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It’s that time of year. The time when grown men hug each other to say goodbye after five months together. It’s also the time when refresh buttons are mashed on Twitter trying to catch the news of whatever trade is about to happen. It’s all so exciting. And here at BP, we like to get into the spirit of the season, too. It’s become an annual tradition to play the BP Trade Game, where we put on disguises that make us look like general managers, and pretend to trade for someone.

On the docket today, three veteran Mets hitters: Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, and Lucas Duda.

Playing the part of Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is Bryan Grosnick. He will receive offers from several teams that we think (thought?) would be interested in the services of Bruce, Granderson, Duda, or all three.

  • Jeff Luhnow (HOU): Colin Anderle
  • Matt Silverman (TAM): George Bissell
  • Jon Daniels (TEX): Keith Radar
  • Mike Hazen (ARI): Lance Brozdowski
  • Mike Chernoff (CLE): Collin Whitchurch
  • Brian Cashman (NYY): Javier Barragan
  • Thad Levine (MIN): Scott Delp

And so, let the games begin!

***

1. Arizona Diamondbacks

From: Mike Hazen

Dearest Sandy,

For the sake of brevity at this strenuous time of year, I'd like to inform you it's hard for the Diamondbacks organization and myself to envision a future where any combination or individual piece of your left-handed trio migrates to the desert. With that being said, we'd be remiss to not send a "feeler" over to continue growing our relationship. Our offer is LHP Alex Young and 2B/SS Jack Reinheimer for Jay Bruce. Both are at advanced stages of our system, which will allow you to fast-track their talents to Flushing if you so desire. Reinheimer provides speed on the bases with the ability to take a walk, while we've been working with Young to refine his command for an eventual bullpen role.

With our recent acquisition of J.D. Martinez, we've bolstered our outfield to a point where anything more than the above considerations aren't feasible for our organization. We expect more lucrative offers to come from the other clubs we believe are interested in a left-handed bat of this variety. If you have interest in returning to us our friend from a few years ago, Addison Reed, we would be much more interested in negotiating, and including prospects that might pique your interest more.

Sincerely,

Mike Hazen

From: Sandy Alderson

Hey there, Mike. Brevity is, as Shakespeare said, the soul of wit. With that in mind … Nah.

I get that you don’t have a need for Bruce, but that doesn’t mean we’ll seriously consider your minimalist offer. But I appreciate the candor, and we’ll think it over. And you’d better believe I’ll give you a call this weekend about Addy. That’s a conversation worth spending some time on, and as Shakespeare also said: “Never trust Fernando Rodney. Yea verily, that dude is crazy.”

All the best,

Sandy

***

2. Cleveland Indians

From: Mike Chernoff

Hello, Sandy!

It's Mike Chernoff from Cleveland. Word on the street is you have corner outfielders for sale, and I have particular interest in Jay Bruce. Our official offer is Shane Bieber and Oscar Gonzalez.

Bieber, as you know, was our fourth-round pick a year ago. A college righty with solid command and above-average stuff, he's done well for us in High-A. He doesn't walk anyone, and should advance through your system rather quickly. Gonzalez is still young, but has plus raw power and a developing hit tool. Could be a real nice piece if he continues to develop. For a three-month rental in Bruce, I don't know if you're going to do much better than those two pieces.

Let me know what you think. Thanks.

– Mike

From: Sandy Alderson

Hey Mike! The interns are telling me that "Despacito" is the song of the summer, and that Bieber is so last year. (Sorry, even I can’t resist a Bieber joke.) Anyway, despite our down year, we’d prefer guys who could potentially help us soon if everything breaks right, not guys who could potentially help us in 2020 if everything breaks right. While you’re right about the offers for Bruce not necessarily bringing back top-100 talent, we’ve got a lot of faith in Jay and are considering trying to re-sign him for next season. I do so love to troll this team’s fans.

***

3. Texas Rangers

From: Jon Daniels

Sandy –

How are Linda and the kids? We're looking forward to seeing everyone later in the year.

I'm going to cut straight to it, Sandy. We're ready to make a strong push for a Wild Card spot, and giving Mike Napoli everyday at-bats just isn't going to do the trick for us down the stretch. We love having him in the clubhouse, but we need to give someone else the bulk of the plate appearances. I'm hoping that we can come to an agreement to bring Lucas Duda down to Arlington, beef up your farm system, and help you at the major-league level at the same time.

