With the playoffs a pipe dream, the New York Mets are firmly in evaluation mode for 2018. The Mets started that process by trading away Lucas Duda and Addison Reed while promoting Amed Rosario to the major leagues. While most expect the process to include promoting young talent to the majors, the Mets are also evaluating how the veterans on expiring deals could fit onto their team in 2018. Two players who fall into that category include Asdrubal Cabrera and Jay Bruce, who the Mets shopped before the trade deadline without receiving a ton of interest. The wide assumption has been that the Mets will try to move Cabrera in August and potentially hold onto Bruce, but the opposite may be true for Cabrera.
The Mets now appear to be open to the possibility of picking up Cabrera’s option for 2018, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports. Carig notes that the Mets backed off of aggressively shopping Cabrera prior to the deadline when they saw that he was adjusting well to third base. Cabrera shifted over there a few weeks ago to boost his trade value, but he has picked up the position well enough that the Mets think it might make sense to keep him for next season. The Mets are already responsible for two million dollars on Cabrera’s 2018 salary in the form of a buyout, so their remaining responsibility would be 6.5 million dollars. For a versatile middle infielder who can play three different positions and switch hit, that is a bargain, so if Cabrera is willing to get over being moved off shortstop it makes sense to bring him back. With second and third base in flux next year, having Cabrera around could be a solid insurance policy to cover at least one of those positions.
The other player who could be a factor for the 2018 Mets is Bruce, who Carig notes that the team is considering bringing back next season. Bruce has had a tremendous season for the Mets, batting .265 while leading the team in home runs (29) and RBI’s (75). Bringing back Bruce would force Michael Conforto to play center field full time, but there is a growing belief in the organization that Conforto can play there for a few years. That would open the door for a reunion with Bruce, who is having a career year and could give the Mets a key veteran presence in the middle of the lineup, something that cannot be understated with Rosario and fellow youngster Dominic Smith likely going through growing pains next season. The worst that can happen for the Mets is that Bruce rejects a qualifying offer and leaves, allowing them to recoup a draft pick with higher value than the low level prospects the Mets were offered in a trade for him.
This development appears to leave Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson as the odd men out. Both players are on expiring contracts and drew some interest before the trade deadline, leaving them as the likeliest players to get dealt via trade waivers in August. The Mets would like to deal someone else this month to bolster their farm system further and make room on the big league roster for Smith, who should make his big league debut within the next few weeks. The current plan is to rotate infielders and outfielders so everyone has enough playing time, so the Mets need to remove a player from the current mix to make room for Smith to get regular at bats.