Prior to last season, the New York Mets traded prized prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, plus other assets. They took an albatross contract (Robinson Cano) but also received a game-changing reliever in Edwin Diaz. He didnâ€™t quite work out in 2019, but he is talented enough to rebound.
This time around, the Mets are looking to do the opposite. They want to pair a high-priced veteran with a valuable, controllable piece. The intention is to receive something worthwhile in return.
According to the New York Post, the pricey contract is that of Jed Lowrie. He will be 36 soon and missed all but nine games of the 2019 season. He doesnâ€™t have any trade value given that the Mets owe him $10 million in 2020.
Valuable and controllable
The valuable, controllable piece is Dominic Smith. He is out of options but doesnâ€™t have a clear path to consistent playing time. His natural position is first base, but thatâ€™s Pete Alonsoâ€™s spot. He can also play the outfield but the team has plenty options there, and he isnâ€™t very good defensively.
What he can do is rake. He had a .282/.355/.525 line with 11 home runs, a .880 OPS and a 133 wRC+ in 2019 with the Mets. He has five additional seasons of cheap team control.
Smith is also young at 24 years old. He makes a lot of sense for an American League team, where he could DH, or another club with an open path to playing time in the outfield.
What could the Mets get?
Pairing Smith with Lowrie will give teams plenty of incentive to pull the trigger. They would only need to pay the infielder for 2020, and then, they would have Smith for four years after this season.
The rumors have the Oakland Athletics as a possible landing spot for Lowrie. He played five successful seasons there, including a fantastic 2018 (.267 average, 23 home runs, 99 RBI and 78 runs scored.)
It is unclear which kind of package would the Lowrie-Smith pair fetch. It is highly unlikely that prospects of the Kelenic-Dunn caliber are involved, but the Mets could certainly receive something useful.
The main thing to keep in mind is that while Smith is certainly talented, his defensive value is limited. If he was better with the glove, or more versatile, he would bring a lot more in return. But then again, if that were the case, he would have more avenues to regular or semi-regular playing time with the New York Mets.