Coming off of their 2015 World Series appearance, the New York Mets disappointed many with their 2016 campaign. They weren’t able to stay healthy, and they couldn’t drive in runs. They finished second in the division behind the Washington Nationals, and even though they were able to make the NL Wild Card Game, the Mets were shutout by the San Francisco Giants, 3-0. The bottom line is that the Mets have to make some adjustments to become a threat in the NL again, but they also have some tough decisions to make. They should start by trading closer Jeurys Familia.
Jeurys Familia Is Expendable
Although Familia has been a formidable foe in the bullpen, as seasons have progressed, his production has regressed. Last season, Familia was lights out in the ninth inning for a good chunk of the year, but once he entered the dog days of summer, he became very hittable. He wasn’t the lockdown pitcher that he was in the first half of the season. He was also a big zero in the NL Wild Card game against the Giants. Familia gave up the game winning three run home run to Conor Gillaspie in the night inning. For the second straight year, Familia gave up the game tying, or game winning run for the Mets in a potential season ending game. Familia is a very good regular season closer, but as the season goes on, his production declines. Trading Familia could allow the Mets to find a replacement for second basemen Neil Walker.
Finding A Neil Walker Replacement
In a potential Familia trade, the Mets could acquire a replacement at second base. Last season, the Mets received solid production from Walker, but Walker is injury prone. He has been affected by injuries his entire career, and although he’s a very versatile infielder, the Mets should let Walker walk in free agency. A potential Familia deal can get the Mets their Walker replacement.
Potential Trade Partners
The Mets would have many teams who would be intrigued by the potential of bringing in a closer like Familia. One team that comes to mind instantly is the Giants, whose bullpen had a meltdown in the postseason. In return for Familia, the Mets could ask for second basemen Joe Panik, who would be a solid replacement for Walker; however, it’s unlikely that the Mets would make a deal with a playoff caliber NL team, meaning they’ll have to look at the American League.
The Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers could be a potential trade partner. With rumors swirling that the Tigers are looking to sell this winter, second baseman Ian Kinsler could be a player put on the trade block. Kinsler would be an ideal replacement for Neil Walker. Kinsler is a well rounded hitter; he can hit for average, and power, while also being able to hold his own defensively. He’s produced consistently as his .277 career average shows. The Tigers, like the Giants, are a team whose bullpen has been shaky in year’s past. Familia could be their solution in the backend of their bullpen. Another potential trade partner, while highly unlikely, could be the New York Yankees.
The New York Yankees
The Yankees bullpen was decimated at the trade deadline last season when they traded away relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. Familia could become their permanent closer, moving Dellin Betances back to his natural role of setup man. In return, the Mets could ask for second baseman Starlin Castro, and young outfielder Aaron Hicks. Castro is mostly a presence at the plate, and while Hicks is nothing special, he could provide depth for the Mets in their outfield if they choose to decline Jay Bruce‘s option for next season. By trading Familia, the Mets could also give themselves a chance to sign Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.
Jansen is an impending free agent this winter, in what is a reliever heavy free agent class. Headlined by the flamethrower Chapman, Nationals closer Mark Melancon, and Jansen, there are a bevy of relievers available via free agency this winter; however, Jansen should be a priority for the Mets. He is one of the five best relievers in all of baseball. He’s a power pitcher who can blow his fastball by opposing hitters, and can also pitch in non save situations. So far this postseason, Jansen has pitched in both save, and long relief situations. He has closed out big games, and pitched multiple innings of relief at once against both the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs. Jansen is a consistent closer, and the postseason presence that the Mets need in their bullpen.
Trading Familia would be a bold move by the Mets, but one worth making. The Mets could net a Walker replacement in a potential Familia trade, and they could give themselves a chance to sign elite closer Jansen. Trading Familia allows the Mets to improve both their lineup, and bullpen.