Does Trading Jon Niese Make Sense?

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There’s been a lot of David Wright and Daniel Murphy trade rumors swirling all off-season-long, but yesterday, some other names–very surprising names–got thrown into the mix. Joel Sherman not only named Ike Davis as a potential trade candidate, but also left-handed starter Jonathon Niese as one too. While trading Ike Davis seems more nonsensical, dangling Niese could be prudent for the future.

Over the past two seasons, the Mets have accumulated a plethora of high-shelf pitching prospects. With Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, and Zack Wheeler in-tow, the Mets have a lot of exciting arms coming-up through the system in the next few seasons. However, one cannot say the same for position players. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo was ranked as the Mets third best prospect, but the hitter never played baseball in High School and only collected 44 PA’s in Rookie Ball. Unless Cesar Puello, Reese Havens, or Wilmer Flores give you goosebumps, it’s apparent the Mets farm is pretty thin in the hitting department. Enter Jon Niese.

Niese completed his second full-year in the Major Leagues during the 2011 season. Even though he only hurled 157.3 innings (16.3 innings less than 2010), there was a lot of improvement in other departments. The 25 year-old southpaw cut his walks from 3.21 BB/9 to 2.52 BB/9 without seeing a decline in his strikeouts (7.67 K/9 in 2010 versus 7.89 K/9 in 2011). In addition, his ERA vs. xFIP splits have also made him a bit of a sabermetric favorite. While Niese posted a seemingly mediocre 4.20 ERA and 4.40 ERA in 2010 and 2011, respectively, his xFIP showed a glimpse of a higher ceiling (3.80 xFIP in 2010 and 3.28 xFIP in 2011). As good as the lefty could or might be, by the time the Mets top pitching prospects are all ready (probably in 2014), the team might want to add an ace or two instead of whatever Niese materializes as (most likely a solid number three).

With C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, and other free-agent pitchers quickly being signed, this might be the Mets best chance use Niese as a trade chip to re-stock their farm system with hitting prospects. With the talent (or lack there of) left on the open market, it’s hard to think of a team that wouldn’t be interested in a young, left-handed, and financially controllable pitcher like Niese. So if 2014 is really the “Year of the Met,” maybe 2012 should be the year Jonathon Niese gets traded.

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Tags: Ben Berkon C.J. Wilson Ike Davis Jon Niese Jonathon Niese Jonathon Niese Trade Jose Reyes Mark Buehrle Mets New York New York Mets Niese Trade Pitchers Rising Apple Should Niese Be Traded Young Pitchers

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