NY Mets: Is the team truly invested in Jeff McNeil?
By Tim Boyle
Jeff McNeil’s name seems to come up often in trades involving the New York Mets. Fortunately, for those who have shrines of the Flying Squirrel in their homes, it’s not the Mets who bring him up. Everyone else seems to want him. I don’t blame them.
Since becoming a big leaguer, McNeil has been an exceptionally rare talent. Hitting for average and often making contact, he’s the old-school type of player we thought went extinct around the time fashionable mustaches did.
Not so. Small ball style of play survives through players like McNeil. The Mets have found ways to fit him into the lineup, but are they invested?
Jeff McNeil’s future with the Mets remains unclear
An O.G. draft pick by the Mets, he’s a homegrown player they should be proud of. I think they are. No one could have predicted this.
Still, his future with the club isn’t so certain. He came up as a second baseman in 2018 but then moved around the field in 2019 to make room for Robinson Cano. In 2020, he started at third base but then moved to left field when it seemed to benefit him and J.D. Davis to swap positions.
This year, with Cano suspended, second base has belonged to him. Will it continue to be the place for him?
Continued trade interest in Jeff McNeil could convince the Mets to do something silly
Here’s a reason why you don’t trade McNeil: he’s cheap. I don’t mean cheap like my grandma who would give me free stuff she got from magazine subscriptions cheap. What the Mets pay him is low.
Yet to reach arbitration until this winter, the Mets are getting way more production than his salary pays him.
I know this also means they could get more in exchange for McNeil. But why would you ever do that? Both popular and productive, moving him will only leave the team searching for another multi-positional talent.
The front office’s refusal to continually say “no” to any team asking for him in trades is a great sign. His name came up in both the Seattle Mariners trade for Cano and the blockbuster for Francisco Lindor—the latter much sooner than the actual trade that took place. Just last month, the Minnesota Twins were hoping to pry him away in a deal for Jose Berrios.
Time and time again, the Mets refuse to move McNeil. They’re invested at the moment. As the club’s fire alarm to pull whenever they need someone to take over a position on the field, he’s one of their most important guys.
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How the Mets plan to use him in the future could change. What we can only hope is their current investment follows the “buy and hold” philosophy. The team is better for it.