Mets outfielders have been very popularly unpopular this offseason. On Thursday, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted that center fielder Juan Lagares is drawing some interest on the trade market. Lagares, 27, is due to make $4.5 million in 2017, and is guaranteed $20 million over the next three years.
First, let’s investigate the Lagares situation because the talk all offseason has been about trading one of the outfielders to clear up the logjam. Most of the winter the Mets were trying to deal Jay Bruce but that never came to fruition. The New York Post sports desk wrote an article on what Puma had reported earlier. The Mets signed relievers Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins and Tom Gorzelanny on Friday.
The Mets are inclined to start the season with Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, and Bruce as the everyday outfielders, which leaves Lagares relegated to late inning defensive replacement duties. Lagares, the 2014 NL Gold Glove award winner, has been injury plagued and has struggled at the plate over the last two seasons and lost the grip on the center field job.
Next, let’s focus on the potential value that Lagares has, because the team shouldn’t be looking to trade him just for the sake of dumping the $4.5 million. Any team that acquires him would have four years of control, so the Mets would be inclined to get a fair return. The contract is team friendly so it’s unlikely a trade would be held up due to money, it would just be teams coming to terms on the right return for a 27-year-old outfielder.
It’s highly doubtful that a team would trade away a major league ready player in the deal unless the Mets sweeten the deal with a mid-level prospect. Otherwise, it seems like the Mets would only be receiving a low-to-mid level prospect in return which could halt the brakes on any deal.
Overall, it may still be in the best interest for the Mets to keep Lagares around for his defensive prowess, but the $20 million he is guaranteed over the next three years may be a nice way to lower the payroll.