In a report by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Washington Nationals are interested in obtaining Addison Reed from the New York Mets at the trade deadline. However, Cafardo also notes the Mets may not be inclined to trade Reed to the Nationals.
If true, this makes little sense.
Reed is a pending free agent. If the Mets do not trade him at the trade dealine, the best they can recoup for him is a second round draft pick, and that is only if the Mets were inclined to extend him a qualifying offer. When you consider the qualifying offer for last year was set at $16.7 million, it seems like the amount will be too high for the Mets taste. As a result, the Mets will likely lose Reed as a free agent with nothing in return if they do not move him at the trade deadline.
If the Mets are indeed trading him because the team is selling, there should be one and only one guiding principle in making a trade – Make the best trade possible. It should not matter if that team is the Yankees or the Nationals.
In fact, the Mets have already benefited from making a trade with the Nationals. On the eve of the 2015 season, the Mets traded outfielder Matt den Dekker for LOOGY Jerry Blevins. For his part, Blevins was lights out for the Mets that season before breaking his arm. With a good relationship already established, the Mets and Blevins have agreed to two different one year deals since. In Blevins time with the Mets, he is 9-2 with two saves, a 2.76 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, and a 11.4 K/9.
Where would the Mets have been if they refused to make an intra-division trade back then?
Speaking of the 2015 season, the Mets moved prospects John Gant and Robert Whalen for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. Uribe and KJ were both important members of the 2015 team. Again in 2016, the Mets acquired KJ from the Braves. Again, KJ was an extremely important part of a Mets team that made the postseason.
In 2015, the Mets made two trades with division rivals, and those two trades helped them win the pennant. Now that they are selling, they should once again be willing to trade with teams in the division. The only guiding principle in making a move is to judge whether the trade is the best return the Mets can get for a particular player.
Will seeing the Nationals win the World Series with Daniel Murphy, Reed, or anyone else the Nationals may acquire from the Mets? Absolutely. However, wouldn’t getting a top prospect like Victor Robles patrolling center field for a World Series winning Mets teams more than ease that pain? Again, absolutely.
Now, can the Mets get Robles for Reed? Probably not. Then again, seeing the prospects got in exchange for Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman last year, it’s possible. That being said, if the Nationals won’t give up a prospect of the caliber of Robles, someone may very well do so. Again, the overriding point here is the Mets need to make the best trade possible . . . even if that trade is with the Nationals.
Right now, the Mets are four games out of a Wild Card spot, and they are desperately hoping with Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera coming off the disabled list this week that the team goes on a run that will bring them back into the postseason. Whether or not that works, it is fair to ask if this is the Mets last chance to win the World Series.
The foundation of this team is its starting pitching. Matt Harvey has gone from Opening Day starter to question mark with his season ending surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome. There is no telling how effective he will be if he is able to come back.
Zack Wheeler was supposed to be back by the All Star Break. Now, it appears that he will miss his second consecutive season. While rehabbing from the surgery, Wheeler has had to have a second surgery to deal with forearm irritation caused by stitches, sensory nerve irritation, and now a flexor strain. He had been treated by Dr. Dave Altchek, and he sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. We are continuously assured there are no structural issues, and yet, time and again there is a new excuse why he can’t pitch. At the end of the day, it does not matter if he is unable to pitch due to his elbow or for other reasons. Who knows when he can return or how effective he will be when returning.
There are more question marks in the rotation. Steven Matz has yet to have a healthy season in the majors. Bartolo Colon will be 44 years old next year meaning there is no guarantee that he pitches beyond this year. Even if he does, there is no guarantee he will be this effective. Logan Verrett has shown he is not capable of being a member of the starting rotation. Sean Gilmartin‘s season ended early with shoulder problems. The Mets aren’t going to pick up Jon Niese‘s option, and even if they did bring him back, you should probably expect more of the same from him.
The Mets other options are Gabriel Ynoa and Robert Gsellman, both of whom are probably not ready to start in the majors. Even if they are, both realistically project to be middle to back of the rotation starters. That certainly helps, but that also a huge drop off from someone like Harvey.
As if the starting pitching wasn’t a big enough issue, there is the issue of the Mets offense.
