By: Noah Wright
After the Mets making a myriad of trades and signings, the Mets have left infielder Jeff McNeil without a position. However, that’s after a rookie season where McNeil batted a very strong .329/.381/.471 with 3 home runs and a 137 wRC+ in 248 plate appearances. At second base, the position he mainly manned in 2018, McNeil had just -2 DRS, and .9 UZR. In total, that amounted to exactly 0 dWAR.
His main position is now taken over by veteran all-star Robinson Cano. Another position he got a taste of last season was third base. But then the Mets went out and got Jed Lowrie, who will likely man the hot corner for the Mets next season. Though shortstop Amed Rosario struggled last season, the Mets are yet willing to give up on the former top 10 prospect who is only going to be 23 for next season. They could be willing to try out McNeil at first base, but with Todd Frazier likely going to see at-bats at first for the first half-month of the season until top prospect Peter Alonso can get Super-2 Status, McNeil won’t find much time there either.
It’s been speculated that the Mets are willing to try McNeil in the outfield next season, but even then he won’t get sem-regular at-bats. The corners are already going to be controlled by Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo. In center, the Mets have 2 heavily defensive OF’s in Juan Lagares and newly acquired Keon Broxton.
There is another avenue the Mets could think about going down; trading the infielder. At this point, McNeil has been pushed down the depth chart, by a lot. However, he’s only entering his age 27 campaign, and has plenty of control left. Given these two factors, plus the fact he’s a decent MLB player, McNeil could probably bring back something decent.
The Mets biggest issue right now is pitching depth, both in the rotation and bullpen. There are also a few teams that could use an infielder with very deep pitching depth. The Dodgers could easily use McNeil. Even after dealing Alex Wood, the Dodgers still have a handful of pitchers with tons of pitchers who could be starters. The Dodgers also could use a better option at second. As it currently stands, Enrique Hernandez or Chris Taylor are going to man second, with one of them also manning an outfield position. However, both could be moved into a super utility role. The Dodgers could deal either Kenta Maeda or 2018 all-star, Ross Stripling in exchange for McNeil.
The Indians could also deal from their pitching depth. McNeil would nicely fit up the middle with Francisco Lindor. The Indians could be willing to deal someone like Danny Salazar, and maybe even a higher ranked prospect like third baseman Nolan Jones to acquire McNeil. Salazar would fit into the back end of the Mets’ rotation, while Jones could eventually slot into third base once Lowrie’s contract is up.
The Brewers are another team that could use McNeil’s services. The Brewers don’t have an answer at second base. Currently, Cory Spangenberg is atop the depth chart. But the Brewers could deal either Freddy Peralta, or Brandon Woodruff, both of whom showed potential during 2018. Plus, the Brewers have plenty of rotation depth. Along with that, their bullpen is one of, if not the best in the NL, so they have some room to work with with their rotation. McNeil would bring an impact bat with control left, and an extra boost for a competing team.
The Mets should definitely consider trading Jeff McNeil. He won’t even get semi-regular playing time, even after a season where he put up a 2.4 bWAR in 63 games. Even with a move to the outfield, he has rarely played outfield in his career, so who knows how that will go. Anyways, the Mets could get a good package back for the infielder. Currently their pitching depth is a bit thin. In the rotation, past DeGrom, Syndergaard, and Wheeler, the Mets don’t have a reliable 4th, or 5th starter. Sure Steven Matz is there, but right now, it’s a fairly top heavy rotation. The same can be said about the pen. After closer Edwin Diaz, and setup men Jeurys Familia, and Seth Lugo, the Mets do not have very many options in the pen. With a trade involving McNeil would not only give the quality player regular playing time, but also give a pitching boost the Mets need.