I know it’s been a good, long while since you’ve read an article that focuses on the MLB trade deadline, so I’m here to fill that gaping hole in your life. In all seriousness, there have been rumors aplenty, many of which have been covered on this site, but one option that has gotten more limited attention from the DRB crew is the potential of trading with the New York Mets.
The Mets have to feel a bit like they are living in Abed’s darkest timeline this season, as they have suffered a glut of injuries, many of which have come to their biggest bats and strongest arms. They currently sit five games under .500 and nine games out of the second wild card spot, making them full-on sellers.
With that in mind, there are three real pieces that could intrigue the Rays. We’ll look at them in ascending order of how good a fit they’d be.
Duda is the current starting first baseman for the Mets and a solid power threat. When healthy, he is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball, sporting a career wRC+ of 122. He owns a .246/.343/.457 career slash line that is supported by an 11.5 percent walk rate and .211 ISO. Both of those figures are excellent and his struggles to stay healthy could drive down the price on Duda. He has played in 75 games this season (with 17 homers and a 127 wRC+), but he has topped 135 games in a season only once in his eight-year career and is seemingly always dealing with one ailment or another.
That injury history, as well as the fact that OBP still, somehow, manages to be undervalued on the open market, might mean a nice, cheap price for Duda. So why is he third on this list?
I have a pet theory that if the Rays were to acquire Duda - a power-hitting first baseman - Logan Morrison would read this the wrong way. Even if the club were to sit down with him and explain that it was a move meant to bolster the bench and provide a solid bat at DH (moving Corey Dickerson to left field more often), I think LoMo could still end up upset with the move. LoMo is in an awesome groove right now, but he has shown throughout his career that he can lose it as fast as he can find it, and he’s never been one to hide how he feels.
Adding Duda would be a perfect move in a vacuum, but with the possibility (even if imagined in my own head) of it blowing up the season that Morrison is having, I’m lower on this option than the other two.
Source says Rays are "still targeting bigger fish" for their bullpen, but viewed Jennings as an upgrade to the left side of their bullpen.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 27, 2017
Even though the Rays have already brought in Chaz Roe, Sergio Romo, and now Dan Jennings - and have gotten the internal addition of a healthy Brad Boxberger - there’s still plenty of room for improvement in the bullpen. With modern bullpens as deep as they are, there’s practically never a time when a contending team should consider itself all set on that front.
Reed is a proven commodity, having pitched successfully in the majors since 2011. The 28-year-old has a career ERA of 3.41, and he has been even better in his last three season, as he has a 2.58 ERA in his 181.2 innings since the start of the 2015 season.
Reed has acted as the Mets closer for good chunks of this season with Jeurys Familia first suspended then later hurt, and Reed has shown a strong ability to handle high-leverage work. He is 18-for-20 in terms of save opportunities this season and is 124-for-152 (with 62 holds) for his career. Reed relies heavily on his fastball (~92 mph) but mixes in a slider about a third of the time to keep hitters off balance. He does a good job attacking the zone and his 1.13 BB/9 this season is a career low. Reed is the perfect piece to package with either of these other two guys (or maybe both of them!) to fill out a potential trade.
Here’s the guy I want. Part of this is bias because Granderson is one of my favorite players in baseball, but he’s one of my favorites because he’s a great mix of veteran talent and clubhouse presence, as well as a guy who knows that choosing walk-up music is serious business.
The Grandy Man is hitting just .223 this season, but even a slightly-deeper look shows why that batting average is a red herring. For one, his wRC+ is still over 100 (103, to be exact) despite the low BA, thanks to a 12.8 percent walk rate (.325 OBP) and .227 ISO (.450 SLG). Granderson also took a massive L in April, slashing .128/.174/.221. Since then, he is slashing .265/.384/.551 for a wRC+ of 143. That figure would put him above any Rays hitter this season. Of course you can’t completely ignore that first month, as the 36-year-old is bound to have his cold streaks these days, but given the bounceback since, it’s fair to say he still has some life in his legs.
Of course he is a left-handed batter (and not the righty bat the team has been seeking). His splits this year are fairly neutral but career wise he hits righties much better than he hits southpaws. Nonetheless, with Colby Rasmus gone, he adds valuable outfield depth.
All three of these potential targets would be rentals, as all three will be free agents after 2017. Bringing in one, two, or even all three would be excellent moves for Tampa Bay if the price was right. Granderson seems like the best fit given his incredible locker room presence, as well as the fact that he could easily slide into a corner outfield position (and even play center in a pinch), but really all three are good fits.
Hopefully the Rays are in talks with the Mets, and the two sides can get (or Met) a deal done.