Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Yankees have contacted the Mets about potentially trading for Steven Matz, and the Mets are reportedly willing to listen.
But while the Mets have what looks to be a good problem right now with six starting pitchers for five rotation spots, they would be wise to hold on to Matz.
According to the New York Post, the Mets would want a big league player back from the Yanks for Matz, with the Post citing Miguel Andujar as their potential ask.
While Andujar has tons of potential, there are three reasons why he doesn't fit as the return for Matz. And if you're looking at it from the Yankees' perspective, it's understandable -- despite Andujar currently not having a position in the Bronx -- why they would be hesitant to deal four years of Andujar for two years of Matz.
Now back to why Matz-for-Andujar doesn't work for the Mets...
- Andujar was a tremendous offensive player in 2018 while nearly winning the Rookie of the Year award, but he was woeful at third base, worth -21 DRS in 1,169.1 innings there. Even if the Mets had faith Andujar could improve there, they currently have Jeff McNeil at third.
- While Andujar could potentially make a smooth transition to the outfield, the Mets currently have a full outfield with J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto. They also have Yoenis Cespedes on the roster.
- Andujar has not yet proven his health after labrum surgery.
Beyond the Matz-for-Andujar non-fit is the fact that the Mets' current "rotation surplus" could become a rotation deficiency in the blink of an eye -- as is the case for pretty much any team.
While Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Rick Porcello have been very durable, if any of them go down, the Mets will immediately go from six starters to five. And as we recently saw with Luis Severino across town, things can change quickly.
When it comes to who would replace Matz if he's traded, that job would almost certainly go to Michael Wacha, who was limited to 84.1 innings in 2018 due to injury and who was largely ineffective in 2019 while posting a 4.76 ERA and 1.56 WHIP as he split time between the rotation (24 starts) and bullpen (five appearances).
Instead of worrying how Wacha might fare in place of Matz, the Mets are better off with both Matz and Wacha -- with Matz in the rotation and Wacha in the pen, where his stuff should play up in what could be a regular multi-inning relief role.
In a world where the Mets trade Matz and put Wacha in the rotation, who their next-man-up would be if Wacha struggled and/or another starting pitcher got hurt is unclear.
They could move Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman from the bullpen to the rotation, but that would weaken an area of the team that can't afford to be weakened.
They could turn to Walker Lockett or Corey Oswalt, who are both on the 40-man roster, but neither of those options should be on the table for a team that expects to contend.
Then there's the minor leagues, where left-handed prospect David Peterson will likely open the season in Triple-A. Peterson, who has shown flashes while pitching with the big league team this spring training, could be ready to contribute in the bigs at some point in 2020. But that's not certain.
What is certain right now is that the Mets are in a very good spot when it comes to their pitching staff. Trading Matz -- whether it's to the Yankees or elsewhere -- would put that in jeopardy.