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Trade deadline ideas for the 2023 Mets

Here are six purely hypothetical deals as we approach the deadline.

New York Mets v Boston Red Sox Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images

Another Mets season that ends in selling, so it goes. On the upside, 2023 is an extreme seller’s market, evidenced by some of the deals that have already gone on. With that context in mind, here are some hypothetical deals that the Mets could look into heading up to the deadline.

Disclaimer to fans of other teams: Hi! Welcome to Amazin’ Avenue, thanks for stopping by. Most likely, you’re a fan of one of the teams I have hypothetically trading with the the Mets here, so congrats on your winning season. Before reading this and getting mad at me undervaluing your players, remember that a) there’s a really strong seller’s market right now, b) fans of every team overvalue their own players, c) this is all entirely guesswork, and d) this is more for fun than any sort of serious prediction. Thanks for reading, and go [whatever team you root for]!

Brooks Raley to the Diamondbacks for Dominic Canzone

The Diamondbacks have been quite possibly the most unexpected success story in baseball this season, currently sitting at 55-48 and sitting a mere half-game out of the wild card. They’ve been on a bit of a slide recently and could use some help both in the rotation and in the bullpen, which is currently anchored by Kevin Ginkel (whomst?), Scott McGough (whomst?), and multi-time almost-Met Andrew Chafin, who has a 4.24 ERA.

Enter Brooks Raley. Acquired from the Rays last offseason, the lefty has tossed 36 innings of 2.50 ERA ball (though his peripherals have slipped a bit). Weirdly, he’s running reverse platoon splits, but has typically been better against left-handed hitters while serving as a good-but-not-quite-great setup man over the pat few season. He’s the type of reliever every contender could use, and the market for these arms right now is robust.

Dominic Canzone, meanwhile, is something of an odd man out in Arizona given their impressive outfield depth. A 25-year-old left handed hitter drafted in the eighth round, all Canzone has done in the minor leagues over the past few seasons is hit. He had a 150 wRC+ in Triple-A this season after posting a 223 (!!!) mark in Double-A the year prior. His major league career is off to a bit of a sluggish start, he’s defensively limited to a corner, and he’s probably best used as a platoon bat, but there’s obvious upside here and the Mets’ upper minors outfield depth is thin (and he’s also a longtime personal cheeseball of mine). There might even be an argument it’s a light return given the market so far, but I see someone with upside and major league utility for 2024.

Other Fits: literally any contender

Carlos Carrasco to the Orioles for Trace Bright

This might be the biggest stretches in this article, simply because Carlos Carrasco has been really bad this season. His strikeouts have vanished, his walks are up, his ERA is approaching six and his FIP is even higher. There’s a chance teams don’t see anything worth salvaging here. A smart team might look under the hood and see something worth fixing though; keen eyes have noticed that Carrasco really only has two pitches in his changeup and slider, and stuff models back that up. Maybe a smart team could tweak his usage and get some useful innings out of him.

The Orioles fit the criteria here as a very smart team who could fix Carrasco, are in desperate need of pitching, are currently contending, and (perhaps most importantly) are being cheap about their deadline strategy. If the pitching dev gurus over in Baltimore think there’s something to bet on here, maybe this is a low cost roll of the dice for a young team looking to make additions around the margins.

The return here is modest but interesting. Trace Bright is a name with a bit of helium this year thanks to strong pitch metrics, including a rising fastball and a couple of high spin breakers. Those positive attributes come with serious command questions and significant relief risk. Fittingly, he profiles somewhat similarly to a lot of the arms the Mets just targeted in the draft. In BA’s most recent update, he checked in at 30 on the Orioles’ list, and Prospects Live has moved him into that range as well. The Orioles are overflowing with talent - surely they wouldn’t mind tossing away one interesting arm with significant question marks for a deadline reclamation project, right?

Other Fits: Rays, Astros, Reds, Dodgers (all very soft fits)

Jose Quintana to the Reds for Lyon Richardson

Like the Diamondbacks, the Reds are a surprise success story. Like the Orioles, they’re a young team on the rise that’s likely looking to be a bit cheap with their deadline acquisitions. Like both teams, they have a need for pitching and many good prospects. Jose Quintana has looked like his old self since returning from the IL and would slot in very nicely to the back of the Cincinnati rotation, bumping Luke Weaver and potentially allowing the Reds to more effectively manage the innings on their stable of young arms.

I’m not 100% sure they’d move Lyon Richardson (and the Reds have a number of other names to ask about if they wouldn’t), but he’d be a really exciting return. Originally drafted in 2019, Richardson’s career was derailed by TJ and the pandemic, but he’s come back strong this year and has performed quite well in Double-A. Questions remain about whether he can hold up to a starter’s workload - he’s averaging just over three innings per start this season and won’t likely throw more than 80-90 innings in total - but there’s upside here thanks to a velocity bump that has him sitting in the upper 90s. Richardson would probably be the best or second best pitching prospect in the system immediately and would be in position to potentially help the team in 2024.

