The New York Mets need a closer, and St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks could fit that bill.
The St. Louis Cardinals have several promising options from the right side of the bullpen, and with the New York Mets' loss of star closer Edwin Diaz after he suffered a torn patellar tendon while celebrating a victory in the World Baseball Classic, they're in need of a ninth-inning weapon. Jordan Hicks has experience in that role and could be a strong trade candidate.
Hicks hasn't impressed in Spring Training so far; he currently has a 5.79 ERA in 4.2 innings. There are several right-handed pitchers who have performed better than Hicks who are clawing for the opportunity to make the major league roster, including Drew VerHagen, Jake Woodford, and Rule 5 pick Wilking Rodriguez. Guillermo Zuniga has impressed in the World Baseball Classic and could make the team at some point this season. These performances could leave Hicks with an uncertain role in the bullpen.
Hicks isn't without value, though. He throws harder than anybody in the game, and while he doesn't accrue the high number of strikeouts one would expect, he is adept at forcing ground balls. His history as a closer and acclimation to pitching in high-pressure situations might be enough for the Mets to pull the trigger.
The player the Cardinals would receive in return is a question. The team clearly doesn't need help in the position player department, and Hicks wouldn't net an exciting starter. A left-handed relief pitcher would be the best option, as the Cardinals aren't the most sturdy team from the left side in the bullpen.
Acquiring another prospect could be tantalizing, but with a loaded farm system, the Cardinals need to be aware of having someone poached in the Rule 5 draft, and more importantly, this team wants to win now, so a player who could help in the major leagues would be the optimal choice.
A Mets lefty I'm looking at is Brooks Raley, a 34-year-old who pitched in Asia for six years before returning stateside in 2020. He broke out last year with the Tampa Bay Rays with a 3.19 ERA. While not a flamethrower in the mold of Hicks, Raley struck out 10.2 batters per nine innings last season. Raley injured his hamstring in the World Baseball Classic, but he should be ready to pitch early in the season, if not on opening day.
The Mets' bullpen isn't in great shape. Not only is Diaz likely out for the year, but former Cardinal Jose Quintana will also miss at least two months, and a planned reliever will need to replace Quintana in the rotation. The most likely closer with Diaz out is Adam Ottavino, who has several years of closing experience, but even if Hicks doesn't close for them, he could be a late-inning fireman and fill the role Ottavino was expected to have.
It would make sense for the Cardinals to see what kind of return the Mets would provide for Hicks. 105 mph fastballs don't grow on trees, and with the Cardinals' surplus of right-handed relievers banging on the door, Hicks could be valuable as trade bait and help the Mets mitigate the loss of Diaz.