Jeff McNeil has gone from untouchable to someone the New York Mets could realistically discuss in a trade. His poor performance in 2021 changed his status with the team. Add in that he may not be a great fit to be paired with shortstop Francisco Lindor, McNeil is now a guy we could see on the trade block for the Mets this offseason.
It wouldn’t be the first time his name has appeared in trade discussions. Ever since his breakout year in 2018 which saw him rise from unknown minor leaguer to one of the best hitters on the big league team, McNeil’s name has appeared in offseason trade rumors. The Mets have balked at moving him. This winter, things are different.
If the Mets do trade McNeil, they need to make sure it’s a winning move. You don’t dump him to clear a roster space or free up salary. You trade McNeil only because you know you can steal a better player from another team.
Any Mets trade involving Jeff McNeil must include a starting pitcher
Evaluating exactly what the Mets could get in return for McNeil would require talking to a lot of MLB executives and scouts. Even then, the average of what they say is probably going to be wrong.
McNeil is hard to pinpoint because of how well he did prior to 2021. He was—and still remains—versatile in the field. It was the sudden loss of his ability to hit last season which should have us all scratching our heads wondering what he has left.
I would guess McNeil remains an intriguing trade piece for many ball clubs both on the winning and losing end of things. One bad season, a team that struggled almost universally one through nine, shouldn’t take away what he has done in the past nor what he can do in the future. He’s cheap, can play multiple positions, and has proven he can hit .300.
For the Mets, their greatest need right now is a starting pitcher. I know the bullpen needs another arm or two but trading an everyday player for that type of talent feels like a loss. The possibility of the Mets swapping McNeil for prospects also doesn’t seem right.
Other than some major thievery, why not stash him on the bench?
A starting rotation led by Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer is superb. When we get to Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker, we see the potential of what could be greatness.
The starting pitcher market has gone rather dry with many rushing to sign contracts prior to the lockout. The Mets landed the biggest star they could get and we should applaud them for it. Unfortunately, they need at least one more to make many of us feel confident.
Trading McNeil for a good, quality arm is one way to make it happen
But right now, could McNeil by himself really equal a starting pitcher at the level the Mets could use? How many teams are really willing to trade even a number three starter only to add a guy like McNeil who has question marks of his own?
I don’t believe that perfect trade is out there. Instead, the Mets should hold themselves hostage rather than trade McNeil away so suddenly.
More proven than the two other main trade candidates, J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith, McNeil is also far more valuable. The Mets should absolutely shop him around. Outside of a deal that gives them the official best rotation in baseball, I’m not so sure they should put their finger on the trigger and pull.