After an extremely disappointing season, the New York Mets have a lot of tough decisions to make over the offseason. Owner Steve Cohen hired David Stearns as the organization's first President of Baseball Operations, and big changes have already occurred.
In 2022, Buck Showalter managed the Mets to 101 wins. This season they took a major step backward, winning just 75 games. As a result, Stearns decided to fire the skipper.
Just a season ago there was a different vibe in Queens, NY. Fans thought this team was on the brink of becoming a perennial contender with studs atop the rotation, but they fell flat on their face.
Jeff McNeil won the National League Batting Title in 2022, but this season wasn't a factor for the Mets. When the 31-year-old utility player is hitting for a high average, he is a valuable piece. He doesn't hit for power, he doesn't have lighting speed, but he's very good at putting the bat on the ball.
The Mets might want to keep McNeil around, as he could be back to his old self. After Aug. 1, the California native hit a .305 batting average, along with seven home runs. Across the 51-game stretch, he tallied 62 hits.
Other teams around the league might want to take a flyer on the Mets veteran, as he could serve a purpose on a contender. Not saying New York can't be a contender in 2024, but Billy Eppler indicated they're aiming for a 2025 run.
With that being said, it could make sense for the Mets to put McNeil on the trade block this offseason. He's hit above .300 four times in his six-year career, so there would be suitors. The only drawback though, is his season was cut short with a partially torn UCL in his left elbow.
McNeil has hopes that it won't affect him at the start of 2024, and we've seen many players come back from similar injuries and they continue to find success. Assuming there are no health concerns, he would be a heavily targeted player.
It will be interesting to see what direction the Mets take, as they do have talented players on the roster. They likely won't be fighting for the division next season, as the Atlanta Braves are a powerhouse.
The pieces that Stearns has could set them up for a Wild-Card berth in 2024, and anything can happen after that. Keeping McNeil could benefit them, as Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Kodai Senga, and Edwin Diaz are all in the prime years of their careers.
Should the Mets consider trading Jeff McNeil?
New York acquired several talented prospects, as they used Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and other established veterans to bring in a youth infusion. If the prospects they attain pan out, they will be a threat in a few years.
If the Mets want to be a threat next season, keeping McNeil around could be a smart move. With Stearns and Cohen having aspirations of getting younger, it could mean the 2022 NL Batting Champ suiting up for a different team in 2024.
With McNeil getting the majority of his reps at second base, it could stall Acuna's timeline. If the Met's new top prospect can live up to expectations, he'd ideally be the team's long-term second basemen.
If New York feels Acuna could contribute as soon as next season, then they could acquire pitching depth using McNeil as a trade chip. With Senga as the only reliable starter in the rotation, it would make sense for Stearns to add more depth.
Corbin Burnes hits free agency in 2025, and the Milwaukee Brewers are rumored to be interested in trading the 2021 Cy Young winner. Now that Stearns is in New York, there are already rumors about bringing in his good friend Craig Counsell.
With that being said, bringing in Burnes would make sense considering the ties. Losing McNeil would hurt the lineup, but the rotation would have two of the best pitchers in the National League in the prime years of their careers.
Fans in New York would love that, as the last ace duo planned was well past their prime years. Only time will tell if Stearns could include McNeil in a package to bring in another top pitcher. When the Mets have good teams, it's relatively built off pitching.
With prospects waiting for the call-up and the Mets need to bolster the starting rotation, trading McNeil could be the move to make this offseason.