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With the trade deadline fast approaching, the contending teams are trying to find the missing pieces to their rosters while the teams in the lower half are trying to re-stock their farm systems by selling off their tradeable assets. The Cubs made the first big splash by aquiring closer Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees. This gives the Cubs a legitimate shut-down closer at the end of games. The word now is that the Washington Nationals are looking to make a move to improve the back end up their bullpen as well. They’re apparently very interested in the Yankees other left-handed reliever, Andrew Miller. With the two top teams in the NL not being shy about their desires to win a World Series this year, the pressure is on for Sandy Alderson and the Mets.
The Nationals and Cubs are the two teams that seem to be on a collision course for the NLCS. Only one of them will win the pennant and go on to the World Series. At the beginning of the year, the Mets thought they would be one of those teams as well. A combination of injuries and poor situational hitting has kept the Mets from being considered one of the top contenders in the league. It’s not the Mets fault that there have been injuries to Lucas Duda, David Wright, and Matt Harvey. It’s not the Mets fault that Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard aren’t 100% and are pitching with bone spurs in their elbows. It’s not the Mets fault that Yoenis Cespedes has been playing with a quad strain for most of the season. None of those things can be controlled or fixed immediately. However, there is one glaring weakness of this Mets team that needs to be addressed. The Mets can not hit with runners in scoring position.
Keith Hernandez said it best during a broadcast of the Mets game the other night in Miami. The Mets don’t have that one true .300 hitter. They don’t have that line drive hitter that’s extremely difficult to strikeout. They lost that guy when Daniel Murphy went to the rival Washington Nationals. Yes, Cespedes is hitting around .300 but he’s still susceptible to the strikeout and is more of a power hitter than a gap-to-gap line drive hitter. Enter Jonathan Lucroy. The Brewers catcher is hitting over .300 this year and is a perfect fit for this Mets team. He’s a line drive hitter who doesn’t strikeout all that often. Slide him in the lineup just before a guy like Cespedes and all of the sudden you’ve got a nice one-two punch in the middle of the order.
Not only is Lucroy a good fit from a baseball standpoint, he’s also a nice fit from a financial standpoint given the nature of the way the Mets operate on that front. Lucroy is on a team friendly contract that has a club option for next season at a mere $5.25 million. That’s a great price given the caliber player that Lucroy is. This trade also makes sense because of the team that Lucroy plays for and the other needs that the Mets have. The Brewers are sellers in this years market and they’re not only selling Lucroy, they’re also selling a couple of relievers. The Mets are in the market for a 7th inning guy to bridge the gap from whoever is starting to Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia. The Brewers have two guys that fit that mold in left-hander Will Smith and fireballer Jeremy Jeffress.
For the Mets to pull off a trade that sures up two needs would be crucial if they want to make a stretch run here. Any deal to get these players would likely require Travis d’Arnaud and at least one other highly touted prospect from the Mets farm system. Unfortunately, the Mets don’t have a whole lot of talent in their farm system right now. There are about 4 or 5 players in the Mets farm system that are highly regarded enough to pull of a deal like this. In my opinion, it’s worth it. Lucroy wouldn’t just be a 3 month rental a la Yoenis Cespedes last season. Last year when the Mets traded top prospect Michael Fullmer, the impression was that Cespedes would just be with the team for the remainder of the season. Luckily for the Mets, Cespedes chose to stay for at least one more season this year. However, in a deal for Lucroy, you’re garaunteed to have him back next year if they so choose. So if the Mets can get their guys back healthy next season and add Lucroy to the mix, they will look like a championship caliber team once again. Not to mention if Cespedes chooses to leave this winter, there will be a huge void in the middle of the lineup that Lucroy could help fill.
It seems like the right move to make for the Mets to grab Lucroy at the deadline this year but Alderson has remained persistent in his desire to hold on to young talent. We’ll see what happens by August 1st but it would be great to see the Mets make a move like this. A move that just seems so logicial on all fronts. The Mets need to make a move if they still want a chance at not just a championship this year, but a shot to make the playoffs.
Image from: http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/brewers-catcher-jonathan-lucroy-confident-with-his-bat-improving-his-defense-b99206715z1-245777401.html