Operating with a roster in 2014 where the shortstop position was supposed to be upgraded but wasn’t, and where both offseason outfield acquisitions are floundering, the Mets find themselves last in the major leagues in slugging percentage and 28th in the majors in batting average. They’re also in the bottom 10 in on base percentage, and are 19th in runs scored.
Part of their offensive ineptitude has been blamed on their ballpark (which is fairly neutral), and part of it has been attributed to bad luck. The Mets can move the fences in again, and they can hope that their acquisitions turn things around.
When it comes down to it, though, the only way the Mets are likely to make themselves an offensive threat is by either importing or producing better players. Waiting and hoping for current players to increase their production isn’t the answer.
At the moment, the Mets don’t have any position players in the minors who profile as regulars and who are expected to debut prior to the middle or end of the 2015 season. If the Mets want to improve offensively any time soon, they’ll have to do it via either trade or free agency.
Partly because of the financial uncertainty still hovering over ownership and partly due to the philosophy of general manager Sandy Alderson, the Mets are unlikely the be in the bidding for any top-tier free agents either this year or next. That leaves one avenue: trades.
There have been a few instances where the Mets have made mid-season deals in an attempt to cash in on supposed contention that’s largely a mirage. Entering play Monday, the Mets were four games out of first place and just two games out of the second wild card spot.
A trade or two to improve the offense could lead to the Mets contending, but that shouldn’t be the reason or the goal of such trades. Rather, they should be made because the Mets have finally reached a point where they have enough starting pitching to both fill the major league staff and serve as valuable trade chips.
Barring trades, heading into 2015, the Mets will have Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon, Jacob deGrom, and Rafael Montero as under-control rotation options. Eight guys for five spots. The numbers don’t work.
Even if the Mets move either Montero or deGrom to the bullpen, that would still leave seven pitchers for five spots.
There are those who will say “you can never have enough pitching,” and those people are right. However, you also can’t keep two established major league pieces in the minor leagues to serve as insurance. Those spots are for the next wave of prospects (Steven Matz, Michael Fulmer, etc.) and filler (think Daisuke Matsuzaka). Something has to give.
The Mets have a number of options here as far as their need for offense and how to obtain it is concerned.
They can attempt a blockbuster prospect for prospect deal (something like Noah Syndergaard for Javier Baez of the Cubs).
They can attempt to trade one of their other young pitchers (Jacob deGrom, Rafael Montero) and perhaps add a sweetener.
They can deal an established, under control starter who is about to get more expensive (Dillon Gee).
They can deal an established, under control pitcher who is signed to a team-friendly deal (Jon Niese).
Whichever way they choose to go, the Mets are in position to finally cash in. It’s time to act.