Could Giancarlo Stanton finally be granted his wish–a trade out of Miami?Well, we’re in the premature stages of the New York Mets potentially forming a package around top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler and Travis d”Arnaud, their supposed catcher of the future, to pry Stanton away from the Miami Marlins which is certainly no easy task
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that the Mets are “monitoring” the status of Stanton. New York also kept tabs with Wil Myers and Justin Upton during the winter meetings, but they consider Stanton a step above those two.
Be that as it may, a deal is still a long ways away. After all, the trade deadline is a good three months out, and trade rumors really don’t start heating up until the summer months, and if the Miami Marlins are committed to moving Stanton, they will weigh all of their options before pulling the trigger. And trust me here, there will be a lot offers. Some will be inexplicable, and some will be legitimate. Although, there’s likely to be more of the former.
But let’s put those thoughts away and ask the question: Should the Mets unload their top two prospects for Giancarlo Stanton, a perennial 60-plus home run threat if he has lineup protection, a piece a franchise can build around and more importantly for the Mets, a player to put them back on the map.Many casual fans would answer that question with an almost immediate “yes.” Stanton is a big name with a reputation for hitting piles of home runs, and, well, everyone digs the long ball. So it’s easy to see why the conclusion would be “yes.”However, most casual fans don’t realize Wheeler’s ceiling because, well, he hasn’t pitched in a major league game before, not everyone knows about him and he’s on the Mets. In other words, he”s not in a situation to get noticed…yet.
With a fastball that often times touches 95-plus miles per hour combined with an above-average curveball, Wheeler has the potential to develop into an ace. In AA last year, he totaled a 3.57 ERA and a 9.1 K/9 rate in 19 starts (116 innings). He was moved up to AAA during the later part of the season and he posted a 3.55 ERA and a 8.5 K/9 rate in 33 innings. This year in two starts, he’s compiled a 3.12 ERA.
Travis d”Arnaud, meanwhile, is a hitting catcher, which isn’t quite a rarity, but a fresh of breath air. Not only are there a shortage of hitting catchers these days, but there are an even fewer amount of catchers with pop. He slashed for .333/.380/.595 along with 16 home runs at the AAA level in 2012, and this year in 23 at-bats, he’s hitting .261.
The only potential obstacle he might have to work around is something he can’t control, which is someone above him producing insane numbers. John Buck is leading the National League in home runs (six) and RBI (19). The Mets don’t necessarily need to rush the 24-year-old prospect thanks to Buck’s offensive contributions, but if he hits, manager Terry Collins says he will play,.
So after further review, there’s no arguing that d’Arnaud and Wheeler are two very highly-regarded prospects. The stats and scouting reports are there to support that, and there’s a good chance that both will make an impact at the major league level sooner rather than later. The Mets are hoping that that is indeed the plan.
But Giancarlo Stanton is, well, Giancarlo Stanton. In 2012, he led the NL in at-bats per home run (12.1) and finished second with 37 home runs, and had he qualified, he also would’ve led the league in slugging percentage.
2013 hasn’t been as rosy, and that doesn’t seem to be a surprise to anyone. Not only is Stanton in a situation with the Marlins where winning is a distant dream, but he also has zero lineup protection with Placido Polanco batting behind him. There just isn’t much passion in a seemingly dead franchise that’s undergoing a major overhaul, and Stanton just happens to be part of it. Lucky him.
The Mets offense isn’t an offense that pops out on paper, or in real life. Of course there is some talent in place to get them by. David Wright is an All-Star and Daniel Murphy is a capable hitter at times. Plus, Buck’s torrid streak has been a pleasant surprise, but the chances of him sustaining his current production are zero.
Otherwise, there isn’t much to be had. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda can both hit for some power, but a lack of consistency is the big equalizer.
If there’s one area the Mets could really use some help in, it’s in the outfield. By WAR (Wins Above Replacement), , and finished in the bottom five in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.
When you look , those numbers aren’t shocking. Scott Hairston, who’s now a Chicago Cub was their biggest producer, and he wasn’t even an everyday player despite hitting 20 home runs. Additionally, only three guys played more than 100 games, as their was a combination of players, but a set group never emerged, which called for a ton of mixing and matching.
The Mets outfield has improved marginally thus far in 2013 thanks to hot starts from Duda (three home runs) and Collin Cowgill (two home runs). Still, only two of their six outfielders are hitting over .300, and the power output from Cowgill isn’t likely to last, and Duda is prone to major slumps.
So, where does Stanton play? The outfield, of course–right field, to be exact. It doesn’t take a veteran scout, or heck, even a baseball fan to determine that Stanton would dramatically improve New York’s outfield. And baseball pundits know that. I know that. Everyone knows that. The Mets even know that. It’s just a matter of how they feel about parting ways with their top two prospects.
Here’s a take from one Met’s official when asked if he would trade Wheeler and d’Arnaud for Stanton (via the Daily News):
“In a heartbeat,” said one Mets official, who is not in Alderson’s inner-circle of decision-makers, but has a voice in discussions. The guy then snapped his fingers. “Nothing against those kids, but it’s Giancarlo.”
Yes, it’s Giancarlo indeed.
There are a couple of outside factors that might make Wheeler more expendable, as silly as that may sound. Actually, there’s only one factor: Matt Harvey’s emergence as the Mets clear-cut ace. In three starts this year, Harvey has a 3-0 record on the strength of a 0.82 ERA and a 10.2 K/9 rate.
I know, I know, it’s early, and that excuse probably won’t wear off until the end of May. But all signs point to Harvey becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball. He has an electric fastball that consistently ranges in the high 90’s, and his slider is nearly untouchable. Actually, so far, no one has managed to get a hit off Harvey’s slider, s.
It’s too soon to put him in the top tier of starting pitchers, but boy, is he forcing the issue.
The point is: Harvey makes Wheeler somewhat expendable. A team can never have enough pitching, and like Harvey, Wheeler’s potential is sky-high, making it all the more hard to let him go. But now that the Mets know they have Harvey to build around, there isn’t as much pressure on Wheeler to instantly become a No. 1, which was the original plan once Johan Santana started becoming a common presence on the DL.
So, we’re back to the initial question: Is Stanton worth two top prospects? Of course he is. He would immediately take the Mets outfield from extremely bad to decent, and he would provide excellent protection to Wright, who recently signed a long-term deal with the Mets. Stanton would be the Mets way of saying “thank you.”
But as that one Mets official said: “It’s Giancarlo.”