The New York Mets have intensified their desire to acquire Starling Marte from the Pittsburgh Pirates. This rekindling of trade talks likely comes in response to the Atlanta Braves signing Marcell Ozuna. The looming question hanging over the Mets is he worth the trade?
The simple answer is no. The Mets should not avoid the trade because they do not need him, but because they should not dish out more than he is worth. Marte is heading into his age-31 season, and the defensive metrics do not favor him in center field. The trade would force the Mets to give up either J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo, and guarantee them moving Tomas Nido and a mid-level prospect.
Keep the Hand You Are Dealt
In 2019, Marte’s best slugging year only put him third among the Mets group of outfielders. He sits behind Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis and is only nine points better than Michael Conforto. Nimmo’s best year in 2018 was better than any slugging year Marte put together before his .503 in 2019.
The four main outfield options are all younger, cheaper, and better at the plate than Marte. Yes, Marte is the better base stealer, but he ranks dead last when comparing him to the 2019 Mets outfielders. Marte’s best walk rate season (6.1%) is still worse than Nimmo’s worst walk rate season (7.5%).
We omit the bat of Jake Marisnick because he will not be a consideration to start every day going into spring training.
Speed Does Not Equal Defense
Marte is faster than the two starting center field options of Conforto and Nimmo, but he is not better defensively. There was a time where that statement was completely false, but Marte’s defense fell off big time last season. Marte’s UZR dropped from 3.2 to -7.6 from 2018 to 2019. The drop is way too drastic for the Mets to take a risk to hope he is slightly better than Conforto and Nimmo.
Marte saw more time in center than both Mets center fielders. When both UZR’s are expanded to equal the same amount of time, Nimmo still projects to play better, and Conforto projects as a serviceable right fielder. The Mets will not be getting the gold glove caliber Marte, who is likely in a declining part of his career.
If the Mets want to include Davis instead of Nimmo, then the Mets will put themselves in a high position to succeed. Despite likely being on a decline, his poor UZR will settle in the middle between 2018 and 2019. The key is keeping Nimmo and any high-level prospects out of the trade.
The Pirates are much like the Mets when it comes to horrible organizational management since the century turned. Both have their fair share of questionable moves, and this trade will come down to makes the trade out of confidence, not desperateness. Brodie Van Wagenen trades have come with more failure than success during his short tenure with the Mets. This final one could be what determines his fate under the ownership of Steve Cohen.