Upon first hearing about Niese's availability, I was cautiously optimistic that the Yankees would, at the very least, inquire about the young lefty. While Niese may not offer the upside of Gio Gonzalez or the experience of John Danks, I believe that he is not too far removed from either, and is quite likely to come at the most reasonable cost.
For those of you unfamiliar with Niese, he has produced the following over his two full-ish seasons with the Mets:
2010 - 173.2 IP, 4.20 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 3.80 xFIP, 7.7 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 47.7 GB%
2011 - 157.1 IP, 4.40 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 3.28 xFIP, 7.9 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 51.5 GB%
Niese mixes five pitches - four-seam and two-seam fastballs (around 90 MPH), a cutter (his primary weapon against righties), a 12-to-6 curveball (his strikeout pitch), and a rarely utilized change-up. Though he is a bit more effective against left-handed batters, he does not show a worrisome platoon split, which speaks volumes about the effectiveness of his cutter.
There is a bit of downside with Niese, in that he has struggled to stay healthy over the past two seasons. Hamstring and oblique issues have hampered him intermittently and, while there hasn't been any permanent damage or throwing-arm related injuries, durability may very well be a concern. And, of course, the National League caveat applies.
Should the reports of the Mets asking price be accurate, I believe that the Yankees could and should make a strong push for Niese. The team does not necessarily have a chip comparable to Hammel, but I could see Hector Noesi as an appealing option to step into the Mets rotation in April ... and he may be preferable to someone like Hammel, due to his cost and team control. I suspect that this will garner a bit of grief, but I would be willing to offer Dellin Betances as the principal piece in the deal, which speaks more to my opinion of Niese than my valuation of Betances. Should the Mets desire a bat, I would seek to package Austin Romine, Eduardo Nunez, and one of David Adams, Corban Joseph, or Brandon Laird. Nunez is incredibly far removed from Reyes' stratosphere, but he and Romine would be able to step in all but immediately and fill very real holes on the Mets roster (and at a very affordable rate, which is an integral consideration).
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