The Mets have been an absolute force so far this season, holding the best record in the National League and second-best in the whole MLB. This, for the most part, has been done without star pitchers Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, as both have picked up injuries early in the season. The offseason acquisitions have really solidified the offense and made the Mets one of the most dangerous lineups in the league.
Ranking 3rd in fWAR and second in wRC+, this offense is the polar opposite of last year’s. A key to this improved offense is a new approach at the plate instituted by the new hitting coach Eric Chavez. He has emphasized situational hitting and lowering the number of strikeouts, which has proved extremely effective so far. The Mets have the 4th lowest K% and sit 15th in BB%. Even though this team has performed so well and looked unstoppable at times, there are specific needs at the trade deadline.
While the rotation will receive huge additions in the form of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, the bullpen is in need of a few more reliable arms. The bullpen has put up a 3.69 FIP and a 3.25 SIERA. While these are decent numbers, championship contenders need to have a close-to-perfect bullpen to compete and capitalize on leads in the playoffs. To tidy up the arm barn, the Mets must trade for a pair of Tigers’ relievers. This trade would send Khalil Lee, Dominic Smith, and Jaylen Palmer to Detroit for Michael Fulmer and Alex Lange. The overview of the trade is listed below.
Fulmer was originally drafted by the Mets in 2011 and now is a relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Currently, on a 1-year deal, Fulmer is an ideal trade candidate for any contender looking to bolster their bullpen. The righty has put up very solid numbers this year:
3.01 FIP 26.3 K% 75.2 LOB% 0.36 HR/9
Fulmer would fit perfectly into the back of the Mets bullpen as they are in need of a reliable setup, man. The setup role has rotated between Trevor May, Seth Lugo, and Adam Ottavino. None of the relievers listed have had consistent success and could benefit from competition for the role.
Michael Fulmer, Filthy 89mph Back Foot Slider. ? pic.twitter.com/bdvOYRWJTv
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 1, 2021
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It may be tough to pry the rookie reliever from Detroit, but it is definitely worth the steep asking price. The 26-year-old reliever had a difficult start to his rookie season but has experienced recent success as his velocity has risen. Lange could fit into a high-leverage role going forward as he continues to be dominant. His numbers are very promising as he’s become comfortable in the majors:
2.90 FIP 29.6 K% 81.7 LOB% 0.35 HR/9
I don’t see Lange becoming a setup man this year, but he could definitely fit into a 7th inning role and clean up innings with runners on base. With an aging bullpen, Alex Lange could provide a young weapon to solidify the staff for years to come.
Alex Lange, Ridiculous 98mph Front Door Two Seamer. ?
22 inches of run. pic.twitter.com/q5cmVwaiMe
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 6, 2022
You will never get two reliable bullpen pieces for a cheap price, so the Mets would be giving up three guys with high upsides to acquire the Detroit relievers. We know Dominic Smith has the potential to put up borderline elite numbers as he had a 134 wRC+ in 2019 and a 166 wRC+ in 2020. However, Smith has struggled to find a rhythm this year and was even sent down to the minors at one point. With Detroit not looking to contend this year, they could take a chance on him and hope he returns to his elite level.
The next part of the return for the Tigers is Khalil Lee. The 23-year-old prospect is listed at 7th on the Mets farm rankings. Lee has had brief stints with the major league team, the most recent being earlier this year when he got 2 plate appearances and hit a home run in his last. Lee absolutely tore up single-A putting up a 132 wRC+ and was heating up in triple-A before getting called up. The outfielder has great speed and above-average fielding, making him a prized possession.
The last player included in the return would be 3B/OF Jaylen Palmer. The 21 -year old was drafted in 2018 by the Mets and has impressed since entering the farm system. Palmer was ranked 14th in the farm rankings and has been very successful in his first few seasons. Palmer has consistently put up a wOBA around .300 and has all the tools to be a star in the making. His raw power and speed have impressed scouts, and as he settled into the higher levels of the minors, the results will reflect that.
Khalil Lee hits his first major league home run! pic.twitter.com/572FYN49ah
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 12, 2022
Overall, this trade addresses both teams’ needs as the Mets need relief pitchers to help them win now, and the Tigers need young players to build a future. This should not be the only trade the Mets make at the deadline, but it would be a great start.