The New York Mets will have a lot of work to do if they plan on improving their team this winter. The Mets front office plans to spend money to upgrade the team's offense, and as such the Mets are expected to dive into the free agent market. While there are some great names on the market, including Cincinnati's Shin-Soo Choo and Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury, the Mets may be better served to explore the trade market for offensive help. There should be a lot of intriguing names on the market, ranging from big ticket items to more modest upgrades. With that in mind, here are five names who the Mets could end up pursuing in the trade market.
OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins: The big kahuna on the trade market should be Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton, 23, is a rare breed on the trade market as a right handed outfielder with 40 home run power. Stanton suffered through an injury plagued 2013 season, but still managed to hit .249 with 24 home runs and 62 RBI's in 116 games. Stanton is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter, meaning his salary should increase dramatically from the $537,000 he took home last year. Given the Marlins' history of penny pinching, many baseball pundits expect the Marlins to shop their star outfielder and try to receive peak young prospects in return.
Stanton is the type of guy who will command a king's ransom on the trade market, and he will change the face of any acquiring team. The Marlins know this and will ask for the moon and the stars in any deal, so it remains to be seen if a team is willing to meet that price. The Mets figure to at least make a few phone calls with the Marlins, but any deal for Stanton would likely have to start with Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Travis d'Arnaud. That is a steep cost for GM Sandy Alderson, particularly given the fact that the Mets will be without Matt Harvey in 2014. Stanton may get dealt, but it likely won't be to the Mets.
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies: Another big fish on the trade market should be Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. After a fourth straight season without the playoffs, the Rockies face a critical winter as they decide what direction they should head in the future. Tulowitzki, who signed a rich contract extension that kicks in next season, was expected to be a part of that future but could be moved if the price is right. Tulowitzki hit .312 with 25 home runs and 82 RBI's in 126 games. Tulowitzki would be a perfect fit for the Mets, as he would not only be their starting shortstop but could be their cleanup hitter. Tulowitzki will command a high price in prospects, but it won't exceed Stanton's price due to his age (28), injury history, and expensive contract. The Mets could offer up a package centered around d'Arnaud, Rafael Montero, and a member of the major league rotation (like Dillon Gee), but the Rockies will likely insist that Noah Syndergaard be a part of the package. Tulowitzki is a premium player, but he is not the only player the Mets may try to acquire from the Colorado Rockies.
OF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez is another guy who has been frequently linked to the Mets in trade discussions. CarGo had a strong but injury shortened 2013 campaign, hitting .302 with 26 home runs and 70 RBI's in 110 games. Gonzalez dealt with an injured finger throughout the season, and is going to get a big bump in salary going forward. Gonzalez is signed through the 2017 season, and he fits as a potential cleanup hitter just like Tulowitzki would. The prospect cost for Gonzalez should be a little less then either Tulowitzki or Stanton, but it figures to be high nevertheless. Gonzalez would likely slot into right field if he was acquired by the Mets, and could also bat right behind David Wright in the batting order.
1B/OF Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies: Mets GM Sandy Alderson will likely have his Colorado counterpart, Dan O'Dowd, on speed dial this winter. The Rockies have a bunch of players who could fit the Mets' needs, and another guy who could help the Mets is Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer, a friend of Mets' captain David Wright, hit .331 with 20 home runs and 84 RBI's for Colorado this past season. The 34 year old Cuddyer won his first career batting title as a member of the Rockies, and is also versatile enough to fit in either the outfield or first base. Cuddyer wouldn't be an upgrade the caliber of the previous three names, but he is still an improvement on the likes of Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. If the Mets choose to spread the wealth around and improve several positions instead of landing just one big fish, Cuddyer could be a solid acquisition for some mid-tier pitching prospects.
OF's Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers: The Mets could also be in frequent contact with the Los Angeles Dodgers this winter. The Dodgers suddenly have a surplus of outfielders after the emergence of Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig. With Puig locked into a starting slot next season and Carl Crawford's immovable contract in left, the Dodgers could look to move either Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier in the offseason. Kemp had a lost year due to injury, hitting .270 with six home runs and 33 RBI's in only 33 games. Ethier hit .272 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI's on the year, but an ankle injury has limited him to pinch hitting duty so far in the postseason. Both have very expensive contracts, as Ethier is completing the first year of a five year, 75 million dollar contract while Kemp is finishing the second year of an eight year, 160 million dollar contract. Ethier will likely get dealt and could benefit from a change of scenery, but Kemp has the potential to be a real difference maker if he gets dealt. Kemp is only two seasons removed from a strong 2011 campaign that nearly got him the NL MVP. While the Mets could look to Ethier as a modest upgrade, Kemp could be a huge one if the Dodgers choose to part with him.
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