1 Mets player on an expiring contract they could afford to trade most for a reliever

The goal would be to fix the bullpen even if it means a downgrade defensively.
New York Mets v Washington Nationals
New York Mets v Washington Nationals / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages

A lot of the trade deadline speculation around the New York Mets has them doing some creative things. Trading a starting pitcher and replacing him with a depth piece like Jose Butto or Christian Scott is the publicly known Mets rumor. If they’d swap them for prospects or a bullpen arm is the unknown. The former would be more about the future with the latter being an attempt to seriously compete in 2024.

Clearly, this Mets team needs some help. The bullpen is the biggest wound. Subtracting from a place of surplus for some immediate help makes total sense.

If there is one player on an expiring contract they should trade, it’s Harrison Bader. As much of a Baderliever as I’ve become after the team appeared to overpay for him in the offseason, he is expendable, immediately replaceable, and a trade chip with a lot of value because of the position he plays so well.

The case for the Mets to trade Harrison Bader

No one compares to Bader defensively, but we have some immediate replacement options. Brandon Nimmo in center field for the majority of time makes sense. Tyrone Taylor is the other on the MLB roster. The injury to Starling Marte puts a damper on this idea at the moment. Uncertainty of how good he’ll be when he does return will have some fans hesitant at removing Bader from the equation.

With moving Nimmo to center field, left field also opens up. This is where Jeff McNeil can fill in sometimes. Eh. Not so great. Jose Iglesias has played well enough to earn an everyday opportunity at second base. You like this idea. Since the Mets seem determined to not bench McNeil entirely, utilize him elsewhere.

We shouldn’t ignore the other big and bold roster move the Mets make with Bader out of the picture. Luisangel Acuna can provide them with positional versatility in center field and second base on a regular basis. Let him fight for starts in center field. If he flourishes, we’ll say “Bader who?” in a millisecond.

All of the spots are filled without Bader around. So what are the Mets getting back for him?

Harrison Bader is a good enough center fielder to give the Mets a relief pitcher

As a rental, Bader’s value does shrink a bit. His contract doesn’t help much either. Even when halved, it’s more than most teams would be willing to add to the payroll. Bader is the type of player who’d only get traded to a contender looking to fill center field. It’s a weak position for a variety of teams. The Los Angeles Dodgers could use some help in center field. Ironically, so could the St. Louis Cardinals.

The trick for David Stearns to pull off in any sort of trade with a contender is ensuring the Mets don’t help out a fellow National League club too much. In this case, the Cardinals are probably not the best team to do business with.

In exchange for Bader, the Mets should look exclusively at controllable relief pitchers and maybe even guys with minor league options. Swapping Bader for a fellow pending free agent comes with too much risk. As valuable as relief pitchers can be, the Mets do get weaker as a result.

Bader has been a good member of the Mets this season yet he can be used as an asset to improve them elsewhere. We shouldn’t be opposed to the Mets trading Taylor either. While a better corner outfielder, he could supply some teams with an upgraded platoon. The Cincinnati Reds, for instance, could use a right-handed hitting outfielder capable of playing center field.

Buy. Sell. Something in between. Tick tock. The Mets have some magic to create.