Other Fits: Angels, Astros, Orioles, Red Sox

Mark Canha to the Brewers for Logan Henderson

Canha is another guy whose value is difficult to peg. He’s been below his career norms this year and is clearly on the downswing of his career, but has also still posted an above average wRC+ (105). He doesn’t have much of a platoon split and his defense in a corner outfield spot is poor but not disastrous. He’s a nice complementary player, but not a star to plug your one big lineup hole.

The Brewers could use just such a player. Actually, they could really use 4 or 5 them, as the majority of their lineup is somewhere between bad and dreadful. Milwaukee already made one such addition in acquiring Carlos Santana from the Pirates, and Canha - who is slightly better as a hitter and offers slightly more defensive value - seems like another fit that could patch one of the many sore spots in the lineup currently.

Dylan O’Rae would be thematically appropriate given what the Mets have going down in the lower minors (undersized MIs who can really hit) and might actually be a more reasonablefit here. Instead, I’m going to go with Logan Henderson, one of the Brewers’ many interesting and somewhat unheralded arms. He’s 21 and pitching in Single-A as an undersized, mid-round college pick. He’s got a devlish changeup though with a potentially high-end bullpen fallback if (when) he has to move out of the starting rotation. It’s a fun gamble that would add an intriguing arm that could potentially get a cup of coffee with the big league side in 2024.

Other Fits: Mariners, Angels, Astros, Rangers, Twins, Yankees

Tommy Pham to the Blue Jays for Brandon Barriera

Tommy Pham has been among the better value signings in baseball this year, posting his best offensive season since 2018 with a 125 wRC+. Scroll to his Statcast page and you’ll see a whole bunch of red, strongly suggesting that this isn’t just a flukey 300 PA. Nearly any contender’s lineup would be upgraded by sliding him into their outfield or DH spots.

The Blue Jays sure could use a guy like that. Toronto has gotten some of the most underwhelming production of any contender out of their corner outfield spots, with offseason acquisition Dalton Varsho failing to replicate his 2022 breakout and George Springer starting to show his age. Brandon Belt has been pretty good as a DH, but it also probably best deployed as a platoon bat. Offensive reinforcements could allow the Jays to cling on to a wild card spot in the highly competitive AL East and potentially make a significant playoff push for the first time in several years.

Brandon Barriera is on the rich side of potential returns here, but he’s fun to talk about so we’ll stick with it (if you want a more realistic name, maybe Addison Barger fits). Drafted in the 1st round last year as a left handed prep pitcher out of Florida, Barriera shoved early in the year before missing significant time with injury. He returned with three perfect innings earlier this week and has an outside shot of being a top-100 prospect this offseason. There’s mid-rotation upside here with a chance for more.

Other Fits: Astros, Brewers, Twins, Rangers, Giants

Justin Verlander to the Rangers for Luisangel Acuña

Of all the names here, this is no doubt the most difficult trade to project. Will the Mets even trade Verlander? Are other teams interested? How much money would the Mets eat? Would other teams be willing to surrender high end prospects for a 40-year-old starter if he’s heavily paid down for this season and next? If not, is it even worth it for the Mets to think about this? This is all fairly unknowable. Conversations are at least happening, however, evidenced by recent rumors about both the Rangers and Giants having interest.

Here, I’m going to imagine what I think is a fairly optimistic scenario. The Rangers are in a tight division race with the Astros and, given their major free agent expenditures over the past two seasons, appear to be deeply invested in pushing for a World Series win. Verlander, who has been quietly excellent for the past two months, would be a serious boon to the top of a rotation that looks a little light. This is also conceivably a team, market, and situation that Verlander might be willing to waive his no-trade clause for.

As for the return, I have the Mets getting top-100 prospect Luisangel Acuña. The younger brother of the Acuña down in Atlanta, Luisangel is lacks the same level of upside due to approach questions and a lack of high-end power projections. Nevertheless, he’s a toolsy player with strong bat-to-ball skills, excellent speed, enough pop to be threatening, and the defensive skills to project at short or as a plus defender at second, and he’s posted a strong line in Double-A at 21 to boot.

This return might be a bit rich, and maybe a name like Thomas Saggese (who I feel is significantly underranked at present) or Brock Porter would be more appropriate. But I think if you’re moving Verlander and paying down most of his salary, you hold out for something higher end, and that’s Acuña.

Other Fits: Dodgers, Giants, Angels?