Mookie the Met? Not so fast…
With the 2019 MLB season completely in the rearview, it is full steam ahead into the offseason. Every offseason in recent memory has consisted of insider rumors, massive contracts, and blockbuster trades. This offseason appears to be no different with potential AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole and potential NL MVP Anthony Rendon hitting free agency. As far as trades go, there is a potential blockbuster to be made centered around 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts.
The Red Sox front office has not been shy in admittance that it would be very difficult for the team to keep both J.D Martinez and Mookie Betts on the roster past the 2020 season.
Well, that task has just gotten significantly harder as Martinez has recently decided not to opt-out of the remaining three years on his deal where he will earn $62.5 million over the next three seasons. With the front office making it clear that they are looking to shed salary, and with Betts’ impending free agency come 2020, the idea of trading one or the other has been floated around. Considering J.D is now locked in for three more years, that leaves Betts as the obvious choice. Rightfully so, this has garnered interest from teams and fanbases all across baseball, including the Flushing Faithful.
After a rollercoaster season for the Mets where they did manage to win 86 games, including a 15 of 16 stretch after the All-Star break that catapulted them back into contention, the fan base is clamoring for a game-changing move from the front office. However, dealing for Betts is not the answer. Sure, there is no evidence that he wouldn’t put up MVP type numbers in Queens as well, but it wouldn’t offset what the Mets would have to give up in order to land the outfielder.
The Mets lack organizational depth in a number of areas. If you look outside of the big league roster, there is not much firepower behind it. This is where a deal for Betts could sink the Mets. With Boston going into 2020 clearly looking to contend while they have their roster intact, it is going to take quite a haul for Boston to consider moving the former MVP.
For starters, Boston is looking for controllable pitching, and if we take BVW at his word Noah Syndergaard is not available. The next best that the Mets could offer would be Steven Matz. With Zach Wheeler recently rejecting the qualifying offer from the club, the Mets will be looking to replace one starting pitcher already. After dealing Anthony Kay to Toronto the Mets cannot afford to be in search of two starting pitchers in the offseason when they aren’t likely to pursue big names like Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgardner, or Dallas Kuechel.
Alongside Matz, Boston would likely be interested in a name like Brandon Nimmo to fill the void that Betts would leave. You would have to think Nimmo’s arbitration status would interest Boston who is looking to shed payroll. Another outfield/utility option for Boston could come in the form of JD Davis. After a huge breakout season with 20+ home runs in limited time, Boston might see great value with a cheap price tag. Yes, Mookie Betts would be an upgrade to either Nimmo or Davis but a trade could potentially include both and the Mets simply do not have the depth to be able to offset that loss. With Yoenis Cespedes possibly playing his last game as Met, they would be doing themselves a disservice to deal two outfielders. As Mets fans we have seen a plethora of guys the Mets have pulled off the scrap heap to eat up innings in the outfield. How many more times can we see the team sign league minimum veterans like Carlos Gomez, Rajai Davis, and Jose Bautisa?
Although Matz, Davis, and Nimmo could potentially be enough to pull off that trade, there is no saying that Boston wouldn’t look into our farm system to Andres Giminez. Giminez has just won the Arizona Fall League batting title and at just 21 years old could intrigue Boston. Although I am usually not opposed to dealing prospects for Major League established talent, especially a talent like Mookie Betts, the Mets farm system is too shallow to deal a top 100 prospect at this point in time.
All of this also goes without saying that Mookie Betts would become a free agent after the 2020 season, essentially making him a glorified rental. If the Mets were to become serious about acquiring the right-handed bat, an extension would have to come shortly after to make it worthwhile. With the Mets’ recent history, I would think this would be highly unlikely.
With their reluctance to entertain free agents such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado last year, the Wilpons do not have a track record of handing out the nine-figure contracts that a Betts extension would take. However, if they do have a change of heart about opening up the checkbook, the team has larger holes to fill than the outfield. That money could be better well spent on a guy like Anthony Rendon with 3rd base currently unoccupied. While letting a combination of Conforto, Nimmo, Davis, McNeil, and (fingers crossed) Cespedes fill out the outfield.
Yes, Mookie Betts would be the flashy move a lot of the fan base is begging for. However, I just do not see it being a practical decision. They should hold on to the pieces they currently have and if possible, pursue that game-changing pick up via free agency.