At risk of missing the playoffs for a fourth year in a row, the Mets made only minor moves ahead of the trade deadline Monday, acquiring infielder Todd Frazier, catcher Robinson Chirinos and cash from the Rangers and reliever Miguel Castro from the Orioles.
The Mets owe Texas two players to be named. They sent Baltimore lefthanded prospect Kevin Smith and will send them a player to be named and cash.
The clubs already have an idea of which unnamed players will be dealt — or even their exact identities — but that part cannot be made official yet because MLB decided only players in the 60-man player pool can be moved in-season.
None of Frazier, Chirinos and Castro are having anywhere close to All-Star-caliber years, but general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said he believes they can help the Mets (15-20) save their season. They are scheduled to play 25 games in 27 days to finish the regular season.
“We’re not playing great baseball right now and we need to boost ourselves, [and] these three players can give us that opportunity,” Van Wagenen said. “This is a year that hasn’t gone as smoothly as we would’ve liked and we have a lot of bunching up from teams in the National League, particularly in our division. We’ve got to play better baseball, but we think these three pieces can help us do that.”
Frazier, who played for the Mets in 2018-19, is the biggest name — and a former client of Van Wagenen in his previous career as an agent. He has a .241/.322/.380 slash line in 2020.
It is not clear how Frazier fits into the playing-time picture. The Mets have starters at each of his three positions — third base (J.D. Davis), first base (Pete Alonso) and DH (Robinson Cano) — as well as infielders Andres Gimenez and Luis Guillorme who have played well and have seen time at third.
But Van Wagenen said he likes that Frazier, as well as Chirinos, is a righthanded bat who can help balance a Mets roster heavy on the lefthanded hitters.
There is also the matter of Frazier’s intangibles.
“It shouldn’t be lost that we want Todd Frazier’s energy to come in and bring some life, be a guy that can come in and remind people what having fun is all about,” Van Wagenen said.
As a rookie last year, Pete Alonso frequently said he viewed and appreciated Frazier as a mentor. He was enthused about the reunion after the Mets’ 5-3 loss to the Marlins.
“Todd is the man. He's always welcome here in the clubhouse. Never a dull moment,” Alonso said. “He’s a hell of a leader. He always has a great attitude. He’s extremely infectious. And he’s just a great dude, great teammate. I can’t speak highly enough of the guy.”
Chirinos is expected to supplant Ali Sanchez, who has been the backup catcher since Tomas Nido went on the injured list following the Mets’ coronavirus shutdown. He is a 36-year-old offense-first backstop who has taken steps back with the bat in recent seasons.
In 14 games this year, he is batting .119 with a .143 slugging percentage. He has five hits and 12 strikeouts.
“His batting average on balls in play (. 161) was very low this year,” Van Wagenen said. “I think there’s some correction that could happen.”
Frazier ($5.75 million) and Chirinos ($6.5 million) both have team options for 2021. Van Wagenen said that was “not insignificant” in the Mets’ decision to obtain them.
Castro, a 25-year-old righthander, is under team control for even longer, as he is not scheduled to reach free agency until after the 2022 season. The Mets also like that Castro, who has a 4.30 ERA in his career and a 4.02 ERA this year, already has late-inning experience.
“We’re going to want to rebuild a bullpen and we think Castro can go a pretty significant way in doing that looking into next year as well,” Van Wagenen said.
Part of the cost for Castro was Smith, who was ranked as the Mets’ No. 12 prospect by MLB.com. He has been a fast riser since the Mets picked him in the seventh round of the 2018 draft, reaching Double-A Binghamton in 2019, when he was the organization’s minor-league pitcher of the year in his first full season as a professional.
He joins Anthony Kay and Justin Dunn as upper-minors starting pitcher prospects to be dealt by Van Wagenen, who said Smith “has potential to be a fifth starter.”
Notably, Van Wagenen did not trade any top prospects at the deadline.
“We weren’t motivated to move from the top of our prospect system,” Van Wagenen said. “But we also wanted to show this team and show this market that we are far from quitting on this season.”
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