Where the Mets trade deadline strategy should differ from their offseason approach

If you're going to pay prospect capital, get something that'll last.
Milwaukee Brewers v New York Mets
Milwaukee Brewers v New York Mets / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

The New York Mets are suddenly positioned to be trade deadline buyers. Not since vampires showed up in the middle of From Dusk Till Dawn has an audience been so surprised. Your best package of prospects teams could offer the Mets for Pete Alonso needs to go back into the drafts pile. Until the team shows us otherwise, they should be in a position to buy.

Exactly how much they are willing to buy is the question. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the Mets could conceivably do to improve. The bench isn’t bad. The bullpen has only a little wiggle room. The starting lineup is filled with guys who aren’t going anywhere.

The Mets starting pitching staff is still a below-average one for the year. The depth is superb, but the talent isn’t so great. Even when they get Kodai Senga back, they’ll need someone else to be considered an actual threat. Here is where they should consider diverting from the offseason strategy.

The Mets should be open to acquiring players who aren’t on expiring contracts

Rather than go into next offseason with the same amount of questions with the rotation as they did this past winter, the Mets would benefit from trading for a guy they’ll have at least some control over. Dreamboat options like Garret Crotchet are probably too out of reach for the prospect haul they’d have to surrender. Teammate Erick Fedde is far more practical.

It’s not always the pending free agents who get moved at the trade deadline. The Mets sent two away just last year in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Unique trades in a different way, we saw the Mets acquire Marcus Stroman back in 2019 when there was a year and a half left with him.

An unknown for the Mets is how much they are willing to add to the payroll. Their cautious approach in the offseason had them waiting until J.D. Martinez accepted a much lower offer than anyone would’ve predicted. Not wanting to pay deeper into the luxury tax and hoping to avoid other penalties that come along with it, this summer might be the time to pull the trigger on a trade with a longer reward.

Next winter’s class of free agent starting pitchers isn’t all that impressive. After Corbin Burnes, it includes a lot of the same players who signed one-year deals this past winter. Embarking on the same mission to sign guys to one-year deals again will begin to feel like the team is chasing its tail.

Many of the upcoming free agents we could expect to be available at this year’s trade deadline are debatable upgrades for the Mets. Opening the door to more possibilities, including a blockbuster deal for a controllable starting pitcher, might make sense. Not only will it improve the team’s odds this season, but it’ll give them a head start on next. Prospects are made to get traded for proven players.