Although the Mets left Nashville without any significant deals done, Sandy Alderson said they made progress in regards to the trade market, learning about what teams need and want moving into the rest of the winter. He’s still willing to move either R.A. Dickey or Jonathon Niese to get the young bat he desires, but if the trade doesn’t make sense, he’s willing to keep both of them for next year, and extend a contract offer to Dickey. Alderson is also more willing to deal Dickey rather than Niese.
Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog gave some details of the talks Alderson had with some other teams this past week, and the one he had with the Rangers certainly was interesting. Although it seemed as if Sandy’s asking price for Dickey in a trade was way too high, he didn’t back down because he felt other teams would be willing to pay, with nothing happening until some top tier pitching free agents fall off the board.
So, that being said, rumors have it that the Rangers prefer Dickey over Niese, and would trade their top prospect, Mike Olt, to New York if they lose out on the Zack Greinke sweepstakes. However, it looks as though the Rangers are in the lead for the free agent right now, according to Jon Heyman. If Greinke signs with the Dodgers, John Harper of the Daily News said Texas could either deal with the Mets, or make a trade with the Rays for James Shields, who are also looking for an impact bat and willing to trade starting pitching. So, if Greinke goes to Hollywood, it’s far from a done deal, as Shields could look more enticing since he’s much younger than Dickey, but the fact that R.A. could go full circle with the Rangers after they drafted him could also be a good story.
Who is Mike Olt, you say? He’s a 24-year-old top prospect for the Rangers, and was ranked the #43 prospect in all of baseball before 2012. He’s played his minor league games at first base, third base, and right field, and hit .288/.398/.479 in Double-A last season, including 28 homers and 82 RBI. He spent some time in the Majors last year as well, hitting .152/.250/.182 in 33 at-bats. Olt has been the subject of most trade discussions this winter because he’s the best Texas has to offer.
I wouldn’t mind this trade for a few reasons; one, the Mets will be getting that impact bat they desperately need in the outfield. Two, he’s right-handed and even though he may not be quite ready for the MLB, he’s on the cusp. Three, Dickey is in the American League and not the National League, but he also gets the opportunity to win (which he deserves) and to finish some unfinished business in Texas.
As for their other potential trading partner, Sandy Alderson spent most of his time talking to the Blue Jays about their surplus of catchers. It was rumored Toronto was looking for a front-line starting pitcher like Niese or Dickey, but it sounds like they’re satisfied with their current rotation, and would prefer to get prospects in return for either Travis d’Arnaud or J.P. Arencibia.
However, most of the talks between these two teams have been surrounding Niese and Arencibia, who looks to be the Jays backstop that most likely gets moved. The Mets are definitely in the ballpark with these talks because Toronto has also been chatting with Tampa Bay about starter Wade Davis. However, instead of looking for an upgrade to the back end of their current rotation, which both Davis and Niese would be, they’re more content with getting prospects in return for Arencibia and signing a cheap free agent pitcher to ensure the rotation doesn’t fall a part like it did in 2012 with all the injuries they had to endure.
If both of these scenarios play out, this is exactly what Sandy Alderson would want to come out of this winter. Although he potentially deals away the reigning Cy Young award winner in Dickey, it’s only for a top prospect with a lot of power in the outfield. They could hold onto Niese and his team-friendly contract, while gaining a right-handed catcher with plenty of upside, who is also under team control for the next four years. If Alderson sends R.A. to Texas, that would leave a hole in the rotation, but he would have options; Jenrry Mejia is said to be a starter in Spring Training, giving him the opportunity, and they could also pursue New York-native and recently non-tendered southpaw John Lannan. As for the outfield, there is still $10-$15 million in the budget the Amazins could use to sign a proven commodity through free agency to anchor an outfield that would also include Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda.
Looks like Sandy has some options, but we’ll see what happens. The next couple weeks could be very interesting, and Mets fans could get an early Christmas gift if all goes according to plan.