While Sandy Alderson categorized the New York Mets as “in the middle” of the trade market, his replacements have taken a much clearer stance. The Mets have now accepted the reality of their situation and are moving forward as sellers, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. Assistant GM John Ricco met with the media yesterday and said that “everything has to be on the table” when considering how to improve the franchise as a whole.
Ricco did go on to say that he would look long and hard at moves that could alter the face of the team, such as a potential deal sending out one of the team’s top pitchers, Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard. The Mets aren’t wrong to listen to what’s out there for their stars, but the odds of either player getting shipped out still appear to be slim. With the off day today, let’s take a look at what the Mets will likely do before the trade deadline.
Pack Your Bags:
Jeurys Familia: Familia is a free agent at the end of the season, and since it is extremely unlikely he gets slapped with a qualifying offer the Mets will send him packing to recoup some value. Relief pitching is always valuable on the trade market, but the return the Kansas City Royals got for Kelvin Herrera was underwhelming to say the least. The market should also be flooded with trade candidates, including Brad Hand, Zach Britton, Raisel Iglesias, and Blake Treinen, which could make it more difficult to get peak value for Familia. Familia still has value, as evidenced by his 2.41 ERA before yesterday’s implosion, but it may not net as many assets as the Mets initially hoped.
Asdrubal Cabrera: The Mets’ best position player outside of Brandon Nimmo has been Cabrera, who is hitting .284 with 13 homers and 44 RBI’s on the year. Cabrera has the ability to play second, third, and shortstop and is also valuable as a switch hitter. There aren’t a lot of contenders with pressing needs for a starting second baseman, but Cabrera should net the Mets something in a deal. Cabrera offers value to teams as a proven veteran with postseason experience, and the Mets may be motivated to deal him in order to open up second base for Jeff McNeil.
Jerry Blevins: Another pending free agent, Blevins has had a bad year, with lefties hitting .333 against him. That’s not great for a pitcher whose job description entails getting lefties out, but teams are always in need of lefty specialists. Someone will take a shot on Blevins in the hopes that a change of scenery will lead to results more in line with his career numbers.
Devin Mesoraco: The Mets clearly won the Matt Harvey-Devin Mesoraco swap, as the veteran catcher has hit .220 with six homers and 15 RBI’s as a Met while Harvey has pitched to a 4.31 ERA as a member of the Reds. With few long term solutions available in the team’s farm system, the Mets may opt to hold on to Mesoraco for the rest of the year and evaluate whether it is worth having him hold the fort at the position for a few years. Mesoraco could have value on the trade market since several teams need catching help, particularly the Washington Nationals. Another intriguing aspect of a Mesoraco trade is that the Reds are paying the remainder of his 2018 salary, meaning any team that acquires him wouldn’t need to add to their payroll, which could increase the price in terms of prospects.
Jose Bautista: While most of the Mets’ low risk signings have blown up in recent years (see Jose Reyes, James Loney, and Adrian Gonzalez), Jose Bautista has actually been a pleasant surprise. Bautista has shown that there is still life left in his bat, hitting .254 with nine doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBI’s since joining the Mets in late May. Another pleasant surprise is Bautista’s .438 on base percentage, which has helped when most of the lineup can’t buy a hit. Bautista falls into the Asdrubal Cabrera category of veterans who could help a contender off the bench, so it comes down to whether or not he offers more value to the Mets as a trade chip or as a positive role model for the younger players. Assuming Yoenis Cespedes and/or Jay Bruce eventually return to the lineup, trading Bautista will help ensure that Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo have more opportunities for regular at bats.
Zack Wheeler: The most likely Mets’ pitcher to get dealt is Zack Wheeler, who has pitched very well of late. Over his last six starts, Wheeler has pitched to a 3.26 ERA and recorded a 33:13 strikeout to walk ratio in 38.2 innings pitched, but doesn’t have a win to show for it. Wheeler is under team control through next season, but with his injury history and a weak market for starters through trade it might be worth shopping him now. The fact that Wheeler is making only $2 million this season helps, and if the Mets aren’t going to keep him long term that extra year of team control could help them snag some better prospects.
Todd Frazier/Anthony Swarzak: These two get lumped together because in theory both Frazier and Swarzak offer value to other teams at positions of need with a year of team control after this one. The problem is that the loaded free agent class this winter means teams may not want to lock in an extra year with these guys, particularly Frazier when the third base market will include Josh Donaldson and potentially Manny Machado. Teams looking for a third baseman are more likely to try and trade for Mike Moustakas, who is on a one year deal, while the depth of the relief market makes it unlikely teams will want to assume the remainder of Swarzak’s contract when he hasn’t pitched well since returning from the disabled list.
Steven Matz: Another guy whose name has begun to float around in trade rumors is Matz, who has excelled of late after a rough start to the season. Over his last 10 starts, Matz is 2-3 with a 3.20 ERA and has recorded 44 strikeouts in 56.1 innings pitched. Like deGrom and Syndergaard, Matz can’t hit free agency for a while (2021 to be exact), so he could bring back some premium talent if the Mets chose to dangle him. The Mets will likely listen to offers for him, but unless they’re blown away with a deal Matz is likely going to be around for a few more years.
Jacob deGrom/Noah Syndergaard: This pair still remains unlikely to be dealt for a litany of reasons. The Mets are unlikely to get close to equal value for either pitcher in season, especially with Syndergaard still out with a finger injury he suffered in late May. The team’s uncertain front office situation is another potential barrier, as the Mets may not want to trade their best assets if one of the Ricco/J.P. Ricciardi/Omar Minaya contingent isn’t going to be the permanent successor to Alderson. Holding on to both pitchers makes sense since it could open up more bids in the winter while allowing a potential new GM to decide how to handle that situation.