"No one builds through the draft. You add through the draft,” Ricciardi said. "You can’t build a team through the draft because they just don’t all work out. But you can supplement your system, and I get all that. But if you’re telling me I have a chance to get Curtis Granderson over a second-round pick I think I’m going to take my chances with a proven major league player."
I agree with Ricciardi, although it's strange to hear a member of this front office -- a group which has highly valued and protected their draft picks, prevented players from achieving 'Super Two' status, and emphasized player control for the maximum amount of time -- criticize this phenomenon. There has to be a balance between the draft and accumulating talent via the external markets, and a lot of organizations struggle with this.
As Ricciardi said, most prospects don't work out, and so it's foolish to believe the draft is the only way. It's also foolish to believe teams can be built solely through external markets. One has to compliment the other; while teams need to be able to add talent from the outside when necessary, its critical any team -- regardless of their payroll -- develop their own talent, especially at premium positions.
It's not a perfect science, and that's where the external markets can be advantageous, either by spending wisely in free agency or trading from internal surpluses. Of course, building and trading from those surpluses, as well as having the ability to sacrifice early-round picks, require a sound player development system. Only then can teams strike that balance between relying on both themselves and the markets to build talented rosters perennially, rather than in short bursts or not at all.
In the case of the Mets, they had to hit the reset button entirely, and regenerate the organization from the ground up. As a result, they were required to focus on prospect building while waiting for bad major league deals to expire. It's clear though the Mets have begun taking the next step in their evolution, evidenced by their pitching surpluses throughout the organization, their activity in free agency and their sudden willingness to start surrendering picks in the draft to fill other needs.
Still, they know their organization is still deficient in many areas, so they have a long way to go to achieve that healthy balance between both worlds.