August 23, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Collin McHugh (36) sits in the dugout during the seventh inning after pitching seven shutout innings in his major league debut against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Could Collin McHugh or Jenrry Mejia Be Traded This Winter?

As the 2012 season winds down and the Mets organization and fans alike turn their focuses to 2013, there are plenty of needs that have to be filled before the first pitch on Opening Day is thrown next season. Aside from trying to retain David Wright and R.A. Dickey long-term, which is on Sandy Alderson’s to-do list, he must also give the bullpen another face lift, while also fixing the outfield, which has become a platoon factory. Alderson said on Mike Francesa’s show last week that New York needs to infuse the roster with productive players, and the best to do that is through trades this winter.

After watching the Big League roster perform the last two seasons, Alderson and his front office executives have also done a thorough evaluation of the Mets’ farm system, being pleasantly surprised with the amount of talent that is present. So, without bottomless pockets to spend on big money free agents, the Amazins will have to get creative with how they acquire these “productive players,” as Alderson stated. One thing is for certain, though; it sounds like he’s ready to make some moves to get this team ready to be a contender.

One of the few areas there seems to be significant depth for the organization is starting pitching. As of right now, the 2013 rotation probably will look like this: Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Matt Harvey. Of course, this is contingent upon Santana being fully healthy by spring training and Gee’s rehab from his unexpected surgery last month to continue to go smooth. However, with Collin McHugh putting together a very impressive MLB debut last week against the Rockies, there is some chatter starting to formulate that the 25-year-old hurler drafted in the 18th round in the 2008 draft could get a shot to compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training.

When you look at his last couple of seasons in the minor leagues, it’s hard to deny that McHugh is ready to pitch in the MLB. Once he was promoted to Double-A Binghamton in 2011, he went 8-2 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 93.1 innings pitched. Once 2012 rolled around, he did more of the same with Binghamton (5-5, 2.41 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) and was promoted to Buffalo, where he’s gone 2-4 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 69 innings pitched. Wally Backman was praised McHugh’s command of the strike zone (2.8 BB/9 IP in ’12) and his ability to fan hitters (8.3 K/9 IP in ’12). The starts he is scheduled to get this upcoming month, beginning next week against St. Louis, could build his case to interested suitors over the winter that he is an MLB-ready pitcher, one that could give the Mets some more MLB-ready talent in return.

We can’t forget about Jenrry Mejia, as he’s been in Triple-A most of the season since he came back from Tommy John surgery last season. In 25 appearances (9 starts) and 63 innings pitched with the Bisons, Mejia is 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA. With the Mets bullpen in the shape it’s been in this season, the organization instituted a throwing program for their 22-year-old right-hander to prep him as a reliever. However, in 21.1 innings out of the bullpen, Mejia is 1-1 with a 5.48 ERA, and opponents are hitting .303 off him, compared to his 2-2 record, 1.94 ERA, and .220 opponent batting average in 46.1 innings as a starter. Terry Collins has said that Mejia will likely get a few spot starts in September once he’s called up, and there’s no reason to not think both Mejia and McHugh could be pitching next month to increase their trade value over the winter.

After watching McHugh dominate with 9 strikeouts and 2 hits over 7 shutout innings last week, it’s hard to fathom trading him away, especially with the uncertainties that surround the statuses of Santana and Gee for 2013, but Jeurys Familia and Zack Wheeler are honing their craft in Triple-A, waiting for the call. Familia hasn’t had a stellar season by any means (8-9, 4.78 ERA, 1.61 WHIP in 130 IP), but he is only 22-years-old as well, and the organization is high on his development moving forward. As for Wheeler, he performed great with Binghamton (10-6, 3.26 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) and although his control has been shaky since he was promoted to Buffalo (1-2, 3.54 ERA, 1.18 WHIP), Mets officials are projecting that he could be ready to get the call to the Majors by the second half of 2013, as scouts have said this year he already has MLB-ready stuff.

So, although it would be tough to watch either McHugh or Mejia get shipped out of New York via trade, there are viable options for the Mets to fall back on if the projected starting rotation doesn’t pan out. You have to give something up to get what you need in trades, and right now, it looks like they have a surplus in starting pitching (knock on wood). I mean hey, if all else fails, they could re-sign Chris Young to a minor league deal, right? Maybe not after last night’s start.

Do you think either Mejia or McHugh should be used in a trade this off-season? Why or why not?

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Tags: Collin McHugh Jenrry Mejia MLB Hot Stove New York Mets Off-season Trades Rising Apple

  • Will DeBoer

    It’s certainly our best option moving forward. I wonder if teams will be interested in Mejia after seeing how much we fiddled with him between starter & reliever. I feel like we’re getting carried away on McHugh; although he was spectacular, it was one start against the Rockies, after all. But if he can put together a nice September he’ll definitely draw attention.

  • ernest dove

    First and foremost, lets watch Mchugh pitch against a playoff St. Louis team and see if he can still paint the corners and throw that nasty curve for another outing. Can’t immediately crown him as a Gee 2.0 with better stuff, because Gee has had numerous ‘quality starts’ under his belt as a major league pitcher. Im assuming the Mets will not obtain a good quality starting outfielder without giving up at least one of these guys, packaged with familia, and whoever else teams want. Might be worth the risk, especially with Mets history of highly touted pitching prospects never panning out……FYI, id rather see Mets trade a hopefully healthy Santana, because they are broke and wont keep him anyway. Then keep both pitchers in this article.

  • Tom Mazzola

    My guess would be that Alderson doesn’t trade away our prospects unless it were for major league talent, preferably cheap in their arbitration years. If you compare what he’s done to Minaya through his tenure, he’s more about holding who we have (which Minaya did draft all these guys) and letting the talent develop on it’s own.