As painful as it will be to let him go, I think Jurickson Profar needs a change of scenery. He's going to help you right away, and you can slot him in at second or in the outfield if you let any of your other short-term players go. He's under control for two more seasons (through 2019), and I'm confident that a new city will do wonders for him. We will also offer to send Andy Ibanez your way. He will be ready fairly soon, and he's blocked by young talent here in Texas.

I'll speak with you soon.

From: Sandy Alderson

Hey there, Jon. The family’s well and I hope yours is too. I’d bet you’re right about Jurickson needing a change of scenery, but if he can’t hit in your hotbox down in Texas, I don’t know if he’ll be a fit for us in New York. We’ve already got a handful of guys who look like fringy MLB middle infielders. (I hope Gavin Cecchini isn’t reading my emails.) And yeah, Ibanez looks “ready” … to stall out at Triple-A. I know Duda’s not exactly a spring chicken any more, but I was hoping to see someone with a chance to top out as more than a role-45 second baseman. We’ll give it some thought, though.

***

4. Tampa Bay Rays

From: Matt Silverman

Hey Sandy,

Our right fielder, Steven Souza, exited Wednesday’s game with a left hip strain. We’d be lying if we told you that we weren’t at least a little bit concerned. Mallex Smith has done a fantastic job in center replacing Kevin Kiermaier, but we are reaching a breaking point from a depth perspective. As evidenced by the Adeiny Hechavarria deal last month, we are actively pursuing any veteran upgrades that will give us a shot to challenge Boston and New York for the division this year. Here is our formal trade proposal: Granderson for 3B Patrick Leonard and RHP Yonny Chirinos.

We think Granderson has shown recently that he still has some gas left in the tank. We don’t need himto be an everyday outfielder, but we love the flexibility he gives us to be able to play all three spots (if needed) and he also gives us another left-handed bat at the top of the order. We love Leonard. We’ve experimented with a number of positions in the minors, but he’s a third baseman. We just don’t have a spot for him in Tampa Bay, but we think he can hit at the major-league level right now. Chirinos is a 23-year-old righty who has really impressed us at Triple-A. We envision Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Brent Honeywell, Jacob Faria, Jose De Leon, and Blake Snell as the long-term core of our rotation, which makes Chirinos our most attractive trade chip.

Give me a call when you get a chance.

– Matt Silverman

From: Sandy Alderson

Hey there, Matt –

We can’t say enough good things about Curtis’ clubhouse leadership, his charitable work, and his overall demeanor … and we certainly agree with you that his recent performance is more representative of the performance he could bring in August and beyond. But I can’t figure out why you’re trying to sell me on Leonard as the lead piece in this deal. Leonard is finally hitting a little bit after repeating Triple-A, but he hardly projects to hit for any power, and I’m not convinced he’d be an upgrade over T.J. Rivera at any point. Chirinos isn’t a world-beater, but we could use a little help in the rotation depth department, so I’ll have to think on this one.

***

5. Minnesota Twins

From: Thad Levine

Sandy,

First, my condolences on your season to this point. Between injuries and Harvey Days, it can’t have been much fun for you. On the other hand, I’ve been fortunate and the perception is that we have overachieved. Of course, none of this is surprising to us in Minnesota. We do have needs, however, and one of them is offense. We are looking to make a deal for a dependable hitter and we would like to see if we can acquire Granderson. Seems he is an expensive fourth outfielder for you right now, and though his days as a difference maker are behind him, he’d be a bit of an upgrade for us over some of our young outfielders or even at DH.

We’re looking to save you money. Whether it is Fred’s Madoff hangover or your Oakland background (we all know it should have been you that Brad Pitt played in the movie), you guys seem to be stuck with kind of a small-market vibe. I know you are middle of the pack-ish in overall salary, but some of that is still Bonilla, right? Anyway, we will take on Granderson’s remaining money for this season and we are prepared to send you Trevor Hildenberger and Mitch Garver. Hildenberger can fill that middle relief spot that’s been a struggle for you. Similarly, Garver is ready to be at least a glove-first backup catcher with power. I think this works for both of us, Sandy. Either way, good luck going forward. Hope we can do business.

Best,

Thad

From: Sandy Alderson

Thad, I could’ve read nothing but the names “Trevor Hildenberger” and “Mitch Garver” and known this email came from you. Those are two of the most Minnesota Twins-ian ballplayer names I’ve ever heard. I like Hildenberger’s profile as a grounder-specialist reliever, but that elbow injury last season gives me the heebie-jeebies, especially with the way Terry tends to blow through our relief talent. And sure, Garver can be exactly what you said he is, except there’s been some serious drop-off in his framing and throwing numbers this year. Maybe he’s not quite at the elite defensive level he’d need to be at in order to get run behind Travis d’Arnaud. But we do love controllable, close-to-the-majors talent! We’ll get back to you.

