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 currently stand and may shake out...
If a starting pitcher is traded, who is his replacement?
Indians president of baseball ops Chris Antonetti downplayed reports that the Indians would listen to offers for their ace, Corey Kluber. The GM told MLB Network Radio that there is no pressure on him to reduce payroll and feels his team is in good position to repeat as NL Central champions in 2019.
My Take >> In the event the Mets deal Noah Syndergaard for an elite infielder, such as, say, Cubs 3B Kris Bryant, I suspect they're far more likely to replace Thor on the free agent market as opposed to trading the number of elite prospects it would take to get Kluber.
The market for a new hitter
Though Antonetti dismissed the idea of trading Kluber during his talk Tuesday with MLB Network Radio, local reports indicate he is eager to move Jason Kipnis, who is due $17.5 million next season, after which he can be a free agent.
Kipnis rebounded in 2018, producing 2.1 WAR, while hitting 18 home runs with a .389 slugging percentage and splitting time between second base and center field.
Earlier this week, The Athletic reported that the Brewers had contacted the Royals about trading for OF Whit Merrifield. However, Kansas City GM's quickly took to the radio to shoot down the idea of dealing his young outfielder, which was similarly supported by local reports.
My Take >> The Mets had significant interest in acquiring Kipnis to play second base last season, so much so that reports indicated a deal was nearly complete until the Mets balked at the amount of money they would need to take back in the deal. At the time, Kipnis had $30 million and two years remaining on his current deal. He now has $14.6 million due to him in 2019, after which he can become a free agent in exchange for a $2.5 million buyout.
According to Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, Jeff McNeil is penciled in as the team's starting second baseman next season, which would suggest he is open to a possible upgrade. Personally, I see Van Wagenen as having much bigger fish to fry than second base, especially since McNeil looked to be a legit option given his performance last year. That said, Kipnis is again worth looking at since he can also play center field, which would provide Mickey Callaway options in the field. It's worth noting Callaway pushed to acquire Kipnis last winter.
In regards to Merrifield, National League scouts and talent evaluators I know have split opinion on him. There are some that feel he'd struggle in the NL East given his inability to make hard contact, while others feel he has the potential for more lift and an increased on base percentage. In either case, given where the Royals are in their 'rebuild,' it's hard to imagine them not asking for a lot in trade to acquire their young star. And, for the Mets, it would be foolish to give up the young talent needed to get him since it would likely be big-league players they would need to turn around and replace.
The Tigers are again shopping corner outfielder and third baseman Nick Castellanos, according to the Detroit Free Press. ... According to Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark from The Athletic, free agent Manny Machado is seeing no downward pricing based on his 'dirty' play during this October. ... The Marlins are not budging from their lofty asking price for C J.T. Realmuto. ... MLB insiders tell me former Mets 2B Neil Walker is seeing a lot of early interest from teams in need of super-utility infielders. ... According to the The Athletic, the 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.
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!