The Mets' last-ditch effort to resuscitate their season with a strong start to the second half apparently never had a chance.
Before the Mets opened their second half with a 14-2 rout against the Rockies to improve to 40-47 and pull within 9½ games of Colorado for the second wild-card spot with 75 games remaining, general manager Sandy Alderson left little doubt about the path he intends to pursue as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
In candid pregame comments Friday, Alderson mostly doused any hopes that a strong showing against Colorado and then St. Louis to begin this homestand could reverse his inclination for the Mets to be sellers. The Mets pretty much had sealed their fate with a winless series in Washington, then dropping two of three games in St. Louis before dispersing for the All-Star break.
"We're at the point where things would have to go exceedingly well to realistically change direction," Alderson said Friday afternoon. The GM added that the next week or 10 days, no matter how well the Mets perform, likely will not have a "material impact" on his trade-deadline approach.
In other words: The "for sale" sign already is planted in the yard.
Still, Jacob deGrom struck out 11 batters in eight innings and won his sixth straight start and Yoenis Cespedes awakened from a funk with four hits in the series-opening win against Colorado. The Mets, of course, likely must catch the Rockies for any remote hope of reaching the postseason.
Alderson did offer some specifics about which types of players he intends to deal, and he made it clear deGrom very likely will not be among those shipped out. That's the case despite the haul the White Sox received for sending Jose Quintana to the Cubs. Quintana is signed through 2018, with team-friendly options for the following two seasons.
Alderson strongly indicated he is not inclined to trade players under control by the Mets beyond this season. He added he has not even been approached by another team about deGrom, who is not eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season.
"This is not teardown situation," Alderson said. "We're not looking to rebuild."
So who goes by the end of the month?
Given the Mets have a glut of outfielders, which is causing All-Star Michael Conforto to be a part-time player, trading Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson makes the most sense. And Bruce would seem to have value to other teams. Yet would the Mets be better off keeping Bruce and making a qualifying offer at the end of the season -- with the opportunity to either get a draft pick or have him back on a one-year deal in 2018?
Addison Reed also makes a ton of sense to deal, and there should be a market for him. Then again, Reed is not the flamethrower teams find fashionable for the back end of bullpens these days. And reports are teams will not overpay for relievers this year.
Trading Lucas Duda, another looming free agent, would open a spot for Dominic Smith at first base.
The Mets could find a taker for Jerry Blevins, but what type of return would they get for a lefty specialist? And the Mets have a $7 million option on Blevins for next season. If the priority is not to trade players under control for multiple years, shouldn't Blevins go untraded?
The good news for the Mets is that Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera should comfortably clear waivers. That would allow the Mets to trade either in August, too, although the yield would seem to be minimal.
The bottom line: The Mets had an exciting win Friday that should have kept them at least on the fringes of relevancy. Instead, Alderson's pregame comments made it seem trading off pieces in the coming weeks is a foregone conclusion
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.