For the New York Mets to fight their way back into contender status, they're going to have to get creative. The Mets should still be quite active in free agency, but finding opportunity in the trade market could be a way to go too.
One team David Stearns should absolutely be calling is his former team, the Milwaukee Brewers. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) reported that the Brewers could be looking to tear things down which would make sense after losing their manager to the division rival Cubs. "Those sources, briefed on the Brewers’ discussions but not authorized to discuss them publicly, say the team is open to moving virtually any player on its roster."
Considering the fact that the Brewers won 92 games last season and have been consistently solid over the last half-decade, they have plenty of players on their roster that the Mets might want to add in a trade. These three should be at the top of Stearns' list.
1) Corbin Burnes
You knew he'd be here. Corbin Burnes is entering the final year of team control before he hits free agency, and it's becoming more and more likely that he's going to be wearing another uniform in 2025. Milwaukee might just decide they're better off cutting their losses now and trading him would ensure they get at least something back for their ace.
Because of how good Burnes is, he wouldn't come cheap even with him having an expiring contract. That could cause the Mets to pause a tad on a Burnes trade, but if they execute it it'd be with an extension in mind. A trade for Burnes wouldn't be just playing for 2024.
By adding Burnes the Mets would add a bonafide ace to pair with Kodai Senga at the top of the rotation. The Mets need to add at least two, preferably three arms. They won't all be expensive free agents. Burnes would come at a cheap financial cost for 2024, and is a guy the Mets could keep long-term at a higher salary once the books become lighter.