MLB Hot Stove: With Cespedes back, Mets may look to trade one of their outfielders
Perhaps Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson won't be long for Queens
The Mets on Tuesday agreed to terms with slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on a four-year, $110 million contract. That gives the Mets some much needed assurances in terms of power in the lineup, but it also leaves them with a bit of an outfield glut. Cespedes joins fellow fly-catchers Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce (acquired at the non-waiver deadline), Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares. The keen observer will note that's five outfielders for three available outfield spots.
That surfeit brings to the developing trade market for outfielders ...
#Mets' plan is Cespedes in LF. If they trade Bruce, Granderson/Lagares in CF, Conforto also. If they trade Grandy, Lagares/Conforto in CF.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 29, 2016
Indeed, rather than going with a crowded arrangement of outfielders who want regular playing time -- as the Dodgers have done in recent seasons -- the Mets may be inclined to trade either Bruce or Granderson.
Each is a source of left-handed power, but only Granderson is a worthwhile defensive outfielder at this point. Bruce, though, is younger (29 to Granderson's 35). Each will also be entering his walk year. Granderson in 2017 will be in the final year of the four-year, $60 million deal he signed prior to the 2014 season. He's owed $15 million for the upcoming season. Bruce, meantime, is under a $13 million club option for 2017 and will then be eligible for free agency.
Granderson has the more playable glove but more collapse potential given that he's into his mid-30s. Bruce is still on the right side of 30, but has seen some performance volatility in recent years. If the early scuttle is any guide, the Mets may be more inclined to shop Bruce. The Blue Jays, for instance, have some interest in Bruce, as Jerry Crasnick reports.
On another level, the Cespedes signing indicates that the Mets are angling to contend in the near-term. Given that they've made consecutive playoff appearances, that's a very sensible approach. The challenge on the trade market will be flipping that extra outfielder for something of near-term value -- a "now for now" trade, in essence. Sometimes, it's hard to find a fit on those grounds, so GM Sandy Alderson may need to get creative, perhaps to the extent of adding a rebuilding third team to the specific discussions.