As we saw this year, you cannot rely upon David Wright at all. The Mets have no internal options to replace his bat in the lineup. Worse yet, there is a lack of very good options on the free agent market choices available even if the Mets were so inclined to add a bat. Keep in mind, they may also have to replace Lucas Duda at first base. In 2015, Duda had a disc issue. This year, Duda will miss almost the entire season with a stress fracture in his back. There is a very real chance that he is a non-tender candidate. The Mets do not have a first base option in the minors who is on track to play in the majors next year, and again, the free agent market is less than promising. That means James Loney can once again be the Mets best option, and as we have seen, he is not a terribly good everyday option.
This isn’t even the Mets biggest problem, not by a long shot.
Cespedes can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and he will easily become the best free agent available. The narrative coming out of last offseason was how much Cespedes wanted to be a Met, and that is why he returned. That’s the hope why he will stay. However, it’s more narrative than fact.
The fact is Cespedes didn’t get a fair market value offer on the free agent market. Judging from the free agent contracts handed out, teams placed a higher value on Jason Heyward and Justin Upton. The teams you would think would be interested in Cespedes gave the money to somebody else. The Nationals were interested, but due to budgetary constraints, they only offered Cespedes a largely backloaded deal. It is possible that after another postseason berth, and Jonathan Papelbon‘s salary off the books, the Nationals could make another run at Cespedes in the offseason. It is also possible that the Giants, Dodgers, Rangers and/or the Angels could emerge as suitors for Cespedes. There’s always the phantom mystery team that could join the bidding.
It is certainly plausible the Mets get outbid from Cespedes, or they simply move on from him. Keep in mind, there were rumblings all over that the Jay Bruce trade was made, in part, as insurance for Cespedes leaving in the offseason. If that is the case, the Mets outfield will yet again be left without a true center fielder.
The main task may first fall to Curtis Granderson, who has struggled mightily this year and should not be counted on to rebound in 2017. The Mets could go with a Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo platoon in center, but that would leave no room for Michael Conforto to play everyday.
Speaking of Conforto, there is another major issue with this Mets team. Both Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud have regressed this year. Certainly, Conforto’s wrist and d’Arnaud’s shoulder are factors, but the fact remains, they have regressed. Couple that with Kevin Plawecki not progressing at all, there is a major issue. Either the Mets young talent is not as good as anticipated, or there are impediments at the major league level that is preventing them from reaching their full potential. In order for the Mets to remain contenders, they will need their young players to step up.
Between the aforementioned free agent market and lack of major league ready prospects, the Mets only real hopes of improving the roster is on the trade front. The problem there is the cupboard is getting bare. The Mets have already moved big pieces in Michael Fulmer and Dilson Herrera. They’re not willing to move Amed Rosario, and they are really unlikely to move Dominic Smith. The Mets could move Nimmo, but that depletes from their depth for next season, and as we have seen, the Mets need all the depth they can get.
Keep in mind that over the past two seasons, the Mets have also moved Robert Whalen, Luis Cessa, John Gant, Akeel Morris, and Casey Meisner. They lost Matthew Bowman and Dario Alvarez without getting anything in return. Their departures leaves a gap of mid-tier prospects the Mets could move for upgrades.
Yes, the Mets can field a very competitive baseball team next year. As long as you have pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, you are going to have a chance to compete. With another year of Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, it is a seven inning game for the Mets. It’ll become a six inning game if Hansel Robles takes the next step. But after that?
You’re counting on Neil Walker returning, which is not a guarantee. You’re counting on Asdrubal Cabrera developing more range at shortstop while hitting better than .255/.308/.410. He was a .249/.307/.405 hitter from 2013 – 2015. You’re counting on Jose Reyes to hit better than his .250/.302/.466 and be healthy all of next year. Reyes hit .274/.310/.378 while hitting in two of the best hitter’s parks last year. You’re counting on Wilmer Flores being able to learn to hit righties. You’re counting on the Mets not having to rely on the Eric Campbells and Ty Kellys on the world for prolonged stretches of time over the next season. It’s all possible, but it’s not likely.
As things look right now, the Mets better start winning some ballgames and make a run because there is no guarantee that the Mets window to contend will remain open past this season.
Over the past year, the Mets have made a number of trades to not only help them go to the World Series last year, but also to help them become World Series contenders again this year. With Neil Walker returning to Pittsburgh to not one but two standing ovations, and the draft scheduled for later today it seems like today is a good day to take a cursory view of how the players the Mets traded away are faring.
