With the trade deadline a little more than a month away and the rumor mill beginning to heat up, I wanted to expand a bit on what Brandon Butler wrote in the last entry to this blog. The possibility to bring the amazing Cliff Lee to Flushing for the stretch run is very real for the Mets. The Mariners desperately want to jettison him (though as a Type A free agent, they would receive two 1st round picks from any team that signed him in the offseason) and Lee desperately wants to pitch out the remainder of his contract for a contending ballclub.
Enter the the Mets. They are indeed a contending ballclub and they could no doubt use another top of the line starter to pair with Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. Then again, what team couldn’t use a former Cy Young Award winner, currently boasting a 6-3 mark with a 2.39 ERA and an ungodly 76-4 K/BB ratio in 86 2/3 IP this season. Lee’s value is only heightened by the fact that he showed himself to be a money pitcher last year in the playoffs for the Philadelphia Phillies. His utter domination of the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series was one of the greatest pitching performances I have seen in person.
With all of Lee’s high marks, statistics and talent wise, the huge bugaboo for any party interested in acquiring his services is that he will be a free agent after the season. Lee is looking for a huge payday (which he deserves and likely will get….see: the New York Yankees) and has given every indication that he plans on testing the free agent waters, meaning he which he would likely only be a three-month rental. Lee right now is a 31 year-old ace lefthander in the prime of his career and the opportunity to get your hands on those types don’t come around every day. That is the argument for the Mets to get bold and go ahead and grab Cliff Lee for three months. The insertion of this guy could legitimately turn the Mets into the favorite in the NL to make the World Series. He is that good.
Unfortunately, you have to give up value and talent to get the same back in return. In the case of the Mets, early reports suggest that Angel Pagan and Jenrry Mejia would have to be part of a package for Lee. If he was under contract for more than just the next 3 1/2 months, I’d think about doing something like that, as much as I love what Pagan has become and what I thin Mejia will become.
Pagan’s trade value is obviously at it’s peak right now after his torrid stretch the past few months filling in for Carlos Beltran. Yet, even if he returns in a few week as expected, because of the uncertainty surrounding Beltran’s knee woes, Pagan is needed for insurance purposes. As for Mejia, yes he could be a bust like Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher, but I have strong feelings that this guy is going to be a stud in the big leagues for years….thus I do not want to deal him away, especially for a rental. In my book, under no circumstances should the Mets consider dealing away Ike Davis and Jon Niese.
So there is the conundrum that many contending teams face each June and July. Do you go for the gold or do you continue to build for the future? If I am in charge of the Mets, I am taking the more conservative approach right now. There are just too many good vibes and signs to be messing this train up right now