Sandy Alderson and the Mets won’t be making any big splashes before the trade deadline passes tomorrow afternoon at 4pm, but it certainly looks like they’ve been asking about quite a few players. After saying they would listen to what teams had to offer for Scott Hairston and Tim Byrdak, they have also been rumored to inquire about the availability of Mariners reliever Brandon League. The latest trade rumor news is that New York asked Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs about Geovany Soto.
After having a breakout campaign in 2008, hitting .285/.364/.504 and winning the NL Rookie of the Year award, Soto has had a tough time repeating that performance with the Cubbies, and it’s currently at it’s worst in 2012 (.195/.278/.345). As Alderson was trying to do with both Ramon Hernandez and Kelly Shoppach, he has been trying to find a right-handed hitting catcher to spell Josh Thole, and at a low price. The talks with the Rockies and Red Sox about Hernandez and Shoppach, respectively, fell through because the two sides couldn’t agree on anything.
However, it seems that talks between the Mets and Cubs for Soto are just that; Andy Martino of the Daily News doesn’t expect a trade to take place before tomorrow afternoon. As their second half swoon has virtually taken them out of playoff contention for 2012, the Mets will likely revisit the idea of getting a right-handed hitting catcher of the winter. The motive of these talks aren’t known, but Alderson probably is assessing Soto’s value now to get a basis of what it could be once the season is finished.
Soto has been splitting time with Steve Clevenger this season, as he’s only appeared in 51 games and walked to the plate 174 times. A change of scenery and role for the former All-Star could be a good thing for Soto, as it’s clear whatever he’s doing in Chicago is not working. Why are the Mets so focused on getting another catcher? They have no problem going forward with Josh Thole as their starter, but they need a more well rounded backup, as we saw that Mike Nickeas wasn’t cutting it. His defense is great, but he needs to hit better than .168 to stick around for the long-term. With Soto struggling as much as he has this season, the price for him could be extremely low, something of interest to Alderson.
Also, with the recent disagreements that Thole has had with Pedro Beato and Tim Byrdak, it would help to have a more veteran backup that can help him handle a mostly young pitching staff, that will continue to get younger moving towards 2013 and beyond. Rumors had Ramon Hernandez high on the Mets’ list, but he’s due over $3 million next year and has been hurt most of this season. Shoppach could be the best option for New York to target, and he will be a free agent this winter, coming off a $1.14 million contract with Boston, while hitting .261/.346/.504. Although he’s older than Soto, he’s four years younger than Hernandez, and is more used to a role as a bench player than either one of these other options.