Robert Whalen – Whalen has made 11 starts for the Atlanta Braves AA affiliate going 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP. At the time of the trade, Whalen was seen as a back of the rotation starter, and his performance this year should not change those impressions.
John Gant – Despite never having pitched above AAA before this season, Gant got a cup of coffee early on with the Braves showing off his very unorthodox delivery. He predictably struggled pitching to a 6.17 ERA and a 1.714 WHIP in seven appearances. Gant was sent back down to AAA where he has pitched better. In eight appearances, he has a 3.14 ERA and a 1.233 WHIP. He appears on track for another promotion before the year is over, especially with the way the Braves want to sell everything.
Casey Meisner – The 20 year old Meisner pitched well for Oakland’s Advance A affiliate pitching going 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.052 WHIP in seven starts. This year, for the first time in his brief career, Meisner is struggling going 0-9 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.645 WHIP in 11 starts. At 21, Meisner is still young for his league, and he is still walking too many batters. If Meiser can make the ncecessary adjustments, he can get back on track to being the mid to top of the rotation starter he was projected to be.
Michael Fulmer – Fulmer only received three AAA starts before the Tigers felt compelled to bring him up to help fix a beleaguered rotation that included former Met Mike Pelfrey. Fulmer has shown himself to be every bit the ace people anticipated he might be one day. He has gone 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.175 WHIP. In his last four starts, he is 4-0 with a 0.32 ERA and a 0.635 WHIP.
Luis Cessa – Cessa was actually traded to the Yankees in the offseason, and he made his major league debut with them. In his three appearances, he had a 2.57 ERA and a 0.857 WHIP. In the minors, he has been in the rotation with less success. In his five starts (with one relief appearance), he is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.214 WHIP. Ultimately, Cessa has the stuff to be either a back end of the rotation pitcher or a middle reliever. His brief cup of coffee with the Yankees has shown he does have the ability to pitch in the majors.
Dawrin Frias – After the conclusion of the 2015 season, Frias become a minor league free agent. To date, no one has signed him.
Miller Diaz – Diaz is struggling mightily for the Arizona Diamondback’s high A affiliate going 0-1 with a 7.76 ERA and 2.414 WHIP in 15 games (inlcuding three starts). Diaz was seen as nothing more than a major league reliever, at best, and these statistics make that proposition a stretch.
Matt Koch – Koch is having another strong year in AA. In his five starts, he is 0-2 with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.310 WHIP. While Koch was seen as a bullpen piece, if he keeps improving the way he has, he may have a shot to stick with the back end of someone’s rotation.
Jon Niese – Niese’s early season struggles have seemed to go by the wayside. While he started the year 3-1 with a 5.94 ERA and a 1.680 WHIP, he has settled down and pitched much better of late. We just saw him pitch seven innings in beating the Mets. In his last six starts, he is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA and a 1.141 WHIP.
For the most part, the players the Mets traded are playing well. It shows the Mets gave up valuable pieces for the quality players they received. The hope is the Mets have enough trade assets this year to swing a deal or two like they did last year.
For the second straight year, the Mets entered the season with questionable depth. The result of the questionable depth last year was the Mets were forced to raid their minor league pitching depth to build a bench and a bullpen. Overall, the Mets traded away Robert Whalen, John Gant, Casey Meisner, Michael Fulmer, Luis Cessa, Dawrin Frias, Miller Diaz, and Matt Koch. The end result was a National League Pennant and only one player under contract beyond 2015.
The Mets had the whole offseason to make sure that didn’t happen again. They didn’t. The team decided not to re-sign Kelly Johnson, and they waived Ruben Tejada. The end result was the Mets started the year with Eric Campbell on the 25 man roster. Keep in mind, the 2015 Mets which supposedly had less depth had Campbell in the minor league system.
Unfortunately, Campbell did not reward the faith the Mets placed in him. Campbell hit .159/.270/.222. The Mets were forced to move on from him. Next up was Ty Kelly, who the Mets signed to a minor league deal over the winter, and Kelly hit .111/.200/.111. Another option was Matt Reynolds, who is still up with the team, who is currently hitting .167/.231/.167. By the way, the Mets have now made it readily apparent they are not going to give T.J. Rivera a shot. Long story short there are kiddie pools with more depth than what the 2016 Mets had this season. Accordingly, the Mets were in a position where they were forced to make a move to improve their depth.
