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Mets passing up on Starling Marte better for long run

Starling Marte. (Wikimedia Commons)

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen alluded to the fact that his team was going to remain largely unchanged from now until the start of the regular season over the weekend at the team’s first-annual Fan Fest at Citi Field.

With the last big name they were linked to officially off the board, those sentiments look to be true.

The Pirates traded center fielder Starling Marte to the Diamondbacks on Monday, getting Arizona’s No. 9 and 18 prospects ranked by MLB Pipeline in return.

It’s a meager enough return for a player coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, batting .295 with 23 home runs, 82 RBI, and 25 stolen bases in 132 games.

The consensus surrounding the Mets this winter was that they needed a natural center fielder to anchor their glutton of corner-outfield talents.

After finally cutting ties with Juan Lagares, they made a lateral move at best with the acquisition of Jake Marisnick — a plus-defensive center fielder with a little more pop compared to Lagares.

The Mets held multiple conversations with the Pirates throughout the offseason about possibly acquiring Marte, but the price to pay would have been far heavier than what the Diamondbacks wound up parting with.

Multiple reports revealed the Pirates were looking to come away with outfielder Brandon Nimmo and first baseman/utility man Dominic Smith. When healthy, Nimmo is a high on-base option to put near the top of the lineup while Smith became a vital bat in a reserve role.

On top of that, it was reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman that the Pirates were also interested in 18-year-old shortstop Ronny Mauricio, who is the Mets’ top prospect who spent last season with single-A Columbia.

Call it too steep a price or Van Wagenen learning from past mistakes, but it’s easy to see why the Mets decided to pass on Marte.

The Mets are already looking as though they came up with the short straw in the blockbuster trade that saw them acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners for outfielding prospect Jarred Kelenic, among others. Further emptying the farm — especially dealing a No. 1 prospect — for an aging center fielder with two years of team control is a risky move.

Not to mention Marte’s links with PEDs. A year before Cano was sidelined half a season for PED use in 2018, Marte was suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

A turbulent Mets offseason doesn’t need any other potential boat-rockers after things finally seem to be calming down after Luis Rojas replaced the ousted Carlos Beltran following the fallout from the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.

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