Javier Baez‘s name has been getting kicked around the New York Mets’ fan base as a potential trade target for the Mets this winter, but there is virtually no chance this is going to happen.
There is no way the Cubs would part ways with their prized prospect, but if they did, we would be talking about giving up Noah Syndergaard and maybe even Travis d’Arnaud in exchange for the Cubs’ slugging shortstop. But it’s not even worth worrying about because the likelihood of the Cubs giving up their No. 1 prospect is highly unlikely. Think about it, if the Mets had a shortstop in Double-A that crushed 37 homeruns last year, is there any chance they would think about trading him?
There is still a question mark on where Baez will end up defensively. If the Mets did manage to pull off a trade for him, they would be trading about 30 errors at shortstop to gain about 30 homeruns at the plate. Baez made 44 errors in 2013—to put that in perspective, the highest amount of errors by a major league shortstop last year was 27. Oddly enough, the second most errors were made by Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (22).
Before a trade brought third base prospect Mike Olt to the Chicago organization, it was believed that Baez would eventually settle in at third base, giving the Cubs a left side of the infield of Castro and Baez. But if the Mets were serious about getting a shortstop this winter, then Castro should be the guy they go after, not Baez.
Castro has all the tools to be a solid everyday player at the big league level. The Mets need help now, not in a couple of years, which is why Castro would be the trade target and not Baez.
The problem with Castro seems to be his maturity. I guess it’s understandable to get frustrated when you are on teams struggling to win 70 games in a season. The question is whether the Mets would be a good fit for Castro considering his past history with mental lapses, and all the struggles the Mets have had winning games themselves the past couple of years. The good news is that the Mets have something that the Cubs don’t have, something that would make a very big difference with Castro’s attitude and on field play—a good clubhouse leader in David Wright.
CSNChicago.com recently took a look at the future of the Cubs with Castro and Baez, and here is what they had to say about Castro’s recent woes:
Yes, Castro still had a few moments where he drifted. You would, too, if you played 161 games for a 66-96 team. But he cut the errors down to 22, committing only eight in his final 85 games, which translated to a .979 fielding percentage that ranked fourth among shortstops in the league. He’s coachable. He works hard. He cares. He should get better defensively.
Another Cubs player the Mets would be wise to target in a trade would be 23 year-old Junior Lake. He was a prospect that I fell in love with when I was covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Report last winter. Here is an excerpt that I wrote about him last December:
When you read a scouting report and a player’s arm is compared to Shawon Dunston it’s hard to believe. It’s an eye opening comparison.
Like Dunston, Lake’s natural position is shortstop. However, with Starlin Castro locked in place, there’s a good chance that when Lake gets called up, it will be at another position.
He is still considered a raw talent, but has a cannon for an arm, good power, great speed and excellent athleticism. The Cubs were giving him some time in the outfield during winter ball, so that could be a potential landing spot for Lake in the future. With his strong arm, he could also eventually end up at third base.
Lake was called up to the show last July, and he did find himself playing the outfield. He ended the season with a .284/.332/.428 slash line. He has a busy swing, but if the Mets were looking for a player who has future Alfonso Soriano-type ability, then Lake is someone they may want to take a shot on.
Who knows, maybe the Mets pull of a miracle and get Starlin Castro and Junior Lake to Flushing this off-season…but it’s probably going to cost them if they do. The Cubs would be an excellent trade partner for the Mets due to the lack of pitching depth in their system. The question is, would the Mets be willing to part with some of their pitching stock in order to pull this off?