In their attempt to make a trade for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, the New York Mets should also consider extracting a reliever in the same move.
Starling Marte is the biggest if not the only name frequently mentioned in New York Mets trade rumors this winter. Though the offseason is young, it seems as if talks between the Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates will continue as long as there’s an opening in center field over in Flushing and Marte is still with the Bucs.
A trade for Marte doesn’t have to stop with him. The Pirates could be looking to move several players if only to get more in return for their starting center fielder.
Last year’s Pirates bullpen actually had some pitchers who performed well. These three could possibly get packaged with Marte in a deal with the Mets.
Personally, I would prefer the Mets stay away from Keone Kela. Despite some productive numbers on the field, his career hasn’t gone too swimmingly in recent years.
Kela was heavily involved in on-field brawls last season with the Pirates. This doesn’t concern me much. Rather, it’s an altercation with a Pirates coach which has me disinterested.
Last year, in his 29.2 innings, Kela was 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA. He struck out more than a batter per inning yet again—something he has done every year of his career since debuting in 2015 with the Texas Rangers.
I enjoy a little fire out of my relief pitchers. However, Kela is a time bomb I don’t think the Mets bullpen can afford to have. I only mention him here because the Pirates are probably heavily interested in moving him somewhere this winter just to move on.
Reliever Richard Rodriguez may be a late-bloomer. In two years with the Pirates, he has tossed 134.2 innings and given them a 3.07 ERA performance. If MLB makes adjustments to the baseballs this winter back to normal, we should expect him to have an even better campaign.
You see, Rodriguez averaged 1.9 home runs per nine in 2019. It was the biggest issue for the 29-year-old righty. Because he was able to escape with limited damage and complete the year with a respectable 3.72 ERA, he’s certainly a guy for the Mets to consider.
Rodriguez isn’t going to work his way into big situations for the Mets or look any better than he did in 2018 when he had a 2.47 ERA. Instead, I would like to see Rodriguez fill out those earlier innings.
We cannot undervalue those innings eaten up by Triple-A pitchers during the last three seasons. The Amazins need a complete bullpen. Rodriguez is one person who can help make this happen.
Finally, there’s Chris Stratton. The 29-year-old former San Francisco Giants starter found new life in the Pittsburgh bullpen last season. In 46.2 innings of work, he held down a 3.66 ERA. He raised his strikeout totals and lowered his walk rate. He was an improved man in many regards. Next year, he could continue it in Flushing.
Something else to like about Stratton is the fact that he has started in the past. In a pinch, the Mets could turn to him again. At this stage, however, it’s best to see what he can do in the bullpen once again.
Stratton shouldn’t cost much at all. And like Kela and Rodriguez, he’s someone the Pirates would be wise to add into a trade involving Marte if it means getting a better return.
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None of these relievers are going to change the direction of the Mets bullpen. Each is a possible final arm to add to the Opening Day roster in the team’s quest to at least look respectable when an arm is summoned from the bullpen.