    My question would be why would the Mets trade McHugh or Mejia when the Mets clearly have a glaring hole in the bullpen? Why would they be any less likely than Familia to be traded too? Even before we’ve seen this starting pitching depth really fortify itself, I remembered reading they had plans for him more as a reliever than a starter. If they did it with Heilman and Parnell, why not Familia too?

    It is a mistake to trade Mejia because he is still too fresh off his injury for a team to give back on his potential value. It could also potentially be a mistake to make him pitch in the bullpen. If he’s steadily pitched much better in the rotation over the bullpen, it means his arm is productive and probably healthier on more rest than being used regularly.

    While Gee has been here longer to prove his reliability (even if mediocrity), his job needs to be in competition with Mejia. Mejia still has a lot of upside. Gee has some experience pitching out of the bullpen. If not, Gee’s trade value is likely to be higher than Mejia, even if his potential upside isn’t as great. The Mets will likely be more committed to the development of Harvey staying in the rotation, even if he pitches similar to Gee, unless he pitches poorly. The Mets will also likely try planning Wheeler’s entry into the rotation at the same time as Santana’s exit, which could either be April 2014 or some point next year if Santana gets hurt long term. It doesn’t make sense of the Mets to trade Santana’s 31 million contact away, because there may not even be a team willing to pay 25% of that. If he pitches like he did in the 1st half more consistently throughout all of next season, the Mets success could be a lot greater than with one of these young guys, Young or Pelfrey in the rotation.

    The rotation and bullpen I’d prospectively like to see in 2013 is: Dickey/Santana/Niese/Harvey/Gee or Mejia ; Gee or Mejia, McHugh or Familia, Francisco, (new lefty reliever), Parnell, Rauch (re-signed) and a new closer (even if it cost some money, if not K-Rod might be worth the risk at cost similar to Rauch/Francisco).

    Now a lot of people are talking about trading pitching for OF help. My question is who do you think you’re going to get for them? And why do we keep hearing of the possibility of Murphy being dealt (one of our most reliable and affordable players who’s given us stability at 2B and offers the possibility of taking 3B if Wright isn’t re-signed)? Why trade Valdespin if he’d take 2B, if Murphy would shift over to 3B, if that happens?

    The Mets can’t complain that they didn’t get steady productivity out of Nieuwenhuis, Duda or Valdespin (if viewed as an OF). All of these guys are in their 1st or 2nd major league seasons and none were even given an entire season and in their time here, all of them played several positions. It is an absolutely bad idea for the Mets to give a lot of money to a potential FA like Swisher because they’ll risk running themselves into another Jason Bay. They need to sign a more affordable, yet useful CF or RF like Ichiro or Victorino. The Mets should stick with Duda. Let him play through his struggles just like Davis and if he sucks, give Baxter the at bats (Torres if re-signed or Turner if he proves competent in LF). Duda has a potential Burnitz written all over him. He won’t be as much of a liability in LF as RF. If they signed Victorino, he could play CF. If it were Ichiro, he could play RF. With the available CF or RF slot, you go with one of Nieuwenhuis or den Dekker. Re-sign Torres at a cheaper rate to be the 4th OF, because he’s good defensively and is a good right-handed hitting option off the bench. Hairston would be great to bring back for that role but he probably outpriced himself for that role or will want more reliable playing time. If Nieuwy doesn’t win the spot and still hasn’t cracked the line-up if Duda or den Dekker got unproductive, at least they’d know they have a good 4th OF to eventually supersede Torres. If they signed Victorino, he could bat 2nd or 6th along with Murphy, with Wright/Davis/Duda in the middle .If it were Ichiro, he can bat 2nd, move Murphy to 5th/6th with Duda. Once the Mets have money open up with Santana, Bay and Francisco’s contracts gone, even if Dickey and Wright (who is paid high as it is) get big contracts, they’ll have a lot of money to use going into next off-season and a better assessment of their development.

    • Matt Musico

      Thanks to all of you for readin and leaving a comment! You all make great points. I would live to see Santana get dealt, but even an R.A. Dickey type first half won’t entice teams to take on that contract.

      I totally agree with your ideas for the rest of the roster and to improve on the OF situation. Duds will be sticking around and I doubt they would pursue Swish with the price he’s looking for. Victorino would be a good option for CF bc he’s a great defender and can still produce at the top of the lineup.

      I of course forgot about Hefner, but I see him as more of a reliever in the long term. As for Familia, putting him in the pen could get interesting. I think the jobs that Robert Carson and more specifically, Josh Edgin, have done enough to get a chance to be the left specialists next year.

      And Murphy shouldn’t be going anywhere! At least, that’s my hope.

  • Tom Mazzola

    Beyond such a prospective rotation though, Chris Young could potentially re-sign because he hasn’t pitched well enough to necessarily get a guaranteed job, beyond his questionable health. As with Pelfrey, he’s likely to stay with the Mets to work with the same medical staff. Perhaps one of them could offer bullpen depth too. But the Mets will have Hefner as well. Those 1 to 3 guys, plus Wheeler, along with a Mejia or Gee in the bullpen, as well as Familia and McHugh, give the Mets 4 to 6 good options behind their starting 5.

  • halflink123

    Actually I think of all the Mets starters, Jon Niese probably has the highest trade value as he’s locked up long term. That could be a really valuable piece for a lot of clubs. The Mets could trade him for a young outfielder or prospects and still have, next year and beyond a solid 1-2-3 of Harvey Dickey Wheeler, not to mention Cory Mazzoni or whoever else comes up in the future

    • Ryan

      One of Dickey or Niese are coming to the Jays this offseason!

    • Tom K

      Only for one of Arencibia/D’Arnaud plus Gose!