The New York Mets have several areas that need to be addressed as they prepare for 2016 and rumors are swirling about some of their targets in both free agency and the trade market.
With their depth in pitching, there has been speculation that the Mets could trade one of their talented, young starters to fill an offensive void. But, as of right now, the team is not shopping oft-injured right-hander Zack Wheeler, according to Marc Carig of Newsday.
Just days before the non-waiver trade deadline in 2015, the Mets and Milwaukee Brewers agreed on a trade that would sent Wheeler and shortstop Wilmer Flores to the Brewers in exchange for outfielder Carlos Gomez. Concerns regarding Gomez’ health ended up voiding the trade, allowing the Mets to acquire Yoenis Cespedes just a few days later, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
Therefore, Wheeler, who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery remained with the team. With the non-trade, the Mets showed a willingness to part ways with one of their budding aces. However, Mets assistant GM John Ricco tells Carig that the team is not actively shopping the hard-throwing right-hander, but would consider it if the right deal came along.
“We’re not actively shopping Zack by any stretch. But as with the other starters, if something came up that we thought made us better, we’re going to talk about it.”
Wheeler, 25, is expected to return next July and slot into an already formidable rotation which features Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz. Jon Niese is currently slated as the fifth starter.
In 2014, Wheeler went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA in 185-and-one-third innings. In his brief two-year career, Wheeler owns a 18-16 record with a 3.50 ERA in 49 starts.
Having proven he can be effective, and being closer to returning than he was several months ago, it “changes Wheeler’s value,” according to Ricco. Thus, if a team is willing to offer something substantial, the Mets will be all ears.
“If there’s a deal that we think really makes us better, I can’t say we wouldn’t do the exact same thing.”
One possible destination for Wheeler could be the Boston Red Sox. In his latest column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Mets have an interest in outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Viewed as one of the Red Sox’ top prospects, Bradley Jr. consistently showed that could be a force at the plate and in the field in the minors. But, in his first two stints in 2013 and 2014, Bradley Jr. could not keep his average over.200 and he seemed lost at the plate.
Toward the end of the 2015 season, however, Bradley Jr. seemed to figure something out at the plate. He went on a tear in the last few months of the season, finishing as a.249 hitter with 10 HR and 43 RBI in just 221 at bats. Bradley Jr. hit for power and his trademark stellar defense remains intact.
“His low-cost, his elite defense, and his emerging offense” are major selling points,” an American League GM told Cafardo.
The Red Sox are expected to try and land at least one top-tier pitcher this offseason, with names such as Johnny Cueto at the forefront. It’s also possible that the Mets and Red Sox swap players at their respective positions of surplus. The Red Sox have outfielders Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts in the organization. The team could conceivably trade Bradley Jr. for pitching and then sign another outfielder.
If the Mets do not feel like trading to improve the offense, the New York Post is reporting that the Mets have an interest in utility man Ben Zobrist. With longtime Met Daniel Murphy likely to sign elsewhere, that leaves an opening at second base. Also, Zobrist can play the outfield and every infield position except catcher.
With that type of versatility, the soon-to-be 35-year-old figures to draw immense interest from the entire league. But the Post writes that the Mets have already reached out to Zobrist’s agent and are expected to “make a strong push” to sign him. The former longtime Tampa Bay Ray hit.276 with 13 HR and 56 RBI between both the Oakland Athletics and World Series champion Kansas City Royals in 2015.
Both the Mets and New York Yankees expressed interest in Zobrist at the trade deadline.
The report mentions that Zobrist may get a deal worth four years and $60 million. If that proves to be too steep for the Mets’ liking, the team will move ahead with its original plan by playing 21-year-old Dilson Herrera at second base next year.
There are not imminent moves in the Mets’ future, but the team will scour the market in hopes of improving without overpaying with money or prospects.
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