculation. Reports have come to light that the Mets and Mariners have discussed a trade for Seager. Unlike the aforementioned Escobar, Seager would likely become the Mets’ starting third baseman. This is because he is extremely reliable defensively, with a career dWAR of 7.8. His seasonal average is far higher than that of David or Villar, the Mets’ two internal options at the hot corner.
Although Seager is not an elite hitter by any means and is not a specialized power hitter like Gallo or Pederson, he is extremely consistent. He has never hit below .220 in a full season and has a career average of .258. On top of this, he strikes out at a pretty low rate of only 119K/162G. This is a rate below that of some of the game’s elite hitters.
Target 5: Matt Chapman
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the big one. All of the other players mentioned on this list would come at a very low cost, are rentals, and would likely not become the face of the Mets franchise. However, Matt Chapman is none of these. Chapman is a bona fide superstar. A trade for Oakland’s third baseman would likely require quite a few major pieces. This trade has been rumored since the winter, and the cost would be high. The Mets would likely have to fork over players such as J.D. Davis and third base prospect Brett Baty, among others. This would be a tough pill to swallow as a Met fan. Baty has been touted as “the next big thing” ever since he was drafted twelfth overall in 2019. However, the Mets are in win-now mode, so it would be difficult not to make this trade if offered.
Chapman is such a special player not because of his offensive prowess, but rather because of his ability defensively. The two-time Gold Glove winner has a career dWAR of 8.7. This means that he has the 317th highest dWAR of all time. This does not seem like a high ranking. However, out of all active players, there is not a player above him who has played for less than seven years. Keep in mind, Chapman has only played five seasons. At this pace, Chapman would retire with the sixth-highest dWAR of all time if he plays for the same amount of time as the all-time leader, Ozzie Smith.
This may read as a convoluted analysis of why Chapman is a fantastic player. In actuality, it is rather simple. Chapman will find himself on the Mount Rushmore of baseball defenders if he keeps playing at this rate until he retires. For a team that has traditionally struggled defensively, especially since the retirement of captain David Wright, this would be an amazing trade.
The main difficulty in trading for Chapman is that he is still under contract beyond this season. The Mets could still acquire him despite this. However, they would have to be willing to give up major assets to make this happen.
Obviously, some of these trades are more realistic than others. It is unlikely that the Mets are able to acquire Chapman or even Seager. Both players are quite valuable to their respective franchises. However, a trade for Escobar, Gallo, or Pederson could be in the Mets’ near future. Regardless of who they trade for, a smart move could put them in the driver’s seat in the National League, just as it has in the past.