Recent reports out of the East Village shows interest in 24-yr. old SS Starlin Castro, the 3-time All Star, 3-4WAR player of the Cubs in his good seasons. According to John Harper, NY Daily News:
“Neither team is going anywhere this season, and the Mets, in particular, desperately need to show their fans they are moving in the right direction, adding offense — and payroll — that could help them contend as early as next season. For the Cubs, meanwhile, it makes sense to trade Castro for the pitching they’ll need to complement the impressive array of position-player prospects that Epstein has accumulated during his rebuilding job. And the Mets are “a perfect match,” as one member of the organization put it on Saturday.”
(Picture Above: ALEX BRANDON/AP)
The Mets maybe using their vocal media too “explore the concept” of trading their elite pitching prospect, Noah Syndergaard, for such an attractive piece. (Castro’s long term deal has 5YR/44M left which helps the Mets lock in cost.)
The Mets (again through the media) floated 24-yr. old SP Zach Wheeler as their more likely and likeable trade chip. While Wheeler is dealing pretty well (so why trade young “certain” pitching instead of struggling 21-yr. old prospect in AAA???), he does not represent the top-of-the-rotation stuff one sees in Syndergaard’s arm. (Both come with injury risk -all pitchers do. A hint of this lowers value by likely 15-25% over always healthy guy.) Harper continues on the Met’s quest to secure a better SS:
So would an offer of Wheeler convince Epstein to deal now? One baseball executive friendly with Epstein said it would take more.
“He’d want (Noah) Syndergaard,” the exec said. “That would be harder for the Mets to do. There’s still huge upside with him.
“Wheeler would be attractive — you can see the stuff is there for him to be a top-of-the-rotation guy. But think it would have to be Wheeler and another pitcher, maybe (Jacob) deGrom.”
Wheeler and deGrom? The Mets probably would balk at that. But as the baseball exec pointed out, Castro has great value not only because of his bat but his contract as well — he’s owed $44 million over the next five years.
Moreover, the Mets could actually compete this year. Yes, the 39-49 record and 10 games back says, “we’re done.” But make that big trade – add 2-3+ wins over better performances in a division where no one has taken claim as the front runner. Their pythagorean run differential puts them as a .500 team. They certainly could regress to the norm, and be a much better 2nd half team.
Their competition: Atlanta – not wanton to move pieces – has pitching that is decent to good. Batters, they can’t make the deal work that would improve them that much. Washington: they should be winning it. But Harper is coming back….Miami: they may have the pieces to move, but they collect talent, and pay for FAs only to flip them. So buying is mostly about small stuff. Phillies: old, and Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels seem likely to shopped that kept.
The Mets team is sadly made more for now than later. David Wright, Granderson, Colon are well over 30. Murphy at the 30-year old cusp. Niese was signed to a team friendly option. Dillon Gee at his peak age when he comes back from the DL. (The Mets are pitching Daisuke Matsuzaka in his place.)
The reason for Castro? Mets have a black hole at SS. Ruben Tejada is nada pop in the bat. So, the Cubs can provide a short-and long-term upgrade here. Their recent trade of SPs Samardzija and Hammels landed them the enviable pleasures of having 2 SS prospects rated in the top 10 by Baseball America. Surplus.
But if you were the Cubs front office, would risk a surer thing (Castro is 24- and bats don’t face injury risks that pitchers do) for chances at the top-of-the-rotation guy? You would if you mitigated that chance through spreading the risk, that is, more prospects.
The Mets (or their media) are looking for cheap and exploitable answers to their continued problems. Their fans want something to get them to the ballpark more….they have stayed faithful compared to 2013 attendance.
One way to do this: leverage their minors to get a surer thing at SS and a SP in return.
The Cubs have both in SS Starlin Castro & SP Edwin Jackson plus cash. The Cubs saved roughly $6M for trading Shark and Hammels to Oakland. Add that amount to a 25% of his remaining salary ($11M for 2 seasons, $5.5 million) and the Mets get their all-star SS and while much maligned, Jackson’s peripherals (FIP) show lots of unluckiness while in Chicago. Maybe throw in Junior Lake too. Struggling, but 24 – and Chris Young is gone after 2014.
2014 Mets SP: Colon, Niese, Gee, Jackson, and Wheeler. And Harvey if he miraculously comes back in 1 year. (Doubtful.) Lineup improves with Castro and Wright on the left side. Lake for Chris Young…who didn’t get it done.
Now, the Cubs return:
Syndergaard’s value might not blossom until 2016. Cubs timeline works for that.
SP Matz has the peripherals one likes – 5 HR in 220 innings; he gets ground balls. And throws hard.
Plawecki is rate a top 40 prospect. He is potentially blocked. The Cubs have no real prospects at catcher. Fills a need.
Dilson Herrera fits the stockpile the middle infield plan. Cubs would have 4 guys all capable of SS play – one is bound to Castro’s equal with the glove. And 1 other more than a capable bat anywhere on the diamond.
Jhoan Urena is a flier on a young guy that can hit, but his glove maybe shaky at 3rd.
Cubs could land their ace and their future catcher in one swoop.
Mets can compete and build around a rotation frontlined by Harvey and Wheeler (wasn’t that the plan, um, 2013?) and have Jackson’s durable arm in a pitcher friendly ballpark. The get a sure SS, and can explore trades, or signings or insert them into the futures – Brandon Nimmo.
Cubs won’t take less than Snydergaard plus two others for Castro.
Mets fans, you have to pay to get. And Theo holds the cards here. Premium price for a premium player….