COMMENTARY | Recent reports have surfaced that the New York Mets are still looking for a marquee outfielder to acquire this season via trade.
MLB Trade Rumors was one of the first sites to bring Andy Martino's NY Daily News article about this situation to light, and he says Sandy Alderson and company have been monitoring the status of Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies. To acquire either one of these sluggers, both Tim Dierkes and Martino said the Mets would likely have to part with top prospects Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud. The big question is whether or not this steep price is worth the risk in trading those two players away.
As for whom I would rather see the Mets go after, it would definitely be Stanton over Gonzalez, especially if Wheeler and d'Arnaud are potential pieces of a trade package. Gonzalez would be an upgrade to New York's current crop of outfielders, but it looks like his numbers have been inflated from playing half of his games at Coors Field for the last five seasons. His cumulative statistics have been impressive, but with a career line of .338/.395/.607 at home and .258/.313/.427 on the road, it isn't worth trading away two top prospects that are virtually ready for the major leagues for a 27-year-old outfielder that likely won't put up the same power numbers playing half his games in a pitcher-friendly Citi Field.
On the other hand, Stanton is the type of power hitter that comes around once a generation. At the age of 23, the right fielder already has two 30 home-run seasons to his name, and led the league with a .608 slugging percentage in 2012, despite playing his home games at the Marlins' new home, which favored pitchers in its first season. Unlike Gonzalez, he's hit better on the road (.272/.339/.575) throughout his career than he has at home (.264/.361/.514), and he hit 16 of his 37 home runs in 2012 at home.
It would surely take a lot more money to lock up Stanton than it would to take on Gonzalez's current contract ($63.5 million due from 2014-2017), but Stanton has a higher ceiling than his fellow trade candidate, and he would inject a lot of power into a Mets lineup that could use as much as it can get. Money shouldn't be an issue for the Wilpons, who have said they are willing to increase the payroll as long as the acquisition makes sense for the organization.
Since I've heard about this, I've been thinking about whether or not trading away Wheeler and d'Arnaud is worth acquiring a hitter like Stanton; every scout who has seen Wheeler pitch says he'll be an ace for years to come, and d'Arnaud is the next elite catcher in baseball. At this point, both of these players are integral parts of New York's immediate and long-term future. And while it may sound crazy to trade away two top-tier prospects, they're still just prospects, and there is still a chance they don't live up to their lofty expectations. Those "can't miss" prospects actually do miss sometimes. I'm not saying they will, but there is still a chance that could happen. With that said, we all know what Stanton is capable of, and he's a proven commodity.
It was tough when R.A. Dickey got traded this winter to the Toronto Blue Jays, but I liked the deal because Sandy Alderson got a package he absolutely couldn't refuse. The players and amount of talent he was receiving far surpassed anything Dickey could have provided for the Mets this year and in the future, so I understood why Alderson decided to pull the trigger. I also agree with him not adding Wheeler into trade talks for Justin Upton, Wil Myers, or Andre Ethier, because the pros didn't outweigh the cons of dealing him for one of those outfield bats.
Some say it's not worth it to trade Wheeler because he's an ace in the making for New York's rotation. That is true, but there are a number of young arms with potential that could eventually step in and take his spot in the rotation. Not to be the ace he's projected to be, but Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero (among others) have just as much of a chance of being successful major-league pitchers as Wheeler does right now. They're a couple years away, but the young pitching coming down the pipeline, coupled with Matt Harvey's ace qualities, may be swaying Alderson's opinion on holding on to Wheeler.
As for d'Arnaud, the early success of John Buck could eventually make him expendable. Now, Buck doesn't have the tools and potential that d'Arnaud has, and he definitely won't keep hitting at the rate he's hitting. But he's a solid veteran catcher with some power that still has a couple years left to have an impact on what is becoming a very young rotation. If Stanton is added to the lineup, there wouldn't be as much pressure to get elite offensive production out of a catcher.
In a perfect world, I wouldn't want to trade either one of these guys but in order to get something that one wants, general managers, unfortunately, have to give up valuable pieces. Since Stanton could transform the Mets' lineup, I would be OK with Alderson pulling the trigger on that deal, but not for Gonzalez, if the price remains the same.
We'll soon find out how much truth there is to these rumors, but it will make for an interesting next few months before the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of July.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue and Rising Apple. He also provides his analysis and opinion on the rest of Major League Baseball at his personal blog, On The Way Home.
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