MLB trade rumors: Mets shopping Jed Lowrie to clear payroll -- what will it take to move him?
The Mets might have to make some difficult decisions to upgrade their roster
The New York Mets have been linked to Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte in trade talks all winter long. Yet before the Mets can get serious about landing Marte (or anyone else) the belief within the industry is that they'll first have to clear payroll space. Sure enough, the Mets have taken to shopping around infielder Jed Lowrie, hoping to find a team willing to take on the final year of his contract and clear up funds, per Andy Martino of SNY. The Los Angeles Angels struck a similar deal by Zack Cozart to the Giants on Tuesday.
Lowrie signed a two-year pact worth $20 million last offseason. At the time, it looked like a bargain deal for a versatile switch-hitter coming off an All-Star campaign. Alas, Lowrie barely played for the Mets in 2019 due to injury. In nine games, he had no hits and one walk in eight plate appearances. Factor in breakout efforts from J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil, and the Mets have fair reason beyond finances to consider Lowrie expendable.
But what about those finances?
At present, the Mets are projected to have an Opening Day payroll north of $175 million, per Cot's Contracts. For reference, they finished below $160 million in each of the past two years. Even if the Mets are OK with what amounts to a 10 percent increase, taking on Marte's $11.5 million for 2020 would push them toward $190 million. Lowrie, coincidentally, is scheduled to make that same amount.
Of course, the Mets offseason isn't going to be as simple as dumping Lowrie and acquiring Marte. For one, it's not apparent they would have the best chance at acquiring him, regardless of their payroll situation. For another, the Mets need to add at least one starter and probably a reliever.
Subtracting further could prove to be complicated. Most of New York's highest-paid players are either too vital to trade or unmovable for health (Yoenis Cespedes) or performance (Jeurys Familia) reasons. Indeed, the best candidates would seem to be catcher Wilson Ramos ($9.25 million plus a club option), left-handed reliever Justin Wilson ($5 million). Even if the Mets can find takers for both -- and who knows if that's realistic -- New York wouldn't be in position to make a well-compensated addition. Martino also reported that the Mets are open to trading Brandon Nimmo, 26-year-old who, among other youngsters, could sweeten a deal.
An alternative route that the Mets might have to explore in order to build a better roster, then, is shopping around Davis. Yes, Davis is cheap and coming off a career effort (he posted a 138 OPS+ in 140 games), so losing him would hurt. But his stock is unlikely to ever get higher, and he would appeal to teams in need of a third baseman -- think whatever clubs lose out on Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson.
Trading one of the Mets' big wins from last offseason would be tough, but Brodie Van Wagenen might not have choice -- not if he wants to field a better roster and keep his bosses happy.
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