NY Mets should stay away from a Nolan Arenado trade
Nolan Arenado is an MLB superstar, but not someone the New York Mets should trade for this offseason.
Defensively, as a whole, the New York Mets ranked in the bottom 10 of all teams at third base and their best glove at the hot corner was Todd Frazier using Outs Above Average as the primary defensive metric.
There were five players who manned third base in 2020: J.D. Davis, Andres Gimenez, Frazier, Jeff McNeil, and Luis Guillorme, with Davis receiving a majority of the time. Davis ranked fifth out of those five in runs prevented and OAA.
After Frazier, Guillorme, and Gimenez both ranked positive in runs prevented and OAA and both have demonstrated better range at third.
Certainly, the Mets would love to improve their defense as a whole, but considering the ability the Mets have with players who can play at third, the need isn’t as great as it is in other areas. Gimenez and McNeil (both played three positions last year; McNeil four) provide flexibility to play average to above-average defense in the hot corner.
Any time you can upgrade a position with a perennial gold glover and platinum glove winner, you’re making an improvement. However, it would be a luxury to have Arenado there, not a necessity.
Offensively, there are some real concerns with Arenado away from Coors. Take a look at Arenado’s line when playing at Coors and away from Coors for his career:
Home: .322/.376./609 136 HR 461 RBI
Away: .263/.322/.471 99 HR 299 RBI
For comparison, since coming into the league in 2018, McNeil has a higher OPS+ (139 to 125) and when it comes to Offensive Wins Above Replacement (oWAR), Arenado has accounted for just barely two wins more (10.2 to 8.3), albeit with 500 more at-bats over that time.
With Cano out for all of 2021, there’s a very good chance that McNeil will spend most of his time at second base if the Mets don’t sign someone to fill that position. If the Mets don’t move Gimenez, McNeil could spend time at third base.
Michael Conforto has produced a higher oWAR than Arenado overall since 2014 as well as a higher OPS+ and that’s accounting for Arenado’s numbers at Coors being factored in. Obviously, Conforto plays the outfield, but in speaking about offensive production, Arenado would be behind Conforto, Pete Alonso, McNeil in the Mets lineup when removing his home splits.
In fact, Arenado has never posted an OPS over .900 on the road in his career. Granted, hitters generally hit better at home, but taking into consideration the inflation players see when playing at Coors, the dip in numbers, especially in power, is a cause for concern.
With Steve Cohen taking over the Mets, many of the fanbase has started to get comfortable with not checking the price tag of certain players as meticulously as they did when the Wilpons were at the helm. While the Mets are certain to spend this offseason and beyond, the financial investment for Arenado wouldn’t make sense in the immediate or long term.
With an opt-out clause that would almost certainly have to be waived by Arenado for a team to pull the trigger on a trade, the All-Star is set to make $35M over the next four years before going to $32M and $27M for the last two seasons.
This is a very high price to pay for a player who is entering into his 30s and coming off a shoulder injury. While there’s no doubt the value he would bring defensively, his offensive production away from the friendly confines in Colorado, the amount that Arenado would cost in both prospects and dollars doesn’t seem like a sensible move for the Mets to make. Especially considering the quality of players that will be free agents next season and Lindor almost guaranteed to be playing in a different uniform this season.
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The Mets should make it a point to allocate their resources both in talent and money elsewhere.