The Mets are “actively” trying to trade Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee or Jon Niese, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. No specific trade appears imminent at this time, however. One issue is that the only significant free agent starting pitcher to sign so far has been A.J. Burnett, leaving a glut of starting pitching on the free agent market. The Mets hope that the upcoming Winter Meetings will help clear a path for starting pitching trades.
It comes as no surprise that the Mets are proactively trying to deal a pitcher. The Mets have a strong core of young pitching that includes Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, and Noah Syndergaard, and if everyone is healthy, there’s currently no room for those four, plus all the veterans, in the big-league rotation (although Syndergaard could start the season in Triple-A regardless). As Davidoff notes, Colon, Gee and Niese don’t have a ton of value on their own, but the Mets could use one of them to acquire a role player or a prospect, while also clearing salary.
Colon has one year and $11MM remaining on his contract. With an excellent walk rate of 1.3 BB/9, he remained effective last season as a 41-year-old, although his advanced age and diminished velocity limit his value. Gee is projected to make $5.1MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility and had a solid but unspectacular 2014 season, with a 4.00 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 137 1/3 innings in the Mets’ rotation. Niese, who posted a 3.40 ERA in 187 2/3 innings, has two years and $16.5MM remaining on his five-year deal, which also includes options for 2017 and 2018.
None of the three have exorbitant contracts, but their trade value is, perhaps, limited in this market — as Davidoff’s colleague Joel Sherman recently noted, this offseason is a difficult one in which to trade pitching, not only because of the free agent options available, but because of more tantalizing trade possibilities, like Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels. Teams attempting to trade back-of-the-rotation types might have a tougher time, at least until some of the bigger-ticket players find teams.