Of course, this year’s Mets club has no Beltran-type player -- a star on the verge of free agency who can bring back an elite prospect. So you’re left with a rebuilding also-ran that probably won’t be able to make any big moves at the July 31 trading deadline. A little sad, right?
But I’m here to tell you that the Mets have a very valuable piece of trade bait, and they can significantly improve their long-term outlook if they do everything they can to trade closer Bobby Parnell. And here are three reasons why.
1. HE’S GOOD, BUT NOT THIS GOOD
Parnell is one of the better player development stories to come through the Mets' system, as he was a ninth-round pick in 2005 out of a small college (Charleston Southern) who had an 8.86 ERA the year he was drafted. He’s become a reliable reliever in recent years, posting a 2.49 ERA last season and a 2.45 mark this year to go with 13 saves, which gives him some cred with those who believe a you need a Proven Closer.
Of course, he has a .253 batting average on balls in play, which is by far the lowest of his career and seems a bit flukey, and when you factor in the Mets’ brutal defense -- which fails the eye and metric tests -- it almost certainly is. Additionally, he’s given up 22 fly balls this year and not one has cleared the fence. Last year, he allowed 43 outfield flies and 4 left the yard. Also a bit flukey. In other words, sell high.
2. RELIEVERS ARE EASY TO FIND
OK, maybe not so easy for the Mets, but a good bullpen is a low priority for a rebuilding club, and reliever performance is so volatile that it’s impossible to know if Parnell will still be effective the next time the Mets are contending.
Not only that, but the Mets actually have an impressive group of pitching prospects in their system, and odds are that at least a few of them will end up as relievers because they can’t develop a third pitch, with the likes of Domingo Tapia, Jake DeGrom and Hansel Robles all being prime candidates.
As we know, Parnell was a starter for almost his entire minor league career, but the lack of a changeup pushed him to the pen.
3. SCREW THE PHILLIES
I’m sort of stealing this idea from ESPN Insider’s Dave Cameron, who argued that the Nationals should trade Rafael Soriano to undercut the market for Jonathan Papelbon, who will presumably be the best closer on the market once the Phillies come to their sense and realize they need to rebuild.
Parnell is about as effective as both of those pitchers and under team control for just as long (through 2015). But while it would cost you $26 million for two more years of Papelbon and $28 million for two more years of Soriano, Parnell will probably earn one-third of that over the next two years via arbitration.
In other words, the Mets could undercut the market for all expensive closers on the market by offering up Parnell. He is a more attractive trade option due to his price and age, and could probably fetch you a decent prospect from a team like the Detroit Tigers, or possibly an elite one if you also throw in one of the promising arms in the minors (non-Montero or Syndergaard division).
That’s right, it’s a chance to add a good prospect and screw over the team’s biggest rival. Sounds like a win-win!
Parnell has been a nice story for the Mets, but he’s the best trade chip they’ve got. The club would be doing itself a disservice if it does not try to trade him now because his value will never be higher.