Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
New York Post columnist Joel Sherman says Dodgers OF Matt Kemp, Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez, White Sox SS Alexei Ramirez and Rays 2B Ben Zobrist will be available in trade this summer (NY Post, June 9).
These guys all make some sort of sense for the Mets. However, they all have baggage full of red flags, which is probably why they’re available.
In 54 games this season, Kemp, 29, is batting .253 with five home runs, 18 RBI, a .737 OPS and 9 stolen bases, while striking out in 26 percentof his at bats.
Kemp would certainly grab headlines, but he has yet to prove he’s the players he once was and, oh, by the way, he’ll still has five years and $107 million left on his contract after this season. Of course, he was once one of the best players in baseball, and he’s still just 29 years old.
The Dodgers were reportedly telling teams they would move Kemp last winter, but only in return for an equally bad contract. In the event you wanted him at a discount, the Dodgers wanted two of your top prospects in return for them paying a chunk of Kemp’s money. The Mets are not going to trade Noah Syndergaard for Kemp, I don’t care who’s paying his salary. And, the only players who match Kemp’s money are Curtis Granderson and David Wright, neither of which should get moved for a now-questionable hitter.
In 52 games this season, Gonzalez, 28, is batting .255 with eight home runs and 27 RBI, while striking out in 22 percent of his at bats. He has a .960 OPS when playing at Coors Field this year, .610 every place else.
The home-road splits are a massive concern, especially if he were to make Citi Field his home 81 games a year. He’s 28, and he has serious power, but I would be shaking when pulling the trigger on a deal for him, especially knowing I’ll almost certainly have to give up Rafael Montero to get him. I’d do it, and I’d give up two or three other lesser prospects to make it happen, but I’d only give it a 50 percent chance of working in my favor. By the way, after talking with people who know the Rockies well, I ended last winter convinced Colorado will never trade SS Troy Tulowitzki.
Ramirez, 32, is off to one of the best starts of his career, batting .316 with a .356 OBP, seven home runs and 34 RBI. He hit 15 home runs the last two seasons combined.
According to Sherman, the Tigers, Pirates, Yankees and Mariners, as well as the Mets, could all be looking to acquire someone for the left-side of the infield. He’s affordable, having just one year and $10 million, with a 2016 option, on his deal after this season. According to insiders around the league, Sandy Alderson’s staff spent a lot of time last winter talking with teams about their shortstops, including conversations about Ramirez, but no deal was ever made. Ramirez is a good, not great, shortstop. He’d be an upgrade for the Mets, no question, but it looks like competition will be stiff and I’m not sure he’s worth overpaying for when so many shortstops will be on the open market in a few months.
In 50 games for the Rays this season, Zobrist, 33, is batting .245 with a .324 OBP, five home runs, 13 RBI, while striking out in just 13 percent of his at bats. He has played several games at every position, except pitcher and catcher, during his seven-year career.
Tampa Bay may gauge interest, but I don’t believe they’ll trade Zobrist. They’re too good to give up this early in the year, especially given their track record and tumult in their division. That said, if he really is available, he’d be an good and useful player for Alderson to acquire. Zobrist is a switch-hitter, he fits in to Alderson’s approach at the plate, and he plays almost every inning of every game because he plays almost every position. He’s due just $7 million next year, after which he can be a free agent.