A trade between the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs centering on Willson Contreras could work if these other players are involved.
The two weakest spots in the New York Mets lineup this year have been behind the plate and at the DH spot. Starting catcher James McCann will remain on the IL for several more weeks and the pairing of Tomas Nido and Patrick Mazeika will likely not do much at the plate.
From the DH spot, the team is giving the regular position players opportunities while also mixing in J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith. Although they put together a nice offensive explosion in their recent trip to San Francisco, the offense could trend downward again very soon.
One name that sticks out as a potential rental is Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras. There are a couple of reasons why he would or wouldn’t work. He wouldn’t work because the Mets could soon after McCann back and while he and Nido don’t compare to Contreras, it’s hard to imagine the Mets making such a drastic midseason shift with these two quality defenders.
A reason why Contreras could work: there’s always the DH spot to put him at often when he isn’t behind the plate. Able to provide them with a little bit of insurance as well, he is someone the Mets could consider.
A Mets trade offer to the Cubs for Willson Contreras that Chicago cannot refuse
The Mets and Cubs are no strangers to trade deadline moves. Just last summer, Javier Baez and Trevor Williams were shipped to New York for outfielder prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong. Baez is now with Chicago. Williams remains with the Mets as the long man and occasional starter. Crow-Armstrong is rising up the ranks of the Chicago minor league system.
A trade for Contreras would look very different as there’s probably not a single prospect the Mets would part with that Chicago would accept in exchange for their catcher. The need isn’t great enough for the Mets to sacrifice one of their greatest minor league assets. The ones they would give up aren’t, by themselves, great enough to get the Cubs to agree to a deal.
Nonetheless, there is a trade that could work out well for both teams and not set the Cubs back.
Why this trade works for the Mets
The Mets benefit from this deal because of the added offense they get from Contreras when he catches or DHs. They aren’t giving up anything of great significance either but allowing the Cubs to take a chance on two top 15 prospects from the Mets. It sounds like a lot for a rental. The point, though, is to give them enough where they’d feel like they might not get a better offer.
Because the Mets do have their number one prospect Francisco Alvarez in the pipeline and McCann under contract for two more years after 2022, there is very little chance they’d re-sign Contreras. He’s a pure rental. It’s important they don’t give up too much to bring him to town.
The addition of Wade Miley works, too, because of his ability to slot into the rotation and provide the Cubs with some immediate salary relief. Miley is earning $10 million this year which the Cubs probably wish at this point they didn’t have to pay.
Why this trade works for the Cubs
Aside from salary relief and making sure they get something for two potential free agents, the Cubs are adding a major league bat plus two minor league pitchers. Dominic Smith could get a chance to turn his career around with more regular playing time in Chicago. Frank Schwindel isn’t cemented at first base and the DH spot is wide open for anyone to grab. Each day, it looks more likely that the Mets wish they could swap Smith for something else.
The two pitching prospects the Mets would trade, Calvin Ziegler and Jose Butto, 11th and 12th respectively in the farm system. Butto is currently in Double-A having a solid year with an ETA of possibly later this season but probably only if he does get traded. Ziegler is a little further away and also pitching well. Expected to reach the majors by 2025, the Cubs would need a little more patience for him.
Could this Mets-Cubs trade actually happen?
This trade might only work if it happens sooner rather than later because of the health of Mets pitchers. Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer are not set to return for at a minimum another month with Mad Max slated for a little bit closer to the All-Star Break.
If they do come back and are fully healthy, finding a spot on the roster for each of the Mets pitchers, including the newly acquired Miley, could be a bit of a challenge. This can resolve itself if Trevor Williams is a clear DFA candidate and he gets the Robinson Cano treatment. Lefty reliever Chasen Shreve, who signed only a minor league contract with the Mets this offseason, is another pitcher who could also be sacrificed. Miley could slide into the bullpen if needed or the Mets could even do the same with Carlos Carrasco or Taijuan Walker depending on how well each is pitching.
But as the Mets have learned plenty over the years, you can never have enough starting pitching. And what’s to say they can’t do what the Minnesota Twins did in 2017 with Jaime Garcia? On July 24, he was traded from the Atlanta Braves to Minnesota. On July 30, the Twins shipped him to the New York Yankees. Who says the Mets’ creativity should be limited to what Steve Cohen’s wallet can do?