Before the New York Mets sell the farm for a big-name star in a trade, they need to show a commitment to someone in free agency.
This winter, we’ve heard the New York Mets have at least shown some interest in making a trade for one of the big stars on the block. Guys like Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, and Nolan Arenado have all come up.
Rather than dive right in and make some kind of trade like this to mortgage the future, I would prefer to see Brodie Van Wagenen take another approach. This involves waiting to make any big splash via trade and instead of finding the next superstar in free agency.
When a take makes a trade, they lose more than money. They lose a part of the potential future and maybe even some of the present. Many of these blockbuster names sportswriters have analyzed this winter would likely cost at least one of the guys presently on the Mets roster.
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Before taking a risk on a trade, I would like to see the Mets gamble on a top-tier free agent. The difference between a trade and free agent signing—aside from the obvious—is not every player gets a chance to test the free agent market. Anyone can be dealt in a trade.
This does limit the options for the Mets, but most of the stars a team would trade are headed to free agency soon anyway.
For example, rather than ship Noah Syndergaard and some prospects up to the Boston Red Sox for Mookie Betts, why not wait another year? Betts reaches free agency after the 2020 season. Pony up some money, pay the guy, and then go from there. Let’s see what they need next.
There’s a greater benefit to attacking free agency before a trade. A trade can pay off bigger, but it also has its limitations. I feel a trade is a finishing piece. After your roster has been built in other ways, a team can then see what’s missing and acquire whatever they need by sacrificing the farm system a little more safely.
Teams can only make so many big moves. If an organization only has one superstar to sign and one to acquire in a trade, signing the man first makes a little more sense. If it doesn’t work, you have a greater chance of fixing the problem. A bad trade can set a team back much more. Money doesn’t solve those problems as easily.
Signing an elite free agent one winter and acquiring a superstar in a trade the next doesn’t guarantee a championship. If there was a formula like this, every team would do it. Van Wagenen would be sitting on his couch, in his underwear questioning decisions I have made and not the other way around.
Where the Mets are now, I would like to see a little more commitment to the free agents before even more of the minor league system is decimated. Van Wagenen cleared out many of the franchise’s best prospects in separate trades with the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. They may only have one major trade left in them to bring back a franchise-altering player.
There are exceptions to this. When someone becomes available at a price we never could have imagined, it’s essential to jump on it and see if they can get a deal done.
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Before they do, it’s essential they have the rest of the pieces already in place.