How the Mets may have changed future trade deadline strategies
By Tim Boyle
Through most of July, many expected the New York Mets to sell at the trade deadline. By actually buying and turning around their season thereafter, the team may have changed the way future teams think about the July 31st deadline.
In the days leading up to the 2019 MLB trade deadline, it made sense for the New York Mets to sell off some pieces. They never did.
The team began winning regularly almost instantly after the All-Star Break. When Brodie Van Wagenen finally admitted defeat and swallowed his “come get us” words from the offseason, the team kicked it into high gear and gave him little reason to gut them from the inside.
Instead, the below .500 Mets went out and added Marcus Stroman in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. They sold Jason Vargas to the Philadelphia Phillies to make room for him in the rotation but kept the rest of the roster intact. This was the team they would go to war with for the remainder of 2019.
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This strategy is something quite unfamiliar in late July. Typically, teams in the spot the Mets were in would sell. In particular, with a small seller’s market and many teams looking to buy, the Mets had an opportunity to pull off a heist. Apparently, none of what they were being offered intrigued them enough to trade anyone away. Thank goodness they didn’t.
The 2019 trade deadline is different from past ones because it was the deadline. There are no more August waiver trades to be made. While we are seeing players swap uniforms, none are via trade. Waiver claims and free agent signings are all teams have left to add to their roster for the stretch.
In past years, there have been trade deadline buyers who became a little more regretful for the moves they made only weeks after making some transactions. The opposite is also true. Some teams have sat on their hands or even sold players only to find themselves knocking on the playoff door by late August.
The Mets, led by the eternally optimistic Mickey Callaway, believed they had what it takes to pull off a miracle. The franchise has done it before. If they do so again in 2019, it’s time to consider sainthood for this organization.
We have seen a lot of bold decisions by this team over the last 365 days. Many of those choices didn’t quite pay off. Many transactions were absolute busts while several key free agent signings have led nowhere.
Something the Mets did get right was their trade deadline approach. Adding Stroman secured them a new starting pitcher for next year while also giving them a boost for this one. It was a rather safe dealing with an easy exit strategy. If we weren’t all on the edge of our seat watching this team continue to win, they could just as easily play it off as preparation for 2020. Instead, it’s looking like the front office simply believed in their boys for 2019.
Future trade deadlines may have similar stories. The second Wild Card puts more teams in contention for longer. A team like the Arizona Diamondbacks could have just as easily bought instead of sold. Because they went with the latter choice, there’s no miracle out in the desert this year.
A large portion of 2019 had us thinking the Mets were a good team. If they had just blown fewer leads, they would have been right there. Well, the team is getting early leads and the bullpen hasn’t had a chance to blow them much.
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Things are finally turning around. We can credit the boldness at the trade deadline as one of those reasons.