With the way things are going with the New York Mets, it is becoming increasingly clear this team will be in position to sell at the trade deadline. The question is what in the world do the Mets have to sell.
Well, the biggest asset the Mets have right now is Jacob deGrom. If he was ever truly available, you would have 29 teams lining up to give you their best prospects. The problem with that is, you could assume the Mets will not deal with either the Yankees or the Nationals. With the Yankees, you are taking one deep farm system off the table, and that is assuming the Yankees would part with their top prospects in a trade with the Mets.
Overall, based on recent comments from Sandy Alderson, it does not appear the Mets are trading deGrom anytime soon, which is a relief because Sandy really does poor work at the trade deadline. He’s much better working deals in the offseason.
So when looking at players to trade, you obviously begin with guys on the last year of their deals. Well, the Mets don’t have much to offer there:
Jerry Blevins – the LOOGY has a 5.28 ERA, 1.761 WHIP, and a 6.5 BB/9. Worse than that, left-handed batters are hitting .351/.415/.514 off of him.
Jose Bautista – When he was released, the Mets were seemingly the only team who called him, and it’s hard to imagine teams giving up much for a second division bench player with a .366 SLG.
Asdrubal Cabrera – A year after the Mets found no takers for him, they may be in the same position after having him play through injuries. Since April 24th, he’s hitting .233/.269/.423 while playing the worst defensive second base in the majors (-10 DRS).
Jeurys Familia – If he returns from the DL healthy, Familia has real value because he has once again shown himself to be a good reliever and closer. The issue with him is Sandy Alderson flipped Addison Reed, who was healthier and having a better year, for an uninspiring group of Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek.
Devin Mesoraco – Briefly, Mesoraco was a revelation showing power and helping buttress a struggling Mets lineup. The hot streak has worn off, and he’s hitting .107 with no extra base hits over his last nine games.
AJ Ramos – Ramos is contemplating season ending shoulder surgery. That would take him off the table. The same can be said for his 6.41 ERA.
Jose Reyes – He’s the worst player in all of baseball this year; one the Mets are reportedly asking to retire.
Alright, so the Mets don’t have much in terms of players on expiring deals. Maybe, the team can look at players whose deals are expiring after the 2019 season:
Todd Frazier – The normally durable Frazier landed on the DL, and he has not been the power hitter he has been in his career. The positives are he’s kept a solid walk rate while playing a solid third base. Overall, he’s the type of player who is of more value to you than to what you would get back in a deal.
Jason Vargas – He’s now a five inning pitcher with a 7.39 ERA.
Zack Wheeler – Wheeler is an interesting case because he has shown promise, but he is still prone to the occasional hiccups. He’s probably not due for a large arbitration increase from his $1.8 million, which should be enticing for a Mets team who probably doesn’t want to spend $8 million to replace him with next year’s Vargas.
So, right now, looking at the expiring deals by the end of the 2019 season, the Mets assets basically amount to Familia and maybe Frazier and Wheeler. Arguably, Frazier and Wheeler are not bringing back the type of players who would be key pieces of a rebuild. To that extent, you at least have to question why you would move them on a Mets team with a fairly solid core which includes Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Noah Syndergaard, and deGrom.
And really, past that group, there isn’t much else available for the Mets to trade to justify blowing it up.
Jay Bruce is injured, and he already looks like he’s in a group with Jason Bay and Vince Coleman for the worst free agent mistake in Mets history. Yoenis Cespedes is both injury prone and has a no trade deal, which will likely limit their ability to move him.
Really, what the Mets need to be doing is some soul searching.
Much like they did when they extended David Wright, the team needs to assess whether players like deGrom and Syndergaard will be here when promising young players like Andres Gimenez, David Peterson, Justin Dunn, Mark Vientos, and Jarred Kelenic are here to open the Mets next World Series window.
If they’re not, you’re doing the franchise a complete disservice by hanging in this if everything breaks right structure. Really, things only broke right in 2015, and the team has been ill designed every since.
