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Mets At The Trade Deadline: The Importance Of Getting This One Right

The Mets actions or non-actions at the trade deadline are more important than wins and losses in the month of July. Here’s hoping they get it right…

The Mets at the July trade deadline is one of the more intriguing stories in baseball. Depending on how you like to do your math, your cup is either half empty or half full in terms of the team earning a spot in the playoffs as a Wild Card.

Plainly, the twenty or so games the Mets will play to finish out the month of July count in the standings. But in the overall scheme of things, it’s the transactions the team makes or doesn’t make that will have a greater impact on the franchise in the upcoming new decade.

Start with the assumption that Mets Gm Brodie Van Wagenen (correctly) believes his team cannot and therefore will not be able to overcome the eight teams ahead of the Mets to get in as the last Wild Card team. In turn, this means Van Wagenen considers his team to be sellers and not buyers.

Mets: Divvying Up The Assets

Which puts the main question in focus as one that asks who stays and who goes? Let’s begin with the keepers. Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Edwin Diaz, Michael Conforto, and J.D. Davis comprise that group.

The next group of players is the one that is bound to bring Van Wagenen and the Mets the most opportunity and headaches. And it is here the Mets have to get this right. Forget Robinson Cano, Jeurys Familia, and Jed Lowrie.

Because if Van Wagenen tries to erase those failures by trying to hit a five-run home run, he will fail (again) and do the Mets no favors.

The player’s names are familiar to all by now. Zack Wheeler heads the list, followed by Todd Frazier, Noah Syndergaard, Dominic Smith, Jason Vargas, and Steven Matz. They earn their place for only one reason. They have the most value in terms of the return the Mets will get if they are traded.

Perhaps, like many of you, from the outside looking in, I have thought and re-thought the process through and through. I’ve settled on the following moves and non-moves the Mets need to make to “get it right” this time.

Zack Wheeler, New York Mets
Zack Wheeler, New York Mets Brad Penner, USA Today Sports

First and foremost, I want the Mets to offer Zack Wheeler an extension – now? Four-years at $45 million (two tens, a twelve, and then thirteen million in the final year) should be enough to get Wheeler’s attention.

In Wheeler, the Mets have their most consistent and durable starting pitcher over the last year. And yes, that includes deGrom. The man likes where he is and doesn’t want to be traded. Imagine that. He gets points for that in my book.

Second, listen to offers for Noah Syndergaard, but only respond to a blow-away offer. And if that offer comes from the Yankees, suck it up and do the right thing for the team. The Mets have already granted Syndergaard his request to have Thomas Nido as his personal catcher.

Take it one step further, sit down with Syndergaard and ask him – Who is the one pitching coach that you’ve had the most report with over the years? Whoever he names, hire him on the spot as Syndergaard’s personal pitching coach. Someone is out there with the key to unlock the mystery of Noah Syndergaard. The last thing anyone wants is another Nolan Ryan five years after he was traded…

Next, To open up a spot for J.D. Davis at third base, trade Todd Frazier ASAP. Frazier is prepared to be traded and he’ll only have good things to say about the Mets when he leaves. There’s a line of pennant contenders waiting to hear from Van Wagenen…this one’s a no-brainer.

Mets J.D. Davis - Primed for third base. (Photo: risingapple.com)
Mets J.D. Davis – Primed for third base. (Photo: risingapple.com)

Fourth, the Mets should commit to Dominic Smith as their left fielder. He’s not what he needs to be out there, but he’s putting in all the work necessary to become a decent outfielder. Smith’s bat is a plus-plus, and he is bound to only get better in the power department. Most importantly, he appears to be a good fit with his teammates.

Next, exile Jason Vargas to another team ASAP. He’s pitching well and his value will never be higher. Let it be known loud and clear that this trade is all about those threatening remarks Vargas made to a reporter. Couch the words carefully, but send the message that is not the way we do things around here (Mets clubhouse).

And finally, arrange a trade giving Steven Matz a place to start over. Banished to the bullpen, he’s doesn’t have an A+ pitch to thrive there. The experiment is over. The sooner the better.

Van Wagenen: Make Caution The Better Part Of Valor

Brodie Van Wagenen, Mets GM (Photo Credit: New York Post)
Brodie Van Wagenen, Mets GM (Photo Credit: New York Post)

If you’ve noticed, I’ve refrained from suggesting general or specific needs the Mets have, the bullpen being an obvious exception. By limiting the players to be traded to only three (Frazier, Vargas, and Matz), don’t expect the returns to be overwhelming.

But again, this is as much about not screwing up as it is to remake the face of the team. As sellers, this is the time for subtraction. The time for addition will come around during the offseason.

At the moment, caution remains the better part of valor for Van Wagenen and the Mets. The team is underperforming and their roster says they should be better than they are. The Mets, in other words, are not the Orioles or the Royals.

Mets fans don’t want to hear this, but next year begins now. And Brodie can’t screw this up again…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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