COMMENTARY | The New York Mets have plenty of holes to fill on their roster before the start of the 2014 regular season.
A lot of money is coming off the books with the end of contracts to Johan Santana and Jason Bay, leaving general manager Sandy Alderson with some financial flexibility.
While there are some intriguing options in the free-agent market, there is even more opportunity for the Mets through making trades. Here are five teams Alderson could be looking to strike a deal with this winter:
Following a disappointing 74-88 record in 2013, the Blue Jays will be looking for creative ways to change up their roster. They have limited flexibility in their payroll, so one of their higher-priced players would need to get traded to get some kind of relief.
Toronto may be willing to deal players at the positions where New York needs them most. Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion could be plugged Terry Collins' lineup at shortstop, right field, and first base, respectively, and instantly improve the Amazins. The Jays are rumored to want pitching (starters or relievers). The Mets have some depth in that area in the organization to pry one of these hitters from north of the border.
The Rays have something the Mets are in need of: a productive shortstop. Yunel Escobar didn't light the world on fire last season (.256/.332/.366 with nine home runs and 56 RBIs), but he's more dependable right now than Ruben Tejada.
The Tampa shortstop will also be playing on a one-year deal ($5.5 million option for 2014), keeping him motivated to perform for a multi-year deal next winter. Escobar wouldn't be my first choice to fix the shortstop position through trade, but he'd be a nice fallback plan if the Rays are willing to discuss it.
The Rangers have an interesting situation moving forward for their infield. Top prospect Jurickson Profar is ready to contribute at the big league level, but needs a place to play on the diamond. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus currently man the middle infield positions suiting Profar the best. Each of those ballplayers are also at the beginning of long-term extensions.
Texas has options -- if it wants to keep everyone, Kinsler could unseat Mitch Moreland at first base to allow Andrus and Profar to team up in the middle. The Rangers could also trade one of those two natural shortstops. If either one becomes available, Alderson should be giving the Rangers a call. This would be the way I'd prefer to fix the shortstop issue.
The Dodgers also have a wonderful problem to deal with. They have four talented outfielders (Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Yasiel Puig) for three open positions. Crawford's contract is too unappealing to outside teams, likely keeping him in LA. Puig isn't going anywhere, either.
That leaves Kemp and Ethier as the two Dodgers outfielders to probably hear their names in trade talks this offseason. Both are coming off less than stellar years, but either one could be considered an upgrade in New York's lineup -- for the right asking price.
Trade rumors involving two of Colorado's franchise players have been following them around virtually all year in 2013. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are both locked up for the long-term and can be a force on the field. The only question is whether or not they can stay healthy, which has been an issue.
Ownership and the front office have stated neither Tulo nor Cargo will be packing their bags this winter. If the Rockies really want to improve their roster in a hurry, they'll need to consider dealing one of them to get a good haul of players back in return. Landing one of these two has the potential to transform New York's lineup.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, and Rising Apple. He currently serves as the Executive Editor of MetsMinors.net. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.
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