As we move closer to the All-Star break, the trade market continues to develop for various teams that have needs to fill to stay contenders into the dog days of August. After the early trade of Carlos Lee to the Marlins that kicked off the trading season, it now looks as though the reliever market is starting to take shape for Sandy Alderson.
It was reported that the Royals (37-45, 8.5 GB in AL Central) are shopping their closer, Jonathan Broxton. The reliever is currently in the middle of a one-year/$4 million contract that he signed over the off-season, so Kansas City is willing to trade their right-hander, as long as their trading partner will take on the rest of his salary and supply them with MLB talent. This is right up Sandy Alderson’s alley, as he wouldn’t have to give up any of the Mets’ big-time prospects to get some much needed help for his beleaguered bullpen.
After struggling with the Dodgers through an injury-riddled 2011 (1-2, 5.68 ERA, 12.1 IP), he has come back strong with Kansas City, going 1-1 with a 1.99 ERA with 23 strikeouts and 21 saves in 31 innings pitched during 2012. This is the kind of reliever the Mets could use as part of the bridge to Bobby Parnell and Frank Francisco; he’s mostly a fastball-slider pitcher, and can throw hard (94.9 mph). Even though his strikeout rate isn’t what it used to be in Los Angeles, he’s still striking out hitters 17.3% of the time. Most importantly, he strands runners at a 82.2% rate and his GO/FO ratio is 2.23, which would work well if he’s brought in during the middle of an inning with runners on base. Also, he doesn’t have the same ego as Francisco Rodriguez, so he may be more willing to sacrifice his closer role for a chance to make it to the playoffs. If he really hates it, the Mets could let him walk at the end of the season, no questions asked.
The big question is, who would the Mets offer up to try and trade for Broxton? Matt Kaufman mentioned yesterday that Kirk Nieuwenhuis could be a potential trading chip as we move closer towards the deadline, and that’s something to think about. With the crowded outfield that will only get more crowded with Jason Bay‘s return, and the presence of Matt Den Dekker in Triple-A Buffalo, it’s possible Nieuwenhuis could be expendable. That’s not something I would like to see, but sometimes a GM has to give up a good player to get what a team needs at the time (remember Xavier Nady for Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez back in ’06 when Duaner Sanchez went down?).
Also, Jordany Valdespin could be another potential trading chip. His statistics don’t look very flashy (.234/.279/.484), but he’s hit .318 in his last 10 games with the Mets and has shown his potential on many occasions. Yuniesky Betancourt (.248/.286/.439) does not look to be the future at second base for Kansas City, so that could be an area of need for them to get MLB-ready talent. Again, some may say to try and trade Daniel Murphy and insert Valdespin into the starting lineup in New York, but even though Murphy has surged of late, his lack of power and older age (27-years-old) may make him less attractive to a team that’s trying to build for the future.
Valdespin is only 24 and does have a lot of upside with both his glove and bat. So, he may be back up with the Mets now to show his trade value to potential suitors. With each day, the trade market becomes more developed and teams will officially become either sellers or buyers. Who knows, maybe Alderson can make a deal hours after the All-Star game like they did with K-Rod last year, and Broxton can fly back East with Terry Collins, David Wright, and R.A. Dickey.