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Mets Matt Harvey Conundrum: What if they traded him after 2015?

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets walks off the field after being relieved in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game Five of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field on November 1, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets walks off the field after being relieved in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game Five of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field on November 1, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 23: Andrew Benintendi #16 of the Boston Red Sox hits a double during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game One of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park on October 23, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Boston Red Sox

The Deal: Andrew Benintendi, Travis Shaw, and Joe Kelly

Andrew Benintendi was Baseball America’s number 15 overall prospect at the time and his debut occurred later in the 2016 season. Travis Shaw was a solid player and would have been an exceptional addition as a depth measure, or insurance policy, for David Wright. Joe Kelly would have been a tack on to the trade, but definitely offered some bullpen depth for the Mets.

This trade would have provided the Mets with one of the brightest rising stars in their outfield. Benintendi is a great hitter, blossoming into a quasi-classic, quasi-modern star. He can dispense the ball equally to all fields while hitting for an average around .290 as he did in 2018. He racked up 67 doubles and 177 RBI over his first two full seasons.

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Slotted into the number two role in that deadly Boston lineup, the left fielder truly rounded into form last season. 2017 was a strange season for the rookie, as he was extremely streaky. Each month featured either an excellent output or minimal production.

Last season when breaking down the month by month output, it was similar, but not as extreme as the year prior. His highs were higher and the lows were not quite as low. Therefore, Benintendi has begun to settle into his form of minimal strikeouts, a solid average, good fielding, and a fair amount of speed.

The Mets would not have had to wait too long for Benintendi’s impact to be felt, as he debuted in August of 2016, but obviously could have contributing earlier. Boston had much depth in the form of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts, which might have forced reduced playing time for the rookie.

Another part of this deal that must be considered is that Benintendi would have signaled the end of Yoenis Cespedes‘s tenure with the Mets. If he was a Mets regular by the end of 2016, there would have been no reason for a Cespedes resigning. The circumventing of the albatross of the second Cespedes contract is even more of an argument in favor of the wisdom of this deal.

Travis Shaw would have been very valuable in the 2016 season and beyond. Shaw would have easily slotted into third base after Wright’s neck injury and given a solid power output at the bottom of the lineup. Whereas, Joe Kelly would have been an effective middle reliever who could provide multiple innings. This move would have deepened the Mets bench depth, with Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe having left in the 2015 offseason, and bolstered the bullpen, which relied too heavily on Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia in 2016.

Here is a potential 2019 lineup after the trade. While, the ensuing moves would, of course, be different, here is a vague look at what the team could have looked like if Harvey was traded:

  1. Brandon Nimmo CF
  2. Jed Lowrie 1B
  3. Andrew Benintendi LF
  4. Robinson Cano 2B
  5. Wilson Ramos C
  6. Michael Conforto RF
  7. Travis Shaw 3B
  8. Amed Rosario SS
  9. Pitcher
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