Frankie Montas has headlined most of the trade talk around the league involving the Oakland Athletics. He’d be someone the New York Mets could look at for a rotation upgrade but that’s not the priority right now. They have their best pitchers come back from injury and enough depth to get by without having to pay the steep price for Montas.
They still shouldn’t lose the Athletics’ number. That’s because there is a much better trade candidate on their roster. He’ll be tougher to pry away but could definitely be made available.
His name is A.J. Puk.
The best Mets trade target on the Athletics is A.J. Puk, not Frankie Montas
Puk is having a strong year coming off of a disappointing 2021 season. Through his first 34 innings, he is 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA. He has a walk rate of 1.9 per nine and has struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings of work.
The peripherals look good. He’s a good match for the Mets, too, because of how long they’d be able to keep him around.
Puk has yet to reach arbitration status so the Athletics can get away with paying him league minimum. Because of this, he might not be quite as readily available but for the right price they would surely be willing to part with the 27-year-old sixth overall pick from 2016. Now already a dedicated reliever rather than the starter he briefly as in the minor leagues, he’s a guy the Mets could view as a long-term bullpen option for them from the left side.
The Mets already have a lot of big decisions to make this upcoming winter about the state of their bullpen. Edwin Diaz, Trevor May, Seth Lugo, Trevor Williams, Adam Ottavino, and others aren’t under contract. Pulling in a guy like Puk, at the right price, could secure them one more guy to add into the mix for 2023 and beyond while helping them out immensely in 2022.
Of course, with Puk, the Mets can’t get too romantic and overpay. He hasn’t even reached 60 major league innings. The sample size is a wee too small to overreach to acquire him. The Athletics could still receive a pretty nice prospect in return for him.
For the puns alone, adding Puk to the Mets roster could be a good thing. More importantly, he’s a young lefty they can hold onto for a few more years. If there’s one guy on Oakland to add to this team, it’s him.