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Mets winter meetings: Minor league prospects who could be traded

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The Mets have some young talent that may be attractive to other teams.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Under general manager Sandy Alderson's reign, the Mets have built an impressive farm system stocked with young talent. Heading into 2015, the front office is looking to add the finishing touches to a team that plans to compete for a playoff spot for the first time in seven seasons. To do that, they may have to relinquish some of their prospects in order to get the necessary players in return. Here are a few guys from the Mets' system that may be shipped off to upgrade the team even further.

Rafael Montero

The 24-year-old righty made eight starts in the big leagues in 2014 and did not fare particularly well in them. Despite striking out 8.53 batters per nine innings, his 4.06 ERA and 5.14 FIP in 44.1 innings were not very impressive. His walk rate was nearly 12%, making for an uninspiring first stint in the majors. However, Montero was regarded as one of the better prospects in the game as recently as two years ago, as evidenced by his #98 overall ranking before the 2013 season, according to MLB.com. His performance in the minors garnered a start for the World Team in the 2013 Futures Game at Citi Field. Montero posted a 2.78 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 155.1 innings across Double-A and Triple-A, which led to his #68 overall prospect ranking after the 2013 season, according to Baseball America.

The perception of him may have changed since then, but his elite control has not vanished, and perhaps with more work and experience in the majors he could develop into an effective pitcher. He's cheap and under team control for the next six seasons. Given the Mets' rotation depth, he may not have a spot on the club in 2015. A team that needs pitching and has the ability to trade a shortstop, such as the Mariners, could be a possible destination for Montero.

Kevin Plawecki

The catcher, selected in the compensatory round of the 2012 draft, has earned high praise over the past year. After posting an OPS higher than .800 in both 2013 and 2014, the 23-year-old has established himself as one of the premier prospects in the Mets' system and one of the best catching prospects in baseball. The Purdue University product earned himself a spot on the U.S. Team at the 2014 Futures Game at Target Field, and was given the Sterling Award for being the top performer at Double-A Binghamton. He showed good patience and hit 11 home runs in 419 plate appearances across Double-A and Triple-A in 2014.

As promising as Plawecki is, he is currently blocked by catcher Travis d'Arnaud, who had a fine season in 2014 in his own right on the major league club. Although the case can be made to keep Plawecki on the roster and use him in a variety of roles in 2015, he's not necessarily vital to the team's success next season or beyond. His production in the minors to date and potential to perform well in the majors make him an attractive option for other teams who need a catcher. If the Mets decide to cash him in for a considerable upgrade at the major league level at a position such as shortstop, a team like the Cubs could be a good fit.

Cesar Puello

The 23-year-old outfielder has been the most polarizing figure in the Mets' system over the past two years. His suspension for a connection with Biogenesis in August of 2013 led many to question his actual ability. Up to that point in the 2013 season Puello was having a breakout year, hitting .326/.403/.547 with 24 stolen bases in 377 plate appearances in Double-A Binghamton before being hit with the 50-game ban.

The Dominican Republic native signed with the Mets when he was 16 and made his debut in their system at 17. After the 2010 season in which he stole 45 bases, Baseball America ranked him as the #77 prospect in baseball. His 2014 season at Triple-A Las Vegas was rather quiet. His power that produced 16 home runs in 2013 seemed to have been sapped as he only hit seven home runs in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Whether or not that is a result of anything steroid-related is unclear, but it's not promising.

Due to the inordinate amount of time he's spent in the minor leagues, and because he's on the 40-man roster, he's out of options heading into the 2015 season. If the Mets were to call him up and send him down, he'd be subject to waivers and could be claimed by any team.

Puello has seemingly fallen out of favor with the organization and there may not be a use for him on the 2015 team given the Mets' glut of young outfielders like Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. The Mets wouldn't want to risk losing him for nothing in return, so a trade is a possibility. His checkered past is by no means attractive, but a team may want to take a gamble on his talent. The return for Puello would not be too significant, but it would be better than having him get claimed on waivers.

Other possibilities

As for others, it seems unlikely that the Mets will deal any of their top prospects. Noah Syndergaard will be a key cog in the 2015 rotation, while Brandon Nimmo, despite the crowded outfield, may make his major league debut this upcoming season. The idea of selling high on the well-regarded Steven Matz is not too farfetched, but it would still be surprising. The Mets are more likely to make smaller upgrades while keeping their top guys in the system.