Trade prospects for veterans can be critical to a team’s title hopes. The New York Mets know the ups and downs of these trades. Such trades for veterans Mike Piazza and Yoennis Cespedes earned trips to the World Series for the Mets in 2000 and 2015. However, the Mets’ acquisition of Javier Baez for potential Pete Crow-Armstrong couldn’t stop them from closing the stretch fade into 2021. The Mets are hoping Chris Bassitt’s trade will be more in line with Piazza’s and Cespedes’ trades. Things are looking promising for the Mets now, but it’s still a gamble.
Mets trade prospects for veteran Bassitt
In exchange for minor league pitchers JT Ginn and Adam Oller, the Mets received Bassitt from the Oakland A’s on March 12, 2022. It was a textbook trade between large and small market teams. The A’s can’t afford to re-sign Bassitt if he reaches free agency this offseason, while the Mets can’t afford to miss the postseason again. The Mets were willing to risk Bassitt leaving after just one season in the orange and blue. Meanwhile, the A’s were willing to trade an All-Star in hopes that one or both of those prospects will find success in MLB.
The very early returns show that the Mets won this deal. Bassitt bolstered the rotation in Jacob deGrom’s absence and helped propel the Mets into first place. He’s 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA and his .955 WHIP is a mustache behind Max Scherzer’s .946. Meanwhile, Ginn has struggled in his first starts in Double-A, while Oller’s ERA is 11.17 in his first three starts in the big league.
Beware Pete Crow-Armstrong: Veteran trade prospects are risky
The Mets traded Crow-Armstrong to the Chicago Cubs on July 30, 2021 for Baez and pitcher Trevor Williams. Baez was batting a solid .299/.371/.515 in 47 games as the Mets were eliminated from the playoff race. He wasn’t to blame for the team’s struggles. Ultimately, they allowed Baez to go to the Detroit Tigers on a free-hand basis, ending his brief tenure with the Mets.
However, the price of Baez’s two-month Mets career could be a decade of Pete Crow-Armstrong’s success for the Cubs. The Mets selected Crow-Armstrong as their pick of the 2020 amateur draft. He began his Mets minor league career by hitting .417 in 24 shots before shoulder surgery ended his 2021 season. Since returning in 2022, Crow-Armstrong has been acting like someone about to be promoted from Class A ball. The 20-year-old midfielder is batting .373 in his first 25 games with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Class A affiliate of the Cubs. Crow-Armstrong is probably two years away from MLB, where success is not guaranteed. However, should he become a perpetual All-Star, it will be a constant reminder to the Mets and their fans that a trade went wrong.
Mets traded prospect Kelenic for Diaz in 2018
Bassitt’s next Mets start will be this weekend against the Seattle Mariners at Citi Field. Interestingly, he will likely face Jarred Kelenic at some point. The Mets traded Kelenic and four other players for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano in December 2018. The rebuilding Mariners parted ways with an elite closer, Diaz, over receiving a predicted superstar in Kelenic. However, superstar status eludes 22-year-old Kelenic. He hit a disappointing .181 in his debut season last year, but a good September seemed to put him on an uptrend. Unfortunately he hits a weak .140 in 2022 and probably needs more minor league spice. It’s too soon to fire Kelenic. Perhaps a visit to his near-former home in Citi Field will reignite his fortune. Trading veterans like Bassett is a solid strategy for teams aiming for the postseason, but it comes with long-term risks.
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Mike Piazza, Yoennis Cespedes, Javier Baez, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Chris Bassitt, JT Ginn, Adam Oller, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Jarred Kelenic, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano