Trying to Make Sense of New York Mets’ Latest Trade for Tyler Naquin, Lefty Relief Help
Things are starting to move a bit on the trade market.
The New York Mets have acquired outfielder Tyler Naquin and lefty-reliever Phillip Diehl from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor league outfielder Hector Rodríguez and minor league RHP Jose Acuña, as a source confirmed to Inside the Mets.
The New York Post was first on the news of the full trade and MLB.com was on the minor league return details. The Mets later announced the move.
Right-handed pitcher R.J. Alvarez has been designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Naquin.
Naquin, 31, was slashing .245/.305/.429 with six homers and 31 RBI for the Reds in 55 games this season. His career-year came in 2021, in which he hit .270 with 19 homers and 70 RBI in 127 games. He will be a free agent after the season.
Diehl, 28, is expected to go to Triple-A Syracuse to serve as reliever depth/insurance after Drew Smith landed on the IL with a lat strain on Thursday. Fortunately for the Mets, the relief market is likely going to be robust, and they are said to be pursuing David Robertson of the Cubs, among others. Trevor May should also rejoin the team in D.C. by early next week if all goes well in his final two rehab appearances this weekend.
Trying to Make Sense of This Trade:
In what was very clearly a precursor move to improve the team’s positional flexibility, before the likelihood of a bigger move for a bat and one or multiple high-leverage relievers, the Mets acquired a versatile left-handed outfielder that can play all three spots in Naquin.
SNY’s Andy Martino says the Mets decided to bring Naquin into the fold to allow Jeff McNeil to play second base on a near exclusive basis, as opposed to playing left field part-time. The idea is that Naquin will start a few times a week in the outfield, mostly the corners, and Luis Guillorme will receive more time at third base with Eduardo Escobar, in which the Mets have now added flexibility to platoon this pair at the hot corner.
This trade likely puts fourth outfielder Travis Jankowski’s roster spot in jeopardy, who is out of options so he’d have to clear waivers and then accept a minor league assignment in order to remain with the organization. The arrival of Naquin could also take at-bats away from left fielder Mark Canha, but at the same time, it makes the Mets extremely versatile. The latter should give the Mets’ front office additional wiggle room to focus on landing an impact level bat, regardless of whether they have positional versatility or not.
Last week, the Mets acquired DH Daniel Vogelbach, another left-handed bat with a similar offensive skillset to Naquin, given that he only hits righties well.
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Following this acquisition, general manager Billy Eppler was asked if he is prioritizing positional versatility or run creation when searching for additional offensive help.
“In general, I’m going to value positional versatility – unless we’re talking about complete impact level players,” Eppler said in front of a media scrum in the back of Citi Field’s press box after the Vogelbach trade. “Otherwise, the more you can move around the diamond, the easier it is for Buck to have a lineup, the easier it is for me to fill out a roster.”
The Mets have been pursuing catcher/DH Willson Contreras and David Robertson in a possible trade package with the Chicago Cubs, as first reported by Inside the Mets on Tuesday.
They also have been monitoring DH J.D. Martinez’s availability, and would be very intrigued if the Boston Red Sox set their hearts on trading him ahead of the August 2 deadline, as you also heard here first last Sunday.
The Vogelbach addition didn’t provide positional versatility, as he is very clearly a DH that can play first base in a slim pinch. The Naquin move makes sense because it improves the Mets’ thin outfield depth. It also allows them to swing a little harder at landing an “impact level” bat in the next few days, as opposed to a player that can man multiple spots.
The Mets need 1-2 high-leverage relievers, but the main course of the deadline will be a big bat. The latter move, which could come in a combo deal with a reliever or several as well, will ultimately determine if this team has enough offense to be serious title contenders or not down the stretch. Eppler and staff are off to a solid/creative start, but they are far from finished, and things will only continue to heat up in the next few days. Buckle up!
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.