Since the last time we discussed the Mets season, nothing has changed. Well, actually things have gotten worse. Since my last article they have gone 4-10 and have lost, underperforming veterans, Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas to the disabled list.
For the second consecutive season, the Mets have had a team that should compete throughout the year fail miserably due to injuries and underperformance. When I last wrote about the Mets they were about to embark on a season deciding stint of games and as I eluded to earlier, they could not get the job done.
Had the Mets gone 10-4 instead of 4-10 they would be 1 game under .500 and in a situation where they were basically right back in the hunt. That did not happen, so it is time for me to tell the Mets how they should handle the deadline.
The Mets do not have many valuable pieces to offer up to competing teams looking for a boost, but they do have some interesting decisions to make. First off, both Asdrubal Cabrera and Jeurys Familia should be traded and it is likely that they will be.
Familia has been one of the best late-inning relievers in the game since 2014 and if he pitches well for the next month he will likely bring back a nice prospect and/or some lower level prospects back in a deal. Cabrera has played very well this year, but he plays at a position that is not in high demand, so although he will likely be moved before the trade deadline the odds of him being traded for a legitimate prospect are slim to none.
Beyond Cabrera and Familia there are no obvious trade candidates with Blevins, Swarzak, Vargas, and Frazier all struggling mightily, scaring off any team that would want to trade for them especially considering 3 of those 4 players are under contract for next season as well.
If the Mets can find suitors for any of those players even if it is for nothing more than a low-level minor leaguer that has absolutely no shot at making the big leagues they should make the deal happen. Frazier staying would not be the end of the world considering that he is a solid defender, has a cheap deal, and is a great clubhouse guy that can be productive from time to time at the plate.
Those are the more obvious trade candidates and before I get into the other names that could/should be on the block I want to point out that this team still is not that far off from contention.
They have blown great opportunities to succeed that past two seasons, but they can’t really go into a rebuild with Yoenis Cespedes’ and Jay Bruce’s contracts on the books, so before anyone thinks they should sell off their core players and restart, remember they can be good if they stay healthy.
The deGrom and Syndergaard decision
It has been the talk of the town since John Harper of the New York Daily News pointed out that trading deGrom and/or Syndergaard could replenish the top levels of the Mets’ barren farm system with one quick trade. At the time that the article was published, it was way too early in the season for that theory to make sense considering they were struggling but still above .500 with a lot of season left to play.
Well, now the thought of trading one of the aces does make sense as long as it is for a “can’t miss prospect”. Let me make myself clear though, trading deGrom would be FOOLISH. He is on the same level as Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer and whether you are a good or bad team you don’t trade someone who can and does dominate a game every fifth day without fail for an entire season.
Syndergaard, on the other hand, has all of the promise in the world and eventually may get on that level. However, right now he is a bit injury prone and is not on that level. While the Mets should not shop Syndergaard they should listen to teams willing to give up their top prospect and/or a package of their top 15 prospects for the services of the young ace.
The Mets only have one position player in AA and AAA that is considered to be a top prospect and that simply is not enough to help this team succeed in the next season or two. Trading Syndergaard could bring in 1, 2, or 3 guys, preferably infielders, that could come up and contribute in short order. Right now the Mets’ only strength is their rotation and that has been a strength without Syndergaard pitching every fifth day.
If the Mets do not receive a deal that they think would be fair compensation for Syndergaard they do have other rotation pieces they could deal instead.
Wheeler and Matz have value
Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz have benefited greatly from the tutelage of new Pitching coach, Dave Eiland. So much so that both players seemingly have figured out how to pitch consistently and close to their full potential. Matz has pitched to an ERA of 3.10 in May and June, whereas Wheeler has an ERA of 3.98 in June, but has gotten some bad luck and has pitched well in stressful situations.
While Matz and Wheeler have established themselves as solid middle of the rotation starters, they are unlikely to bring much back in a trade considering how stingy teams have been with their prospects the past year or so.
Since Matz is under control through arbitration until 2021; and Wheeler is unlikely to make more than 2.5 million in his last year of arbitration next year, teams may be willing to part with better talent in order to acquire one of those players.
The Mets should trade one of those three pitchers if it means they will get a legitimate infield prospect or more in return.
Dom Smith and Wilmer Flores
I am a big fan of both Flores and Smith. I thought that Flores should’ve been considered for the starting job at second base instead of picking up Asdrubal Cabrera’s option in the offseason because he can hit and he has handled the position pretty well when given the opportunity throughout his career. However, the Mets should listen to offers for him because he could be packaged with Jeurys Familia or Asdrubal Cabrera to get a player that could start for the Mets for the next 5-10 years.
Although Flores will always have a special place in the hearts of Mets fans, because of the night he was almost traded and the walk-off home run that he hit just two nights later which propelled the 2015 team on a historic run down the stretch, he could be a valuable trade piece. He is a perfect platoon player that can competently play first and second base and is a nice power bat off the bench with one year of arbitration left on his contract.
Dom Smith is an interesting piece that could be traded, but could also prove he really is the first baseman of the future. He was brought back to the majors a few weeks ago and has done okay. The Mets have been forced to use him in the outfield because of injuries to their regular outfielders, but he has done alright out there and has been solid at first as well.
In 13 games since his return, he has 10 hits, 5 of them for extra bases, but has also struck out 11 times and walked just once. Unfortunately for Smith the one legitimate prospect the Mets have waiting in AAA, Peter Alonso, is also a first baseman and he is having the type of season the Mets hoped that Smith would have this year.
So, the Mets could use the rest of this season to let Smith sink or swim as the first baseman of the future, or they could see how much value Smith builds by the trade deadline and maybe move him for a couple lower level prospects with promise. This obviously depends on how the Mets feel about Peter Alonso, but they can’t keep both players long-term because even though the Mets have thrown Smith in the outfield it is due to need rather than anything else and the Mets already have a packed outfield, when healthy.
This is a situation that should be monitored throughout the last week of July and if he is not moved this year he could be moved in the offseason.
The players that I think will be traded by the deadline are Jeurys Familia, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and Zack Wheeler. I will likely be wrong, but those are the guys I see Sandy Alderson parting with this year. Although Syndergaard makes more sense to trade for me than Wheeler, I think Alderson would fear making a trade including Thor that backfires big time against him and the Mets.