Brown: Mets Should Avoid Dealing Too Much For Hader

Package Including Smith, Prospects Could Be Reasonable

Jake Brown
December 03, 2019 - 2:14 pm

It’s pretty obvious that the Mets need to focus on improving their bullpen this winter -- and they need to get it going now.

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They have already missed out on some key free agent relievers. Will Smith signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Braves. Drew Pomeranz got a four-year, $32 million contract from the Padres. There aren’t a ton of big-name relief pitchers left on the market. 

The top guys on the list include Will Harris, Daniel Hudson, Dellin Betances, Chris Martin, Collin McHugh, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Steve Cishek and Joe Smith.

There are a few big difference makers on that list, but also many guys who haven’t exactly proved themselves on a consistent basis.

Bringing Joe Smith back to Queens on a one-year deal would be a no-brainer. The same could be said for Clippard, who is coming off a terrific season with the Indians (2.90 ERA over 53 appearances).

The Mets know the 33-year-old Cishek well from his six years with the division rival Marlins. The right-hander has had an impressive career (2.69 ERA) that has gone under the radar.

The Mets really should be taking a look at all of those guys, and they badly need to sign at least two of them. 

But here’s the thing about relievers -- and the Mets know this well: It can be a crapshoot each year with these guys (cough, cough, Edwin Diaz). The Mets traded for Diaz and Robinson Cano in exchange for top prospects, and Diaz was an abomination in 2019 after putting up 57 saves in a historic 2018 season in Seattle.

Some releivers are terrific one year and then a disaster the next. Some struggle to handle the pressure of New York as well, which was clear with Diaz. Whatever the reason is, the Mets have had so many issues finding a reliever whom they can trust consistently. 

Seth Lugo has become that guy for them. Justin Wilson, when healthy, was also pretty reliable. Outside of those two, the Mets bullpen was very bad. They need to make sure they aren’t in situations in which they ever have to use the likes of Paul Sewald, Tyler Bashlor, Jacob Rhame, Daniel Zamora or anyone of that realm. This bullpen desperately needs to be full of major league talent. 

Deal Or No Deal For Josh Hader?

So after signing at least a couple of the above free agents, the Mets have got to at least look into the trade market. The name floating around is Brewers strikeout machine Josh Hader.

The Brewers' Josh Hader delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 21, 2019, at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Images

The southpaw is an intriguing option for multiple reasons for the Mets. First off, he’s quite good. He would give the Mets a dominant left-hander who they could potentially use as their closer, putting less pressure on Diaz (if they don’t trade him). Hader is also a guy who can go more than three outs if you need him to. He had 37 saves and 138 strikeouts in 75⅔ innings in 2019 to go along with a 2.62 ERA. He’s been very consistent through three big-league seasons.

The Mets’ favorite part about Hader might be the fact that he’s under team control for four more years. He is projected to receive around $4.6 million in arbitration in 2020, which would be a steal for someone as good as he is. If a young player is affordable, the Mets might end up trading prospects for him just so they can avoid paying someone big bucks in free agency. Sadly, that’s what it has become with the Wilpons, and we just have to live with it at this point. 

So What Should The Mets Offer For Hader? 

They should not give up a monster package. Jeff McNeil should obviously be untouchable. Dealing J.D. Davis would be a mistake after seeing what he can do for the offense. While he doesn’t have a true position, Davis could improve in left field in the offseason with consistent work. He came into 2019 potentially being a bench player and ended up earning a nearly everyday role. 

The best move would be to do a package surrounding Dominic Smith. While it’s hard to part with Smith, who is beloved in the clubhouse and by the fan base, he’s a first baseman. The Mets have the reigning NL Rookie of the Year at first base. Pete Alonso isn’t going anywhere, and he doesn’t like to sit out games. So Smith doesn’t really have a role as a backup. He was a nightmare defensively in left field, and while he could work on getting better there in the offseason, the Mets can’t afford to take the risk defensively. They will also have McNeil, potentially Davis, Yoenis Cespedes at some point and possibly Brandon Nimmo who they can use out there. 

Smith should be the focus of the trade, and the Mets would probably have to throw in two prospects. Andres Gimenez could be one of the names, considering the Mets already have a shortstop in Amed Rosario. Soon-to-be 20-year-old infielder Mark Vientos could be another name in the deal. Some package looking like this with maybe a low-level pitcher such as Josh Wolf or Franklyn Kilome is what the Mets should offer. If the Brewers say no, you move on. 

So if you want to get Hader, see if you can work a package surrounding Smith and a few prospects that won’t break up the farm system. It’s going to come down to what the Brewers ask for and if the Mets think trading prospects for Hader is wiser than doing it for Starling Marte.

Will the Mets make a trade for a dominant reliever or a two-time Gold Glove center fielder? Or will they not deal anyone and just go strictly through free agency?

Knowing the history of general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and the Wilpons, a trade to save money seems inevitable. We will find out very soon with the Winter Meetings less than a week away.

Follow Jake on Twitter @JakeBrownRadio.