As the Mets look for starting pitching help to bolster a rotation that arguably needs multiple new arms, the thought (at least from the outside looking in) has been that the help would come via free agency.
One potential fix came off the board when Charlie Morton, whom the Mets had been interested in, signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves for $15 million.
When it comes to Morton, who wanted to either re-sign with the Tampa Bay Rays or go to Atlanta, there's not much the Mets could've done.
Beyond Morton are other second-tier options such as Jake Odorizzi and Masahiro Tanaka.
And then there's the big fish, Trevor Bauer, who is a legitimate option for the Mets.
But on Monday, reports out of Tampa tossed a very interesting new name into the mix: Blake Snell.
Let's examine the pros and cons of the Mets swinging a trade for Snell, starting with the cons...
The Rays are a brilliantly run organization, which means you should stop and wonder why a pitcher like the 27-year-old Snell -- who is under team control and relatively inexpensive, even for the Rays -- is available.
The last time the Rays traded a young, high-profile starting pitcher it was Chris Archer. Things have not gone very well for Archer since then. He struggled in 2018, had a 5.19 ERA (5.02 FIP) in 2019 and did not pitch in 2020 due to Thoracic Outlet surgery -- the same procedure that derailed Matt Harvey's career.
The acquisition cost will likely be massive
While a trade for Francisco Lindor (who is under contract through 2021) would hurt for any team, acquiring Snell (who is under contract through 2023) would probably hurt more.
It is rare for pitchers of Snell's ability to become available when they're in their prime, inexpensive, and under three years of team control.
It's unclear what the Rays would want in exchange, but it's fair to believe whatever it is would take a serious chunk out of the Mets when it comes to big league talent, prospects, or both. It's also fair to think a trade for Snell could mean no trade for Lindor, unless the Mets are ready to deal a half dozen young players (they shouldn't be).
He's been inconsistent
Snell was brilliant in 2018, but his 2019 (4.29 ERA/3/32 FIP) and 2020 (3.24 ERA/4.35 FIP, HR/9 that spiked to 1.80) seasons were uneven.
He has also eclipsed 129 innings only once during his career.
The value could be tremendous
Snell has proven that he has ace-level talent, and he is owed just $39 million over the next three seasons. That could be unbelievable value.
For example, Bauer could possibly receive an annual salary that is worth close to what three years of Snell will cost.
Could pave the way for two other new stars
If the Mets trade for Snell, whose average annual contract value is $13 million, it could put them in great position to land two other stars this offseason while staying under the luxury tax threshold and maintaining some flexibility.
Imagine a team with a rotation led by Jacob deGrom, Snell, and Marcus Stroman (and perhaps Noah Syndergaard by next June) that also adds George Springer and J.T. Realmuto.
A better bet than Bauer?
Bauer's upside is tremendous and he could be a great fit in Queens.
But it can be argued that Snell, who is two years younger than Bauer and will cost a ton less salary-wise, is the better play.
Again, the cost to trade for Snell will be steep, while Bauer can be had for just cash. But Snell at $13 million could be a hard option to pass up.
Again, this should be buyer beware simply because Tampa is willing to trade Snell. But if the Mets are satisfied that there is nothing physically wrong with Snell, seriously exploring a trade would make a lot of sense.
With Snell, the Mets would get a 1A to slot in behind deGrom, and would be able to fill a huge need while also leaving themselves tons of financial wiggle room to add stars this offseason and/or beyond.
With everything, it will be determined largely by cost. And if the Mets get involved, it will come down to whether they are comfortable parting with what it will take to make Snell-to-Queens happen.