Pirates center fielder Starling Marte stands out as one of the game’s most obvious trade chips, especially considering the non-contending club has a new general manager in Ben Cherington. The Mets have been connected to Marte throughout the offseason, and though it doesn’t appear a trade is imminent, the teams “have exchanged names” for a potential deal sometime this winter, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
As was reported before, Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo did come up in their discussions with the Pirates, Heyman tweets. However, the Pirates “may prefer prospects” to the soon-to-be 27-year-old Nimmo, who has arbitration eligibility for the next three seasons.
With no clear-cut starter in center, New York looks like a logical fit for Marte. But the Mets are facing plenty of competition from elsewhere for the 31-year-old. The Diamondbacks and Rangers join the previously reported Padres among teams that have at least checked in on Marte’s availability, per Heyman.
Although it’s unclear when they last discussed Marte with the Pirates, the inclusion of the D-backs is interesting, as they seemingly just completed their outfield by agreeing to sign Kole Calhoun. He’s slated to accompany Ketel Marte (center) and David Peralta (left) in the grass for Arizona. However, Ketel Marte can also play second base, so adding Starling Marte would enable the former to turn his full-time focus to the infield.
As for the Rangers, they appear to have a clearer opening in center after trading Delino DeShields to Cleveland earlier this month as part of the clubs’ Corey Kluber swap. Joey Gallo did see time there last season, but the plan is for him to handle right next year. Meanwhile, the team could prefer to shift the versatile Danny Santana around the diamond. With that in mind, there appears to be room for the acquisition of a proven center fielder such as Marte, one of the game’s most valuable players at his position.
For the Pirates, there is no doubt the high demand for capable center fielders and the dearth of starters available in free agency works in their favor. Plus, Marte’s affordability – he’s due a guaranteed $11.5MM in 2020 and has a ’21 club option for $12.5MM (or a $1MM buyout) – only adds to his trade value.