2) Trading Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander
It will take some time to fully grasp exactly how good these moves were in the end, but Billy Eppler's trades of Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers and Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros were unquestionably excellent.
Signing players like Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are simple decisions that anyone can make. If your owner is willing to lay out the money required to get such players, you do it, no questions asked. Trading these future Hall-of-Famers, on the other hand, is a difficult pill to swallow, but Eppler did it.
While teams like the Angels went all-in on a long shot chance of making the playoffs, mortgaging their future in the process, Eppler went the other way, correctly punting on a season that never came together for the Mets.
In sending Scherzer to the Rangers, Eppler picked up Luisangel Acuna, the younger brother of probable N.L. MVP Ronald Acuna, Jr. Even in a suddenly loaded Mets farm system, the 21-year-old Acuna has been ranked as the top prospect in the organization, and it's likely that Mets fans will see him on the big stage at some point next year.
The Rangers advanced to the Divisional round of the playoffs, but Scherzer has been on the shelf for weeks after suffering a shoulder injury. There's a chance he could return this year, but no matter what, this trade was a slam dunk for the Mets.
Eppler conjured up similar magic in sending Justin Verlander back to the Astros, acquiring outfielders Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford in return.
Gilbert looked like a star in the making with AA Binghamton, where he hit for power and average while showing good plate discipline. In 35 games, his .325 average and .984 OPS make it likely that Mets fans won't have to wait long until he's starting next to Brandon Nimmo in the Mets outfield.
Clifford struggled in 32 games with the Brooklyn Cyclones, but his numbers in the Astros system before the trade were much better. Scouts were extremely high on the Mets' acquisition of the young outfielder, calling him "a thinking man's power hitter" and "one of the most advanced young hitters I've seen."
Time will tell if Acuna, Gilbert, and Clifford can live up to their potential and become major league difference-makers, but Eppler has to get a lot of credit for knowing when to give up on this season and commit to the future, even if he won't be around to enjoy the fruits of his labor.