The Mets’ Sandy Alderson and the Yankees’ Brian Cashman departed the general managers’ meetings Thursday morning within minutes of each other. Neither completed a trade, but here are the parameters of a mutually beneficial deal they could have wrapped up over coffee and bagels:
Sending Brian McCann to the Mets for either Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, with the sweetener of a young pitcher — maybe Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo — to entice the Yankees to pay the significant difference in money.
McCann still has two years and $34 million left on his contract, with a potential $15-million vesting option for 2019. Granderson ($15M) and Bruce ($13M) will be free agents after this season; Gsellman and Lugo are years from arbitration.
It’s not very often that these crosstown rivals are such a good match that they can ignore whatever hang-ups have kept them from doing business with each other more frequently. But in this case, it makes too much sense not to happen.
Alderson and Cashman didn’t talk about this particular swap this week, according to a source, but we’ve also been told that neither GM is opposed to making a deal with the other, so there’s no ruling out a later discussion between them on the topic.
Cashman has made no secret of his interest in trading McCann now that Gary Sanchez seems to have morphed into Johnny Bench overnight, and the Mets certainly could use a veteran catcher with a power bat after Travis d’Arnaud took a big step backward in 2016. Alderson is leaning toward sticking with d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki — fingers crossed, hoping for improvement — but those plans aren’t set in stone.
Getting McCann would remedy that problem instantly. He has a full no-trade clause, but there doesn’t seem an obvious reason he would object to playing his home games in Flushing.
Cashman said he’s had an open dialogue with McCann’s agent, B.B. Abbott, to keep him in the loop on potential trade partners. “He’s conveyed to me that he’s extremely happy in New York,” Cashman said Thursday. “His first thought would be to stay.”
Abbott was referring to the Bronx, but if McCann does enjoy the city, what’s a few miles east over the RFK Bridge? He’d miss Yankee Stadium’s short rightfield porch, but the opportunity for more time behind the plate, rather than being stuck at DH, likely would appeal to him.
As for what the Yankees get back, in Bruce or Granderson, along with a young, controllable pitcher, that’s also an immediate fit, given their particular weaknesses at the moment.
Cashman would prefer to have Aaron Judge take over in rightfield, but that scenario is hardly a lock because he batted .179 and struck out every 2.26 plate appearances. Even after this trade, the Yankees could give Judge a shot in right by using Bruce or Granderson at DH, which a lefty slugger could use to do significant damage, especially at the Stadium. And if Judge flopped again, Bruce/ Granderson could play more in right, where the smaller lawn would be less of a problem for a limited defensive player.
The Yankees are on Bruce’s limited no-trade list, but maybe the short fence and the chance to put up huge numbers in his walk year could convince him to waive it. He’s stuck in New York anyway with the Mets, so switching boroughs shouldn’t be a big issue. For Granderson, it would be a no-brainer. In his four years as a Yankee, he twice hit more than 40 homers.
Ideally, Alderson would like to hold on to Gsellman and Lugo because of the rotation’s somewhat fragile health. But they are very attractive trade chips, and one might have to be sacrificed to improve an area of need.
Those areas might be determined by where Yoenis Cespedes winds up or the fate of Neil Walker’s qualifying offer. But if Alderson needs to be flexible in improving the Mets, with the kind of limited financial commitment he likes, it’s worth dialing up Cashman in the coming weeks.