There are three ways to build a team: drafting, free-agency, and trading. GM Sandy Alderson admitted the other day the Mets won’t meaningfully participate in two of them.
Alderson said the Mets might add a free-agent, but it won’t be a significant one. After all, would you call either Todd Frazier or Eduardo Nunez as significant? We can discount Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes because that’s breaking even.
The Mets don’t want to sign a big-ticket free agent because they don’t want to give up a compensatory draft pick as to build up their thin minor league system.
So, if they won’t significantly spend and have a weak farm system that leaves the trade market. But, who exactly do they have to trade?
PITCHERS: Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are the most valuable in terms of what they can bring back. Of the two, I would sign deGrom long-term contract and see what Syndergaard might return. Syndergaard has a higher upside in the trade market because he’s younger, throws harder and has a team-friendly contract. He’s almost like Matt Harvey was five years ago.
So, the faster way to accumulate young talent would be trading Syndergaard. I know the Mets don’t want to but it might be something to consider.
The Mets won’t do it, of course, and one justifiable reason is to hedge against the unraveling of their vaunted rotation that hasn’t made a complete turn one-through-five, ever. Twice Harvey had season-ending surgery, but the Mets won’t deal him because they are holding onto the hope he’ll realize his potential. Let’s face it, the Mets aren’t going to bring him back, so their hope of getting something for him is for him to get off to a good start and deal him at the deadline.
Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler also have injury histories that hurt their trade value, and Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo won’t bring much in return.
As far as their relievers go, that Mickey Callaway is considering a closer-by-committee downgrade the value of the back-end relievers, and that includes Jeurys Familia, who is recovering from surgery.
Frankly, the only reliever who might have some value is AJ Ramos, but then again what did the Mets have to give up to get him?
Outside of deGrom and Syndergaard, the best chance for the Mets to improve themselves with their pitching is to hope they stay healthy and live up to their potential.
But, hoping is not a sound strategy.
CATCHERS: Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki can be had, but what does it say about their value when the Mets have been trying to upgrade here?
FIRST BASE: If there was genuine interest in Adrian Gonzalez they had their chance to sign him. Dominic Smith didn’t impress during his window so his value is down. If the Mets are serious about rebuilding they’ll hold onto Smith because he is young with potential.
SECOND/THIRD BASE: Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes won’t draw any interest until the trade deadline, and even then it will be questionable. Wilmer Flores drew interest in 2015 and could again, but it would have to be at the deadline and as part of a package.
As for there’s David Wright, whose contract, no-trade clause and injury history make him untradeable.
SHORTSTOP: Amed Rosario is young, fast, has a team-friendly contract and a huge upside. He’s somebody you don’t trade unless you get exceptionable young talent in return.
LEFT FIELD: A healthy, productive Yoenis Cespedes should interest most teams. It did for three teams before he came to the Mets. As with Wright, Cespedes’ contract that includes a no-trade clause make him untradeable.
CENTER FIELD: Michael Conforto is coming off shoulder surgery and will miss the first month of the season. The Mets could get something of value for him because he’s good, young, has a huge upside and manageable contact. But, those are the reasons why they shouldn’t even consider it.
Juan Lagares has an injury history and manageable contract, but he doesn’t have a resume of production.
RIGHT FIELD: Any team that wanted Bruce had their opportunity to sign him as a free agent and not give up any talent.
Maybe the Mets could trade him at the July deadline in 2020.
So, just who do the Mets have to trade that would greatly improve them?