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Three Mets trade targets flying under the radar this winter

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 12: A baseball hat and a glove sit on the bench in the dugout before a game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 12, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 3-1. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 12: A baseball hat and a glove sit on the bench in the dugout before a game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 12, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 3-1. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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KANSAS CITY, MO – SEPTEMBER 13: Relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez #48 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 13, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

3) Right-Handed Pitcher Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez may be one of the best-kept secrets in baseball due to the team he currently plays on in the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. But over the past three seasons with the Pirates, he has quietly carved out a role for himself as one of their best weapons out of their bullpen with his career 3.41 ERA.

In 24 appearances this past season the 30-year old right-hander pitched to a 2.70 ERA while striking out 34 batters in 23.1 innings and picked up four saves. Rodriguez also had an otherworldy 0.857 WHIP this past season and was one of the very few lone bright spots for the Pirates.

It’s always been said that having an elite closer on a bad team is widely considered a luxury. With the Pirates having one of the worst rosters in baseball it would behoove them to consider moving Rodriguez this offseason to upgrade their talent pool.

This is where the Mets can come in. The Mets as of today do not have a clear answer for a set-up man behind closer Edwin Diaz going into next season. There are a bit more questions than answers when it comes to who will take the ball in the 8th inning next season.

There has been no decision made on whether Seth Lugo will return to the bullpen after his stint in the starting rotation. Jeurys Familia is entering the final year of his deal and was largely inconsistent for the Mets in 2020. Dellin Betances has also not made a decision on if he is extending his player option and returning to the Mets in 2021, which I believe he wouldn’t be considered a favorite for 8th inning duties anyway due to his performance this past season. Lastly, I don’t believe Miguel Castro is the answer yet in the 8th inning.

Next. Five biggest challenges facing the Mets this offseason

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Rodriguez who is arbitration-eligible this season, won’t be eligible for free agency until 2024 and would provide the Mets a dynamic 1-2 punch in the back end of the bullpen for the next several seasons. While good relievers always cost a premium on the trade market, if the Mets choose to target Rodriguez to bolster their bullpen it would surely cost them a Top 10 prospect this offseason.

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