There’s been tons of talk since the season ended about the Mets’ needs in the outfield, and just how they might go about filling those needs. As far as pending free agents, both Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury‘s names have come up. When the trade route is discussed, the focus is usually on Carlos Gonzalez and Giancarlo Stanton.
Both Choo and Ellsbury are likely to get five or six year deals for close to $100 million dollars. There’s been recent talk that Gonzalez isn’t available (though I’ll believe that when he remains with the Rockies through the off-season), and there really hasn’t been much talk regarding Stanton’s availability. Perhaps, instead of looking to make a splash in the outfield, the Mets’ focus should be on finding a young, impact bat to play in the middle of the infield.
During his chat today, Keith Law of ESPN was asked what the Mets’ strategy should be this winter. His response:
They should explore trading one of those two arms (Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard), or [Rafael] Montero, for a top position player prospect, preferably up the middle. It’s a painful thought but they’d be trading from strength.
Even with the loss of Matt Harvey for most, if not all of 2014, the Mets are still set up nicely as far as their starting pitching (in both the majors and minors) is concerned. Law is right when he says that dealing one of their top pitching prospects would be painful. However, if that deal returns a position player prospect who’s rated similarly, it might wind up being the best course of action.
Mark Simon, Law’s colleague at ESPN, wrote a piece today that suggested the Mets should go after shortstop Jurickson Profar of Texas. Profar, 20, made his debut with the Rangers this season. However, due to the presence of Elvis Andrus, Profar was used all over the diamond. He played more games as a designated hitter (20) than he did at shortstop (18). He also played 32 games at second base, 10 at third base, and 4 in the outfield.
Profar was ranked before the 2013 season as the top overall prospect in baseball. Here’s what Keith Law wrote about him at the time:
Profar is the best prospect in the minors this year thanks to an incredible combination of tools, skills and baseball instincts rarely found in players who play in the middle of the field. His feel for the game is unusual for a player of any age, much less a teenager, and should put another nail in the coffin of the old saw that American-born players have better instincts.
Notice how Law stresses how good Profar’s instincts are for someone who plays in the middle of the field. He’s a player with tons of upside, but his potential is partially negated if he isn’t used where he should be used (shortstop), and it’s a waste if he’s used as a designated hitter. Currently, the Rangers don’t have room for him at shortstop.
It’s likely (as Simon writes) that the Rangers will try to deal Andrus (who already signed a huge deal) instead of Profar, but it’s not clear if there would be any takers.
If the Rangers are unable to deal Andrus, the Mets should go full bore after Profar.
At present, the Mets have four players (David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud, and Juan Lagares) whose skill set could work as a starting position player on a contender. Aside from Wright, none of them is a true impact bat, though d’Arnaud may turn into one. Lagares’ value at the moment lies with his defense in center field, and Murphy’s value lies with his offense. Profar, if acquired, could change the dynamic of the offense and the up the middle defense.
In order for Profar to wind up with the Mets, the Rangers would probably have to be high on either Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard, and the Mets would have to be willing to deal one of them. This isn’t a pie in the sky idea, though.
Syndergaard and Wheeler are viewed as two of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Both have electric arms, and both have number one starter potential. At the moment, the Rangers don’t have a middle infield position open for Profar. Both Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler are under contract through 2017, and both are due an enormous sum of money.
The Mets should call the Rangers and see if there’s a match. It would definitely sting if the Mets had to part with one of Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard, but they would be getting a high reward for that large sacrifice if the player coming back was Jurickson Profar.