The New York Mets and Houston Astros have recently been engaged in trade talks, according to Marc Carig of The Athletic. Carig noted that the Astros have shown interest in Mets’ reliever Seth Lugo, although it is unclear whether talks have gained any traction.
Lugo is one of the core relievers in the team’s bullpen, along with newly-acquired closer Edwin Diaz and setup man Jeurys Familia. Lugo also provides valuable rotation depth—which the Mets are sorely lacking—and could step in to the rotation if needed. Last season, Lugo finished with a career-best 2.66 ERA and 3.17 FIP in 101.1 innings, which resulted in a 1.4 fWAR. When looking at his work out of the bullpen, his numbers are even more impressive. He posted a 2.30 ERA and a 2.97 FIP—along with a 24.7% strikeout rate and a 7.1% walk rate—in 78.1 innings as a reliever. He also made five starts for the Mets in 2018, tossing 23.0 innings while posting a 3.91 ERA and 3.86 FIP.
Although Carig did not single out exact targets that the Mets are looking into, he mentioned that the club has been doing some background work on Astros minor leaguers. Houston currently has four prospects in MLB Pipeline’s top-100 prospects, including two in the Top Ten. The Mets would likely be looking at prospects who are major-league ready or close to major-league ready.
It’s hard to imagine a Lugo trade making sense for the Mets, especially given their lack of starting pitching depth and the dearth of dependable arms out of their bullpen. Outside of the three aforementioned relievers and Robert Gsellman, the team does not have any relief pitchers whom they can comfortably rely on going into 2019. There are still plenty of available options on the free agent market whom they could target, although Andy Martino speculated that the team has done most of the heavy lifting after bringing in Diaz and Familia.