4) After days of uncertainty, the Mets pulled the trigger and traded ace Justin Verlander back to the defending World Series champion Houston Astros and got two outstanding prospects in return.
The last few days were full of conflicting rumors about Verlander’s trade status, but the likelihood of Verlander being an ex-Met by today increased after the David Robertson and Max Scherzer trades. The Mets knew they couldn’t stop halfway if they were to execute the organizational overhaul they needed, so Verlander had to go too.
Justin Verlander was the best starting pitcher dealt during the trade season, and the Mets paid down a lot of Verlander’s remaining salary ($54 million out of $93 million) to get two of the Astros’ top prospects, and both are players to be excited about, in outfield prospects Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford, who slot in as the No. 4 and No. 6 prospects, respectively.
Drew Gilbert was a rockstar for the University of Tennessee in two seasons, that translated as the Astros’ first round pick last year. Gilbert has an outstanding combination of power and speed that will play well in the majors, but he is about two years away from the show. He will likely report to Double-A Binghamton to play alongside his Tennessee teammate Blade Tidwell, who was promoted there from High-A Brooklyn on Monday and both will make their Binghamton debuts on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Ryan Clifford is farther away from the majors, as he is in High-A now at 19 years of age, but he flexed his natural lefty power swing this season, as he has 16 home runs in 250 plate-appearances at that level, alongside a .903 OPS and a .276 ISO power.
The Mets had the Dodgers and the Orioles, two teams with significantly better farm systems than the Astros right now, but Gilbert and Clifford bring in a strong return for a 40-year-old future Hall-of-Famer that started to show signs of aging at the start of the season.