Mets buyers or sellers at the deadline? How about both?
The 2017 season has not gone as planned for the Mets
At the All-Star break, they find themselves twelve games behind the front-running Nationals in the NL East… and in fourth place. They’re also ten and half games out of the second wildcard spot, and behind seven teams. The organization must develop a strategy for the upcoming trade deadline.
Logic says they should sell. They have some pieces, on expiring contracts, that may be of interest to contending teams. Players such as Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, and Asdrubal Cabrera could draw some attention as July 31st approaches. However, the Mets need to consider the message going into sell mode would send to the fan base.
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Would mass selling indicate that it’s time for another rebuild, and four or so years until they can reasonably contend? What about the fans who bought ticket packages, priced and structured to a contending team? Would they understand? Perhaps some would, but what would the impact be on 2018 ticket sales? Are the Mets ready for their fans to take a wait and see approach?
The Mets can’t realistically buy at the deadline. They aren’t close enough to warrant that course of action. In addition, they need to hold onto their young players who are close to big-league ready — Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, just to name two.
So what to do come the trade deadline? Here’s an idea. Why not take notice of how the Yankees handled last year’s deadline, and try to do something similar? As a refresher, Brian Cashman traded Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller last year to the Cubs and Indians respectively. In doing so, he brought back pieces that were major-league ready — Gleybar Torres and Clint Frazier to name two. Cashman also traded Carlos Beltran to the Rangers for Nick Green. Additionally, Tyler Clippard came to the Yankees from Arizona, and Ivan Nova was dealt to Pittsburgh.
The net of all of this is that the Yankees moved expensive veterans, and brought back top-end minor-leaguers and a couple of major-league players. The message to the fans wasn’t, “we’ll be contenders in 2020”. Rather, it was “we may and may not make a run this year, but this is not a long-term rebuild. We intend to be back in full force next year.”
Can the Mets do this? Why not?
They can make a couple of strategic trades, packaging a veteran or two to a team in need that is making a strong run, and demand top-end minor league or major-league players.
The message would be clear. “Yes, this year did not work out. But this is not a five-year rebuild. We have re-tooled, and freed money to be contenders in 2018.” Contrast this to trading players in one-off fashion for low-level minor-leaguers, and the message that sends.
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The Mets need to handle this year’s deadline carefully. The organization went through a painful rebuild from 2011-2014. After two successful seasons, it would be tough to return to another four or five-year abyss.
It’s your move, Sandy. Maybe you can get a blueprint from the team that plays nine miles to the north of Citi Field.