If you watched the 2012 New York Mets, you likely already realize they are in need of competent outfielders. After dealing away Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan in separate 2011 trades, the Mets broke camp with Lucas Duda in right field, Andres Torres in center field and the charred remains of Jason Bay in left field. The arrangement came about out of necessity, mostly due to a lack of funds and a lack of better in-house options but ultimately, it did not work out as the optimist in all of us would've hoped.
With it looking like there's not a single full-time, starting quality outfielder currently on the roster, Sandy Alderson has the assignment of trying to find some for the 2013 Mets, a task which seems akin to drawing blood from a stone. With the free agent market a less likely option for the still cash-strapped franchise, trades look like the way to go. In this series, I will preview some teams who look to have a surplus in the outfield and may be willing to make a swap. Today, we begin with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have five outfielders of varying quality and have made it known they're looking to make some deals.
|Name||Age||2012 BA/OBP/SLG||Career fWAR||2012 wOBA||2012 fWAR||Contract Situation|
|Justin Upton||25||.280/.355/.430||17.1||.341||2.5||$9.75 million in 2013, signed reasonably through 2015|
|Chris Young||29||.231/.311/.434||16.3||.325||2.8||$8.5 million in 2013, $11 million team option for 2014|
|Gerardo Parra||25||.273/.335/.392||6.2||.317||2.0||First year arb in 2013|
|Jason Kubel||30||.253/.327/.506||5.7||.352||1.9||$7.5 million in 2013, $7.5 million mutual option for 2014|
Pre-arb, MLB minimum
The obvious prize here is Justin Upton, the 25-year old former #1 overall pick, who is coming off a disappointing 2012 but finished fourth in MVP voting after a superlative 2011 season. There have been multiple rumblings over the past few seasons that the Diamondbacks would look to move their franchise right fielder but likely because of the enormous price, a deal has yet to happen. Upton could still be moved this offseason but I would imagine that's not Arizona's first choice and assuming Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey are off the table, the Mets don't seem to have the chips to get involved anyway.
The option at the bottom of that list, Adam Eaton (not the pitcher), is a soon to be 24 year old rookie and an interesting prospect who hit .381/.456/.539 in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League in 2012. A speedy outfielder who can pick it in center field, Eaton seems unlikely to be traded due to his pre-arbitration contract status.
That leaves us with the trio of Parra, Kubel, and Young (also not the pitcher). It's been speculated that all three may be on the block this winter. Parra is the youngest and the cheapest of the three, but he's just a corner outfielder (though a very strong one defensively) and he's been mostly a below league average offensive player (89 career wRC+, 93 career OPS+). He's also a lefty with a large career platoon split (.756 OPS against righties, .642 versus lefthanders), certainly not ideal considering the Mets' lefty laden offense. His defense makes up a great portion of his value and in his best season, 2011, he was worth 2.8 wins. At just 25, he'll probably have to develop some more doubles power or learn how to hit lefties to become an above average hitter. With three years of valuable team control left, however, he is quite interesting.
Kubel, the former Twin, put up the best 2012 of the group offensively with his .352 wOBA and he hits for power (career .198 ISO and a career best .253 ISO in 2012), which is an attribute the Mets could definitely use. Unfortunately, he's very much like Lucas Duda in a lot of ways -- he hits lefthanded and struggles to hit southpaws (he's a career .238/.308/.383 hitter against them), and his poor outfield defense eats away at his overall value. His power surge also seems to be a bit of mirage, as his ISO jumped thanks to a likely unsustainable 19% HR/FB ratio. His contract is not outrageous by any means but he also does not offer the long term value that Parra does.
Young is a plus defensive center fielder who hits right handed, both areas in which the Mets could stand to improve. He walks a lot (9.9% in 2012, 10% for his career) and hits for some power (.203 ISO in 2012, .198 career). The defensive metrics have mostly liked his work in center field, as DRS had him at +7 in 2012 and +20 in 2011, while UZR/150 had him at 21.1 and 12.9 in those seasons. Young put up 4 wins in 2010 and 2011, and could be a bounceback candidate after an injury-plagued 2013. Interestingly enough, despite hitting just .231 and posting a .263 BABIP, Young posted a career best 22% line drive rate, so perhaps there's some potential for improvement still in there.
Is there a fit here? Just because of the sheer volume, it seems like there could be. The Diamondbacks have three available outfielders that feature some combination of power, speed, defense, and contract value. Depending on what the Mets are looking for, they could fill a large gap by dealing with them and a trade for one of Parra, Kubel or Young shouldn't require any big prospects (Harvey, Wheeler, Nimmo, among others). The question on the Mets' side is whether they have the money to take on a contract like Kubel's or Young's or if they would need to give up better prospects in order to have Arizona eat some money.