Mookie Metts? It didn’t come to fruition, but the Mets did make an effort in December to acquire superstar outfielder Mookie Betts from Boston. The Red Sox ended up trading him to the Dodgers earlier this week.
One reason talks between the Mets and Red Sox broke down? The Mets weren’t open to moving infielder/outfielder Jeff McNeil for just a year of control over Betts, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (they also wouldn’t give him to the Indians for shortstop Francisco Lindor). However, the Red Sox regarded McNeil as “integral” to a potential trade package, according to Sherman. Understandably, the Mets weren’t going to part with the versatile, inexpensive 27-year-old after he was one of the majors’ most effective offensive players from 2018-19.
While the Mets weren’t willing to surrender McNeil for Betts, they did offer packages centered on outfielder Brandon Nimmo and infielder/outfielder J.D. Davis (quality, affordable players in their own right), per Sherman. Those deals also would have included one of the Mets’ infield prospects in either Andres Gimenez or Ronny Mauricio, two top-100 farmhands. It seems the Mets, reluctant to absorb all of Betts’ $27MM salary, also would have tried to include one of their highly paid, unwanted veterans in outfielder Yoenis Cespedes or infielder Jed Lowrie in order to somewhat offset the money they’d have taken on had a deal with Boston gone through.
Considering that getting under the $208MM luxury-tax threshold was one of the main causes for the Red Sox’s decision to unload Betts (and left-hander David Price with him), adding Cespedes or Lowrie wouldn’t have been palatable for them. They wound up accepting the Dodgers’ offer of outfielder Alex Verdugo and two prospects – infielder Jeter Downs and catcher Connor Wong – saving a total of $75MM in the process.
Meanwhile, although the Mets went big-game hunting for Betts, their outfield appears as if it’ll enter 2020 with mostly the same cast. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, even though none of the team’s current options can rival Betts. However, to their credit, McNeil, Nimmo, Davis, Michael Conforto and Dominic Smith all had good seasons a year ago. It’s anyone’s guess what the Mets will get from Cespedes after injuries shelved him for the vast majority of the prior three seasons, but he’s back on a reduced salary and has always produced when healthy.