The Mets do not have a lot to trade to try to get better. So here is a thought for taking a struggling player from an area of potential depth to obtain a struggling player who, if he can be fixed, would help in an area of weakness not just this year, but in the near future:
How about Jay Bruce to Colorado for Bryan Shaw?
Both players were signed to three-year contracts in the offseason — Bruce for $39 million, Shaw for $27 million. Money can always be evened up if necessary.
Why would the Rockies do it? Colorado went big on relievers in the offseason, investing $106 million on Shaw, Jake McGee and closer Wade Davis after giving Mike Dunn a three-year, $19 million pact the previous offseason. It has been a disaster.
The Rockies had a 5.22 bullpen ERA with Dunn, McGee and Shaw particular offenders. Among the 54 relievers with at least 30 appearances, Shaw’s 7.09 ERA was the majors’ worst by more than half a run.
Meanwhile, Colorado’s corner-outfield production has been among the majors’ worst, and even Bruce on a downswing would probably be an upgrade on Gerardo Parra. In some ways, both the Rockies and Mets would be betting on Bruce and Shaw becoming the players they have historically been.
Why would the Mets do it? Shaw could simply be burned out — from 2013-17 with the Indians, he appeared in 15 more games than any pitcher, and he actually is leading the NL in appearances this year despite his failings. His pitching coach all five of those Cleveland seasons was Mickey Callaway.
Does Callaway see a reliever who is merely faltering because he is trying to justify his contract and/or the tough environment of Coors? Does Callaway, who knows Shaw best, think he can be fixed and, if so, is there anyone more qualified to do that than the Mets manager? Shaw’s velocity on his cutter/slider combo is the same as ever.
Perhaps the Mets should be thinking along these lines also with Greg Holland, who since signing a one-year, $14 million deal with the Cardinals has been atrocious and now is on the DL. His best seasons came with the Royals, when his pitching coach was Dave Eiland, the Mets’ current pitching coach. Might the Cardinals eat most of the pact just to get rid of him?
Remember that in the midst of a good season in 2017, Bruce did not have much value in the trade market. Now he is in the midst of a poor campaign with two more seasons on his deal.
I still believe Bruce is a good player who will hit better than he has. But the Mets might be best served with outfield clarification, namely moving forward for the next few seasons with Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo as their main trio. In addition, the Mets could give an extended run to Dominic Smith to see if he can handle first base and, if not, perhaps later in the season summon prospect Peter Alonso.
If Shaw can be returned to his career form, then he could join Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman and Anthony Swarzak in a late-game quartet that would make it easier to keep Seth Lugo in the rotation, which is where he should be.
Lastly, with Familia, Jerry Blevins and AJ Ramos free agents after the season, the Mets are going to have to do some bullpen restructuring. They considered Shaw seriously last offseason as a free agent. He would join Swarzak and Gsellman as pieces moving forward.
Mainly, the question is with the way they’re structured now and the next few years, would Colorado be better with Bruce and the Mets better with Shaw? If so, the teams should consider a deal.