Blow it up now, or start spending money on players like Manny Machado this offseaosn. If you’re not doing that, this Mets team isn’t going anywhere for at least the next decade.
While any game where the Mets are trying to snap out of this horrendous June skid has its own level of interest, this game had some extra intrigue because the Mets were facing one of the two pitchers they traded in 2015 to obtain Addison Reed.
Well, on this night, it seemed as if the Diamondbacks got a much better return for Reed than the Jamie Callahan, Gerson Bautista, Stephen Nogosek triumvirate the Mets received from the Red Sox at last year’s trade deadline.
Things look good real early for the Mets as Brandon Nimmo hit a first inning homer off of Matt Koch. After that, Koch allowed just a fifth inning single to Dominic Smith that went nowhere before he allowed a Michael Conforto solo shot in the sixth inning.
All told, Koch pitched six innings allowing the two homers while walking one and striking out five. To be fair, with the way the Mets offense is going, we can’t tell if Koch is the one who got away or if a pitcher with a 4.20 ERA entering the game looked good because any semi-competent pitcher can shut down the Mets right now.
Now, the aforementioned Conforto homer pulled the Mets to within 3-2. They were behind because Jason Vargas wasn’t great . . . again.
After getting a lead, he surrendered it almost immediately in the second on a rally started by his first issuing a leadoff walk to John Ryan Murphy and then hitting David Peralta. Now, Peralta made no effort to get out of the way of the ball, a point Mickey Callaway seemed to be chirping about from the dugout, but there’s not point being bitter, right?
Anyway, Murphy came around and scored on an ensuing Ketel Marte single.
Vargas got out of that jam, but he allowed solo shots to Paul Goldschmidt and Peralta in consecutive innings to put the Mets down 3-1.
After his five innings, you could honestly say Vargas kept the Mets in the game. That’s a real accomplishment from where he was to start the season.
By the seventh, the Mets were down a run, and they were still in this game. After 1.2 fine innings from Hansel Robles, Callaway brought in Jerry Blevins to face a stretch of left-handed Diamondback batters starting with Daniel Descalso.
With two outs and an inherited runner from Robles, Blevins first allowed Descalso to single, and then he hit the left-handed hitting Jon Jay to load the bases.This led to Callaway bringing in Sewald, who is struggling every bit as much as Vargas and Blevins. He proceeded to walk Nick Ahmed to force home a run.
Think about that. Robles was the Mets best reliever of the night, and he is the one charged with a run after Blevins’ and Sewald’s inept performances.
Speaking of poor performances, after Amed Rosario hit a solo shot in the eighth inning to pull the Mets within 4-3, Jacob Rhame came in and allowed solo homers to Peralta and Jake Lamb. At that point, the Mets were down 6-3, and they were well past their quota for runs in a game.
Ultimately, this game amounted to the pitchers Sandy Alderson brought in to help this team completely failing, but sure, let’s all blame Callaway for this team’s performance.
With Rhame being the return for Curtis Granderson and Callahan being one of the three prospects netted in exchange for Addison Reed, we get a glimpse of how well Sandy Alderson did at the trade deadline. We also get a glimpse into what exactly the 2018 bullpen could look like.
So far, it’s safe to say Jerry Blevins, Jeurys Familia, and AJ Ramos will be in the Mets bullpen next year. Most likely, but not as definitely, Hansel Robles will be in the bullpen as well. Assuming no moves, and based on Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, it’s a fairly safe assumption, there are three open spots in the bullpen.
Sewald has shown versatility in the pen coming on for multiple innings and being a late inning reliever brought on to get the Mets out of a jam. He’s pitched 57.0 innings in 47 appearances. Overall, he’s 0-5 with a 4.11 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, and a 9.8 K/9.
Bradford has terrific in his first 17 appearances before his clunker against the Reds. Even with that poor performance, he’s still 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, and a 7.9 K/9.
With they way they’ve pitched, you could certainly envision Sewald and/or Bradford being on the Opening Day roster. However, digging deeper, neither pitcher really fits the mold of what Alderson envisions from this bullpen.