***

6. New York Yankees

From: Brian Cashman

Hey Sandy,

We just DFA’d a nice, young, controllable, team-friendly bat in 2B Rob Refsnyder. Our roster is a bit crowded, and unfortunately Reffy gets the boot. Besides, with Neil Walker’s contract expiring, he will command a contract like the $17 million he earned this season, Refsnyder saves you millions on the market. Having different choices at your disposal is a luxury in life, that is why I am giving you three. Select one of the following, and we will work from there.

Choice 1: Lucas Duda for Refsnyder and Chase Headley

Choice 2: Curtis Granderson for Refsnyder and Caleb Smith

Choice 3: Jay Bruce for Refsnyder, Caleb Smith, and Garrett Cooper

You know how to reach me.

– Cash

From: Sandy Alderson

Hey there, Brian. Boy, I sure wish you would’ve reached out while you still had Blake Rutherford on hand. I’ve always regretted not taking him in the 2016 draft despite how much we’re fond of Justin Dunn, and we could’ve worked out a fun deal for Addy, Blevins, and Duda.

Anyway, it appears you have Queens confused with New Jersey–we’re not here to take out your trash. You’re offering a guy you’ve already DFA’d, a guy you left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, a non-prospect first baseman, and the least popular Yankees third baseman since, well, the last guy. It’s hard to imagine any possibility of us taking the first two deals, and with Dominic Smith (a better, younger version of Cooper) ready, the third seems unlikely as well.

***

7. Houston Astros

From: Jeff Luhnow

Sandy,

I hope you’ve got a moment, because I really think we’re in a great position to help each other out here. I heard you’ve got three left-handed bats you’re looking to move, and I’ve got two holes in my lineup that need to be filled. So let’s help each other out here.

Bruce is going to be a free agent at the end of the year, and he’s the wrong side of 30 for us to want to sign him to a long-term extension, so he’s strictly a rental for us. But I can give you Teoscar Hernandez. He’s a great guy—a plus runner who does everything well and can play both the corner outfield spots. Think of a young Shin-Shoo Choo and you’re not far off. He’s blocked with us but deserves a chance to earn playing time, and you just might find that you’ve unearthed your leadoff hitter of the future. And because he’s our favorite target on the board, I’ll also give you Daz Cameron. He’s a bit further off, but he’s got the ceiling of a star.

Granderson is 36 and the best year of his career was a full decade ago. Considering the reason we’re having this discussion is that Carlos Beltran ran out of juice this year, that’s concerning to us. Still, his ability to man the outfield means we can part with somebody who’s MLB-ready whenever you want to call him up. J.D. Davis has third base as his home and a ton of pop in his bat. Think Jedd Gyorko without the positional versatility, or Jake Lamb with a beefier upper body. He’s got a 900-plate appearance track record of success at Double-A.

Duda’s not pushing Yulieski Gurriel off first base defensively, so he’s a DH for us. Plus, he’s got a strikeout rate that’s a couple points higher than both of the other guys. For him, I can give you one of the three teenage shortstops in the lower levels of our system. Jonathan Arauz? Miguelangel Sierra? Freud Nova? They’re all shortstops, and any one could be a superstar. It’s too soon to tell, but we can part with one of the lottery tickets in our hand. I’m hoping that this generous offer is enough to get things done as soon as possible. I’d like to allow our playoff roster the maximum amount of time to gel before we hit the games that really matter.

Have a great day,

Jeff

From: Sandy Alderson

Hey there, Jeff. Congrats on your monstrous season to this point. I appreciate the extremely thorough response and your interest in all three guys.

Getting two outfielders with potential back for Bruce would be nice, even though we already have someone similar to Teoscar in Brandon Nimmo. And I appreciate you giving us the hard sell on J.D. Davis, but comping him to premium hitters at third like Gyorko and Lamb is probably a bit of an overstatement at this point, given his age. Yeah, the power is great, but he may never make the jump to the bigs.

While I appreciate your loyalty to Gurriel, I’d expect you of all people to be willing to run Duda out there at first thanks to his far superior offensive abilities, especially with Correa out. Unfortunately, saying that Jonathan Arauz or Freud Nova could be a superstar might just be overstating things a bit. Sierra is the one we’d consider out of that trio, and his contact issues make us just a bit itchy.

We’ll certainly give these a thought. Anyways, while I’ve got you, could you shoot me Bo Porter’s phone number? We need to ask him about a thing.

