I should probably disclose, before I make any comments about the New York Mets, that my allegiance lies with the Yankees. In all honesty, I am a baseball fan first, and love prospects in particular, but as a kid I was fortunate to attend many games in the Bronx. That is where, and how, it started. However, I have always been partial to the Mets. I was 11 during that magical ’86 season, and even attended the parade with my father. Since I pretty much consume all the sports information I can on a daily basis, living in NYC for the past forty years has made me intimate with the Met franchise. You can stop reading here if you already hate this intro, but I think I do have what could be the perfect solution to the Mets biggest need… Shortstop.
It is no secret that Flushing is the potential future home for a plethora of young arms. Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Jack Leathersich, and a personal favorite, Marcos Molina, right now would make for a formidable rotation. Clearly the Orange & Blue have strength at a highly desired position. It is also no secret that ever since Jose Reyes left in free agency the team has struggled to find a capable every day player to man the shortstop position. Because of these two factors, countless trades have been fantasized about. I, and more than likely thousands of others, have long believed the Chicago Cubs would make the perfect trade partner. After all, they already have 24 year-old Starlin Castro, who has thrice been an All-Star, as well as emerging elite prospects Javier Baez (21) and Addison Russell (20). In addition to this logjam at short, they also have at least four other players widely accepted as Top 50 prospects in all of baseball. However, all of this talent is positional, and the Cubs are thirsty for starting pitching. Sandy please meet Theo; Theo, Sandy. For over a year now I have made my feelings known that Castro would be the perfect fit in New York. But, his cost would likely include one of Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, or Syndergaard, so it becomes a less attractive move. The irony is, the perfect deal for New York remains with the Cubs, but it not for any player I have already mentioned. In fact, he has been sitting under the Mets nose this whole time.
As the prospect hound I am, there was no way I was going to miss the Futures Game at Citifield, back in 2013. Thor was scintillating to open the game, and you could easily see he will be a fan favorite. Montero was equally as sharp, albeit much less hype. He was good enough to solidify his future as a pro, but because of the elite talent at his position above him his value appears diminished. The same can be said of Arismendy Alcantara, who wowed many more than just me on that July Saturday. Alcantara began his career as a shortstop, and was considered an above average player defensively at the position. Because of Javier Baez, Alcantara was moved to second base so that the two could be the future middle infield in Chicago. Then the Cubs added Addison Russell, and Alcantara was moved once again, this time to center field. That’s a whole lot of versatility, and almost comically, three positions the Mets have long needed to address. I mentioned that Alcantara wowed me that day, and I was referring to his hacks in batting practice. He is a switch hitter, but possesses more pop from the left side, with a smooth stroke that invites loft in his swing. It was evident as he placed multiple balls atop the PepsiPorch. You can say it was just batting practice, but this was as a 21 year-old minor leaguer, and many big leaguers are incapable of doing the same. You can say it was just batting practice, but then he did it again in the fourth inning of the game, when it counted for real. Alcantara has shown some pop, but his calling card has long been his speed. That’s right, he projects to be a 20-20 player, with a respectable batting average and other peripherals. He has even been called, dare I say it to a Mets crowd, “Jose Reyes lite.” Despite all the positives in Alcantara’s favor, the one thing you never hear mentioned is the potential for him to return to shortstop. To be clear, he was never moved off the position because he was a liability there. He was moved to clear the way for better talent. ‘Better’, as in the type of talent that would cost an elite arm in a trade. Alcantara is more along the lines of costing a Montero. Not only would that keep the triumvirate in tact, but would be an immediate upgrade to the offensive talent on the team. It also gives the Mets a capable shortstop, and the versatility to cover second, or even the outfield, should they find gold elsewhere. It wouldn’t be the type of attention grabbing, headline making trade some fans want. It is the type of trade that makes franchises better. It is the move Sandy should strongly consider.