It’s clear Alderson now wants to see power arm after power arm after power arm coming out of the Mets bullpen.
Clearly, these big arms are a sign of what Alderson wants in this Mets bullpen. The first wave will be Rhame and Callahan. More will certainly follow.
Hopefully, now, Alderson had found that right formula. Each and every year he’s been the Mets GM he’s started the year with bad bullpens, and he had to fix them on the fly.
Hopefully, now, he has the arms in place. If he does, the Mets chances of returning to the postseason are much better.
In assessing how the Mets fared in the Addison Reed trade, let’s start with the obvious. The fact Sandy Alderson was able to turn Miller Diaz and Matt Koch into a great run with Reed plus Red Sox prospects Stephen Nogosek, Jamie Callahan, and Gerson Bautista was absolutely phenomenal. No, it doesn’t rank up there with Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra for R.A. Dickey, but nevertheless, it was a coup.
Still, the question remains whether Sandy got a good return for the 2017 version of Reed.
Let’s start with this. Since joining the Mets, Reed has been one of the best and more versatile relievers in baseball. He has deftly handed the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning. His 142.0 innings pitched since joining the Mets is fifth in baseball, and his 2.09 ERA over that stretch is great. Intuitively, you may not believe Reed is a top reliever in baseball, but he was. From 2016 to the present, Reed posted the sixth best fWAR in the majors (3.5). Aside from Kenley Jansen and Andrew Miller, who we all know are otherworldly right now, Reed is as good, if not better than any reliever in baseball.
Looking over the list of potential free agents, Reed could have arguably been considered one of if not the best reliever on the free agent market. With that being the case, it was likely worth gambling and giving him the qualifying offer putting his value at a second round pick or the equivalent.
Looking at the Mets haul, they most likely received that. The trio of arms all throw in the upper 90s. With respect to Nogosek and Bautista, they both have a good but inconsistent slider, and there are some control issues. If they figure it out, and realistically speaking, they are in the right organization to do so, the Mets have two potential late inning relievers. With Callahan, they have a near MLB ready reliever who can generate a high number of strikeouts and could be ready to help the Mets as soon as next year. To that end, the Mets certainly did receive a second round equivalent.
Where the debate becomes dicey is when you ask the question whether the Mets could have done better.
For starters, there is no real way of knowing that. We are not privy to the general back-and-forth between general mangers. We also don’t know if there was a theoretical better offer the Mets rejected because they liked the players the Red Sox offered more.
We should also consider, last year, the Yankees seemingly built an entire farm system (hyperbole) by trading Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Each trade fetched the Yankees two of their trade partners’ top five prospects. In terms of Gleyber Torres, it got them one of the best prospects in baseball.
With Reed arguably being the top reliever on the market with at least eight teams interested, it makes you question how the Mets walk out of a deal without an organization’s top five prospect. The counter-argument is the prices this year are not the same as they were last year. In the end, we have no idea if this was the proverbial best trade, and the reviews on the trade have been all over the place.
Ultimately, I find the trade underwhelming, and I do question the Mets motives a bit. If you look at their recent moves, they have all been bullpen driven. Lucas Duda was moved for Drew Smith. The team went out and obtained AJ Ramos. Now, the Mets got an arguably low return for a trio of fireball throwing relievers. I’m not so sure the Mets approached this trade deadline with the intent on rebuilding the minor league system as much as they were intent on rebuilding their bullpen.
In the end, if the Mets goal was really to build the bullpen in the trade market, they have to back that up by spending real money in the free agent market to back up their decisions. If they don’t do this, they may not have only lost out on the possibility on maximizing their returns for the pieces they did move, they may also miss out on the 2018 postseason.
Entering the trade deadline, the Mets had eight players who were impending free agents and another two who could be free agents if the Mets declined their 2018 options. Despite the Mets looking to get something in return for each of these prospects, they walked away from the trade deadline having made just two deals:
If you are going to question why the Mets didn’t do more look no further than their 48-55 record. Simply put, the teams in contention didn’t have much interest in the players who have led the Mets from potential World Series contenders to also-rans.
