Brewers trade gives the Mets an idea of what teams will pay for a starting pitcher

A trade between the Brewers and Rays gives some insight into how valuable starting pitchers are right now.
Jun 21, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; New York Mets pitcher Jose Quintana (62) leaves the game against the Chicago Cubs during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 21, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; New York Mets pitcher Jose Quintana (62) leaves the game against the Chicago Cubs during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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Did the Milwaukee Brewers even call their ex working for the New York Mets, David Stearns, for some help? The Brewers traded for Aaron Civale on Wednesday in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays which actually cost them a decent prospect.

It’s known that the Mets could trade one of their starting pitchers. The main candidates are likely to be Jose Quintana and Sean Manaea with Luis Severino more doubtful. Tylor Megill and David Peterson are less necessary to trade away because of their minor league options.

To land Civale, the Brewers gave up Gregory Barrios. The 20-year-old is ranked as the 19th best Rays prospect and with an impressive .325/.367/.429 slash line in the minors this year, we can see why they were interested.

Could the Mets get something similar for one of their starting pitchers?

Civale wasn’t very good with the Rays this season. In 17 starts he went just 2-6 with a 5.07 ERA. Throwing strikes was one thing he did well (hey Mets, you can do this, too!) but preventing runs was a weakness of his throughout his tenure in Tampa Bay. He had a 5.36 ERA in 10 starts with them last year after getting traded by the Cleveland Guardians.

Civale has had an objectively worse season than any of the Mets starters they could trade. He doesn’t even carry the playoff experience of Jose Quintana. Just one start in 2022 that lasted 0.1 innings in a loss against the New York Yankees is what he has listed on his resume. He only has added value because he doesn't become a free agent until after the 2025 season.

A 20th or so ranked prospect doesn’t seem like such a bad addition, especially when it is a guy playing well with age on his side. Using the Mets farm system ranking, it would be like getting someone else’s Nolan McLean, Jonah Tong, or Ronald Hernandez—guys ranked 19th, 20th, and 21st.

Subtracting a starting pitcher merely for the sake of adding a prospect doesn’t make sense for the Mets who have their eyes on a playoff spot. Swapping one for a bullpen arm (or two) is where many of our heads have gone. A team like the Guardians with a stacked bullpen but some questionable starters seems like an appropriate organization to talk with.

Starting pitchers tend to cost a lot in trade deadline deals because they are one of the most necessary parts of any team’s roster. Someone as mediocre as Civale had value for the Brewers who are scratching through the year with Dallas Keuchel in the rotation and Trevor Megill developing into one of the best closers in baseball.

Will someone pay more than what the Brewers did for one of the Mets starting pitchers? It might take New York eating the remainder of their salaries. If the Civale trade works out well for Milwaukee, other teams could budge. If it doesn’t, maybe the Brewers look at Stearns before July 30 and check what it’ll cost them for an arm.

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