Having already swung one blockbuster trade this offseason, the Mets may have further headline-grabbing deals in mind. It appears they have interest in Indians ace Corey Kluber, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, who reports that the two teams have discussed the right-hander.
The Mets are one of several teams reportedly eyeing Kluber, a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner whose name has been prominent in rumors for a month. The fact that Kluber’s on the Mets’ radar is especially fascinating given that the future of one of their aces, righty Noah Syndergaard, is up in the air.
While New York may be attempting to build a dominant rotation led by Jacob deGrom, Kluber and Syndergaard, Feinsand notes it’s possible they could end up dealing Syndergaard and then acquiring Kluber in a separate trade. Swapping out Syndergaard for Kluber would seemingly be a near-term upgrade, though the latter is far older and pricier than the former. The 26-year-old Syndergaard has three arbitration-eligible campaigns remaining and will only make a projected $5.9MM next season, while the soon-to-be 33-year-old Kluber will earn $17MM in 2019 – also his third-last year of control.
For Cleveland, trading Kluber would be an obvious blow to its pitching staff, though a deal could come to fruition if it enables the team to pick up immediate help and cut payroll. If the Indians would indeed want controllable, young major leaguers for Kluber, then Syndergaard, outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, and second baseman Jeff McNeil look like the most logical fits from the Mets’ roster. All four are under control through at least 2021 and would seemingly help keep a Kluber-less Indians team strong in 2019.
Aside from that quartet, it doesn’t appear the rest of the Mets’ roster or their prospect pool is teeming with ideal pieces to pry Kluber out of Cleveland. Baseball America ranked the Mets’ farm an uninspiring 19th in the game even before they agreed to trade a pair of their best prospects, outfielder Jarred Kelenic and righty Justin Dunn, to Seattle in a package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. The Mets do still have two of the outlet’s top-1oo prospects, however, in shortstop Andres Gimenez (No. 53) and first baseman Peter Alonso (No. 72).
While it’s unknown how serious the Mets are about Kluber, it’s fair to say they’re positioning themselves as one of this offseason’s most interesting teams to watch. General manager Brodie Van Wagenen has been a polarizing presence in his first few weeks as an executive, but it’s clear he’s willing to make bold moves in an effort to improve a New York club coming off back-to-back sub-.500 seasons.