3.96507%. That's the PECOTA-adjusted probability the Mets make the playoffs, according to Baseball Prospectus. While a few weeks ago the Mets needed to hang on for dear life until the offense got off the DL, they are now in "Ya Gotta Believe!" territory. While miracles happen, and are an important part of Mets history, they are just that-miracles- and can't be considered in any rational decision-making process.
Basically, I'm giving up on this season, probably well after the rest of you. In a year when seemingly every team is competitive, the Mets have managed to drop out of the race with the highest payroll in the National League. That last sentence isn't an invitation to tell me how injuries make Omar blameless, it's a genuine opportunity for this team. The Mets are sellers in the most buyer-heavy market in recent memory.
Not everyone on the Mets, however, is available. Despite what Mike from Mineola says, trading one of Wright or Reyes doesn't make much sense. The Mets should look to trade impending Free Agents for whatever they can. Some people think the Mets should focus on arbitration eligible 20-somethings, like the much-mythologized Xavier Nady. Really, prospects are just as, if not more, valuable to this franchise. While the Mets will look to win next year, getting major league players back at the deadline doesn't necessarily help that cause and may, in fact, hurt it, if say someone like Jeff Francoeur ends up with a starting job next spring. That all being said, here is the short-list of players the Mets could trade, ranked by the priority it should be to trade them:
1. Gary Sheffield
Contract Status: Owed 400K by the Mets this year, free agent after the season. Had the ability to block trades to 10 specified teams in his original deal with the Tigers, and it's unclear whether he retained that ability when he signed with the Mets. Either way, he'd probably waive it to go to a contender.
Free Agent compensation status: Type B
Value: Sheff has been worth .8 WAR in just 240 PA, a $3.4 million value. With a .380 wOBA, he's been the third most productive hitter on the team behind Wright and 'Tron. He's been expectedly bad in the field (-7.0 UZR), but won't make an embarrassing error out there. His ZiPS rest-of-the-season wOBA projection is .344, which assumes a massive drop in average. I'll take the over on that number, since he's posting a career-high 87.5% contact rate, made possible by very meticulous pitch-selection.
Why He's Ranked Here: Sheffield provides an instant injection of offense into any lineup. Without sounding too much like a salesman, I think I can say Sheffield's super-selective approach at the plate can change the entire pace of a game, especially when the rest of the lineup is sputtering. Due just 400K this season, any team can afford him, and the Mets could just as easily agree to pay the money. For a team trying to stay in the race with an anemic offense (re:Giants) that doesn't care too much about modern notions of defense (re:Giants), Sheffield could step in and bat third or fourth right away. An AL-team with DH troubles like the Mariners could also be a fit, but I'm rooting for a Giants trade.
Verdict: Sell. If the Mets get a good major-league player or a decent package of prospects in return, it far outweighs the likely return of a compensation pick. Granted, I can see a scenario where no one bites, so the Mets can't be too picky.
2. Brian Schneider
Contract Status: He's owed $4.9 Million dollars this season, and is a pending free agent.
Free Agent Compensation: Type B
Value: Schneider's bat and glove have graded above-average this year. His .328 wOBA is pretty good for a catcher, and really good for Brian Schneider. While that number won't last, Schneider's offense should make him at least a .5 WAR player down the stretch, with regular playing time. He controls the running game well and Baseball Prospects values his defense at +1 run above average. (Omir Santos is 3 runs below average, for reference).
Why He's Ranked Here: James already talked about why Schneider is a sell-high candidate. Considering the offensive black hole he'd likely replace on an interested team, he'd be well worth any money he's owed. If money's an issue, the Mets would be wise to just eat the remaining $2M or so. Brian's will likely be a type-B free agent after the season (he has "clinched" B already, A is unlikely), which according to a great piece by Sky Kalkman, is worth approximately $2.6M in draft picks. The prospect equivalent is one of John Sickel's C-grade pitchers, which the Mets could probably get in pairs for Schneider. There's also the issue of whether he'd accept arbitration, and honestly I don't want Brian Schneider on the Mets any longer, despite his relative adequacy.
Verdict: Shop. If you get any players considered prospects, sell.
3. Alex Cora
Contract Status: Owed $2M with a possible additional $1M in playing time bonuses (blech). Pending free agent.
Free Agent Compensation: None
Value: Well the sell-high ship sailed, as Cora's .291 wOBA is probably just about he's true talent level. He's been a horrible defensive SS (-5.0 UZR), and has a -0.2 WAR. Still, he's grissiony and has a reputation as a "professional hitter" and "sure-handed defender". Shortstop is another one of those positions where teams field giant offensive black holes, so Cora could feasibly start, at least part-time, on a contender.
Why He's Ranked Here: While certainly not as valuable as some other trade candidates, Cora's poor play makes him totally frivolous on this roster and his contract a waste. If the Mets can somehow sell Cora as DeRosa-lite and get anything useful for him, it'll be a total coup. I don't think he needs to stay around to talk to Jose Reyes about being a good player. I assume by now Jose's taught him all he can.
Verdict: Sell. Sell. Sell.
4. Pedro Feliciano
Contract Status: Owed $1.6125M over the course of the season and is arbitration eligible next season.
Free Agent Compensation: Type B currently, but not yet eligible to file.
Value: Fighting off LOOGY status, Feliciano rebounded from a sub-par 2008 with a strong first-half in 2009. While 3.55 tRA is the best of his Met-career, his ERA is even shinier and would make a good sell-high. For the contending team with the shaky bullpen, he's left-handed and a set-up man, something even the Red Sox could use.
Why He's Ranked Here: The second-best player in terms of pure value behind Sheffield, Feliciano is a tough case, because he's still under team control next year. Relievers are fungible, and if the Mets got a good return for Pedro, they could replace his production with some savy moves this offseason. Sadly, I don't really trust the Mets to do that. Feliciano figures to get a raise in arbitration this year, but that's not a big deal, especially knocking on the door of Type-A status.
Verdict: Shop. If a package involving a good prospect turns up, strongly consider it.
5. Livan Hernandez
Contract Status: $1M base with up to $1M in additional unspecified bonuses. Pending free agent.
Free Agent Compensation: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Value: He's worthless. Despite a tRA approaching 6, he's managed to lower his ERA under 5 again, thanks to the Nats. He's not going to keep this act up, especially with the current state of the Mets' defense. Just getting him off the team and replacing him with a Brandon Knight-type is an instant improvement.
Why He's Ranked Here: Decent ERA+meaningless "inning-eater" label=every year someone bites. In other news, Nelson Figueroa re-accepted a minor-league deal because he's a Mets fan, and has posted a 3.43 tRA in AAA.
Verdict: Abandon ship!
These fellows are the most talked about names, but I'll be ranking 6-10 soon. Part 2 will include players who are much less likely to be traded, but are interesting possibilities nonetheless.