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Rumor: Mets interested in trading for Pirates outfielder Starling Marte

Starling Marte, Pirates, Mets

The New York Mets have expressed interest in trading for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network:

Pittsburgh accepted the club option on Marte, but he is expected to be among the trade casualties as new general manager Ben Cherington looks to rebuild in earnest.

The Mets, meanwhile, are pressing to win now after a spectacular second half propelled them to a 86-76 finish last season. They have plenty of outfield depth, but center field is a clear weak spot.

Brandon Nimmo — who starred in 2018 — missed extended time due to injury and struggled to replicate his success when healthy. Juan Lagares hardly panned out, slashing .213/.279/.326 with a woeful 63 OPS+ and a 26.3 percent strikeout rate.

Marte would instantly galvanize New York’s offense. He is coming off one of the best offensive seasons of his career, having slashed .295/.342/.503 with a career-high 23 homers and 25 stolen bases for good measure. Marte is a far better defender in left field, but the Mets would still consider him a big upgrade over Lagares while also having the opportunity to platoon Nimmo.

Who might go the other way in a potential deal? J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith are both names to watch. Smith hit 11 homers and posted an .881 OPS in just 89 games, plus he is only 24 years old. Davis morphed into one of New York’s best hitters last season, slashing .307/.369/.527 with 22 homers and a 138 OPS+.

The Mets are almost certainly going to try to retain Davis — especially because he might already represent a better option than Yoenis Cespedes in left field — but Smith in particular could be on the move if the Mets elect to pursue Starling Marte.