John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |
So Brodie decided to let it ride. Well, at this point, why not?
Better to take a shot, longshot though it may be, at making a Wild Card run this season than dealing Zack Wheeler for a so-so return that offered limited potential of helping the Mets in the immediate future.
Let's not kid ourselves, the Mets are still a very flawed team whose defense and bullpen can sabotage them on a near-daily basis, and if Brodie Van Wagenen is serious about making this work, his first move should be telling Mickey Callaway to get Edwin Diaz out of the closer's role and turning the ninth inning over to Seth Lugo, at least temporarily.
Overall, however, the bullpen has been solid since the All-Star break, allowing the Mets to go 11-5, as of Wednesday, while the starting rotation as a whole is doing its best pitching of the season, beginning to deliver on all the huge expectations.
And adding a high-intensity guy like Marcus Stroman to the foursome of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Wheeler is bound to energize this ballclub at least in the short-term.
Not that Jason Vargas wasn't doing a solid job in the No. 5 spot. But Stroman brings a bravado that could be vital to a team in the Mets' position, looking at a huge hill to climb.
None of this changes the big picture, that Van Wagenen's win-now moves last winter backfired on him, and he may yet pay for doubling down on the present by trading two of his better pitching prospects for Stroman, who can be a free agent after next season.
In fact, there are now more questions than ever surrounding the starting pitching, at least beyond this season. It seems unlikely that they'll bring back all five starters for 2020, though rotation dominance over the next couple of months could force Van Wagenen and ownership to at least consider the possibility.
More likely, they'll have to sort some things out:
For starters they figure to make Wheeler a one-year qualifying offer that will be in the $18 million range, the exact amount to be determined by MLB.
That would mean he'll have a draft pick attached to his free agency, if he declines the offer, which would hurt his value a bit. But at age 29 he'll probably be looking for a four or five-year deal at $15-to-$20 million a year, and his level of success over these final two months will go a long way toward determining his market.
Also, it's not out of the question the Mets could take a run at extending Wheeler's contract before the season ends, which would give them more leeway in making a decision about Syndergaard's long-term future.
Stroman's future factors into all of this as well, as the Mets almost certainly aren't going to lock up all of their starters after giving deGrom that five-year, $137 million contract.
And partly because Syndergaard is likely to cost the most on a long-term deal, indications are that while the Mets decided not to deal him at the deadline, they will still look to trade him at some point, perhaps this offseason.
We'll see about that. Syndergaard may well have forced the Mets to reconsider dealing him by raising his game since the All-Star break, pitching to a 1.91 ERA over four starts, all of at least seven innings.
Scouts are high on him at the moment because of how well he used all of his pitches in Tuesday's outing in Chicago, looking more polished than he did earlier in the season.
"He's found his slider and it looks like he's focused on pitching down in the zone with his sinker (two-seam fastball)," one scout said. "He gets good movement with it and he can dominate with it when he's commanding the slider and the change the way he did against the White Sox. He looked like the guy everybody talks about him being."
If Syndergaard can be that guy for the next couple of months, perhaps the Mets will reconsider the idea of trading him.
However, they also see the possibility of dealing him in the offseason as a way to fill multiple needs for next season, and there's a case to be made for doing that, especially with their prospect depth taking another hit in the Stroman trade.
Whatever they decide, a rival team executive said this coming offseason will be decision-making time for the Mets on Syndergaard.
"Two years of control is generally a tipping point as far as getting a maximum return," the exec said. "They could wait until the deadline next season but that could limit their market. In the offseason, the possibilities for a dealing pitcher like him are almost endless, and you have a better chance of getting major league players in return."
So there could be a lot at stake over the next couple of months, in more ways than one. If the gamble to trade for Stroman and hold onto Wheeler propels the Mets into serious Wild Card contention, perhaps Van Wagenen and the Wilpons would decide to let it ride for next year as well.
It's probably asking too much of this team, but all things considered at this trade deadline, better to take the shot than not.