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Reports are that the New York Mets are interested in trading for Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Starling Marte. What could a potential trade between the two teams look like?
As new general manager Ben Cherington prepares to embark on his first offseason on the job for the Pittsburgh Pirates one of his biggest decisions this offseason will be deciding what to do with Starling Marte. The former Gold Glove winning All-Star is the team’s best player. However, he is only under team control for two more seasons.
Right now the Pirates do not appear to be a team that will be looking to win either of the next two seasons. The right move would be for Cherington to look to rebuild and the main part of that would be trading Marte.
Over the weekend, it was reported that the New York Mets are among the teams that are interested in Marte. So, what could a potential Marte trade with the Mets look like?
When looking at a potential return for Marte one name that immediately jumps out is outfielder Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo has been the team’s regular center fielder the past few seasons, but the Mets have outfield depth with Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, a healthy Yoenis Cespedes, and Jeff McNeil can move to the outfield as well. So, Nimmo could be expendable.
In four MLB seasons Nimmo owns a .254/.387/.440 slash line, .361 wOBA, 130 wRC+, and a 15.2% walk rate in 1,084 plate appearances. In his three full MLB seasons he has been worth an average of 2.3 fWAR per season. Nimmo remains under team control for three more seasons and could join Bryan Reynolds, Kevin Newman, Josh Bell, Mitch Keller, etc. as part of the Pirates new core.
Nimmo would be a main piece in a trade. If not Nimmo, then the Pirates could potentially target Matthew Allan – the Mets’ top pitching prospect – as the main piece of a Marte trade. The 18-year-old Allan was a 3rd round pick by the Mets last summer. In six games after being drafted Allan allowed 3 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings of work to go with 14 strikeouts. He projects as a top of the rotation starting pitcher.
As for potential secondary pieces in a trade two names that jump out are catcher Francisco Alvarez and outfielder Freddy Valdez. Alvarez, an 18-year-old catcher, is the Mets’ 5th best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Alvarez slashed .312/.407/.510 with a 155 wRC+ in 42 games last season.
Valdez is even younger than Alvarez. The 17-year-old outfielder is also among New York’s top 20 prospects, but after slashing .274/.367/.448 last season to go with a 6-foot-3 frame Valdez looks primed to shoot up prospect rankings.
Left-handed pitching prospects David Peterson and Kevin Smith could be intriguing trade targets as well. Peterson had a strong season at the Double-A level in 2019, where he made 24 starts. In these 24 starts he posted a 4.19 ERA, 3.19 FIP, a 7.4% walk rate, and a 24.5% strikeout rate in 116 innings.
Smith started 2019 at the High-A level where he posted a 3.05 ERA, 2.63 FIP, 6.8% walk rate, and a 29.1% strikeout rate in 85 2/3 innings pitched across 17 starts. His success at the High-A level earned him a promotion to the Double-A level where he made six starts, posting a 3.45 ERA, 3.23 FIP, an 11.8% walk rate, and a 22.1% strikeout rate in 31 1/3 innings pitched.
You can never have too much pitching in baseball. Additionally, the Pirate farm system is void of any left-handed pitching prospects.
One thing Cherington needs to do is restock the Pirate minor league system. The best way to do this is to stockpile young talent. Players such as Alvarez, Valdez, Peterson, and Smith would all help in doing this.