The Mets already made their now-annual trade for Kelly Johnson, but surely they are going to do something of significance to augment their infield and their offense, right?Right?Well, frankly, let's hope so. Because with David Wright out of the picture in a season with a World Series-or-bust vibe, and the
The Mets already made their now-annual trade for Kelly Johnson, but surely they are going to do something of significance to augment their infield and their offense, right?
Well, frankly, let's hope so. Because with David Wright out of the picture in a season with a World Series-or-bust vibe, and the Nationals reestablished as National League elite, the status quo (i.e. Wilmer Flores and an offense outscoring only the Phillies and Braves in the NL) might not cut it for the Mets. No in-season acquisition is going to impact the Mets the way Yoenis Cespedes did last summer, but a team looking for genuine offensive traction has to consider all of its options.
Here are 10 of them:
1. Yulieski Gurriel
The Mets' private workout of Gurriel will give them a clearer idea of when and if he can help a Major League club at the hot corner after a significant amount of lag time between his defection from Cuba and attaining free agency. This is a player who comes with Cespedes' endorsement: "When I played in Cuba [most recently in 2011], he was the best player in Cuba," he said. But the combination of age (32) and transition to stateside ball should temper expectations. It's doubtful Gurriel will be prepared to impact things at the big league level before August.
Making a multiyear commitment to Gurriel would likely be viewed as tacit admission that the likelihood of Wright returning as a productive regular as soon as 2017 is frustratingly slim. But given Wright's past and present injury issues, it might be an honest evaluation at this stage.
• Gurriel to work out for Mets next week
2. Trevor Plouffe
When Miguel Sano comes off the disabled list, the Twins need to seriously consider moving him back to his original position at third, because his outfield experiment just wasn't cutting it. If that happens, perhaps the Twins will deal Plouffe, who has one more year of arbitration-eligibility in 2017. It's something they were reluctant to do last offseason, but they were expecting to contend with a potent lineup.
Didn't happen. And Plouffe is one reason why. His numbers (.662 OPS, five homers) have taken a terrible tumble from his 22-homer campaign of a year ago, but at least there is enough recent track record (.252/.315/.418 from 2013-15) to suggest he can add value to a lineup, and his defense is strong.
3. Jose Reyes
With the Rockies picking up the prorated portion of his contract, there is absolutely no financial risk attached to Reyes -- and according to a report on Friday from MLB Network's Jon Heyman, a reunion with their former catalyst is likely. But it's not clear whether this would completely solve the Mets' vacancy at third base.
The Mets have a glaring need for speed in their lineup, and Reyes can solve that. I mean, assuming we're talking about the Jose Reyes of 2011, right? Because if it's the current Reyes we're talking about (and we are, of course), then there's a lot to be leery of when you consider this reunion. There's the age (33), the decline in production (.688 OPS and 82 OPS+ last season) and agility, the questions about whether he could handle a shift to a new infield spot (some evaluators are skeptical of his ability to play third, and putting him at second would mean moving Neil Walker to the hot corner), and last but certainly not least, the concerns associated with his violation of the league's domestic-violence policy.
4. Danny Valencia
We've seen reports that the Mets have already reached out to the A's about Valencia, with Billy Beane and David Forst not yet ready to initiate a summer sell-off. But if the Mets can stay patient and then act aggressively when the time comes, Valencia would be a great add. Going back to early August of last year, when he was claimed off waivers by the A's, Valencia has a .306/.364/.535 slash line with 21 home runs and an OPS+ 45 percent better than league average. There are defensive concessions here, but the bat is enticing.
5. Evan Longoria
This is the fun, pie-in-the-sky scenario, so do not hold your breath hoping it happens. But there is growing speculation that the Rays are getting closer to the point when they'll have to seriously consider moving Longoria. Their payroll is pretty well tapped out, and they continue to have trouble keeping pace with the performance of the rest of the others in the American League East.
With Longo putting up a vintage campaign after some down years, this would be the ultimate hot-corner haul in the game right now. But because of graduations and limitations, the Mets just aren't in the right farm system and financial state to make something like this happen.
6. Todd Frazier
The White Sox are hovering around .500 after a brutal downturn in performance followed an excellent April. They are still very much in win-now mode, but if they do entertain the idea of selling off pieces at any point, the New Jersey-born Frazier is certainly a guy the Mets should be in on.
7. Yangervis Solarte
No stranger to New York, as he had a brief run with the Yankees in 2014 that had some surprisingly strong stretches. Nowadays, he's manning the hot corner for the Padres and contributing a solid .255/.349/.427 slash for the highest OPS+ (113) of his career.
Solarte can play all over the infield, and he's under contractual control through 2019. It's no given that San Diego will move him.
8. Yunel Escobar
Another player with solid numbers (.768 OPS, 113 OPS+) who's not a slam-dunk to be moved. Basically, it depends how strongly the Angels feel about their chances ... in 2017. Escobar is under very reasonable contractual control ($7 million), and it's not like they have a stash of Major League-ready third basemen hanging around.
9. David Freese
An increasingly interesting option because the Pirates are in Tom Petty-like free fall. Freese is on a one-year, $3 million deal, and he's had a somewhat resurgent season with a .294/.372/.453 slash line, so he's just the sort of player the Pirates should seek to flip should they start to retool. And he's just the sort of player a Mets team that values roster flexibility is likely to target.
10. Zack Cozart
I'm using Cozart as a representative for the entire shortstop community, as he's a somewhat obvious trade candidate and playing well for a rebuilding team after an injury-marred 2015. The Reds might be wise to capitalize on Cozart's current production (829 OPS, 119 OPS+). He's under contractual control through 2017.
For the Mets, that would mean moving Asdrubal Cabrera to third. Not exactly what they signed him for, but, you know what they say about desperate times.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.