Earlier this week, SNY's Andy Martino reported that Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis or Dominic Smith could be required in order to trade for Brewers closer Josh Hader.
This makes sense, but McNeil isn't going to be traded.
"He has significant value to the Mets, not just on field, but as it pertains to their budget," an NL East executive told me this past weekend. "I see no reason when push comes to shove that they'd deal him."
In the batter's box, McNeil has been a consistent over .300 hitter with solid extra-base power. This past season, he ended up hitting .318/.384/.531 in 133 games. After 196 career games, he's batting .321.
After being in the mix for the batting title for most of the season, McNeil slumped a bit, went down with an injury and ended up falling short of the crown. However, anyone watching him on a regular basis knows he has the ability to lead the league in hitting. It's just a matter of time.
McNeil has also been robotically consistent. He debuted in July 2018. Since then, he's never hit below .277 in a given month. He hits roughly the same in any situation, be it against a lefty or righty, in high- or low-leverage spots.
With no one on base or three men on base, he hits pitches in the strike zone, out of the strike zone, he hits day or night or batting first, second or sixth. It doesn't matter -- McNeil will hit.
In the field, he has played at or above average since entering the league. This past season, the versatile McNeil was worth zero defensive runs saved (DRS), while playing second base, third base, right and left field. So not only is he crazy consistent at the plate, he's a model player -- tough and aggressive.
In regards to the budget, though, McNeil is true dream come true. His production to date, the entirety of his statistics, his attitude, minor-league track record and approach at the plate all give zero reason to doubt his ability to continue hitting above .300, contending for batting titles and popping double-digit home runs along the way.
Meanwhile, it is widely considered in baseball that a player's prime years are between ages 25 and 30. McNeil, who made his big-league debut during late 2018, will be 27 years old next Opening Day.
In case you forgot, a player gets paid the league minimum salary his first three seasons. The next three years, his salary can be determined by an arbiter, after which he can become a free agent.
In other words, during two of the final seasons of his prime years, McNeil will earn the league minimum. Think about that for a second.
According to FanGraphs, McNeil's 4.6 WAR in 2019 provided $36 million in value to the Mets, who paid him roughly $550,000. He earned roughly $200,000 in 2018, during which his 2.7 WAR was worth $21 million.
His first spike in salary will be for 2022, when he'll take the field at 29 years old. As a result, there is also zero pressure or reason for the Mets to consider giving McNeil any sort of contract extension.
It doesn't even make sense for them to negotiate a fixed salary. In this regard, an argument can be made that this is the exact reason why he should be traded, especially since there is no guarantee he will remain healthy and continue to get better.
Based on what insiders say, if McNeil has another .300-hitting season with 20 home runs to lean on, he would be seeing three-year offers worth around $40 million if he were a free agent. Instead, the Mets will likely pay him just under $10 million during that same window, and still have him under contract another two years.
"I understand why this makes it seem like they should trade him," the same executive told me.
However, he continued, "With the way teams value prospects these days, since everyone is so reluctant to move their best guys, McNeil's salary and future have far more value to the Mets than in trade."
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.