Do the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners cozy up with each other this offseason? The Mariners are in the market for a contact hitter while the Mets have one of the best in the league in their possession.
Meanwhile, the Mets are very much in search of pitching. If they can add some youth to the mix and not fully rely on free agent arms in their 30s, the team will set themselves up incredibly well for the future.
The trouble is this ideal trade target for the Mariners is Jeff McNeil. The starting second baseman for the Mets has been discussed in past trade rumors with last offseason's extension putting them on hold. Of course, following a hugely disappointing year by the Mets and a complete change in the front office, anything seems fair game.
The Mariners might be one of the few teams the Mets can get what they need from in a Jeff McNeil trade
Pitching is something the Mariners can actually part with. They would likely need to if a player of McNeil's caliber is what they have on their radar. They've been spinning the circle on finding a second baseman for several years. Ironically, the last good one they had was Robinson Cano.
Seattle has unsuccessfully paid several starters some good money to help them win a championship. Robbie Ray got hurt and made only one start last year. Luis Castillo has lived up to the hype, but the Mariners needed much more. They fell just shy of a playoff spot last season in large part because of an inconsistent offense. The team ranked 22nd in batting average at .242. Only the Minnesota Twins struck out more than they did.
McNeil would have made a world of a difference on the Mariners. Aside from just being able to avoid striking out, his .270 batting average this past year would’ve been second to only Julio Rodriguez among the regulars.
Three names already with the big league club are the ones Mets fans can lock onto as potential additions. Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo are the pair who showed positive signs but failed to establish themselves as rotation stalwarts. Miller was 8-7 with a 4.32 ERA in 25 starts. Woo finished 4-5 with a 4.21 ERA in 18. Both pitched last year below the age of 25.
The Mariners do have two other pitchers with slightly lengthier resumes. Logan Gilbert and George Kirby are an intriguing pair. Each has had back-to-back successful seasons in the big leagues proving that not only can they prevent runs, each is capable of logging a whole lot of innings. Trade rumors involving Gilbert have been more regular, however, his comments late last season about wanting to exit a September game and essentially throwing manager Scott Servais under the bus could have the Mariners thinking differently about which young arm to move.
McNeil straight up for any of these pitchers seems unlikely given how much value is placed on youthful arms. Nevertheless, the match is there at least in terms of what both clubs are looking for.
Perhaps Marco Gonzales and his $12.25 million owed in 2024 could play a factor. The Mets helped out the Mariners last year financially by taking on the rest of Chris Flexen’s contract. A bailout of the Gonzales contract could be one other way to get a deal to open.
The Mets do have Ronny Mauricio already available to start at second base for them in 2024 with Luisangel Acuna on the way. Parting with McNeil is tough. For a young starting pitcher, it seems like the kind of move David Stearns will aim for.