With the debut of their latest stud pitching prospect Steven Matz on Sunday, the New York Mets have once again switched to a six-man rotation in an effort to limit the innings of all their young pitchers. Matz, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom are all in positions where the Mets’ front office will be looking to pitch them deep into September for the first time in their careers, while trying to keep their total innings pitched at around 180-195, with Sandy Alderson hoping none of them top 200 unless the team actually makes the post season. But with these four stars combined with workhorse Bartolo Colon and the veteran lefty Jon Niese (after former starter Dillon Gee was jettisoned from their rotation earlier in the month), the Mets are looking to unload an arm in a trade, and Niese seems to be the most likely to be dealt, given that he’s a lefty and under an affordable contract for the next two and a half years.

The list of teams that need pitching at this stage is not long, but over the last week the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers have been rumored to be interested in Niese, as both teams are looking for rotation depth with the hopes of making deep playoff runs this season. The Cubs have been linked to the Mets as trading partners for a while, with Chicago mirroring the Mets wealth of prospects, only with offensive prospects instead of starting pitchers. With the Mets being so thin at second and shortstop just about every name in the Cubs organization has been discussed as a possible target; Addison Russell, Starlin Castro, and Javier Baez at the top of the list. But New York would never be inclined to give up their heralded starters for any offensive prospect the Cubs have (unless Kris Bryant suddenly became available), and as such if the Cubs were interested it probably would not draw a big return. Baez, who has only played 37 games this season, hasn’t seen his value lower and could be the most likely candidate to be traded to New York, but Niese would not be enough given the shrewdness of team president Theo Epstein. Another prospect pitcher, Rafael Montero might also need to be included, though it stands to reason that when Montero and Baez are both at full strength that Montero might actually have a higher ceiling, meaning that for the Mets to include a prospect it should be a “B” level prospect such as Matt Bowman, Gabriel Ynoa or Mike Fullmer, who would all upgrade the Cubs system, while leaving the Mets with more than enough to continue to field an elite rotation.

The Dodgers are the entriguing team here though, as with Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke leading the rotation they don’t strike most as lacking starting pitching. But they have lost lefty Hyun Jin-Ryu and Brandon McCarthy for the season, and while Brett Anderson has been a solid addition they are currently starting Carlos Frias and Mike Bolsinger with their last two rotation spots. while not terrible, that’s not what a team that’s supposed to be elite has in its rotation. As a result Niese’s name is on their list of arms they would think about trading for, and with the Mets needing help along its infield it makes sense to wonder if any of the Dodgers’ recent international signings would be available for the left-hander. Young shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena is signed for four more years at five million a season, but his problems within the Dodgers’ organization saw him suspended earlier this season, with it having recently come to an end earlier in June. Second baseman Hector Olivera was expected to make his major league debut after breezing through double-A and single-A, but injuries have slowed him down for the near future, plus he is already 30 years old, which limits his true upside. Lastly, Alex Guerrero has played this season at third base and the outfield but due to his limited defensive prowess he has mostly been a bat off the bench, amassing only 142 at bats entering Tuesday’s games, but with 10 home runs, 30 RBI and 18 runs scored thus far. While Justin Turner might be the popular choice given his past tenure on the team, it just seems a recipe for disaster to trade valuable player for one who wasn’t good enough to warrant a contract two years ago. But, one of the other three players could represent the best return the Mets could hope for, given how they got absolutely nothing for Dillon Gee after all of his uncertainty throughout this season.

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