The New York Mets’ pitching staff is emerging as one of the best in baseball. With the addition of lefty Steven Matz, they have four young pitchers who are capable of dominance every time they take the mound. Unfortunately, they’re treading water in the outer regions of contention because of an erratic-at-best offense. Lucas Duda, finally gaining acceptance as a legitimate major league slugger, is struggling against defensive shifts and a lack of lineup protection. Wilmer Flores is learning to add consistency to his powerful swing. Travis d’Arnaud continues to languish on the disabled list, snakebitten by one fluke injury after another. Daniel Murphy is finally back in the lineup, but he only returns the Mets to being a team capable of the occasional breakout rather than a truly dangerous offense. Curtis Granderson‘s recent power surge doesn’t make up for his middling range and sub-mediocre arm in the outfield. Michael Cuddyer has been a disappointment at the plate while suddenly looking older than his years in the field, and he’s currently sidelined by a knee injury. Given the nature of his ailment, the Mets can’t count on David Wright coming back in full health anytime soon.
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With the trade deadline coming into view, and the Washington Nationals still failing to run away with the NL East, the Mets are under pressure to make a move. Many of the names being considered come with price tags that exceed their value, as with Aramis Ramirez. But there’s one player the Mets might pursue, with whom the trade might make sense for both sides. That player is the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig.
Reports indicate Puig is extremely unpopular in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, and they might be looking to unload him. There’s reason to believe Puig would settle in nicely in New York, as he enjoys the spotlight and plays with a ton of energy. His presence would be a huge addition to the Mets’ lineup, and his fielding range and cannon of an arm would dramatically upgrade the defense. With Puig in right, Granderson could move to left field. With his experience and ability to play both infield and outfield, Cuddyer would be a solid addition to the bench.
Yasiel Puig would, to be sure, come with a hefty price tag. If they chose to protect their four-headed monster of a rotation, the Mets would likely have to part with a prospect like Rafel Montero. The Dodgers are erratic offensively (though far less so than the Mets), and might also ask for a position-playing prospect. If so, Puig is enough of a proven talent to take a gamble. With Andre Ethier having a resurgent season, rookie sensation Joc Pederson making waves, and Kiki Hernandez and Scott Van Slyke showing promise, the Dodgers would still have a solid outfield without Puig.
Yasiel Puig has the power to hit the ball out of any stadium, and he has power to all fields along with speed. With Puig behind Duda, opposing pitchers couldn’t feed Duda a steady diet of junk. With Puig in front of Duda, his presence on the bases would make it harder to throw ridiculous shift alignments at Duda. When d’Arnaud returns, the Mets would have multiple threats from both sides of the plate. And with more threats behind him, Granderson would see more pitches to drive. Picture this lineup:
- Granderson, LF
- Puig, RF
- Duda, 1B
- d’Arnaud, C
- Murphy, 3B
- Flores, SS
- Lagares, CF
- Tejada, SS
One game-changing bat makes the Mets’ lineup look much more interesting. The defensive upgrade is also important, as the Mets’ pitching is still their greatest strength. If the Mets worked their way into the playoffs, their rotation would make them a serious threat to make a deep run. Very few teams could match the Mets starter for starter in a five or seven game series, and Jeurys Familia is having a great season at closer.
General Manager Sandy Alderson recently said he would “overpay” for a game-changing player. If he puts his money where his mouth is, acquiring Yasiel Puig might make sense for both sides. The clock is ticking, and the window on the 2015 season might be closing.