Andrew McCutchen would be the perfect gift under the Mets’ tree.
It might take a holiday miracle to get him, however.
The Mets have had discussions with the Pirates about trading for the superstar center fielder, who is actively being shopped.
He would fit in nicely on the Mets, who have a glut of corner outfielders but are thin in center.
The Mets talked to the Pirates earlier this month and McCutchen’s name was brought up, but it was “very, very preliminary and didn’t have much traction,” according to a source.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Monday that to pull off a McCutchen deal, the Mets would have to make three other trades. They would have to make separate deals to shed corner outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, as well as one to add a reliever if the Pirates request Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo in a McCutchen exchange.
That would seem to be a very complicated answer to the Mets’ outfield issues.
Right now, they can’t even find a fit to make one deal to reduce their corner outfield surplus.
Still, the holidays are a time to dream, right?
McCutchen, 30, is a five-time All-Star, a career .292 hitter with power and speed, although he is coming off an injury-plagued, subpar 2016.
McCutchen did manage to appear in 153 games last year but hit just .256 with 24 home runs as he played through knee, thumb and wrist issues.
He’s due to make $14 million in 2017, with the Pirates holding a team option for $14.75 million in 2018.
The Mets would have to clear salary to have any chance at him. They have too many outfielders making too much money, with a target of getting their payroll down to $135-$140 million by Opening Day.
The only true center fielder the Mets have on their roster right now is Juan Lagares, and the 2014 Gold Glove winner can’t get on base enough to stay in the lineup. He is being viewed as a late-inning defensive replacement to help whatever combination the Mets come up with in center.
The Mets committed $110 million over four years to re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, who is more comfortable in left field, where he also is more likely to stay healthy.
Granderson played 34 games in center for the Mets in 2016. That was out of necessity after Cespedes injured his right quad and needed to move to the corner outfield to stay in the lineup. Granderson is a much better fit in right field, but that is technically occupied by Bruce, who cannot play any other outfield position.
The easy answer, and the one that industry sources said the Mets are currently pursuing the hardest, is to trade Bruce. The 29-year-old left-handed
hitter never clicked after being traded to New York from the Reds, hitting .219 in 50 games with the Mets.
While a team likely will emerge to take a chance on Bruce, who has hit at least 30 home runs in four of his nine major league seasons, the market for sluggers is saturated with free agents at the moment.
The Mets have also talked about trading Granderson, one baseball source said. At 36 years old and in the final year of his four-year deal, Granderson might have more appeal to some teams. He has been a leader in the clubhouse and productive in their lineup.
One thought in the organization is that the answer in center field is Michael Conforto.
The 23-year-old played six games in center last season and some in the organization feel he could handle it on a regular basis if he put in a lot of work.
There had been some who suggested Conforto go to a winter league and play the position to get some experience there.
But Conforto, who had his hands full trying to figure things out at the plate last year, is not doing that. A team source said he would get a chance to work in center field this spring.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News