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Identifying 3 New York Mets trade targets after Max Scherzer injury

Matt Johnson
New York Mets
Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Max Scherzer injury was the latest blow for a New York Mets rotation already dealing with substantial losses. Now without their co-aces until after the All-Star Break, the Mets will likely need to add pitching before long.

Scherzer and Jacob deGrom aren’t the only front-line starters sidelined indefinitely. Tylor Megill is on the 15-day IL with right biceps inflammation and there isn’t a clear timeline for his return. Even when he rejoins the rotation, New York would be counting on a lot of innings from oft-injured starters Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker.

According to Jon Heyman of the NY Post the Mets have recently scouted several of the rumored MLB trade candidates. Given those in-person looks happened before the injuries to Scherzer and Megill, acquiring a starting pitcher feels even more likely,

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Here are three starting pitchers the New York Mets could target and plug into their rotation.

Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds have already let teams know they are ready to continue their firesale. It’s led to numerous teams sending evaluators to take a close look at Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle. While Castillo is the better starter, Mahle would be more affordable to acquire.

  • New York Mets trade: Ronny Mauricio, Joel Diaz, Calvin Ziegler, Dominic Smith
  • Cincinnati Reds trade: Tyler Mahle

Using Baseball Trade Values, this deal slightly favors the Mets. However, Cincinnati is looking for rebuild pieces and this deal provides just that. Dominic Smith is under contract through 2024 and provides a nice left-handed bat for the Reds’ lineup. Ronny Mauricio is the headliner in this deal, giving Cincinnati a future long-term infielder.

As for the Mets, Mahle would fit in nicely. After surrendering 16 earned runs and 11 walks in April, the 27-year-old righty has settled down. He owns a 2.60 ERA over his last three starters, including a 27.3% strikeout rate with a 0.81 WHIP. Moving to a more pitcher-friendly ballpark could help him maintain the form we’ve seen the past two seasons (3.72 ERA in 227.2 IP), allowing him to function as a mid-rotation starter through 2023.

Frankie Montas, Oakland Athletics

MLB: Game One-Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics
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This is the dream target for the New York Mets rotation. Having already struck a deal once with the Oakland A’s to acquire Chris Bassitt, the front office could pick up the phone again. Montas could immediately step in as the ace of the Mets’ rotation and if everyone returns, he’d be a fantastic No. 3 starter in October.

  • New York Mets acquire: Frankie Montas
  • Oakland Athletics acquire: Brett Baty, Calvin Ziegler, Robert Dominguez, Dominic Smith

Fans certainly won’t like the idea of trading Brett Baty. With that said, it’s going to take a premium prospect to land a high-end pitcher. Oakland wanted Andrew Vaughn for Montas from the Chicago White Sox and if Francisco Alvarez won’t move, the A’s will insist New York trades Baty.

Frankly, Montas justifies the cost. Since the 2021 All-Star Break, Montas owns an exceptional 2.71 ERA with a 28.8% strikeout rate and a .199 batting average allowed in 136 innings. The swing-and-miss stuff he brings to the table warrants the ‘ace’ label and a competitive environment with a great coaching staff might get even more out of him.

Think about the rotation in October. deGrom, Scherzer, Montas and either Megill or Chris Bassitt. That’s a pitching staff that can lead this team to a World Series title.

José Quintana, Pittsburgh Pirates

MLB: Game Two-Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s very possible the Mets decide to take a more conservative approach in the trade market, simply acquiring someone who can eat innings. The Pittsburgh Pirates want to keep adding depth to their farm system, making 33-year-old José Quintana very expendable.

  • New York Mets trade: Jordany Ventura, Nick Meyer
  • Pittsburgh Pirates trade: José Quintana

There is nothing exciting about Quintana. He’s a rental for the 2022 season on an expiring contract and he’s outperforming his stuff this year. Absorbing the remainder of Quintana’s $2 million salary isn’t an issue, Pittsburgh will just want two low-end flier prospects to roll the dice on.

The veteran southpaw (2.10 ERA, 4.17 SIERA) can function as a back-end starter. He’ll eat five or six innings per start, keeping bad teams under three runs and at least providing New York with a chance to win any time he takes the mound against fellow No. 5 starters.

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