The trade deadline is fast approaching, and yet the Mets’ record only gets farther away from the .500 mark. That means trade rumors surrounding the team will only grow louder in the coming days. One potential partner that has emerged is the Boston Red Sox, who could use some infield help after they designated regular third baseman Pablo Sandoval and his .269 wOBA for assignment last week.
Brock Holt and Deven Marrero have filled in at the hot corner lately, but neither has hit any better than Sandoval has this year. The Mets, on the other hand, have three infielders who can hit a little bit and might be able to play third as well. That’s why it makes sense for the Red Sox to see T.J. Rivera, Wilmer Flores, and Asdrubal Cabrera as trade targets.
red sox scouted 3 mets -- flores as well as asdrubal and (tj) rivera -- as 3b alternatives. lowrie, harrison, solarte also seen as in mix— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 19, 2017
Although Cabrera has the longest track record and has an affordable buyout for next season, he’s played just one game of third base in his career and wasn’t too happy with New York when the team tried to get him to move there earlier this year. Maybe he’d be willing to be more flexible for a more competitive team, but considering how Cabrera has played defense at shortstop and second base this year, he’d be a pretty big risk at third.
Flores and Rivera both have multiple years of team control remaining and have more upside than Cabrera. However, those factors make them more appealing for the Mets to hold onto. Rivera’s ability to hit for contact and play multiple positions makes him a solid bet for the 2018 Opening Day lineup, and he could be a super affordable starting second baseman if he continues to prove himself down the stretch.
The solid performance by Rivera this summer has relegated Wilmer Flores to the bench, but he’s a good bet to be at least somewhat useful for Boston due to his ability to hit lefties.
No matter which player Boston covets the most, the return package to New York is unlikely to rock anyone’s socks off. Even the Tigers, who just traded away a great hitter in J.D. Martinez, didn’t get a particularly sexy package in return. And the White Sox had to deal multiple pieces to the Yankees just to pry Blake Rutherford from them.
Since Rivera and Flores are candidates for the future second base job, look for the Mets to try to trade supposed malcontent Cabrera instead of the younger guys. In return, maybe they can get a young relief arm or two like Boston’s Chandler Shepherd that can help them build a more competent bullpen in 2018 and beyond.