The decision to be a buyer or seller does not need to be made for four or five more weeks. But if the Mets do not have a surge of winning in the next month, Sandy Alderson ought to become a seller at the trade deadline...
A subpar four-game series to start this week at Dodger Stadium could further bury the Mets, since Los Angeles currently is even with the Diamondbacks for the wild-card positions at 44-26, one game behind the NL West-leading Rockies, who are also 46-26...
The Mets have made the decision to sell before under Alderson, so it would not be unprecedented. They sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants for then-prospect Zack Wheeler in 2011. And, in 2013, Alderson traded veterans Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates for then-prospects Dilson Herrera and Vic Black. Of course, since then, the Mets have made consecutive postseason appearances, so a trade dealing win-now talent for prospects could be viewed as a step backward.
The Mets have no shortage of expiring contracts that make sense to deal barring an imminent winning streak. Infielders Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes are in the final guaranteed years of their respective deals. The Mets do hold an $8.5 million option on Cabrera for next season, but paying a $2 million buyout may end up being the route the Mets take given his deterioration in skills and SS prospect Amed Rosario's expected arrival.
Similarly, in the outfield, Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson are also pending free agents.
Bruce, who is earning just $13 million this season, could command the most in trade. He enters the Dodgers series hitting .273 with 47 RBI and his 18 home runs are two shy of matching the NL lead with Eric Thames. In the case of Bruce, it's worth noting that if the Mets keep him for the duration of the season, they could make a qualifying offer afterward and receive a first-round pick if he signs this winter with a new team.
Because of this, the prospect the Mets ask for in a trade would need to at least be of worth the caliber of a first-round pick. The qualifying offers this past year were worth $17.2 million. So, if he he stays and accepts a qualifying offer from Alderson, it means he'll likely be making close to $20 million next season.
Aug 4, 2016; Bruce (19) celebrates a three run HR with Granderson (3) Credit: Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
In the bullpen, relievers Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed both have expiring contracts and could also command value in a trade. Dealing them would not preclude bringing either or both back as free agents in the winter, although it would leave the back end of this year's bullpen pretty naked for the final months of this season.
The decision to be a buyer or seller often gets complicated in New York, where business concerns sometimes trump baseball. After all, selling parts before the July 31 non-waiver deadline sends a signal to fans about the direction of a season and could prove a drag on attendance.
But, if come July the Mets are double-digits behind in both the division and wild-card races, selling some of the above assets will truly be their only option...
Adam Rubin (Facebook | Twitter | Contact) has covered the Mets since 2002. He previously worked for the Daily News and ESPN. He also serves as assistant athletic director for strategic communications at NYIT. He is a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the University of Pennsylvania.