Van Wagenen on trade talks: 'I don't see a deal'

Mets GM doesn't want to disrupt chemistry of club's outfielders

January 24th, 2020

NEW YORK -- Despite the Pirates’ apparent desire to trade sooner rather than later, the Mets aren’t actively seeking outfield upgrades as they enter their final stretch before Spring Training.

“We don’t want to disrupt what we have,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Friday, when asked about his outfield. “We do have the chemistry that I spoke of. We have a culture where people buy into one another and they believe they can pick each other up. I don’t see a deal that’s going to disrupt that environment. If there’s an opportunity to continue to improve our roster, we’ll explore it, but our aggressiveness right now is focused on getting ready for Spring Training with the players we have.”

During the Winter Meetings in December, the Mets engaged in talks with the Pirates regarding Marte, according to multiple sources. Those conversations fizzled because Mets officials considered the Bucs’ ask exorbitant.

Reports have since surfaced reconnecting the Mets to Marte, but a deal remains extremely unlikely. For one, the Mets’ pitching acquisitions and arbitration settlements have pushed their payroll to the point that if Yoenis Céspedes and Michael Wacha hit certain contract incentives, they could exceed Major League Baseball’s $208 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold. Marte, who is due to make $11.5 million in 2020, would ensure they blow past that number.

Nor is there any guarantee that Marte would be a significant upgrade. While he profiles as a better defensive center fielder than Brandon Nimmo, Marte posted a career-worst -9 Defensive Runs Saved at that position last year, at age 31. Offensively, Marte has produced a .284/.334/.458 slash line over the past three seasons, compared to Nimmo’s .252/.391/.450 mark. An acquisition of the right-handed-hitting Marte would also marginalize Jake Marisnick, whom the Mets are paying $3.3 million to be Nimmo’s platoon partner. Marisnick is also easily the best defensive outfielder on New York's roster.

The Mets’ starting outfield projects to be J.D. Davis in left, Nimmo in center and Michael Conforto in right. Marisnick will fill in for Nimmo on occasion, and Céspedes will play as much of a role as his legs allow. If Céspedes is not ready by Opening Day, a non-roster invitee such as Jarrett Parker or Ryan Cordell could assume a bench role.

“At this point, we feel very confident in the group we have,” Van Wagenen said. “We’re excited about the guys we’ve invited to camp. We’re excited about the returning players that we’ll have back on the roster and we think we’ve added some key pieces from the outside that will help us this year.”