Heading into the offseason, the New York Mets had several holes they needed to address in order to seriously compete in 2021. This included rebuilding their rotation, bolstering their bullpen and shoring up their defense at center field and shortstop. That said, it’s no secret that the team could also use an upgrade over JD Davis at the hot corner. With Colorado Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado reportedly on the market, the Mets have a chance to acquire one of MLB’s best.
A Generational Talent
Arenado has been considered to be “available” for months now. That’s available in quotes because Arenado is still signed with the Rockies through 2026 for another $200 million. Luckily for the Mets, both parties reportedly want out. Resulting from the front office trying to shop him last offseason, Arenado has become increasingly disgruntled with Colorado’s management.
While his contract is certainly monstrous, it does feature an opt-out after this season. Barring a restructuring of the deal, the Mets may only be on the hook for one year. With around $30 million in cap space before hitting the $210 million luxury tax threshold, this trade would likely be the last thing the Mets do this offseason.
Make no mistake, however, the Arenado contract is not some albatross. At just 29-years-old, Arenado has already accumulated a Hall of Fame resume. This includes eight consecutive Gold Gloves, four Platinum Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, five All-Star appearances, and five top-10 NL MVP finishes. With a career slash line of .293/.349/.541, 120 DRS and 39.1 bWAR, Arenado is well on his way to being enshrined in Cooperstown as one of the greatest third basemen in history.
A Hefty Price
So, what kind of package would the Mets need to put together for Arenado? Safe to say that Davis would be a part of this deal. Though his defense is subpar (-19 DRS and -3 UZR in four seasons), he does have a solid bat. Davis had a breakout 2019, slashing .307/.369/.527 with a 137 OPS+ and 22 homeruns. Though he took a step back in 2020, the hitter friendly nature of Coors Field might just reawaken that potential.
The next part of the deal will depend on whether or not the National League has a DH this year. If it doesn’t, that could mean that either Brandon Nimmo or Dom Smith would be traded as well. On one hand, Nimmo is the better fielder and an ideal leadoff man. On the other, Smith is coming off an outstanding 2020 in which he finished 13th in NL MVP voting. Further increasing Smith’s value is that he is under team control until 2025, while Nimmo is set to be a free agent in 2023. Regardless, like Davis, both should see increased offensive production in Colorado.
Lastly, a minor league prospect will undoubtedly be part of the trade as well. Should Nimmo be part of the deal, the Mets would probably need to part with one of their top-10 prospects. Starting pitchers Matthew Allan (#4) and Thomas Szapucki (#8) would most fit the Rockies current needs. If it’s Smith, a mid-level prospect like outfielder Freddy Valdez (#15) or third basemen Jaylen Palmer (#17) would accompany him.
With Sandy Alderson and Steve Cohen promising not to blow up the farm system like their predecessors, parting ways with any more top prospects might be a deal breaker for the Arenado trade. Likewise, with the Mets still in need of a center fielder, another starting pitcher and another reliever, it’s preferable that any investment they make at third be much cheaper in comparison.
Currently, sources are connecting the Mets to the Chicago Cub’s Kris Bryant and the Seattle Mariners’ Kyle Seager. Bryant and Seager offer greater stability and experience than Davis, but come at a fraction of Arenado’s price. The former was the 2016 NL MVP and is due $19.5 million in 2021, while the latter is a Gold Glover and will earn $18 million this year. With around $200 million in payroll, the Mets would still have enough cash to fill one or two more holes.
As for the trade package, two players should be sufficient for the Cubs and Mariners. In addition to Davis, sending over Smith or Nimmo should work. Alternatively, if the Mets sign Francisco Lindor to a long-term deal, shortstop Ronny Mauricio (Mets #1 prospect) would make the perfect trade chip.
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