We all hear the pipe dreams that are Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Gonzalez, Todd Frazier and the likes, but if the Mets truly want to stay in the race and support their plethora of hurlers, the fans and the media need to stop hyping these unattainable targets. The fact that targets like Tulo and CarGo are unattainable for the Mets speaks more to their reluctance to spend (ownership) than anything else, because they surely have the market and the chips to land anyone they should so desire. Cheap owners and a very conservative GM are the perfect recipe for mediocrity. Regardless of ownership, GM, finances, I have five guys in mind that can instantly improve this team, and while they may not be the difference maker by themselves, they will get the Mets that much closer to meaningful games post Labor Day.
Prado was just activated today from the disabled list and is a perfect fit for the Mets. He plays many positions throughout the infield and outfield, is signed through next season and at 31 years old, has proven to be able to handle multiple positions and multiple markets with ease and has produced everywhere he has been and at every position he has played. With a little over $5 million left on his deal for this season, and $11 million next year ($3 million of that being paid by the Yankees), he should be available and near the top of the list for the Mets to potentially acquire. In 10+ years, he is a .290 prototypical top of the order bat that sprays the ball around the field and can be a positive presence on a team trying to establish an identity. He has a 97% fielding percentage and a 22.7 WAR in his career.
Segura has been a guy I have thought of all along throughout all the talk of Tulo. Everyone wants to throw out the names like Braun and Carlos Gomez when hearing of a Brewers fire sale, but they would surely cost a Matz or Syndergaard and so much more. Not to mention, despite the lack of health and production, the outfield really is the least of the Mets problems to this point in the season. Segura fills a giant void up the middle and at the top of the batting order. He is a proven shortstop, under team control (doesn’t reach free agency until 2019), with solid defense and speed. He would bring an element sorely lacking since the departure of Reyes and would solidify the merry-go-round at shortstop since Jose took his talents to South Beach. While he may not be the biggest improvement over Tejada defensively at shortstop, or have great on-base skills, his offensive potential is in another league compared to current options. At just 25 years old and in the midst of his 4th year in the major leagues, Segura sports a .271 career batting average with 83 steals (including 44 stolen bases during his breakout rookie season of 2013). He owns a 5.3 WAR and a 97% fielding percentage. While I am sure he won’t come cheap, it seems that he would be obtainable for a package that did not include any of the big four pitchers, especially if bundled with the remaining contract of Aramis Ramirez. Zack Wheeler and a few smaller pieces may be able to get something done, and thanks to the Braves, there is a market for young pitchers already in the recovery process from Tommy John surgery.
Sticking with the Brewers fire sale, Parra seems like a great piece to add to this current Mets team, much like Prado. While he is a free agent at season’s end, that should only mean the asking price won’t be nearly as high, especially compared to the Upton’s and Bruce’s of the world. At just 28 years old, Parra burst onto the scene with the Diamondbacks in 2009 and has done nothing but hit throughout his career. With flashes of speed, power and an above average glove, any team that acquires Parra at the deadline will certainly be improved moving forward. He will never be the centerpiece of an offense, but a key table setter at the top of a lineup on a contender for sure. While he holds a solid .277 career average with a .327 OBP, he has come into his own this season in Milwaukee batting .309 with a .344 OBP to go along with 21 doubles, 9 home runs and 6 steals. Just entering the prime of his career, Parra would complement the Mets well on both sides of the field and could help propel this team to the next level with his consistent play.
Marlon Byrd is no stranger to the Citi Field confines and would be a great compliment to the bench or as a platoon mate for Curtis Granderson. Thanks to Alderson giving him a chance off the scrap heap in 2013, Byrd has re-established himself as a presence at the plate as well as in the field with his hustle and effort. While he is having a down year average wise (.241) at the ripe age of 37 for Cincinnati, he has still slugged 14 home runs and 32 RBI’s. Rumors continue to swirl of the Reds looking to blow the roster up and start over and much like Parra and Prado, Byrd should be an affordable veteran presence that would bolster any team in contention, no matter the role he is assigned.
Guerrero was signed by the Dodgers after his escape from Cuba back in 2013 and was supposed to be another one of those can’t miss Cuban prospects. Things haven’t exactly worked out as planned in LA and Guerrero seems to have worked his way into Mattingly’s doghouse. After this season, Guerrero is signed for 2 more years at $7.5 million per and might do best from a change of scenery. Playing primarily outfield and third base, I am sure the Mets would be able to find enough at-bats in the lineup to garner enough production from the Cuban product, especially with the unknown status on the future of team captain David Wright. In just 156 at-bats this season, Guerrero has slugged 10 home runs and 30 RBI’s while batting .244. While there are still many areas of his game that need growth and improvement, for the right price it is worth the gamble to let him find himself with the orange and blue. The Dodgers continue to say they want an upgrade in pitching and considering Guerrero’s contract and lack of position availability or playing time I don’t see how a Niese or Montero and Fullmer or another lower level pitching prospect don’t at least get the attention of the Dodgers brass.