The timing could finally be right for a crosstown trade

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Yesterday on Twitter I issued my first bad trade proposal of the offseason. I suggested shipping Adam Ottavino to the Mets in exchange for Robinson Canó and cash. Yes, my trade proposal sucks. There are a litany of reasons that such a trade makes little sense for either side. I merely was looking for a solution for the Yankees’ second base situation if DJ LeMahieu departs.

After deliberating on how to make this trade work for both sides, I also realized that the Mets actually make for a pretty nice trade partner with the Yankees. At least, from the Yankees’ perspective. The Mets have a ton of left-handed hitters that the Yankees could use to balance out the lineup. Aside from Canó, there’s Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Jeff McNeil. Whether or not the Mets are willing to move any of those players is another story, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing. Considering the ownership transition and likely front office shakeup over in Queens, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume a lot of player changes could come too.

In the past, making a deal with the Mets for a significant player wasn’t worth thinking about. The trade history between both sides is incredibly limited, especially since the Wilpons took control of the Mets in 2002. A few minor trades have snuck through, but nothing really consequential. What’s more: there was bickering between both front offices about separate trades in 2017. Jay Bruce and Neil Walker were nearly sent from Queens to the Bronx. But now, with Steve Cohen presumably getting approval in the coming weeks, things could change.

Now, some of the Mets position players I ran off before are more available than others. Let’s do a quick breakdown on each:

Robinson Canó: Perhaps the Mets would like to get out from Canó’s contract ($72 million due through 2023, although the Mariners will cover $11.25 million). Still, Cohen will be the richest owner in MLB by no small margin and shouldn’t be in the business of salary dumps. Of course, we’ve seen rich owners cry poor many times before. Also worth noting: Canó’s availability could also hinge on the designated hitter remaining in the National League. He still grades out pretty good at second base per Statcast, though how much longer can 38 year-old hold up in the field?

He’s still got the swing.

Dominic Smith: The first baseman (and sometimes left fielder, but eh) has broken out in a big way. He’s got a 149 wRC+ dating back to last season in just under 400 plate appearances. He’s not a free agent until after 2024, so the Mets may not be motivated to move him. But, if they don’t feel good about his ability to play left field and are committed to Pete Alonso at first base, something would have to give.

Brandon Nimmo: The on-base machine (15.1 percent career walk rate and ,390 lifetime OBP) has mostly played center field for the Mets, though he’s much better off in a corner. He’s not a big power threat, but he has a very good 133 wRC+ in over 1,300 big league plate appearances. He’s under team control for two more seasons.

Michael Conforto: Here’s the guy who might be most attainable. He can become a free agent after 2021, and though the Mets absolutely could afford to keep him, it’s fruitless to predict big league ownership behavior (even as rich as Cohen is). Most teams like to deal away players like Conforto, who is a Scott Boras client, rather than letting them walk in free agency.

Jeff McNeil: The infielder is an extremely good hitter (139 wRC+) and has four years to go before becoming a free agent. I think it’s safe to assume he’s as close to untouchable as it gets. Would be an awesome fit in the Bronx, but yeah. Don’t count on it.

Many of these players are in direct competition with each other for playing time. The group I listed above, along with J.D. Davis and Pete Alonso, are seven players duking it out for playing time at positions other than catcher and shortstop. And considering that Smith really should play first base, Davis is a bad defender everywhere, Nimmo isn’t a true center fielder, and Canó probably can’t play second base everyday, you can envision the Mets trying to shuffle the deck.

It takes two sides to tango, of course. I anticipate that starting pitching and relief help will be priorities 1A and 1B for the Mets. That might be a tough match for the Yankees, who could also use those things. The Mets would probably ask about Deivi García, Clarke Schmidt, Jordan Montgomery, and Jonathan Loaisiga, just to name a few. Probably Clint Frazier and Miguel Andújar too. But those names shouldn’t cause talks to break off. Gotta give to get, of course.

Anyway, the point is: the Mets sure do have a lot of players who’d fit the Yankees’ lineup nicely. And for once, maybe the timing for a trade is finally right with the Wilpons selling the team.


