Rebuild when necessary
The word “Rebuild” has a dirty connotation in sports. In baseball, rebuilding teams are viewed with disdain, suffer in attendance, and star players stuck on rebuilding teams generally sour to their environment quickly and desire to escape.
Whereas the Mets were essentially forced to rebuild from 2011-2013 because of Fred’s inability to see Bernie Madoff as the thief that he was, in recent years, the Mets seem to have taken a half-baked approach. When considering Sandy Alderson’s replacement and the two finalists were Chaim Bloom and Brodie Van Wagenen, Wilpon chose Van Wagenen because he believed he could win with the team that was presently constructed, along with some improvements.
Bloom, on the other hand, felt a rebuild was completely necessary, and as we saw from the Mookie Betts trade, he is not afraid to make unpopular decisions.
As long as Wilpon ownership is in place, they seem to operate under the assumption that rebuilds are completely impossible in New York. This in spite of the fact that it was only four years ago that the Yankees committed to a soft rebuild and ended up getting future franchise cornerstone Gleyber Torres in exchange for two months of Aroldis Chapman. Part of the problem is that Wilpon is unwilling to commit the resources to a core rebuild.
When the Mets traded away their aging and soon to be expensive 2015 and 2016 core players at the 2017 and 2018 trade deadlines (Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Addison Reed, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jeurys Familia), the returns were as follows: minor league relief pitcher Drew Smith, minor league relief pitcher Jacob Rhame, minor league relief pitchers Gerson Bautista, Stephen Nogosek and Jamie Callahan, minor league reliever Eric Hanhold, minor league reliever Franklyn Kilome, minor league reliever Bobby Wahl and minor league third baseman Will Toffey. If you weren’t excited by any of those names, nobody would blame you.
The reason why the returns were so minimal was because of Wilpon’s refusal to throw money in the deal to offset contract costs. As a result instead of getting a core that could get the Mets over the top in the short run, they settled for low upside lottery tickets that have for the most part served as AAAA depth at best.
Even if a rebuild is unpalatable, half-baking it does more harm in the short and the long term. Should the Mets struggle this year, if a team offers an attractive package for a player provided the money is kicked in, Wilpon should stop looking at the bottom line and think long term.