It’s an interesting time for the Mets to launch into trade discussions. They’d certainly love for something with a positive tilt to share the spotlight with Carlos Beltran’s recent dismissal. Of course, to view a discussion about Marte as reactionary from the Mets perspective presumes a number of things, including that the Mets were the ones to engage the Pirates. What we know for sure, the Mets would like to add an impact centerfielder, and the Pirates have one they are willing to trade – all of which has been true for the majority of the winter.
With most impact pieces off the board by now, Marte’s name has been curiously absent from the rumor mill of late, especially given the lack of league-wide depth in center. The Diamondbacks have previously been linked to Marte, as have the Cubs, though the latter remain on ice for the time being.
On the Pirates’ side, things have been pretty quiet thus far under Ben Cherington, who no doubt is taking some time to acclimate himself to the depth of the organization. That said, moving the 31-year-old Marte would be a natural place to start moving pieces around given his talent, contract, and age.
Insofar as talent is concerned, Marte has posted back-to-back 3+ fWAR seasons and owns a career batting line of .287/.341/.452. He put up a 119 wRC+ in 2019, and for the traditionalists in the crowd, he also posted his second 20-20 season (23 HR, 25 SB).
Defensively, he may have slipped a tick, but Statcast still has him near the middle of the pack with 2 Outs Above Average. His reaction time isn’t great, but he runs good routes and still tracks enough to remain viable in center. Fangraphs’ defensive metrics, however, were less kind (-9 DRS, -7.6 UZR). He’s due just $11.5MM this year with an exceptionally reasonable $12.5MM team option for 2021, so even a team like the Cubs ought to be able to work him into the payroll should they desire. There is the potential for slippage as he approaches his age-31 season, but again, at those contract rates, the risk is negligible. The only real holdup in trade discussions should be the Pirates asking price.
The Mets might seem like a peculiar fit. They already have a pseudo-centerfielder in Brandon Nimmo who handles the position adequately but without particular aplomb (which some might say describes Marte). And they have a fair amount of outfield depth, with Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis all capable of playing in the grass, though only Conforto is a natural outfielder. At the same time, they have their defensive option for center in Jake Marisnick, so a Marte addition would give whoever ends up managing the Mets a fair amount of options with which to mix-and-match based on handedness or situation.