3 best Jeff McNeil trade destinations

Robbie Stratakos

Any time a team has a rambunctious offseason, there’s going to be an internal casualty or two. In the case of the New York Mets, who have signed Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar this MLB offseason, that player may be Jeff McNeil.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Pat Ragazzo, the Mets intend on making McNeil available via trade in hopes of acquiring starting pitching. Before a chaotic 2021, McNeil was an extremely productive contact hitter who had starting experience at both second base and left field, albeit defense has been a question mark for him. In short: McNeil is an enticing player on the trade market.

Here are three ideal trade destinations for Jeff McNeil.

3) Jeff McNeil gives the Chicago White Sox more offensive ammunition

MLB: New York Mets at Chicago White Sox
Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox laid an egg in the 2021 MLB playoffs, specifically at the plate. Operating under that line of reasoning, McNeil gives Chicago more offensive ammunition.

Yes, the White Sox had one of MLB’s best offenses in the regular season. An order that includes Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez isn’t supposed to need another offensive outlet. But when it concerns winning a World Series, which is what the White Sox have their sights set on, you can’t have enough depth.

McNeil can flat-out rake. He has a smooth, level swing from the left side. At his best, McNeil has been one of the best pure hitters in the game. He can find success in any part of manager Tony La Russa’s lineup while having a number of defensive roles.

  • Jeff McNeil stats (career): .299/.364/.459, 37 home runs and 152 RBIs across 1,304 at-bats

McNeil would be Chicago’s primary second baseman. Meanwhile, his experience playing both corner outfield positions comes in handy given the recent injury history of Robert and Jimenez. When McNeil bounces out to the outfield, Leury Garcia plays second base.

All that said, the White Sox may prefer to find another impact hitter in free agency, rather than making a trade.

2) Jeff McNeil reloads the Oakland Athletics

Prior to the MLB lockout, there was buzz about the A’s trading some of their homegrown stars like Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Frankie Montas given their arbitration numbers increasing. Chances are the A’s still attempt to compete for the American League playoffs despite potentially being sellers. Making a move for McNeil fits a retooling effort.

With Jed Lowrie a free agent and core position players potentially on the move, McNeil becomes an immediate offensive catalyst for new manager Mark Kotsay’s offense. One could argue that McNeil becomes their best all-around hitter. Plus, the defensive-savvy A’s could view his defense as something they can work with. Perhaps they make McNeil their starting left fielder, leaving the door open for their young infielders to get starting reps? Plus, they lost Canha and Marte to the Mets.

As they look to get back on track, the A’s experiment with a steady hitter and someone who can play multiple positions in McNeil. They commit to him being a fixture and in doing so try to right his career. Both parties benefit from McNeil’s arrival.

There are a couple of ways that McNeil’s time with Oakland can play out. He could be respectable enough to start but not ink a substantial contract extension. Oakland can afford to keep him in that scenario. Another potential outcome is McNeil plays at an All-Star level and the A’s trade him within 18 months of his free agency. In that scenario, the A’s get more value than they send to New York for McNeil, adding depth to their minor-league ranks and staying competitive.

The factor that could stop the A’s from acquiring McNeil, however, is them preferring to preserve their arsenal of prospects and be sellers.

1) Jeff McNeil to the Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays lost Marcus Semien, who was an American League MVP finalist last season, to free agency, and they’re trying to contend in the AL. McNeil makes a lot of sense for the Blue Jays.

This team is loaded, but it’s a mistake to assume that the Blue Jays will internally replace Semien. There’s a lot of upside in them acquiring McNeil. He likely becomes manager Charlie Montoyo’s second baseman and gives them another option if injuries hit their starting outfield.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has dealt with a handful of injuries over his MLB career. Meanwhile, George Springer, 32, was in and out of the lineup in his debut season with the Blue Jays due to injuries. Toronto could use outfield depth, and McNeil’s versatility gives them as such.

The Blue Jays have the pieces to win the AL. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez and company make for an elite offense. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman and friends make for a top-level rotation. Neither aspect of this team can be taken for granted, though. In the case of their offense, McNeil helps replace the offensive production that Semien leaves behind (he hit 45 home runs in 2021).

The AL East is stiff and anything but a given for Toronto in 2022 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees all having quality rosters and finishing with better records than them last season. McNeil bolsters Toronto’s offense and helps them break through in the AL.