The Mets don't have to be just sellers or just buyers at the trade deadline. They can be both...
It doesn't happen often, especially in New York, but smart organizations -- like Billy Beane's Athletics -- often acquire and trade away young, controllable talent simultaneously regardless of whether they are or aren't contending for the playoffs.
During the next week, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen should do his best to take a page out of Beane's book, especially since fewer and fewer elite players are making it to free agency these days.
Here are four players under contract beyond this season that should interest Van Wagenen...
Will Smith (Dodgers catcher, 24 years old)
Smith is currently LA's fourth-best prospect and one of the top catching prospects in baseball. Scouting reports indicate he is a terrific backstop with a rifle for an arm who can get on base at a good clip and provide solid power.
The problem for him is that the organization's No. 1 prospect, Keibert Ruiz, is also a catcher. Smith may be better behind the plate, but Ruiz projects to be better in the batter's box, plus he's a switch hitter and said to be big-league ready.
Meanwhile, the team's current catcher, Austin Barnes, is arbitration-eligible the next three seasons and looking more and more like a backup.
It's a situation reminiscent of what the Mets went through a few years ago with Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, both of whom had trade value, were held on to, fizzled and are no longer with the organization.
So not to make a similar mistake, sources with rival teams say the Dodgers have been open to including Smith when trying to land a starting pitcher and/or high-leverage reliever before the deadline.
Whit Merrifield (Royals infielder/outfielder, 30 years old)
Merrifield is a throwback, 1980s style player and one of the better overall, well-rounded hitters in the game. He's currently batting .309 with a .360 OBP, 12 home runs, 28 doubles, nine triples and 15 stolen bases. Plus, during the past few years, he's played every position except shortstop and catcher.
The Royals recently signed Merrifield to a four-year deal that overlapped his first three years of arbitration and what would have been his first year of free agency. As a result, he's earning a set and affordable $23 million between now and 2023. He's a useful, very valuable, experienced player, much like Ben Zobrist a few years ago, all of which is why I can't figure out why he's the subject of so many trade rumors. Nevertheless, he is...
Chris Martin (Rangers reliever, 33 years old)
I realize Martin is 33 and that it's not always wise to trade for a reliever in hopes they'll repeat success the next season. However, in this specific case, he would be switching to the more pitcher-friendly National League where he hasn't consistently thrown since 2015. More importantly, he's arbitration eligible through 2021.
Martin has pitched this season in late, high-leverage situations. He's also one of the few relievers this year with an ERA+ above 160 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio above 10.
The Mets need new relievers. And, in Martin, they would get a controllable reliever who can help them next season, but also serve as a potential player to be dealt next summer if the Mets are again out of contention.
Trevor Story (Rockies shortstop, 26 years old)
It's a pipe dream, I know, but it's the type of move Van Wagenen most likely dreams about making -- especially in light of how his headline-making deal with Seattle has so far backfired.
Story is an elite shortstop making peanuts compared to his production, he's under contract through 2021, and there's zero indication the Rockies are looking to trade him. He is also currently on a rehab assignment after injuring his thumb in June.
However, "The Rockies are in a strange place," as one rival insider told me.
Nolan Arenado and his $260 million contract will occupy close to half of the money Colorado has on the books for 2020. They also have Charlie Blackmon making a nice chunk of change, plus other young players they'll want to lock up with extensions.
"This is the same ownership that sunk themselves by giving in to their fans and extended Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton --don't forget. And they just inked Nolan to a similar deal," the same source continued. "They've been putting off a rebuild for a long time. How many of those contracts are they going to let bog them down? If they're smart, they save for these other kids and Story should be the one they deal."
The move would also mean Amed Rosario getting pushed to center field or potentially getting dealt to the Rockies in the same trade. Acquiring Story would also mean needing to find a new home for one of the Mets' top prospects -- shortstop Andres Gimenez.
It's complicated and unlikely, but it is absolutely worth a call to Colorado...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!