Coming off of Tommy John Surgery, Zack Wheeler could prove to be a valuable asset to a rotation—especially one that consists of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz. However, because of such pitching depth (not even taking Jon Niese, Rafael Montero, and prospects Robert Gsellman, Gabriel Ynoa and Matt Bowman into account), I think the Mets could, and should, use Wheeler as trade bait to compensate for weaker positions.
Despite numerous reports coming from Assistant General Manager John Ricco claiming the Mets are not ‘actively shopping’ Wheeler, I think it’d be wise to consider doing so. Across two major league seasons after being traded for Carlos Beltran, Wheeler has worked to an 18-16 start to his young league career, owning a 3.54 ERA. These are pretty good numbers, especially when evaluating a talent that hasn’t owned up to his potential yet; making him quite a viable candidate to solidify many teams’ rotations. Here’s a look at some trade possibilities…
Trade Partner #1: San Diego Padres
With a disappointing year from what looked to be a solid young rotation, the Padres found themselves top-heavy with a good amount of offense, and not enough starting pitching. Ian Kennedy jumped ship in attempt to find a better deal elsewhere, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of San Diego’s rotation that would be perfect for Wheeler to fill. In exchange, outfielder Wil Myers could probably be lifted from the team for the right price. San Diego has a plethora of outfielders in Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr., and rookie Travis Jankowski, plus prospects on the rise in newly-acquired Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe. In fact, Myers and Wheeler were discussed in a 2012 trade between the New York and Kansas City, back when Myers was a top prospect in the Royals organization. Trade talks broke down, however, as the Royals demanded Jonathan Niese be included in the trade; too much starting pitching for Sandy Alderson to let go. Once Curtis Granderson‘s contract is up, Myers can be shifted from center to left, making room for top prospect Brandon Nimmo. A straight up trade may work a little too far in favor of the Mets, which is why a little balancing out may be necessary—which could net New York a super utlityman such as Alexi Amarista or Yangervis Solarte.
Trade Partner #2: Boston Red Sox
In his first full big league season, Red Sox Outfielder worked to a .291 batting average, hitting 18 dingers, driving in 77, and stealing 21 bases. That’s enough to let us know he’s the real deal. To top it all off, he can play second base too, another position at which the Mets are in need of depth after the departure of Daniel Murphy. Shipping out Betts would create a hole in center, one that Juan Lagares can fill, and Travis Taijeron can back up in Triple-A. The recent addition of Craig Kimbrel indicates that Koji Uehara’s time in a Boston uniform may have come to a close during a time where the Mets need a strong back-end reliever with the departure of Tyler Clippard.
Trade Partner #3: New York Yankees
Shipping Wheeler across town to the Bronx would solve both the Mets and Yankees problems quite well. The Yankees have an aging, ailing pitching rotation right now led by C.C. Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka. Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino are more than capable of rounding out a formidable major league pitching rotation, but as we know the Yankees, they always want more. Zack Wheeler can give them just that, while ridding themselves an overloaded contract in Brett Gardner now that they have traded for Aaron Hicks, formerly of the Twins.
Trade Partner #4: Arizona Diamondbacks
This may be the trade that makes the most sense for both teams. Arizona is lacking in starting pitching, with a weak rotation led by Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado. They also have a surplus of outfielders with A.J. Pollock, Yasmany Tomas, David Peralta, and Inciarte. Inciarte would be great leading off the Mets lineup, as he batted .303 and stole 21 bags in his first year with Arizona. He can play all three outfield positions, and, like Myers and Betts, can be moved over to right field once Curtis Granderson’s contract is up.
Trade Partner #5: Oakland Athletics
Zack Wheeler for Josh Reddick
Nobody knows what A’s General Manager Billy Beane will do in any given offseason, but it’s bound to be surprising. The A’s have themselves a budding star in Sonny Gray atop their rotation, but not much else after. Josh Reddick is entering his contract year in an overcrowded Oakland outfield, which means he most likely won’t be in an A’s uniform following this year, whereas Wheeler has years of control in a position that is thin. This would make sense for both teams, but Reddick—who had a nice bounce-back 2015 campaign batting .272 with 20 homers and 10 stolen bases—is probably a hot commodity now. Reddick would probably not be retained at the end of the season, so he would most likely act as a mere bridge to Brandon Nimmo.