With the state of the organization in flux, questions surrounding the New York Mets are running wild. To trade or not to trade tops the list.
No risk, no reward. Aim small, miss small. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Quotes like these surely are dancing in the heads of both the brain trust and the fans of the New York Mets.
The entire fanbase cannot stop asking the following questions …
Do we deal Jacob deGrom for prospects who give us hope we’ll compete in two or three years? Or do we hold on to him and try a lesser deal for a known commodity in hopes we can compete as early as next year? Have Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz finally found it? Can they ease the pain of dealing deGrom? Where the hell is Thor?
Certainly lots of questions. Perhaps the interim triumvirate of GMs, John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya, have already made up their minds. Or perhaps they are waiting for an offer they can’t refuse. Of course, being The Mets, they’re saying things like “we want to compete as soon as next year.” Translation: “we’re looking for more players like Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce to appease our fans,” i.e. … more of the same.
Here in New York, we’ve heard a chorus of “never” from talk radio, writers and fans alike regarding the chance that the Mets will trade deGrom to the Yankees. But the Yankees may be the perfect trade partner—American league team in need of an ace with a stocked farm system.
The Mets need to look past the strong possibility that deGrom would get the Yankees their 28th (maybe more) ring and do what’s best for their franchise from a baseball perspective. Improving your club’s future vs the possibility of a face full of egg. Does the latter really outweigh the former … even in NY?
Who else, preferably in the A.L., is in a race and has the prospects to offer?
Let’s define a top farm system as one with multiple prospects ranked in the top 100. Currently, the only teams that meet these criteria are the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland A’s, Houston Astros and Yankees.
Let’s dismiss the Braves and Phils as dealing within one’s own division to direct competitors is absurd, even for the Mets. The A’s employ a good young team, but have been a surprise to this point. Most are waiting for the clock to strike midnight and besides when is the last time Oakland were buyers at the deadline? The Astros already have the best rotation in baseball, won it last year and should be looking for bullpen help.
That leaves the Dodgers and Yankees.
Except for OF Alex Verdugo, all the Dodgers top prospects have yet to reach AAA. Any team would be tentative loading up on players that have yet to succeed at the highest minor-league level. This leaves the Yankees, who not only have prospects in the minors but have a few players that could step in and play at the major league level immediately.
As suggested here previously, players like Clint Frazier, Tyler Austin and/or Brendan Drury can play now. While prospects like OF Estevan Florial, LHP Justus Sheffield and RHPs Chance Adams, Albert Abreu and Luis Medina are all considered tier 1 prospects.
Should Masahiro Tanaka’s next two starts go poorly or Sonny Gray continue to not only look like the kid that used to deliver your parent’s newspaper but pitch like him, the pressure to get a front of the rotation arm will be ratcheted up swiftly for Brian Cashman. This could be what the Mets are waiting for.
Any way you slice it, trades like this are a gamble regardless of how highly touted the prospects come. Look back to 2016 when the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Red Sox for then-top prospect Yoan Moncada and three others. Moncada has not yet evolved into the five-tool monster most predicted of him. While RHP Michael Kopech and OF Luis Alexander Basabe are still top prospects for the White Sox, RHP Victor Diaz’s is currently not ranked among the team’s top 30 prospects.
Time will tell if this works out for the Chisox but do the Mets (and their fans) have the patience to wait possibly three years for returns on a deGrom trade? Especially if Ol’ Jake is lighting it up across town?
The Mets and their fans can tell themselves that when Cespedes, Bruce and Noah “Thor” Syndergaard come back, a true assessment and better decisions can be made. By this time, the deadline will have come and gone.
Who knows, maybe The Mets get red hot down the stretch and at the very least, make it interesting. Crazier things have happened. But given the circumstances, the time to roll the dice and make a bold move is now for the New York Mets.