The Mets should be looking to improve their bullpen, as well as add an everyday catcher, at least one impact hitter and depth beneath the entire roster.
Here are the latest headlines and rumblings from each of the above markets, followed by my take on how things may shake out...
MLB may be swapping headaches again
In the last few days, I've picked up on teams exploring interest in swapping bad contract for bad contract, such as players like Zack Greinke (D-backs), Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager (Mariners), Carlos Santana (Phillies), as well as countless others around the game.
My Take >> The Mets have Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier, both of whom are coming off down seasons that were mired in uncharacteristic injuries. Bruce is due to make $12 million each of the next seasons, whereas Frazier will earn $7 million in 2019, after which he can again be a free agent.
The most natural fit I see is swapping Bruce with Santana. Bruce is due $28 million the next two seasons, while Santana is due $40 million. The Phillies are eager to boot Santana and return Ryhs Hoskins to first base, which leaves them with an opening in the outfield. Bruce could slip in to their outfield and Santana can hold down first base until Peter Alonso is 100 percent ready to begin his reign at Citi Field. To do this, it would mean the Phillies including cash in the deal or giving up a legit player of value (or a prospect) to offset the money. It would also mean two division rivals connecting on a trade, which is always rare.
The above is not likely, but the general concept -- swapping one bad contract for another, and filling a hole in the process -- is worth reviewing. It was a popular move 10-20 years ago and seems to becoming back in vogue.
The market for a new hitter
The Tigers are again shopping corner outfielder and third baseman Nick Castellanos, according to the Detroit Free Press. Castellanos, who was a hot name but not moved at last year's trade deadline, hit .298 with 23 home runs and 3.0 WAR in 620 at-bats. He'll be 27 years old next season and in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent one year from now.
The White Sox, Giants, Cubs, Dodgers, and Cardinals have been the teams most linked to Manny Machado. And, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark from The Athletic, Machado is seeing no downward pricing based on his 'dirty' play during this October.
In fact, the two reporters say teams with interest find the impression with Machado based on coaches and former teammates is very much the opposite of how he was presented last month.
The market for a new, everyday catcher
The New York post reported earlier this week that the Mets have strong interest in free-agent C Martin Maldonado -- an idea that was negatively received by online Mets fans.
My two cents >> I heard again yesterday that the Mets may be among the growing teams having more interest in sacrificing offense behind the plate for the best possible defense. This could also be a way of simply driving down the market for offensive catchers, specially Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos.
Similarly, I don't hear rumblings that the Marlins are budging from their lofty asking price for C J.T. Realmuto, who they don't have to trade given he's under contract another two seasons.
Depth on the bench
MLB insiders tell me former Mets 2B Neil Walker is seeing a lot of early interest from teams in need of super-utility infielders, i.e., guys that can play every day and at multiple positions. Similarly, I bet Logan Forsythe, Evan Gattis and Keon Broxton will get more attention than usual.
The relief market is percolating
According to the The Athletic, Angels are looking to save money and considering dealing reliever Blake Parker, who had a 1.0 WAR and a 3.26 ERA in 61 relief appearances last season.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said last Thursday that he's in the market for "multiple relievers." However, this doesn't necessarily mean he is looking for an elite closer because, as he said, "A lot of teams are going away from a traditional closer."
My two cents >> I still believe that one really good but not-elite reliever, such as Brad Brach or Adam Ottavino or Joe Kelly, is going to be overpaid and ink a three-year deal sooner than later, after which most of the remaining market will scramble for new homes.
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!