The calendar has flipped to July and that means that trade season is upon us. With just under four weeks until the non-waiver trade deadline, the Yankees are positioned to be buyers this month. Currently, the Bombers trail the Red Sox 4 games in the division, though the Yankees do hold the top Wild Card spot. As injuries have piled up and team performance has staggered, a trade or two could help this year's team get back on track. Plus, as an organization lush with young talent, the Yankees should have no problem lining up interested suitors. What teams can the Yankees connect with for a deal? Today, let's take a look at an unlikely but intriguing partner with a handful of potential useful targets: the Mets.
Why should the Mets sell?
They're 11.5 games behind the Nationals in the division and are 9.5 games back in the Wild Card race. A handful of key players are on the disabled list, including Noah Syndergaard, Neil Walker, Michael Conforto, and Jeurys Familia. Others, like Yoenis Cespedes, have dealt with nagging injuries throughout the season. Although this is a talented team, the deficit in the standings and litany of injuries means that they probably will punt the season and look toward 2018.
Who should the Yankees target?
Lucas Duda would be an excellent solution at first base, which has been a black hole in the Bronx this year. Duda has always been a good hitter (career 123 wRC+) who gets on base (career .344 OBP) and hits for power (career .211 ISO). Per DRS and UZR, he's about average defensively. This season, in 59 games, Duda has a strong 137 wRC+ on the back of a .359 OBP, 14 home runs, and a .299 ISO. The numbers are unquestionably good, and it's more than reasonable to think he'd thrive at Yankee Stadium with his left-handed swing.
Duda is a free agent after this season, so the added benefit is that he's a rental. The 31 year-old might be a decent fit at the position after this season as well, but the Yankees wouldn't have to worry about that for now. His remaining salary for 2017 is about $3.6M, half of what he signed for in his final arbitration year.
Jay Bruce makes sense as an option at first base too. The 30 year-old lefty slugger has primarily been a right fielder, but has experience at first base. It's not much experience, though: 55 innings this year and 26 innings in 2014, but that's better than nothing. Like Duda, Bruce is a free agent after this season, so no further commitment is required after 2017. About half of Bruce's $13M salary remains to be paid this year.
Despite Bruce representing a solid option at first base, I'd prefer Duda. Bruce isn't as good of a hitter as Duda, which isn't to say Bruce is a poor offensive option. He's having a solid season (122 wRC+ and 21 home runs), but Bruce is a lifetime 108 wRC+ hitter. Though the two have similarities, Duda is clearly the superior hitter and is more trustworthy at first base, his native position.
Addison Reed would help a Yankees bullpen in need. Basically everyone outside of Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman is an uncertainty in the Yankees bullpen, and even those two have not met expectations in recent weeks. Reed has been sturdy since the Mets picked him up from the Diamondbacks in mid-2015, posting a sub-2 ERA through 2016. This year, Reed's ERA sits at a still solid 2.59, likely up because of more home runs allowed (1.08/9 IP vs. 0.46/9 IP last year). Reed did allow four of the five home runs he's surrendered all year back in April, so perhaps his full season number is bloated. Regardless, he'd be a significant boost to the bullpen.
Reed, 28, is in his final year of team control and is a free agent at the season's end. He's owed approximately half of his $7.8M salary the rest of the year.
Jerry Blevins would give the Yankees the southpaw in the bullpen that they've been seeking. Tommy Layne was jettisoned earlier in 2017, Chasen Shreve can be pretty shaky, and Tyler Webb is still a bit of an unknown. Meanwhile, Blevins has been an excellent lefty reliever in the league for a long time and has dominated left-handed batters this season. Opposing lefties have a putrid .177 wOBA against Blevins this year. There have been seasons when Blevins has been able to retire righties too (i.e. last year he had a reverse platoon split), but in general, he should be facing right-handed hitters sparingly.
Blevins' full season salary is $5.5M, but is also owed a $1M buyout if the Mets (or a potential acquiring team) doesn't pick up his $7M option for next year.
Finally, I'm sure the Yankees would love to get their hands on one of the Mets' healthy starting pitchers. Jacob DeGrom, Zack Wheeler, or Steven Matz would help the rotation, but the cost for any of the three would likely be prohibitive.
Would the Mets make a deal with the Yankees?
This is the million dollar question. Unless you consider the 2014 purchase of Gonzalez Germen a significant deal between the two teams (it wasn't), the two clubs haven't hooked up for a noteworthy trade in more than a decade. The most recent swap occurred in December of 2004. The two teams exchanged lefty relievers, with Mike Stanton returning to the Yankees for Felix Heredia.
Clearly, there's some hesitancy on both sides to make a deal with one another. Neither side wants to have egg on its face if it deals a prospect to the other borough who subsequently prospers. Additionally, in a city where the two compete for market share, helping the competition win the World Series isn't exactly a sound business plan.
Despite the apparent match for the Yankees' needs, it's difficult to envision a trade with the Mets. The history between the two franchises is telling. If the Yankees wanted to obtain Lucas Duda, for instance, the Bombers would probably have to pay a premium compared to another team in order to convince the Mets to make an intra-city deal. The two sides make plenty of sense in theory, but the off the field considerations are likely too overwhelming.
Statistics and contract information via Fangraphs and Baseball Reference.