New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson wants nothing more than to build a long-term contender -- the right way. And if that means losing two of the organization's best (and most popular) homegrown players in the same offseason, then so be it. The latest indication that the GM will do what it takes to reshape the franchise comes from a report in the NY Post by Joel Sherman, who says the Mets "will be willing to discuss" David Wright in trade talks this offseason.
A team without Wright and Jose Reyes in 2012 and beyond? That was unthought of years ago, but now it seems possible.
"We will listen on Wright for sure," a Mets official told Sherman during the week. "We know we are not going to win it all in 2012. We have to hope the Phillies get old and we are in position to take advantage of that in 2013-14, and we have to figure out ways to speed the process to get there."
What does New York expect to receive in return for one of the best third baseman in the league -- and one who won't turn 29 until the Dec. 20?
Sherman says that the Mets will be enticed if they "find the young, defensive-oriented center fielder they crave plus an arm or two."
He cites the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as New York's most likely counterpart because they have expressed interest in the corner infielder and have -- essentially -- two center fielders in 19-year-old Mike Trout, who is widely considered the No. 1 or No. 2 best prospect in baseball (though he played in 40 games in the majors at the end of the season), and 24-year-old Peter Bourjos. Trout is untouchable, but Bourjos is someone the Mets could target to replace Angel Pagan.
Not only is Bourjos one of the fastest players in baseball, he's also considered one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. However, he doesn't wield too powerful of a stick. He had a .271/.327/.438 line last year with 26 doubles, 11 triples, 12 home runs and 43 RBI. He also stole 22 bases and could certainly do better on the basepaths if he struck out less, as he had 124 whiffs last season, and had better on-base skills. But he's still young enough to continue improving, so there's that.
Alderson would obviously not make a one-for-one swap, but could also be intrigued by such inexperienced arms as Tyler Chatwood, Garrett Richards and John Hellweg, according to Sherman. None of these starters profile as anything better than a mid-rotation starter. One would think the Mets could get more in a package for Wright, but I'm no front-office expert.
Sherman says Alderson is "unafraid to make unpopular decisions if he believes it will be in the long-term good of the team." The GM wants cheap, controllable high-impact talent so that the organization has "long-term financial flexibility and the ability to make trades from a storehouse of strength."
Nobody can argue with Alderson's philosophy: This team is a ways away from being among the top-echelon teams in the National League and if dealing Wright can yield several high-ceiling young players, then Alderson should listen. But Wright isn't exactly old and the team could still conceivably build around him. Moreover, this package doesn't seem like much of a guarantee.
If the Mets are serious about this, they better let the entire league know, because there's sure to be more than one team with interest and a better trade package, as well.
It appears that Alderson is willing to tear down the team, get younger and build one that's annually competitive. Losing the franchise's two best players in one offseason, though, would be very difficult to stomach.
A look at the mentioned-Angels' starters:
Chatwood, 21, made his major-league debut last season, and was unimpressive in 142 innings, allowing 166 hits, walking 71 and striking out just 74. He had a 5.13 ERA and 1.67 WHIP, though he did have a mid-3 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in his minors career. The No. 2 prospect in the Angels' organization, according to Minor League Ball.
Richards, 23, debuted later in the season, starting three games and appearing in four more. He allowed 11 runs in 14 innings, but did have a good ERA (3.14) and WHIP in the minors (1.17). He had a 6.5 K/9 mark in 143 innings at Double-A before his promotion. Minor League Ball ranks Richards as LA's No. 5 prospect.
Hellweg is a 23-year-old who only pitched at high-A last season. He has strikeout stuff, as shown through his 113 punchots in 89 1/3 innings, but he also walked 59. He had a 3.73 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. Hellweg is not among the Angels' top 20 prospects, according to Minor League Ball.