The Mets had preliminary trade talks with the Detroit Tigers regarding second baseman Ian Kinsler, MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported last Monday.
According to the NY Post's Mike Puma, while the Mets have discussed acquiring Kinsler, they are also considering other options in their effort to acquire a second baseman.
The Tigers have reportedly also been in talks to send Kinsler to the Angels.
Morosi's report could mean the Mets have a fair and open shot at Kinsler. But, it could also mean talks between the Angels and Tigers have stalled and, by leaking Alderson's interest to Morosi, Detroit is hoping the Angels add one final piece to their offer to get a deal done.
In regards to Kinsler as a player, frankly, I'd rather see the Mets make a run at Jason Kipnis, even though Kipnis will cost significantly more in trade. Similarly, I'd rather Alderson sign free-agent infielders Eduardo Nunez or Neil Walker before acquiring Kinsler, as well...
Why am I against Kinsler?
For starters, Kinsler may have hit 22 home runs, stolen 14 bases and had his highest walk rate since 2011. However, in terms of his overall statistics, he had the worst offensive season of his career last year. The bulk of his value was actually in his fielding. And, while this is important, the Mets also need run-production.
More important, I'm concerned about bringing a 35-year-old veteran to the National League and Citi Field when he's spent his entire 10-year career in the other league against inferior pitching. Kinsler is also very outspoken and it's not always a good thing. In the last year or so, he's made disparaging comments about an umpire in public, criticized Dominican players in the WBC, and allegedly cursed out a fan for interference.
I'm willing to excuse certain behavior if I believe the Mets are need of his service and coming to them will help him succeed. However, in Kinsler, I am not confident it will play out in a positive way. There's evidence here to suggest he will continue to struggle at the plate and risk creating additional off-field issues in the media. If Detroit is paying the bulk of his contract in trade and the Mets can simply cut Kinsler at no risk, fine. But, based on the below scenarios, the Mets will need to commit more than just opportunity cost to get him...
What would it cost to get Kinsler in trade?
Detroit's top priority is to move Kinsler's $11 million salary. However, Sandy Alderson reportedly can add just $30-40 million to his payroll next season. Therefore, if he wants to add a second baseman, reliever, starting pitcher, and someone that can play both first base and corner outfield, he may need a team to pick up a sizable portion of an acquired player's salary, such as Kinsler.
Here's how I see both scenarios playing out...
Kinsler for a Low-Level Prospect w/ Upside
The most simple way to complete a deal is for Alderson to give Detroit a low-level prospect with upside in return for Kinsler and all $11 million left on his current contract.
That said, if the Mets go this route, based on similar deals the last few winters, a young player like Single-A SS prospect Gregory Guerrero could meet Detroit's needs.
Guerroro, 18, was signed in 2015. He is ranked the organization's 11th-best position prospect and estimated to be ready for the big leagues in 2020, according to Jonathan Mayo's recent rankings for MLB.com.
However, by taking on Kinsler's $11 million, Alderson will have spent roughly 30 percent of his budget to fill one hole, despite still having multiple spots to fill on his roster. My hunch is, though the above may be the easiest solution, he would prefer to have Detroit pick up part of Kinsler's tab...
Kinsler and Money for an Upper-Level Prospect
To get Detroit to pick up a portion of Kinsler's money, the Mets will need to part with an upper-level position player prospect in striking distance of being an every day player in the big leagues, such as 1B prospect Peter Alonso.
Alonso was drafted in 2016, but already touched Double-A this past summer. According to MLB.com's prospect report, he has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order, run-producing presence on track to make his big-league debut during 2019. They ranked him the ninth-best 1B prospect in baseball last summer.
Kinsler for a Big League Player
The last and least likely option is to trade Kinsler for a player due slightly less money, but with another year or two of control, that is already on Alderson's 25-man roster.
Unfortunately, only Juan Lagares and Jacob deGrom truly fit this mold. I can envision Alderson discussing a deal for Lagares, but -- obviously -- deGrom is going no place, especially for a 35-year-old, one-year-only second baseman. Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, and AJ Ramos make sense financially, but -- like Kinsler -- all three are free agents after next season, plus each is needed to help the Mets win in 2018.
What's the best move?
The way I see it, the only way Alderson does a deal to get Kinsler is if Detroit is paying a sizable portion of his salary. And, since I believe Detroit's goal here is to save money, I suspect there will be a stalemate.
And, like I said at the top of the post, there are at least three other realistic options that I would rather see Alderson do before crippling his budget by acquiring Kinsler. In other words, pass, and let Kinsler go to the Angels.
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...