Zach Wheeler for two months of a 34 year old Carlos Beltran, Noah Syndergaard and Travis D’Arnaud for a 38 year old R.A. Dickey, Mets GM Sandy Alderson drives a hard bargain prospect wise. All told, he netted three eventual top 20 prospects for a pair of free agency bound players well on the wrong side of thirty, and this has given him the boldness – and the leverage – to ask for a lofty price as he struggling first baseman, Ike Davis.
Although the 26 year old first baseman has hit less than .230 with an OBP under .330 in each of the last two seasons, the Mets are requesting prospects Tylor Thornburg from the Brewers, Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles, or Nick Kingham from the Pirates, in any potential trade, according to Mike Puma of the Daily News and John Perrotto of baseball prospectus. Contrast that with Carter Capps, the power reliever with a 5.91 ERA the Marlins got for Logan Morrison, and you have a pretty high asking price. Granted, Ike offers greater potential, but Morrison actually has better numbers and a greater prospect pedigree, and its a fairly steep climb from a struggling reliever – however good his stuff is – to a prospect of Thornburg’s or Rodriguez’s caliber.
Thornburg, 23, ranked as the second best prospect in the Brewers system prior to 2013, according to baseball america. Although he struggled to 5.79 ERA in Triple-A, that was largely due to bad luck as his 4.11 FIP was significantly lower. He was then dominant after being called up to the major leagues, pitching to a 2.03 ERA and a 3.11 FIP across seven starts and 11 relief appearances. He won’t pitch that well over a full season ever, but with a low 90’s fastball and a a quality curveball and change up, there’s little reason to believe he can’t be succesful as at least a back end starter.
Although Thornburg is the most major league ready of the three major prospects on the Mets’ shopping list, he also has the least upside – certainly less than Venezuelan lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez. Ranked as the 85th overall prospect in the game by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, and 44th by ESPN’s Keith Law, Rodriguez from a solid three pitch mix. His fastball sits at 92-94, and while his changeup is a bit fast, generally reaching the high-80’s on the gun, he makes up for it by putting excellent tailing action on the pitch. His breaking ball could also be above average – a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale, according to Keith Law – which give him three solid weapons on the mound. Few twenty year olds reach Double-A, but Rodriguez pitched well enough there, striking out just under a batter per inning with middling command. Even with two young starters better than Rodriguez (Bundy and Gausman), it will be tough for the Orioles to part with the Venezuelan prospect.
In terms of upside, the Pirates’ Nick Kingham falls somewhere between Thornburg and Rodriguez. The 22 year old righthander was rated as the fifth best prospect in the Pirates organization, and as having the best changeup and command in their farm system. Throw that in with a fastball that can touch 95 with movement and a 6’6 235 pound durable frame, and you have a pretty good pitching prospect on your hand. The only question for him is his curve, but that has shown improvement over the last couple seasons and could develop into a decent third pitch. He spent half of last year as a 21 year old at Double-A last season and managed an impressive 2.70 ERA and 8.5 SO/9. With his large frame and fastball/changeup combination, he is somewhat of a similar if lesser version of current Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard.
If Alderson can manage to net any of these three, it will be yet another shrewd prospect acquisition for the veteran GM, and with the Orioles and Pirates in need of a push to put them over the top and the Brewers in desperate need of an adequate first baseman, one them might be willing to fork over their prized pitcher. That being said, the markets been slow thus far and the record has shown that Alderson will not make a move unless he gets the caliber of player he wants.