Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen was right to handle the trade deadline the way he did, and that won't change no matter how the season ends.
I would have done the opposite, which I explained in this article from July, during which point the Mets were nine games under .500 and six games out of a Wild Card spot. But four weeks removed, I can see and understand why Van Wagenen was a buyer not a seller.
Instead of acquiring prospects in exchange for Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Justin Wilson, Todd Frazier and others, Van Wagenen held on to his top players and used his own farm system to add Marcus Stroman.
It was a gamble and looked like it was guaranteed to be a hit in the way of attendance, fan enthusiasm, headlines, national attention and added revenue down the stretch of an exciting playoff race.
However, Van Wagenen's squad recently had a potentially season-crippling six-game losing streak against two of the teams ahead of them in the standings. A similar run of competition stands in front of them during their next nine games when they square off against the Nationals, Phillies, and Diamondbacks.
That said, the Mets did just win three of four against the Phillies and Nats. So, perhaps Van Wagenen and company simply had a rough week or so and -- with 25 games left in the season and 4.0 games out of the second Wild Card spot -- are ready to get back to business.
In either case, it should be an exciting enough September -- even if the Mets fall short of October -- to justify Van Wagenen's decisions in late July.
By adding Stroman, Van Wagenen has leverage in negotiations with Wheeler (or any other starting pitcher he attempts to sign this winter). And, if Wheeler or the Mets decide a reunion is not going to happen, Van Wagenen (at the very least) knows he'll be able to enter the 2020 season with Syndergaard, Stroman, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz all under contract.
The other thing to consider is it appears Van Wagenen intends to shake up his scouting department and likely rebuild it with his own people as opposed to those he inherited from Sandy Alderson.
In the last week, Van Wagenen cut ties with executives in his front office that mostly dealt with scouting outside talent, including special assistant Ruben Amaro Jr. and director of pro scouting Jim D'Aloia.
This is important because if Van Wagenen is planning to bring in new people with new ideas, why not trade off top prospects selected by the previous front office, keep their big-league talent, add Stroman and go for it in 2019? Regardless of the outcome, Van Wagenen can still look to deal Syndergaard, Matz and/or other big league players if he wants in exchange for younger, impact talent that was researched and recommended to him by his people.
It would have been easy for Van Wagenen to make moves in July when desperate teams were interested in his top arms, all of whom were performing well and proving to be healthy. However, in doing that, he would have been admitting failure after speaking so boldly nine months ago about his team's potential.
By keeping his top talent and betting on himself and his team -- even if they fail to reach the playoffs -- the other front offices, agents, potential free agents and his own clubhouse will see Van Wagenen as a man that isn't risk-averse, was willing to go for it and never doubted himself or his roster.
In short, Van Wagenen will keep believing in himself and his players all the way until the season's final out, which is something respected and desired by every player in every organization.
A few years ago we might look back and wish Van Wagenen took advantage of demand for his players this past July. In time, assuming Syndergaard, Wheeler, Stroman, Wilson Ramos and other current players leave as free agents, we will wish the Mets had a crop of new, young players to support Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, J.D. Davis, deGrom, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto.
But for now, we get to watch the above group push for the next month while giving us something to be excited about. At the same time, win or lose, Van Wagenen has shown faith in his current players while positioning himself as a man for whom other free agents will want to play.
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!