MLB executives believe at least one of Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor or Kris Bryant will be traded this offseason, according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi.
The way I see it, of the three, Betts is most likely to find a new home. And he's a good fit for the Mets.
Bryant fits the Mets, too. I'm not convinced Chicago will end up trading him, though. Like with Lindor, while it's worth it for each team to listen to offers, the Cubs and Indians have these players under contract for more than just next season.
There is a far bigger urgency in Boston, where, thanks to J.D. Martinez not opting out of his current contract, will face an enormous tax penalty if they again violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Their best shot at avoiding this disaster is trading Betts, who is expected to make close to $30 million next year.
Based on my conversations with MLB insiders in late October, here are three ways the Mets and Red Sox could structure a deal...
1) The Obvious Swap
If the Sox want affordable big-league players, I can see them being tempted by swapping Betts for, say, Brandon Nimmo and Steven Matz. However, they can almost certainly do better in talks with other teams. The obvious and rumored swap with the Mets, though, will be Betts for Noah Syndergaard, who would save Boston close to $20 million and get them a much needed front-line pitcher.
I'm sure Red Sox fans will also want prospects from the Mets. However, given the money swap, it can be argued that Boston -- not Van Wagenen -- should be the ones parting with prospects considering they save $20 million and get Syndergaard for two full seasons.
Would I make the trade?
No. Betts is awesome, he would easily be the third best outfielder in the National League and give the Mets one of the best lineups in baseball. However, the Mets can't further mess with their rotation, which is most likely going to lose Zack Wheeler. Trade Syndergaard, lose Wheeler and -- can you imagine -- lose Jacob deGrom to an injury and, well, never mind...
2) The One-Step-Back, Two-Steps-Forward Deal
The other structure I've heard batted around would be sending Jeff McNeil to Boston for Betts and a starting pitcher, such as Nathan Eovaldi, who will earn $17 million each of the next three seasons.
I assume the above would also mean handing third base to J.D. Davis, while Nimmo and Michael Conforto flank Betts in the outfield.
Would I make the trade?
I love McNeil and think he'll eventually win a batting title, but -- I'm not gonna lie -- this is intriguing.
Eovaldi, 29, was a terrific, reliable, mid-rotation starter a few years ago. He went off track after elbow surgery and then never had a consistent role in Boston last season. He's costly, but would make for a perfect fifth starting pitcher behind deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz and Marcus Stroman.
This deal is right on the line for me. In the end, I'd make the trade only if my analytics department had more faith in Eovaldi than McNeil. Otherwise, I'd stand pat...
3) The Traditional Trade
The Red Sox reportedly had interest in Edwin Diaz before he was dealt to the Mets with Robinson Cano. Boston is still in the market for multiple relief pitchers, including a closer. Diaz's top-line stats were brutal, but a deeper look indicates plenty of reason to think he will see better results in 2020.
What's more, according to a people aware of their plotting and planning, the Red Sox last summer were among a small group of teams with interest in Dominic Smith.
If the above is true then Betts for Smith, Diaz and a prospect or two should also intrigue Boston.
In Smith, Boston gets a young , promising, big-league hitter (tailor made for Fenway Park) with Gold Glove potential to play first base and making the league minimum, while also adding a once-prominent closer (who is still just 25 years old with great stuff), who will almost certainly relish leaving New York and returning to the American League.
Would I make the trade?
Obviously, yes. Diaz's story is not complete. I believe he'll have a bounce-back 2020, be it with the Mets or someone else. I also think Smith still has the potential to be an everyday first baseman. And I have no problem seeing them do it with another team if it means getting even just one season of Betts in center field for the Mets.
Who else is a fit for Betts?
The A's, Dodgers, Cardinals and Nationals will show up in rumors connected to Betts. Also, despite writing above about the Cubs potentially trading Bryant, I see a scenario that puts Betts in Wrigley for what could be Chicago's last run before a rebuild.
The Braves also have the spot for Betts in the outfield. They also have money to spend and several elite prospects that will tempt Boston. The Braves are coming off back-to-back, 90-win playoff seasons that both ended with losing in the LDS. It would not be surprising to see them go for it, put Betts in with Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies and not give up a big league player to do it.
Lastly, the Padres have been spending serious money the past two winters. There's talk in baseball that they could be serious players for Stephen Strasburg. If that's the case, and if they can get him, trading to get one season of Betts could give them their best shot at winning in 2020, after which they wave goodbye to Betts and revisit their situation. They again have the best farm system in baseball and can give Boston a much-needed reliever. So, if they want to take a shot, they have the means to pull it off...
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!