A trade involving Dominic Smith has felt inevitable for months. What could the New York Mets realistically expect to get in return for him?
A trade involving Smith has been speculated about since the summer. The emergence of Pete Alonso as one of the best sluggers in baseball has taken away any chance of seeing Smith play regularly in Queens. Ergo, trading him this offseason has felt like the obvious next step.
What’s not so obvious is how much the Mets can get in return for the young first baseman. The position is often filled by guys who have downgraded defensively at other spots over the years. As a result, it’s tough to imagine an overpayment for such a limited defender even if he can play it well.
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I’ve seen Mets fans thirsty to see the team unload him for relief pitchers. I agree with this notion. If the team is, in fact, heading into 2020 with Brandon Nimmo as the starting center fielder, they must use Smith to help bolster the bullpen.
However, we’re going to have to curb our expectations and change relief pitchers to the singular version.
While the Mets could get more than one player for Smith, we have to take note of their quality. In our desired quest to use him to land relief help, we should look for the Mets to focus on getting a guy we can trust over the quantity of arms. We want someone we trust and not two guys we don’t have much faith in.
To me, this leaves them with only a few options. A straight one-for-one trade is one possibility. Perhaps the Mets and whichever team receives Smith could even add in an extra player to change the quality of talent headed in the other direction. For instance, the Mets could add a low-level prospect without much promise for a decent reliever and a guy sitting in Triple-A hoping to breakthrough in 2020.
Let’s not revisit grade school math to examine all possible outcomes. I have too many bad memories of struggling through fifth grade fractions to travel back to that time of my life.
What makes a trade involving Smith difficult is how willing other teams are to part with their best relievers. A guy on a big contract could net the best return. The only issue I have with this is the Mets should be out there buying the best relievers, not trading for them.
It’s not always a good idea to swap a potential everyday player for someone who appears an inning three nights per week. As a for instance, trading Smith to the Milwaukee Brewers for Josh Hader sounds ridiculous. Smith hasn’t proven nearly as much as Hader has. However, Smith’s contributions would have a much more frequent impact on his team’s success. Hader can only do so much in a relief role.
Realistically, the Mets should look to add a reliever with a track record. If trading him to a bad team with no intention of contending, they may be able to pick up another arm looking to rebound. Better yet, maybe they could get a guy in an Ian Kennedy situation and only pay a portion of the contract plus the younger reliever.
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Good relief help is hard to find. Even more difficult is finding a team willing to trade it away. Relief pitchers are the offensive linemen of baseball. When you find good ones, you better hold onto them.