Report: Mets looking to place Jeff McNeil on trading block after lockout

By , Audacy Sports

Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar and Buck Showalter are some of the notable names that will be new to the New York Mets for the 2022 season and beyond. Could Jeff McNeil be one of the notable names who finds himself on the way out?

According to Pat Ragazzo of Inside The Mets, a part of Sports Illustrated, the Mets are seeking to make McNeil available on the trading block after the lockout is over, "with their sights set on acquiring pitching help in return." In addition to seeking an improvement in pitching, Ragazzo also notes that the team is emphasizing a culture change, and McNeil's tumultuous 2020 season — including his infamous altercation with Francisco Lindor (or a rat/raccoon) — might be something the organization is looking to move past.

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The New York Post's Mike Puma also reported that there's an expectation the Mets may look to move one of McNeil or Dominic Smith after their less-than-stellar 2021 performances (h/t Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors).

After kicking off his big league career with three consecutive seasons of consistent production from the plate and batting averages well over .300, McNeil saw his slash line plummet all around in 2021, finishing with figures of .251/.319/.360. His fWAR was just 0.5, compared to a 4.6 fWAR in his All-Star 2019 season in a similar sample size. Add in his incident with Lindor and general chemistry issues — Ragazzo says that his relationship with multiple teammates has "soured" — along with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for over a month in the middle of the season, and it was a campaign to forget for the versatile 29-year-old.

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But that doesn't mean his value is low. As mentioned, we saw All-Star production from him as little as two seasons ago, he defends at multiple positions and his contract is very controllable for the next few seasons. Spotrac estimates that he's set to make $2.5 million in 2022 and won't become an unrestricted free agent until 2025. MLB Trade Rumors projects his 2022 salary as only slightly higher, at $2.8 million.

Ragazzo says that the Mets have fielded a "substantial amount of calls" from interested teams, though none of the teams were specified. However, he floats the Athletics and Reds as partners that make sense, given that they have solid starting pitching options who may be up for grabs.

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