Today, the Mets traded away Akeel Morris for Kelly Johnson. This is the same Kelly Johnson the Mets thought Eric Campbell was better than in the offseason. This is the same Kelly Johnson who is currently hitting .215/.273/.289 this year.
Again, the Mets could have signed him in the offseason and not forfeited a prospect in return. Either the Mets thought Campbell was a better player and were wrong, or they made a money decision. There is roughly a $1.5 million difference between Campbell’s and Johnson’s salaries, and the Mets did release Tejada before the season in an effort to save money. Keep in mind, the Mets not only obtained Campbell in the deal, but as per Jon Heyman, the Mets also received some money in the deal as well. Because of the Mets penny wise pound foolish decisions, the Mets once again had to dip into their minor league system to address their poor depth.
This time the cost was Akeel Morris. Last year, Morris was terrific in his 23 appearance in AA. He went 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP. This year, for the first time in his major league career, he is struggling. In his 22 appearances, he is 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA and a 1.382 WHIP. Lost in those stats is Morris’ stuff. He can get his fastball up to 95, and he has a good changeup. With his ability to strike people out, he could have been a late inning reliever. With the development of another pitch, like the Warthen slider, he would be. If he does reach his potential, it will be with another organization as the Mets decided they desperately needed someone who is hitting worse than Kevin Plawecki this year.
Regardless of his struggles, Johnson is an upgrade over what the Mets have been playing lately. Johnson may also benefit from returning to a team where he played well last year. If Johnson does play well, it’ll be a reminder the Mets should not have let him sign elsewhere in the offseason. It will be a reminder that the mistake the Mets made a mistake in thinking Campbell was the best choice for the bench. Ultimately, the cost of that mistake is the career of Akeel Morris.
Going into last year, the Mets were well noted for their organizational pitching depth. It wasn’t just the pitchers that were in the majors, but it was also the pitchers on the way. The thought process was the Mets could select the pitchers to keep to help the rotation and trade the others for a bat.
Well, the Mets are going into the 2016 season, and their depth isn’t the same as this regime seems comfortable jettisoning this team’s pitching depth. A large part of the reason was the unwillingness and/or inability to spend in the offseason last year. Here is the list of pitchers gone from the Mets organization:
- Greg Peavey
- Randy Fontanez
- Cory Mazzoni
- Brad Wieck
- Casey Meisner
- John Gant
- Robert Whalen
- Michael Fulmer
- Luis Cessa
- Matt Koch
- Miller Diaz
- Dawrin Frias
- Jack Leathersich
- Jon Niese
- Matthew Bowman
This list doesn’t include Logan Verrett, who was selected in last year Rule 5 draft and returned. It also doesn’t include Tyler Clippard, Bartolo Colon, Eric O’Flaherty, Bobby Parnell, and Alex Torres because, at least in theory, they all could return to the Mets next year. In any event, that’s a lot of pitchers gone and/or potentially gone from the 2014 Winter Meetings and the 2015 Winter Meetings.
After losing all these pitchers, the Mets only have two . . . TWO . . . players on their 2016 major league roster resulting from these moves: Addison Reed and Neil Walker. Also, the Mets still need a fifth starter and possibly bullpen help. You would think after losing 15 pitchers in a year, you’d be in a better position.
Now, the important caveat here is not all of these pitchers are of the same caliber. For example, Peavey and Fontanez were selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Also, I did defend the trade that brought in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. On the flip side, I did not like the trades which brought in Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes.
I’m not in the crowd that justifies these deals due to the Mets winning the pennant. You win the World Series, you’re untouchable because you did what was necessary. However, the Mets lost all that pitching and still fell short. Think of it another way. Do you think the Tigers would’ve traded winning the AL East for John Smoltz‘ career?
With all that said, the Mets still deserve some credit here. Even though they lost all that pitching, they still have good pitching prospects like Robert Gsellman. I just wish they spent more money last offseason and kept some of those pitchers to give them more options to make deals this winter or this upcoming summer.
Keep in mind that sooner or later losing all this pitching will eventually catch up with them. I’m not looking forward to the day that happens.