The Mets have a keen interest Mookie Betts, a genuine superstar. The Red Sox trade price is steep, but it’s a move they need to make…
The Mets need a genuine major league centerfielder. In effect, all Brodie Van Wagenen has done to fill that hole thus far is to trade Juan Lagares ($9.5 million) for Jake Marisnick (around $3.5 million after arbitration).
This is your typical Mets cost-savings cover-up of a move that is neutral in terms of improving the team. Both Marisnick and Lagares are clones of each other. Great defensive outfielders who can’t hit major league pitching worth a lick.
The expected infusion of cash from the pockets of Steve Cohen is supposed to turn the tables upside-down so that the team becomes more important than the dollar – at least in the short run.
In the long run, it’s a win-win for both fans who get to see an entertaining and winning team on the field, creating excitement and ticket sales, which in turn greases the pockets of team owners.
Another Mookie Born to be a Met
An All-Star the past four seasons and winning of the AL Most Valuable Player award in 2018, Betts has deservedly climbed the salary ladder with the Boston Red Sox.
Two years ago, the free-spending Red Sox were thought to be a cinch to extend Betts, locking him up beyond his 2021 free-agent season.
However, ownership in Boston is leveling the boom on salaries, and though they could, they’d rather not fork over the $25 million or so for Betts’ services this year.
Plus, what is to come when Betts hits the free market after next season.
Mets need to leap over the hurdles
On top of the money issues being raised is another hurdle the Mets need to overcome to get Betts – and that’s the price Boston is asking for in any trade involving Betts.
Even back in October, SNY’s Matthew Cerrone was reporting the Red Sox would “need to replace [Betts] in the lineup, add an affordable, team-controlled, mid-rotation starter and bring in at least two top 100 prospects.”
While the Mets would have difficulty in reaching the exact parameters of Boston’s asking (Brodie traded away their Top Prospects), they can come up with a package from their current roster of equal value.
Steven Matz can be the “mid-rotation starter” the Sox are looking for.
He has two controllable years left before he reaches free agency, and his salary (around $3.5 million) is far below the norm of major league starters.
The Mets have a plethora of outfielders, and Betts only adds one more. Dominic Smith is a candidate to sweeten the pot for the Red Sox.
Smith is still making only the major league minimum salary and is under team control until 2025. Brandon Nimmo could be a substitute with similar attributes.
As time moves on and Betts remains with the Red Sox, the asking price will naturally decrease as Boston will be writing checks to Betts, negating the main reason they are seeking to trade him.
It becomes then a question of timing in which Van Wagenen and his staff have an ear close to the ground as to when the Red Sox get edgy enough for the Mets to go full bore to make the trade.
Losing Matz hurts. It also means the Mets would be in the market for not one (replacing Zack Wheeler) but two starting pitchers.
Oh, but look at the player you’re getting
That’s undoubtedly something to think about, but the team is receiving in Betts, a position player who will play the 2020 season at age 27.
Consider also that Betts, since he became a regular in 2015, is averaging 148 games played each season.
That counts when a team is paying the kind of money Betts is earning (ain’t that right, Yoenis Cespedes?).
Throw in the extras like the average 20 bases Betts steals a year, or the 27 home runs he averages, or the ten assists averaged as an outfielder – and you’ve got yourself not only a five-tool player but a Hall of Famer in the making.
Since future money via a contract extension is most likely involved here, this might be a convenient time for Steve Cohen to step in with his okay and even a “God yes, go get him” cheer as the fan of the Mets he is.
So Brodie, thanks for bringing us Jake Marisnick, but how about tracking down a real centerfielder? Say one like Mookie Betts…