By: Chris Larson
The New York Mets made a trade yesterday involving their closer, Jeurys Familia, who went to the Oakland Athletics and that likely won't be the only trade the team makes before the bell rings for the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline on July 31st. In fact, with the way the Mets have played this season and with the dysfunctional stuff that is seemingly continuing to go on behind-the-scenes, the front office needs to be open to any and all options, including, yes, entertaining trade offers on both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
While the last two names are likely to remain in a Mets uniform past the trade deadline, that means that the Mets need to continue to purge their roster and identify guys that are going to bring back a potentially significant return to start restocking the farm system with. As is the case every year, both starting pitching, and especially relief pitching, are always both in high demand right now, which is the reason why so many people support the idea of the team at least entertaining offers for both deGrom and Syndergaard.
However, among the Mets pitching staff, there are other valuable assets outside of starting pitcher, Zack Wheeler, who has been mentioned on several different occasions in the rumor mill and connected to teams like the Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, and NL East division foes, Atlanta Braves. The other valuable names that the Mets need to explore trading can be found in the bullpen in both Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman.
Now that Jeurys Familia has been traded, Seth Lugo, at least appears on paper, to be the temporary closer, but has been very impressive so far this year and could command quite a return for the Mets. Through 71 innings of work this season, Lugo has a 2.79 ERA along with 74 strikeouts and a .218 Opponent Batting Average Against. In case you're into advanced sabermetrics, that equates to a strikeouts-per-9 rate of 9.38 and a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) value of .271. Furthermore, Lugo is averaging 3.9 pitches per batter or 16 pitches per inning pitched. That shows how effective he can be with his location and his timeliness to strike out opposing team's hitters.
Besides the impressive statistics, another impressive quality about Seth Lugo is his ability to be a hybrid pitcher, meaning that he can either be a starter or a reliever. Many teams value pitchers like that especially when it comes to the playoffs and being able to use said pitcher in different situations. Just take a look at the model that the Houston Astros followed last season on their way to the World Series. Houston relied heavily on Lance McCullers Jr. coming out of the bullpen and it looks like that trend will continue once again this season as the team has a copious amount of pitching depth. The same idea would come into play for a team acquiring Seth Lugo.
Another name that needs to be put out there by the New York Mets is Robert Gsellman. Now, Gsellman doesn't have the most impressive stats ever, but when you start to look at his splits, it sort of offers a breath of fresh air. So far this season, Gsellman has a 4.15 ERA over 56.1 IP along with 26 earned runs and 52 strikeouts over that span. Gsellman has an unimpressive hits-per-9 rate of 8.15, but does have a strikeouts-per-9 rate of 8.31 and 41 grounded into double play opportunities. That last number is significant because it indicates that the Mets have brought Gsellman into the game when there have been runners on base and used him to strand those runners, another thing that teams look at when scouring the market for relief help.
As mentioned above, Gsellman doesn't have the most impressive numbers, but his splits make things look more promising. Gsellman began the year in April with a 2.03 ERA over 13.1 innings of work before his ERA increased to 4.58 over 19.2 IP for May and ballooned to 6.59 over 13.2 IP for June. The good news is that so far this month, Gsellman has been fairly effective with a 3.38 ERA over 8 innings of work and does sport a 0.00 ERA over 2 innings following the All-Star Break. Any team interested in Gsellman will likely do plenty of background work, and are probably in the process of doing that right now, which would include looking at these splits.
When it comes to both Lugo and Gsellman, no one knows what the exact market is for either reliever or what the potential return could be, but there has likely been calls from teams looking for bullpen help to at least inquire and see if the Mets would be willing to part with one or both. Some of those potential teams include the: Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Red Sox. Of course, both the Braves and Phillies are at a direct disadvantage because they play in the NL East and in-division trades are extremely rare anymore.
Either way, with the way the Mets have played this season, the organization needs to be open to any and all ways to improve the team moving forward and to start restocking the farm system, which begins with entertaining trade offers for guys such as Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. It's not that both of these relievers have to move before the trade deadline otherwise the Mets are cursed, but rather the fact that given the high demand for pitching around this time of year, the Mets would be wise to at least see what they could get in return. You never know what a team might offer in return if they are desperate for another arm in the pen.