Sure, there will be people who point out it was not a robust market for position players. That’s true, but it did not prevent the White Sox from moving Melky Cabrera, the Athletics from moving Adam Rosales, or for that matter, the Mets from moving Duda. This brings about the question over why teams weren’t interested in the Mets pieces. For each player, there is a different answer:
RF/1B Jay Bruce
2017 Stats: .263/.326/.523, 19 2B, 27 HR, 72 RBI, 2.3 WAR
When assessing why teams aren’t interested in Bruce, one thing to keep in mind is team’s don’t covet home runs much in the same fashion they once did. Remember, Chris Carter went from winning the National League home run title last year to being a non-tendered free agent with little interest on the free agent market. So, yes, the 27 homers are good, but they do not completely define a player’s value.
Keep in mind, Bruce is no longer considered a good defensive player. While, it should be noted his 8 DRS and 2.6 UZR are good defensive numbers, it is coming off a season where he posted a -11 DRS and a -8.9 UZR. To the eyes, Bruce does look a step slower in right.
As for the rest of the value, Bruce has shown himself to be a first half player who tapers off in the second half. To that end, he hit .250/.281/.500 in July. Potentially, this could be the beginning of a prolonged slump like we saw Bruce have with the Mets last year. Certainly, other teams noticed that as well, and they might be scared off by how poorly he performed when asked to change teams mid-season.
INF Asdrubal Cabrera
2017 Stats: .260/.339/.404, 15 2B, 9 HR, 30 RBI, SB, -0.4 WAR
In 2017, Cabrera got hurt, and when he was asked to move off shortstop, a position where he has posted a -9 DRS and -4.7 UZR, he balked. First, he demanded his option be picked-up, then he demanded a trade. Things like that don’t go over well when you have shown yourself to have a lack of range at three infield positions, and you are not hitting well at the plate.
2017 Stats: .224/.330/.446, 20 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB
To a certain extent, the relative lack of interest in Granderson is surprising. After a slow and painful start, he has been a much better player since June 1st hitting .258/.404/.558. He’s also accepted a role on the bench without being an issue in the clubhouse. As a pinch hitter this year, he is hitting .267/.421/.533. If your team has an injury, you know he can capably fill in at three outfield positions. He’s also a tremendous clubhouse presence. Ultimately, this tells us teams were scared off by his age and his $15 million contract.
INF Jose Reyes
2017 Stats: .226/.289/.387, 17 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 13 SB, -1.0 WAR
Let’s start with the obvious. Adding Reyes to your team is a potential PR nightmare. The Cubs thought it worthwhile for Aroldis Chapman, but it is likely no one is going down that road with a below replacement level player. As noted, the main issue is Reyes has been bad this year. Even with the recent surge, he still hasn’t been great this year, and there was zero interest even before he was hit on the hand.
2017 Stats: .232/.277/.374, 4 2B, 6 HR, 20 RBI
Rivera’s reputation as a defensive catcher and pitching whisperer has taken a bit of a hit this year. Whatever the reason, he did not have the same touch with pitchers like Robert Gsellman like he did last year. Also, while he is throwing out more base runners, he has taken a significant step back as a pitch framer. Overall, he still has a good defensive reputation and is a good backup catcher, but he hasn’t excelled in the areas where he excelled in year’s past.
2B Neil Walker
2017 Stats: .266/.347/.455, 13 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 0.9 WAR
If Walker stayed healthy, there may have been some semblance of a trade market for him. When he has played he has hit, but he has only played in 63 games as a result of a partially torn left hamstring. This was a year after he had season ending back surgery. Between the injury history and his $17.2 million salary, the lack of trade interest in him is certainly understandable.
Looking at the above, it is understandable why there was at best tepid interest in the Mets trade pieces. That is why they are still on the Mets roster. However, this does not preclude an August trade. To that end, Mets fans were all disappointed the Mets weren’t able to moved Marlon Byrd at the 2013 non-waiver deadline. Twenty-seven days later, Byrd was traded with John Buck for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.