Rumors were swirling late last week that the Marlins and Mets were throwing around the possibility of a change-of-scenery trade between the teams. The rumored trade would send outfielder Jason Bay to Miami for catcher John Buck and reliever Heath Bell. This is is the first part in a series, supporting the trade.
The Mets have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rid themselves of one of their historically bad contracts and have to pull the trigger. They never had a chance to dump Oliver Perez, and Bobby Bonilla is still on the books for another 23 years, but they can fix the Jason Bay problem.
Bay has been so incredibly bad for the Mets, that there are talks of just flat out releasing him. His career slash line for the Mets is a paltry .238/.324/.372, and he’s owed $32 million over the next two years with a vesting option.
Moving Bay would allow a opportunity for Jordany Valdespin to play everyday, and give him a chance to develop into a more patient hitter. When a guy only gets an occasional start or one at bat off the bench, of course he’ll try to swing at anything. Valdespin has struck out 25 times, while walking only three times. Those kind of K:BB ratios are only rewarded if you have Adam Dunn power, and Valdespin does not. However, giving him more at bats to develop plate discipline is one of the many reasons why the Mets should make this trade in a heartbeat.
Another is adding a power-hitting, right-handed catcher to complement Josh Thole. While Buck is being overpaid in his contract, he unquestionably has some pop. In 2010, Buck slugged 20 HRs for the Royals, and still had 16 last year for Miami. He’s infinitely more valuable than Rob Johnson or Mike Nickeas, and on days Thole starts, will provide a decent right-handed bat off the bench.
Finally, adding Bell would shore up the Mets’ achilles-heel: the bullpen. While he has struggled this year, he gives the Mets a proven, shutdown closer. Frank Francisco is not that guy anymore, Jon Rauch was never that guy, and Bobby Parnell wouldn’t have to be that guy.
An opportunity to develop Valdespin, and add two valuable, albeit overpriced pieces for essentially the same money they would be paying Jason Bay to hopelessly roam the outfield next year. Sandy Alderson has to make this deal–yesterday, if he can.