The end of JA Happ in pinstripes [2020 Season Review]


Mailbag: CBT, Drew Smyly, Michael Brantley, & Keeping Canó


  1. C Mann

    No to Cano

  2. Tim

    Not one player from the Mets does anything for the Yankees that the Yankees don’t have a better player. Nimmo over Judge or Frazier? Conforto over who? Frazier? Davis over Voit? Cano’s bat is fine, but at 38 it could disappear by spring.

  3. Why wouldn’t DJLM come back? He had 2 great seasons here, still has a chance to win a WS and the Yankees will give him a lucrative deal. It may not be the best deal, but DJLM doesn’t seem like a money-first guy (like Cano).

    • Mungo

      So if the Yankees offer him a 3/57, a nice $19M AAV and hefty percentage increase from his current contract, but if some team offers him a 5/100, he should just come back because he’s not a “money first” guy. You believe he’ll just walk away from an extra $43M just to wear pinstripes? DJ LeMahieu has made an exceptional living by most humans standards, but this is his one chance to really cash in. He will. Now I suspect the Yankees will make a very competitive offer, but he will follow the money like Gerrit Cole did, and Cano did, and Judge will, etc. Discounts? They happen. Andrew Miller took a lesser deal to come to the Yankees, but they’re not the norm.

  4. Michael

    This may be the stupidest article I have read. Not a single one of those players is Yankee quality. I do agree a trade makes sense. Degrom for Devi, Schmidt, Sanchez & Andujar and possibly Wade. The Yanks would have to take Diaz and his contract for it to work for the Mets. Another prospect might have to come from the Yankees. The Mets have 0 in their Farm system and need building blocks. They need to clear off big contracts and start a new. Since when are the Yankees a garbage dump for Mets trash. DJ will get what ever it takes. Cano isn’t a shadow of old.

    • Derek

      This is the stupidest comment I have read.

      • Cano: too expensive and not that good anymore.

        Smith: no place for him, unless Stanton or Voit gets injured. Good for depth if he’s cheap – maybe a straight-up swap for Ottavino?

        Nimmo: if we put him in LF instead of Frazier, we’d get better defense and balance the lineup somewhat. But Nimmo is also more expensive, and Frazier probably has a higher ceiling than Nimmo. I say nay.

        Conforto: not as good as Nimmo.

        McNeil: Re-sign DJLM and we don’t need McNeil.

        • Rob

          Frazier for Smith makes the most sense here. Smith is a flash in the pan and not N outfielder. Anyone who thinks the Mets are trading degrom is out of their mind. Would the Yankees trade cole. If the yanks don’t want DJ I’ll give him cespedes money to play second.

      • Mungo

        Stick around, Derek. You’ll find much worse. 🙂

        More seriously, I don’t see an easy fit on most of those. Certainly adding in a lefty bat like Nimmo or Conforto and putting them at the corner would provide some balance, but now it comes down to what do you give up? The one player on that list I’d love to add is Dominic Smith, a lefty who they could put at his natural position of 1B. I guess that would be an option if they traded Voit and needed a new 1B’man.

        Do you trade a Frazier for a Smith? The Mets get a real OFer (who was just nominated, deservedly!, for a Gold Glove in Frazier, and the Yankees get a nice lefty bat. I admit, I’ve always been a fan of Smith and was surprised by some of his initial struggles.

  5. CentralScrutinizer

    I don’t like Nimmo. We already have a guy who puts up high OBP numbers with no pop and who can actually play CF. Where would you play Conforto? I guess you could swap Frazier for him but outside of being left handed is he really better than Clint? Not that they Yankees should pinch pennies but Frazier is a lot cheaper than Conforto right now and they have made it clear that they are looking to cut payroll. Smith is a DH and we already have one who is not likely to be platooned. Would the Yankees really platoon Smith with Voit at 1B? Remember that Smith will get the majority of the playing time in that scenario.

  6. The Original Drew

    They match up great in a trade but I’ll believe a meaningful Yankees-Mets trade when I actually see it on mlbtraderumors.

  7. Dani

    I think if DJLM doesn’t return the Yanks will put Gleyber back at 2nd and sign or trade for a SS.

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