The New York Mets are in the market for a new closer and David Robertson could bring in some promising prospects.
Aroldis Chapman signed a five-year deal worth $86 million with the New York Yankees, Kenley Jansen returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers with a five-year, $80-million deal, and Mark Melancon moved across the country from the Washington Nationals to the San Francisco Giants to the tune of $62 million over four years. At the 2016 trade deadline there were indications that the White Sox were looking to move right-handed closer David Robertson so it would be fairly safe to assume they are at least looking at offers this offseason. The free agent market so far has shown that teams are willing to pay big money for a closer but the trade market is a different animal entirely. What could the White Sox be looking to receive for Robertson?
With Jeurys Familia likely to be suspended the New York Mets could find themselves needing a closer. Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News answered a question regarding a Robertson trade to New York in a Mets Mailbag article on Wednesday. Ackert said this about a deal with the White Sox, “I was told any talk about Robertson with the Mets would begin with Michael Conforto.” The 23-year-old Conforto was the tenth overall pick in the 2014 draft and made his Major League debut a little over a year later on July 24, 2015. Conforto hit two home runs in Game 4 of the 2015 World Series to cement his place in Mets lore, though the Mets would go on to lose that World Series to the Kansas City Royals.
It wouldn’t be unrealistic to see Conforto as part of a deal for Robertson. The fact that the Mets chose Conforto tenth overall in the 2014 draft should be a prime example of the potential they see in the young outfielder, but his struggles in the 2016 season may have opened up some wiggle room if his name were to pop up in trade negotiations. In 109 games in 2016 Conforto hit for a batting average of just .220 and spent a couple weeks between June and July in triple-A because of his production. Regardless of the small sample size the Mets need a closer to remain competitive and their farm system is rich in outfielders. I doubt that a deal between the White Sox and Mets would be Robertson for Conforto straight up so who else could the Mets include to acquire the Sox closer?
The White Sox currently have holes in the outfield and behind the plate. The Mets have a handful of quality outfield prospects, with Conforto being one of them. Prior to the 2015 season Baseball America ranked Mets outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo at number 45 in all of baseball, and MLB.com had him at 5th in the organization at the start of the 2016 season. A package for Robertson most likely wouldn’t be anything more than two players so if anyone were to accompany Conforto to the South Side I would hope for Nimmo.
At three minor league stops in 2015 Nimmo hit .269 with five home runs and 26 RBIs. In 32 games with the Mets in 2016 Nimmo had a batting average of .274 with one home run and 6 RBIs. The White Sox have already expressed their commitment to developing new prospects so Conforto and Nimmo would have some time to become truly Major League ready. Avisail Garcia and Brett Lawrie signed one-year deals with the White Sox but could end up going the way of Jimmy Rollins by acting as placeholders to give minor leaguers more time. Prior big league experience is fantastic and would give newcomers the motivation to get to that point again, but another year or two in the minor leagues could turn these outfielders into the type of producers the Mets expected them to be.