When Sandy Alderson became the General Manager of the Mets, he had the tough task of rebuilding the farm system, letting players develop, and try to make the Mets competitive as soon as possible. One of the teams that Alderson has negotiated with over his tenure has been the Pittsburgh Pirates. Out of the three trades with the Pirates that we will talk about, it has been interesting considering Alderson’s approach, as his most recent deal with Pittsburgh benefitted both teams in the present, while his other trades focused on long-term value.
Some of the trades are still not decisive to see who really benefitted, but it seems as if Alderson has gotten the most value after these trades.
The Mets were in their rebuilding era, and Alderson struck gold by signing the veteran Byrd. In 117 games, Byrd hit .285 with 21 homers and 71 RBIs. 2013 was a bounce back year, and he ended up rewarding the Pirates, as he had a productive 30 games towards the end of the season, hitting .318 with 3 homers and 17 RBIs. In the playoffs, he got them past the Wild Card round, hitting a homer against Cincinnati.
As for Buck, he provided insurance behind Russell Martin, and saw limited action while in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates won the NL Wild Card game, but lost in the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals. Both Buck and Byrd left the team in the offseason.
Meanwhile, the Mets got Herrera, who is currently playing in Triple-A Las Vegas, and was considered to be the second baseman of the future. His speed, quick bat and good glove could be a key contributor for the Mets in years to come.
Vic Black was also a promising arm the Mets got in this deal, and he had success in the big leagues in 2013, and was a fixture in the Mets bullpen during the 2014 season, pitching in 41 games with a 2.60 ERA. Injuries took a toll on Black who was fighting his way back to the big league roster last year, when the Mets decided that they had enough arms, and was outrighted off the roster.
This deal was fair to both teams, as the Pirates benefitted in the short-term, while the Mets got good value in the long-term. Most of this trade depends on what Herrera is going to do at the big league level, but the Mets certainly got a lot from this trade.
Ike Davis was one of the promising sluggers in the Mets organization, and had some success in the big leagues. In his rookie year, Davis hit .261 with 19 homers and 71 RBIs. He ended up finishing 7th in Rookie of the Year voting. The following year, Davis was battling injuries, and only played in 36 games. The next year featured a slow start, but resulted in Davis hitting .227 with 32 homers and 90 RBIs. 2013 was down year for Davis, as fans hoped he would show the power off, but it never came as he finished with nine homers. Early in the 2014 season, the Mets and Pirates agreed to this deal, as the Mets would get a promising prospect in Taylor, and a solid arm in Thornton
Davis did not find his old stroke in Pittsburgh, as he hit 10 homers while hitting .235. The next season, he went to Oakland.
The Mets got two arms in this deal, as Thornton never reached the big leagues with the Mets, although he put together some nice campaigns during his minor league career. Currently he is in Triple-A Las Vegas.
Taylor was ranked as the 19th best prospect in the Mets system last year, and this year was not on the list, which could be attributed to him getting Tommy John surgery.
This trade is similar to the previous one, as the Mets got long-term value while the Pirates got short-term value. Taylor looks to have quite some time in the minors, but he still is young at 20 years old.
It looked as if the Mets were going to go with a younger player to start at second base throughout this year, whether it would be Dilson Herrera or Wilmer Flores. The organization knew that Daniel Murphy was not going to be a long-term solution, and did not want to lock up their NLCS hero for multiple years. There was going to be a new second baseman on the Mets, one who would look to provide some offense, but mostly solid defensive skills up the middle.
With the Mets’ depth of pitching, Sandy Alderson pulled off a trade that may be among his best trades as General Manager of the Mets. Jon Niese for Neil Walker would set the Mets up with a veteran presence for at least one more year, giving Herrera some time to start consistently in the minor leagues.
As of April, the Mets have emerged as big winners in this trade, as Walker has been relentless, hitting 9 homers with 19 RBIs, and a .307 average in April. Walker is tied for third in homers, and has been one of the most productive offensive players in the big leagues.
For the Pirates, Niese’s record of 3-0 is good, but his peripherals are not too impressive. Out of five starts, he has allowed three or more runs in four starts, has a 1.48 WHIP and a 5.08 ERA. The southpaw may have some adjusting to do, but the Mets look to be the winner of this trade.
One of the main concerns people had with Walker was his struggles against left-handed pitching. Last season, he hit.237 with zero homers against lefties in 93 at-bats. However, this season has been a revitalizing period for Walker from the right side of the plate. Kevin Long and Walker worked together to get rid of his toe tap, which has propelled him to success. In April, this adjustment worked awfully well, as he hit .421 with 3 homers and 5 RBIs in 19 at-bats. Although it is a small sample size, the improvement from last year’s number is already evident, and should be a promising sign for the Mets offense.
After the Niese for Walker trade, it seems apparent that Sandy Alderson has once again put a solid trade together with the Pirates. Granted the young players acquired have some time before they make contributions at the big league level, but Alderson has benefitted quite a bit from doing these trades.