Niese for d'Arnaud?

MetsBlog have said that the Jays and Mets have had “fairly substantive talks” about a trade of Jon Niese for Travis d’Arnaud + a back-end young SP.

Admittedly, when I read the post I had mixed feelings.

I like Niese. A lot. Better than Gio, better than Jurrjens, better than Wandy. His stats to date have not been overwhelming, but many writers see him as undervalued. His xFIP of 3.28 in 2011 was 14th in the majors among pitchers with 150+ innings – better than Price, Haren and some guy called Lincecum. By comparion, Justin Verlander’s xFIP was 3.12.

Not an xFIP fan? Jonny’s SIERA of 3.42 was the 18th best in mlb, again better than that Lincecum fellow.

Plus he is only 25. Plus he is under team control through 2015. Plus he throws 4 pitches at a major-league level. Plus he is a lefty.

The problem is with the price.

Travis d is the Jays #1 prospect, and one of the best catching prospects in baseball. Not only can he hit, but he projects to remain at catcher with a +dWAR. For upside, think Bench/Pudge/Mauer.

All that being said, there are strong arguments in favour of the Jays pursuing this deal.

  1. If JPA remains at catcher, there will not be room for both him and TD on the Jays. One of them will eventually have to be traded. If the Jays can get full value for him now, why wait?
  2. As good as TD is, there are no guarantees that he will be able to maintain the same success at the major league level. His last season was at AA – a lot can still happen. Does another “Travis” come to mind?
  3. Catchers can be very hard to project. Just for fun, I went back 5 years and looked at the top 2006 catcher prospects ranked by Baseball America higher than TD’s pre-2011 ranking of 36th. Jarrod Saltalmacchia was ranked #18, Jeff Clement #33. Both good players, but would you trade Niese for either one of them, even-up?

Admittedly, I am prone to the usual home fan bias. Travis, Adeiny, and Norris will be the next Mauer, Tulowitzki and Halladay. Fer sure. So trading any one of them is totally unthinkable, right?

Still not sure I would do the trade, but maybe we should think about it.

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