Mets discussed potential trade for Ian Desmond
Before Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar were traded from the Rays to the Athletics for John Jaso and prospects, the Mets, Rays, and Athletics discussed a three-way deal that would’ve landed Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond in Flushing. Writes Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
"The Nationals would have sent Desmond to the Rays for Zobrist and Escobar, the two players the Rays traded to the Athletics on Saturday. The Rays then would have flipped Desmond to the Mets.The roadblock was the Rays’ request for two top Mets prospects from a list of three – a price the Mets considered too steep for Desmond, who is entering his free-agent year.The Rays’ wish list included right-hander Noah Syndergaard, the Mets’ No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America. The other two targets are not known."
"The Mets also engaged in direct talks for Zobrist, who like Desmond is entering his free-agent year. But the Rays again wanted two top prospects, and the Mets said no."
Desmond, 29, hit .255/.313/.430 with 24 home runs and 91 RBI while playing above average defense at shortstop last year for Washington.
The Mets swinging a trade for Ian Desmond would’ve been a game-changer, and it would’ve shaken the fan base out of its offseason malaise. However, the Mets were right to balk at Tampa Bay’s asking price.
It’s not clear who the other top prospect the Rays wanted in addition to Noah Syndergaard was, but since the other players sought are identified as “top” prospects, it’s fair to believe that the Rays wanted either Steven Matz, Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Plawecki, Rafael Montero, Dilson Herrera, Michael Conforto, or Amed Rosario.
If Desmond was under contract beyond 2015, trading two top prospects for him (with the Mets now ready to contend) would’ve been a no-brainer. With Desmond set to test free agency after the season, it’s too hefty a price.
Also of note here is that the Mets engaged the Rays directly in talks for Ben Zobrist, but Rosenthal said the Rays spoke to a bunch of other teams about Zobrist – making that portion of the news much less interesting than the Desmond-to-the-Mets discussions.
As Rosenthal notes, the Nationals’ willingness to trade Desmond in the division is interesting, and it’s something to keep an eye on. However, it’s fair to wonder if that ship has sailed now that the Rays (who were the key partner in the deal) have moved both Zobrist and Yunel Escobar.
The news that the Mets discussed potential deals for both Desmond and Zobrist is a sign that the club is still searching for an upgrade over Wilmer Flores – and they’re absolutely right to be doing so.