At some point you have to feel sorry for the New York Mets. Despite being buried in the shadow of the Yankees as usual, 2018 looked like it could be a good year for the Mets. They looked like they could be a competitive team, and behind new manager Mickey Callaway it seemed like there was a chance they could actually keep their star-studded rotation healthy.
And for the most part, they have! Unfortunately, it’s the offense that has been atrocious and injured this season. Veterans Jose Reyes, Jay Bruce, and Adrian Gonzalez (no longer with the team) have all played below replacement level this season, while Yoenis Cespedes has only played in 37 games. Offseason addition Todd Frazier has been disappointing, and young outfielder Michael Conforto has taken a major step backwards. Overall, the team is last in the NL East with a 39-55 record, behind even the tanking Miami Marlins. With the second worst record in the National League, the Mets’ season is over.
*** More trade targets: Twins | Blue Jays | Marlins | Tigers ***
They’re in a bit of an in-between spot as well. The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are competitive a year earlier than expected and look like they could both be battling for the division for the foreseeable future. The Washington Nationals have sputtered lately and now sit at .500, set to lose star Bryce Harper after the season to free agency. So where do the Mets go? Do they only sell pending free agents and attempt to compete again in 2019, or is it time for a full rebuild?
Complicating things further is uncertainty in the Mets’ front office. General Manager Sandy Alderson has left the team as he battles cancer, and it is possible he may not return to the team at all, according to James Wagner of the New York Times. Would a patchwork front office even consider a major rebuild at the deadline?
There are a few pieces the Mets have that the A’s could target, each with varying degrees of realism. Keep in mind that the Mets are more or less the wild card this trade season, and could either shock the baseball world by selling everything or stand pat and do nothing. Nobody knows what they will do yet.
Zack Wheeler, SP
We will start with the most realistic and perhaps most interesting target on this list, starter Zach Wheeler. Wheeler, 28, is a former top prospect that has struggled to stay healthy since his first full MLB season in 2014. The righty made 17 mediocre starts in 2017, but this season he is finally starting to find sustained success.
Look past Wheeler’s 4.44 ERA - it isn’t indicative of who he is as a pitcher. His 3.73 FIP is much more telling, and even that may be higher than I expect it to be going forward. Wheeler is throwing harder than he ever has in his career, averaging about 96 MPH with his fastball and even touching triple digits. He complements it with a sharp low-90’s slider and an inconsistent slow curveball. He has also mixed in a split changeup this season with varying levels of success. Wheeler’s arsenal is better than it has ever been, and he is throwing more strikes than ever, posting a career low 3.35 BB/9.
Wheeler is entering his final year of arbitration, meaning he will be a free agent after the 2019 season. Given his upside and remaining team control, he won’t come cheap. If the Mets are targeting upper-minors talent, I could see a package of Jorge Mateo and Ramon Laureano getting the deal done. If they’d rather bet on younger upside, a guy like Lazaro Armenteros could interest the Mets. According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets are “on the fence” about whether they will move Wheeler. If they do, I hope the A’s will be one of the first teams in line.
Jerry Blevins, RP
Boring, I know, but again - realism. Old friend Jerry Blevins is certainly struggling in New York this season. The 34 year-old southpaw has posted a 5.01 FIP and is probably a DFA candidate.
So why trade for him? For one, his fly ball rate has ballooned, going from 38.5% in 2017 to 60.3% this season. This seems a little fluky, and even if it isn’t, the Coliseum could help keep these fly balls in the yard. Blevins has also had trouble getting hitters to swing at pitches out of the zone, despite no noticeable difference in his stuff when comparing this year’s numbers to 2017’s. He could just be a change of scenery candidate, and maybe coming back to Oakland is just what he needs.
Blevins won’t set the world on fire, but as a pure LOOGY and the second lefty in the bullpen behind Ryan Buchter, he wouldn’t have to. He’d also come very cheap - I’d be shocked if it took anything more than cash considerations to acquire him, given how awful he’s been. Blevins will be a free agent after the season.
Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, SPs
Allow me to preface this section by saying that it is incredibly unlikely the Mets will trade either of their aces, and even if they do so it is even less likely that the A’s would offer the highest bid for either.
That being said...wouldn’t it be awesome?
The actual likelihood of either Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard wearing an Oakland Athletics uniform by August 1st is probably lower than one percent. But you can never say never with Oakland’s front office, and as many on this site have speculated, it would be so very Billy Beane to push all of his chips in for one final run with a legitimate ace (especially with Beane’s contract beyond 2019 still in question). After all, he has recently made comments about how unpredictable success is. The A’s have a good team now, but that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed a good team next year.
Of the two, I would target Syndergaard. He fits the A’s timeline better and is also as close to a buy low as he will ever be. Jacob deGrom is absolutely phenomenal, and is sporting a 1.68 ERA in 123.1 innings this season, lowering his career mark to 2.78. But deGrom is 30, and only under team control for two seasons beyond 2018. By the time young stars like Matt Chapman and Matt Olson might be hitting their peaks in Oakland, deGrom will be lost to free agency.
Syndergaard, on the other hand, is somehow still 25 (turns 26 in late August) and would come with an additional year of control. He certainly comes with more injury risk, having made only seven starts in 2017 and just recently returning from the disabled list this year, but also is more likely to be moved, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. His injury history could play in a buyers favor, lowering his acquisition cost just a tiny bit. And Syndergaard more than passes the eye test - imagine Blake Treinen’s repertoire, plus a filthy changeup and curveball, and starting every fifth day. I think I just drooled.
The cost for either would be insane. My two untouchables would be Jesus Luzardo and Sean Murphy, and it might not even be possible to get a deal done without at least one of those two. If it was, you’d be looking at A.J. Puk, Franklin Barreto, and Austin Beck as a starting point. The Mets might even want players like Mateo or Armenteros added on top of those three, and you could hardly blame them. It is almost certain the A’s won’t be trading for Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard in the next two weeks, and there’s an argument to be made that they shouldn’t even try.
But what if they do?
Factoring in acquisition cost, which of these four Mets targets do you like the most?
This poll is closed
None of the above