****

Unlike most of these trade game posts, I have a little more work to do parsing out the various deals, since there are three guys involved instead of one. Here’s how they break down:

Bruce: Diamondbacks, Indians, Yankees, Astros

Granderson: Rays, Twins, Yankees, Astros

Duda: Rangers, Yankees, Astros

Let’s start with Bruce. The Yankees’ offer of Refsnyder and Headley gives the Mets no help at all, really. Headley isn’t a serious upgrade over T.J. Rivera/Wilmer Flores/Dominic Smith. And Refsnyder is was effectively available for free after a DFA, because he’s a replacement-level second baseman with limited upside. The Diamondbacks’ offer isn’t particularly engaging either; the two prospects offered were coughed up with all the enthusiasm of a visit from the in-laws. So that leaves two significant options: the Indians and the Astros.

The Indians are offering a surprising pop-up arm in Shane Bieber, and if you want to scout the stat line, there’s a lot of potential in his bananas K/BB. Oscar Hernandez is an interesting flyer, but a flyer nonetheless. But the Astros are offering two players who made the team’s top 10 prospects list: Teoscar Hernandez and Daz Cameron. Granted, both hit the bottom end of that top 10, but they offer different ETAs and upsides. Teoscar looks like he could maybe be an average outfielder, with some speed and good on-base ability if everything breaks right. Meanwhile, Daz is a long shot to reach his dad’s potential, but he does occasionally flash standout tools and athleticism. I’ll take the Astros’ two-piece deal over the Indians’, and that means yes to the Astros on Bruce.

Moving onto Granderson, I’ve gotta say that these offers here were a little better than I might’ve expected, even despite Grandy’s recent effectiveness. Again, I’m inclined to eliminate the Yankees right away, but this time it’s because there are better offers in hand. (And I still don’t really care about Refsnyder.) The Astros’ offer of J.D. Davis depends entirely on how you project the guy’s bat, since I don’t seem him sticking at third base. I’m afraid that given his age, he’ll stall out at Triple-A, but I could imagine a world in which I’d take that deal to open up a space for Michael Conforto on the regular. Again, we’re left with two significant options: the Rays and the Twins. Each of these teams has one piece I’ve got legit interest in, paired with another piece I care much less about.

Hildenberger could actually be a good reliever thanks to his insane grounder rate and solid whiffs, plus he’s as team-controlled as they come. From the Rays, I’m fascinated by Yonny Chirinos, who’s a grounder-getter and posted strong strikeout numbers in Durham as a starter this season. But Patrick Leonard is another guy I don’t see coming out of Triple-A to be anything more than a role-40 regular in the big leagues. I’m enough of a man in favor of starting talent over relief talent to take Chirinos, so I say yes to the Rays on Granderson. (Plus, the Mets need Triple-A starting depth, in any count.)

Finally, there’s Duda. I would have imagined that Duda would bring back the heftiest return, but I’m not sure that these deals surpass the best offers on Bruce. Let’s wipe out the Yankees deal first. The Astros’ offer is mildly interesting in that Magenuris Sierra was a guy who could have jumped into the top 101 this season with a solid showing; his power and ability to stay at shortstop are not-insignificant marks in his favor. (The other two options the Astros gave me aren’t thrilling.) But Sierra hasn’t moved forward much, as far as I can tell at least, in 2017, and I think I’d rather go with talent a little closer to the majors.

Which leaves the Jurickson Profar change-of-scenery move, and a likely installation of Profar next to Amed Rosario to kick off 2018. Profar’s addition would give this team more ability to be flexible in other moves this offseason. If the team wants to move on from Flores, continue to try Rivera, or give Gavin Cecchini a look in the infield, Profar can be shifted around as needed. (Plus, he’d give the team a real backup for days when Rosario needs a break.) I’m not sure that I’d take him for more than a one-win player, but Profar could hypothetically be better than that if given everyday work. Ibanez is a fine throw-in, but I don’t have any real hopes of him making a difference at the major-league level. So yes to the Rangers on Duda.

So, the Mets open up the corners for young talents like Dominic Smith to get regular time through the end of the season, and pick up a super-utility guy with a chance (Profar), a near-term fourth outfielder (Hernandez), a fifth starter (Chirinos), a flyer (Cameron), and two likely up-and-down Triple-A infielders (Leonard and Ibanez). It’s not the super-sexy prospect haul that teams like the White Sox are getting for their assets, but hey, it beats the J.D. Martinez return a little bit. (I think. Maybe.)