Their highest paid pitcher is on the disabled list, their expensive closer is about to trigger a $17.5 million option for 2012, they are paying a left fielder $16 million to hit .222, and the majority owner of the ball club was swindled out of millions and is accused of being an accessory to the fraud. They are tied for third in the NL East with a 35-37 record. And yet New York Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon told the New York Post yesterday that the team may very well be buyers instead of sellers at the trade deadline on July 31.
He'll have all the opportunity in the world to bring anybody he wants in, said Wilpon. The way for him to do that is to bring the ideas to us and we'll talk about it. But he does not have restrictions. We'll deal with everything on a case-by-case basis.
Carlos Beltran is the focus of trade rumors, as the outfielder is posting higher than career-average numbers in his walk year with the Mets. His worn knees have removed him from the position he defended so well for most of his career--center field--but he's still a valuable glove in one of the corners. Philadelphia is looking for an outfielder right now, but New York won't want to trade to a division rival and would probably only do so if the front office feels the 2011 season is a lost cause.
The Mets will find out this week if star third baseman David Wright is mending well from his fractured vertebra and if first baseman Ike Davis can rejoin the club. Davis somehow damaged his ankle significantly when he rolled it in a mild collision with Wright on May 10. If either of those players have a setback, the Mets will have decisions to make. Justin Turner has been covering third most of the time in Wright's absence, and while he started out red hot in his first month of regular play (reaching a .417 BA and .962 SLG on May 20), Turner has cooled off to .277 with a .387 slugging percentage. Daniel Murphy has been filling in at first base for the most part, and batting .315 when he does so. Callup Lucas Duda has Mets fans excited about his potential, but in 42 at-bats as a first baseman he's hitting .143 with no pop.
Francisco Rodriguez has an option in his contract that forces the Mets to pay him $17.5 million next season or cough up a $3.5 million buyout if the closer finishes 55 games. He's on pace to do so. But if the Mets want to contend next year, they'll need a closer anyway ... and there aren't good internal candidates for the closer role.
New York could trade shortstop Jose Reyes in his walk year, but only if they are keen on the idea of a full-scale riot in Flushing.
When the season started, Mets fans gnashed their teeth about the starting rotation. Johan Santana was lost for the season after shoulder surgery last fall. Chris Young performed well in a handful of starts then went on the DL with a wrecked shoulder, resulting in season-ending surgery for him, too. Mike Pelfrey still hasn't met the potential the Mets see in him, Jon Niese plays peekaboo with good pitching performance, and R.A. Dickey's knuckleball seems to come and go like indeterminate weather. Yet somehow the rotation has kept the Mets in ball games, and it seems unlikely that the Mets will pursue pitching--especially considering that there are some big hunters (including the Yankees) looking at pitching before the trade deadline.
So what does New York need, and who is available? One scenario: they bench Jason Bay, the $16 million dollar left fielder who's batting .222, and pick up Josh Willingham. This isn't a huge upgrade, but Bay has looked so helpless at the plate, and his fielding is achingly average to below average. Willingham would be a big improvement in left field. He's making $6 million in his current, one-year contract.
What position do you think the Mets need to trade for? Or should they trade away pieces to get prospects?