Mailbag Question: Justin Upton for Jon Niese?

Adam J in VA sent in this e-mail: “I’ve heard a lot of talk about the Mets being a possible trade partner for Justin Upton this offseason. As a former high school opponent of his, I’d LOVE to see Upton in orange and blue. Is Niese a necessary component to get him? Or, would a package of Colin McHugh, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and a Cory Mazzoni get it done? What are your thoughts?”

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

That will not be enough to get Upton. The way I understand it, the D-Backs want a big-league, affordable, reliable, front-end starting pitcher for OF Justin Upton, who is due roughly $35 million over the next three years. They are not interested in a group of mediocre prospects who may or may not pan out. Plus, if they did, I assume other teams could put together better packages than that…

Niese is due $24 million over the next four years, after which he makes significantly more in 2017 and 2018, but each of those two seasons have a $500,000 buyout. It’s a good deal. I was told last summer that a deal for Upton would need start with Niese. I have no idea if these two teams will discuss a deal like this in a month or two. If they do, I’m not yet sure I’d even pull the trigger. But, as I’ve said before, the Mets know they’re in desperate need of real, proven talent in their outfield, with not much available to them in their own farm system. There are solid free agents available after next season, such as Adam Jones, but there is no guarantee they get to the open market. At the same time, as good as Niese has been, the Mets have Matt Harvey and a promising crop of young starting pitchers knocking on Citi Field’s door. If the Mets sign Dickey to an extension, they need to least consider something like swapping Niese for a new, legitimate bat for the outfield, because I don’t know how else they get one.

Michael Baron, Contributor

Niese has a very team-friendly contract. And, considering the Mets would likely seek a Major League position player in return for Niese, it seems like this could be a starting point for a deal. If it all breaks right, yeah the Mets will have excess on paper in their rotation. But, we’ve been saying that for years with this club … and, I think there are a lot of question marks as far as the rotation is concerned; including Johan Santana’s ability to contribute effectively, how R.A. Dickey might bounce back after an amazing year, when Zack Wheeler will arrive, and how Matt Harvey will pitch out of the gate? Besides, I don’t think a team can ever have enough starting pitching.

I know, the Mets have to part with good players to make trades, but filling a hole while creating another doesn’t necessarily make them better – it just changes the location of the hole. Besides, it’s hard to find young, quality left-handed starting pitchers who are under control in team-friendly contracts, such as Niese. I believe Niese is part of a solid and exciting foundation built around young, hard throwing starting pitchers. And trading part of that foundation would be foolish – even if it can be considered ‘excess.’