Once the lockout ends, the Cleveland Guardians would be wise to pursue the reportedly available Jeff McNeil from the New York Mets.
The second base position for the Cleveland Guardians is currently unsettled, with internal options that are yet to prove themselves. With Cleveland looking build to take a step forward and build goodwill among the fanbase, multiple avenues should be considered. The includes not just free agency, but the trade market. A name that has recently became available is New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil according to reports.
— SNY (@SNYtv) December 24, 2021
Currently in his first year of arbitration, there are two more arbitration eligible years for McNeil. The estimated salary for McNeil in 2022 is $2.5 million per Spotrac. This is tied with Cal Quantrill (currently in pre-arb) for fifth-highest on the Guardians.
Jeff McNeil is coming off his worst season as a pro, slashing just .251/.319/.360 with 19 doubles, seven home runs, and 35 runs driven in. This led to a career-low WRC+ of 93+, 38 points lower than his previous low.
While all of this sounds like reasons to not trade for Jeff McNeil, this actually works in their favor. McNeil was obviously selling out for power last season and it did not work. McNeil’s 23 home runs in 2019 may end up being his career-high, but he can still hit for doubles. Considering how Cleveland’s lineup is starting to look more contact-based than power-based with names like Myles Straw and a resurgent Amed Rosario, McNeil would fit right in. That’s before adding in the fact that Progressive Field could be a better park to hit in than Citi Field. A change of home venue could lead to better hitting numbers from a hitter that you could set your watch to not too long ago.
The Mets are reportedly looking to add to their pitching staff. Cleveland has some options they can part with in order to acquire Jeff McNeil via trade. While Shane Bieber is obviously off the table at this point, there are other options they could consider sending to Queens to bolster their infield. While it’s unlikely that Aaron Civale or Triston McKenzie are available, neither should be considered untouchable. Zach Plesac may be someone that could be on the move. Add some other players from Cleveland’s end which could clear some of the logjams and perhaps two teams that have done extensive research on each other lately could come to a deal.