The Mets should have interest, but not overpay, in potential trade talks with the Mariners, who reportedly have let teams know they may soon undergo a rebuild. As a result, every player on their roster could be available in trade during a team-wide sell off...
However, after talking with people in contact with the Mariners, I'm not 100 percent convinced they're committed to conducting a sell off, so much as they may be gauging market value for their players. And, on the basis of that info, they will create a set goal and plan to execute during the next 12 months.
That said, they're obviously thinking big and, in situations like that, anything is possible if a team is willing to overpay in trade...
"We are open-minded to different ways we can get better," the team's current GM Jerry Dipoto told MLB.com's Greg Johns earlier this week at the GM Meetings.
My understanding is that any deal made by the Mariners this winter must help them improve their run production and add a front-line starting pitcher to their rotation. Ideally, these new players are on short-term deals so -- if their run differential again slips with their place in the standings -- they have the option to flip their top talent at the trade deadline.
M's 27-year-old, right-handed hitting catcher Mike Zunino would fit perfectly in Mickey Callaway's lineup. Plus, he's under contract through 2020, during which he'll likely earn only $8 million.
Zunino had a terrific 2017, which was bookended by more realistic 1-2 WAR seasons that included roughly 20 or so home runs and between .400-.500 slugging.
The consensus among insiders, though, is that while Mitch Haniger, Jean Segura, James Paxton and Zunino will be targeted by most teams because they're all still under contract for multiple seasons, the Mariners will need to be overwhelmed to move them...
For instance, to get Zunino, I'm told it'll cost an organization's top 1 or 2 pitching prospect, as well as a major-league ready position player. The Mets are not trading a young hitter from their big-league roster because that would defeat the point of making the deal. So, it likely means needing to include Peter Alonso, which the Mets will be reluctant to do and equally predicated on Seattle's belief in their surprise 26-year-old 1B Ryon Healy.
I'm sure the Mariners would also want the Mets to include pitching prospects Justin Dunn or David Peterson, both of whom project to be solid starting pitchers with upside ready to be in the big leagues during the next year or two. In the end, I can't see new GM Brodie Van Wagenen dealing either pitcher or Alonso when he can simply use cash to acquire a similarly-productive catcher on the free agent market.
In the event the Mets do end up in talks with the Marners, relievers Alex Colome and Edwin Diaz are the more realistic targets. Similarly, given Van Wagenen's stated desire to stabilize Callaway's up-the-middle defense, as well as improve his offense, Dee Gordon could draw his attention.
Colome is most intriguing to me. He's 29 years old, has been mostly healthy and consistently above average during the past three seasons, he's never been regularly seen in the NL East, and he still has two years of team control on his current deal.
Colome was dealt to the Mariners last summer with outfielder Denard Span, who might also be of interest to the Mets. Span, 34, is hardly the player he was during his late 20s, but he has been a consistent 1-2 WAR center fielder averaging 130 games played each of the past three years. He and his grey beard are due to earn $4 million this coming season, after which he'll be a free agent.
To acquire Span and Colome, the M's sent a pair of young pitching prospects to Tampa, neither of whom currently rank on the organization's Top 30 Prospects List published by MLB.com. So, it stands to reason that an offer slightly better would at least pique Seattle's interest if they're looking to shed salary.
Along those lines, Gordon can not only play center field, he would also provide a hedge against projected Mets starting 2B Jeff McNeil, in the event McNeil struggles during his much-anticipated sophomore season. Gordon also spent time at shortstop in 2018. It's also possible there is a crunch in the outfield when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the disabled list (hopefully at some point during the summer), at which point Gordon is capable of playing multiple positions and creating options off the bench for Callaway.
Gordon, 30, clearly had a difficult time transitioning to a new life in Seattle, while being switched in and out of positions and dealing with Robinson Cano's return breathing down his neck. Switching back to the NL and specifically the NL East -- where he thrived the previous few seasons -- might be enough to get him back to being the player he was before getting jettisoned to Seattle.
More importantly, I don't think it would cost a boatload of yount talent to acquire Gordon because he has $40 million due to him the next three years. Plus, he was only traded for low-level prospects just one year ago when dealt away by the Marlins. So as long as Seattle dumped his salary, anything in trade would make the overall deal a success from their perspective.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!