It seems a foregone conclusion that the Mets will trade at least one of their high-priced stars this summer. Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Francisco Rodriguez have been the most-rumored candidates to leave Queens, but all three players carry risk for any trade partner.
Beltran is under contract just through this year, he has a full no-trade clause and is coming off of two injury-plagued seasons. Reyes can also be a free agent this winter, so an interested team might not be willing to trade much of value for the shortstop unless it is given a negotiating window beforehand. Rodriguez has little value as a closer due to the vesting option that would guarantee him $17.5MM in 2012 if he finishes at least 55 games this year, and no team is desperate enough for a stopper at that price.
The Mets do have one asset that carries no baggage -- David Wright. The third baseman is just 28 and signed to a contract that would pay him roughly $27MM between now and the end of the 2012 season, plus a $16MM club option for 2013 (with a $1MM buyout). Wright has indicated he wants to stay in New York and wouldn't ask for a trade.
Losing a homegrown star like Wright would be an unpopular move amongst Mets fans, but if Sandy Alderson is committed to a complete rebuild, moving Wright would be the last step, but also the most lucrative in terms of what the Mets could demand in return. Here are a few of the teams that would likely get in on the bidding if Wright became available...
- Angels. Alberto Callaspo has been the bulk of playing time at third for the Halos, with the hot-hitting Maicer Izturis seeing a few starts at third and at shortstop. Wright would certainly be an upgrade, the Angels could afford him, and they probably have the prospect depth to get the New York's attention. (Though Mike Trout is untouchable.)
- Athletics. It isn't Billy Beane's style to make a big deadline move, but with the AL West as tight as it is and Kevin Kouzmanoff having seemingly lost his starting job at third, the A's could decide their time is now and make an offer for Wright. If the quest for the playoffs came up short, Oakland might also try to flip Wright this winter.
- Cardinals. David Freese got off to a great start but he will be out for at least the next two months with a fractured hand. With the Albert Pujols negotiations looming this winter, St. Louis is pretty unlikely to pick up another big contract, though the argument could be made that Pujols would be more eager to stay if Wright was also in the lineup.
- Marlins. Florida is right behind the Phillies in the NL East despite a revolving door at third base. The Fish aren't known for adding big contracts, but with their new ballpark opening next season and a real shot at the playoffs, an exception could be made. That said, it's hard enough to imagine the Mets trading Wright at all, and almost impossible to see them moving their franchise player to a divisional rival.
- Rockies. Ian Stewart was sent to Triple-A after a 2-for-26 (.077) start to the season and was recalled on Tuesday after hitting well in the minors. It's possible Colorado could look for outside help if Stewart continues to struggle, since their veteran infield depth (Jose Lopez and Ty Wigginton) has also been ineffective.
- Tigers. Brandon Inge has started 29 of Detroit's 32 games this season and while his defense at the hot corner remains above average according to UZR/150, he has managed just a .551 OPS at the plate. Inge has been an underrated source of power for the last few seasons but he has just one home run in 2011. He signed a two-year extension last October so the Tigers would have to eat some money if they acquired another third baseman, but if Detroit gets back into the pennant race and still needs hitting help, Wright could look awfully tempting.