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Should Blue Jays Make Another Trade with Mets?

While many Blue Jays fans have been pining for a top tier infielder, the Mets could have an answer for them in Jeff McNeil


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The Toronto Blue Jays will be looking for an infielder. Many of us have our sights set on Jose Ramirez or Matt Chapman, who I’ve been enamoured with for quite some time. And, while either of these two would definitely help the Blue Jays, many of our readers have suggested that the acquisition cost would be too high. While we have no idea what the cost could be at this time, it’s a fair comment. Some of our readers have jumped on the recent report that the Mets could look to trade Jeff McNeil, who would certainly cost less than Chapman or Ramirez. But, is there a fit there?

 

Standard Batting
Year Age Tm PA R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Awards
2018 26 NYM 248 35 74 11 3 19 14 24 .329 .381 .471 .852 RoY-6
2019 27 NYM 567 83 162 38 23 75 35 75 .318 .384 .531 .916 AS
2020 28 NYM 209 19 57 14 4 23 20 24 .311 .383 .454 .836
2021 29 NYM 426 48 97 19 7 35 29 58 .251 .319 .360 .679
4 Yr 4 Yr 4 Yr 1450 185 390 82 37 152 98 181 .299 .364 .459 .824
162 162 162 638 81 172 36 16 67 43 80 .299 .364 .459 .824
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/2/2022.

 

McNeil was an All Star in 2019 but comes off a not very good 2021 season. After his 2019 where he hit 23 HR and put up 4.6 fWAR, he managed just 1.7 fWAR for the last two seasons. His power numbers have dipped, as has his OBP. This is odd since he only struck out at a 13.6% clip, which is up from 2020, but by only 2%. His walk rate (6.8%) dipped, but was still higher than his 2019 rate of 6.2%. But, his 2019 OBP was .384, a much higher rate than his .319 in 2021.

 

More than all of that, he also saw dips in the xBA, wOBA, xwOBA and his HR/FB rate. According to Fangraphs, he has seen fewer fastballs and more cutters, change ups and sliders. Looking at his plate discipline numbers, he swung outside of the zone at the lowest rate of his career. He also swung less than he did during his 2019 showing, but only by 3%. What is interesting is that 2021 saw him make the most contact of his career. Finally, he saw more called strikes in 2021. All of this to say that McNeil is a mystery at the plate. There is not an area that stands out as the key to bringing him back to his All Star form.

 

While he may not be the offensive talent of a Chapman or certainly not a Ramirez, the Blue Jays do not need a home run champion at third base. Their offense is among the best in baseball, so if McNeil can be better than Santiago Espinal at the dish, he could fit rather nicely in a Blue Jays uniform, especially if they really are prioritizing a lefty bat. That said, looking at his production, it would be tough to say definitively that he is without some improvements being made. However, what fans also like about McNeil is the defensive versatility he brings.

 

In 2021, McNeil played left field, third and second with the bulk of his playing time coming at the keystone position. With the exception of playing left field, he offers the same versatility as Espinal. Actually, Espinal can also cover short stop if needed, so he actually has an edge. But, this is about McNeil, so let’s look at his defensive numbers. His All Star year saw him put up 5 DRS at the hot corner in 154 innings. He hasn’t played near that much since, but in 2021, he put up 0 DRS and a UZR/150 of 20.1 in 5 innings. 2020 might be a better sample: 75 innings, 0 DRS, -5.3 UZR/150. For what it’s worth, his performance at second base in 2021 resulted in 605 innings of work, a DRS of 4 and a UZR/150 of -9.9. In all honesty, the Blue Jays have Cavan Biggio and Espinal to share the work that we would be asking McNeil to do and they can arguably do it better.

 

He is in his second year of arbitration and is expected (by MLBTR) to make $2.8M in 2022. The Mets have a total of 16 players headed for arbitration and McNeil is coming off a relatively bad year, so they very well could be looking to find him a new home. It’s not like he has zero value, of course. He is 29 and has two more years of team control left. He could be a decent bench piece that would provide Charlie Montoyo with a different option for his lineup, etc. The cost of acquiring him would certainly be low-ish.

 

It is for that reason, and that reason only, that I would consider making a trade for Jeff McNeil. He’s a lefty hitter, which is good, but he isn’t exactly an immediate upgrade over anything the Blue Jays currently have in house. If they’re looking to save some money or prospect capital and want to try and fill their roster with depth pieces that can be mixed and rearranged, McNeil is interesting. If they do not want to find an everyday upgrade at third base – which I find difficult to imagine would be the case – then I would entertain the idea. The offense is good enough to carry him.

 

However, the Blue Jays are in need of improved defense and more production from the third base position, in my opinion. So, I would listen if the Mets called and if they are just giving McNeil away, I would even entertain an offer. But, he cannot be the answer at third.

 

 

 

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Shaun Doyle

Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.