The buzz in baseball indicates Tampa will look to flip Denard Span, who they acquired Wednesday from the Giants for 3B Evan Longoria.
They Rays are also expected to continue talking with teams interested in acquiring C Wilson Ramos, ace RHP Chris Archer, and closer Alex Colome.
The Mets tried to get Colome last winter, and reportedly checked in on him again this winter. I wonder if they'll also show interest in Span, who is due $11 million next season with a $12 million team option for 2019. The option can be bought out for $4 million.
Span is not very good in the field, especially on balls hit in the gap. In fact, Michael Conforto is easily a better defensive center fielder than Span, who is dwarfed by Juan Lagares. However, at the plate, he's going to put the ball in play, hit more home runs, and get on base more than Lagares.
Historically, Lagares is a better hitter against left-handed pitching than Span, who is better against right-handed pitching than Lagares. Frankly, Span should no longer play at all against a left-handed starter, which means he and Lagares might make a solid platoon.
Conforto would obviously be the everyday right fielder if Lagares and Span are splitting time in center. Also, if Conforto is locked in to right field, it makes little sense to acquire an outfield-first hitter capable of playing first base, such as Jay Bruce.
Instead, with Span, Lagares, Conforto, and Yoenis Cespedes in the outfield, it would be better for the Mets to pursue a tried-and-true first baseman, such as Eric Hosmer. I assume Alderson would be more interested in Logan Morrison or Adam Lind, both of whom will be less expensive and also able to fill in a bit for Conforto and Cespedes.
In the event Hosmer or Morrison is a legit option, I'd be OK seeing Alderson deal an upper-level prospect to get Span, especially if Tampa is willing to pay his $4 million buyout for 2019.
Thoughts on trading for Longoria...
The Mets had been in contact with the Rays, but I'm not certain Longoria was ever a major part of the discussions. I'm sure the Mets asked about him, but I don't think Sandy Alderson was interested in adding what essentially nets out to a five-year, $70 million deal. I also feel confident saying the Mets did not have the necessary talent needed to get a deal done.
Statistically speaking, there is strong evidence to suggest Longoria would struggle to hit for power playing 81 games at Citi Field and 40 away games in the NL East.
That said, he certainly has enough in the tank to be a bargain at $13-15 million a season, even if hitting only 12-15 home runs. In a few years, I suspect the Giants will be struggling with what to do with Longoria's contract and diminished skills, but it's a solid short-term play. But, if the Mets didn't have the talent or confidence to get a trade done, I understand...
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. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...