The Mets' offense has produced a .696 OPS, which ranks tenth in the National League. The Mets' outfield is even more worrisome, however. The team's center fielders have a .501 OPS, and its right fielders a .614 OPS, which rank fourteenth and fifteenth in the National League, respectively.
There are few Mets fans who wouldn't want the team to add Carlos Gonzalez or Giancarlo Stanton. But while either player would instantly improve the team's ability to score runs, it seems so unlike the present-day Mets to pull the trigger on such a franchise-altering acquisition. Below, in the first part of a multi-part series, are a few realistic, arbitration-eligible outfield trade targets.
Many critics felt the St. Louis Cardinals sold low on Rasmus in 2011 when they dealt the then 24-year-old to the Toronto Blue Jays for Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel. The year before, Rasmus collected a 132 OPS+ and 3.6 bWAR with 23 home runs, 12 stolen bases, and a 11.8 percent walk rate. At that rate, it seemed as though the left-handed hitter would a Cardinal lifer.
But due to a a production drop-off in 2011, as well as a mounting, highly publicized feud between skipper Tony LaRussa and Tony Rasmus, Colby's father, the former first rounder was sent packing. In his first full season with the Blue Jays, Rasmus swatted 23 home runs but only posted an 85 OPS+ and 7.5 percent walk rate.
The 26-year-old has been a tad better in 2013, currently sporting a 99 OPS+ and 8.2 percent walk rate, but considering 22-year-old Anthony Gose is readying in Triple-A and Rasmus is entering his second arbitration year—and will likely seek a significant raise from his $4.675 million salary—the currently last-place Blue Jays could conceivably dangle the underachieving center fielder to a hungry suitor.
Venable has quietly been a solid left-handed platoon option over parts of the past five seasons for the San Diego Padres. The 30-year-old outfielder has owned a .183 ISO, 114 wRC+, and 8.8 percent walk rate against right-handed pitching, and has also stolen twenty-plus bases three times with a career success rate of 82.3 percent. While perhaps not specifically heralded for his glove, Venable owns a respectable career 5.0 UZR/150 and 1.0 dWAR, and he has experience playing all three outfield positions, to boot.
But Venable is just that: a platoon player. As a Super-Two player, the lefty will see two more increasingly costly arbitration years with the Padres, and he might not be an extension candidate, either, given his age. Venable will hit free agency at age 33, and it's likely his ability to swipe over twenty bags will have deteriorated by then. With slight home run power to begin with, Venable has a pretty clear value going forward.
Once Cameron Maybin returns from the disabled list, the Padres could decide go with an outfield of Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Chris Denorfia, and Kyle Blanks. If the organization parts with Chase Headley this summer, there's little reason to then hold on to Venable.
As Rob Castellano diligently asserted, a swap of Parra and Daniel Murphy would possibly make sense for both teams' needs. But as productive as Parra has been in part-time play, he has never actually been a full-time starting player before, and trading Murphy for Parra could be too risky for a team with so few major league assets.
But that is not to say that the Mets should not look to acquire Parra. The 26-year-old outfielder has rocked both mainstream defensive metrics, owning a career 3.4 dWAR and 11.3 UZR/150. Parra has predominantly played left field over the past five seasons but is plenty competent in both right and center field.
The knock on Parra, however, is his offense. His perceived below average offensive production is the reason he cannot seem to crack a full-time starting gig with the Arizona Diamondbacks. But while his offense has been inferior to the other Diamondback outfield options, Parra and his career 94 OPS+ would best the likes of Mike Baxter, Marlon Byrd, Andrew Brown, Collin Cowgill, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Juan Lagares
So far in 2013, Parra is showing teams that he is more than just a glove-first, fourth outfielder. Due to the injury of Adam Eaton, Parra has now taken over in center for the Snakes, and in 163 plate appearances, he's posted a 127 OPS+, 9.8 percent walk rate, 14.1 percent strikeout rate, and a .153 ISO, all of which are career bests. The Venezuelan native has also gloved a 1.2 dWAR and 28.8 UZR/150 combined between all outfield spots—again, career best metrics.
Even if Parra were to regress to his pre-2013 OPS+ averages, his overall production would still help plug a serious hole for the Mets.