The New York Mets hold a slim lead in the National League East. Could the addition of Whit Merrifield lock them into the postseason?
The New York Mets might be desperate enough for postseason success to overpay for a solid trade. The Royals should be quick to take advantage of it.
The Mets’ track is not too far off the Royals. Both teams played each other in the 2015 World Series, and neither clubhouse has won a postseason series since then. Unlike the last-place Royals, the Mets are on top of their division. The NL East is far from secured though, with three different teams within first place.
That standing is on the precipice of becoming history, however. Star shortstop Francisco Lindor joined several other teammates on the 10-day IL with an oblique strain. The strain is so severe that even Lindor has admitted he is “week to week”.
The injury comes at a time when Lidor was just getting hot, with a .333 batting average in July with two homers and 10 RBIs following a substandard start to the season. The Mets have also been dealing with the injury bug all year. Second baseman Jeff McNeil and outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto have all spent time on the IL throughout the season.
The fit is not glaring but needed upon examination. Losing any of these players for a long period of time can crater the Mets’ chances of winning the NL East. How Merrifield fits in is between his versatility and his contract.
First, Merrifield has experience playing all the positions of the oft-injured Mets. While second base is held down by McNeil, still having Merrifield to call on for most of the infield is an invaluable asset. His presence would also allow players to not rush back from the IL, ensuring that they are truly 100%.
Also, Merrifield is on that extremely team-friendly deal, something that the Mets struggle with. Four outfielders are set to be 2022 free agents for the Mets, while Merrifiled can be with the team through 2023. This continuity would allow Mets top prospects such as Pete Crow-Armstrong and Khalil Lee time to ease into an everyday major league role.
While the case can be made, the price tag is not clear. Merrifield is a top trade target, but coming from a team that might move him for pennies on the dollar. Ideally, any package would include top pitching prospects Matt Allan or J.T. Ginn. A return of Khalil Lee would be a sweet trade return as well.