The Mets’ 2019 trade deadline went a different way than many people expected. Despite the team’s losing record, they did not act as outright sellers, and they even acquired one of the biggest arms on the market, bringing Marcus Stroman home to his native New York.
While on the surface this seems like a ludicrous decision because of how the 2019 season went up until the deadline, there are plenty of positives to their decision to add rather than subtract, and those positives lie in 2020.
If Brodie Van Wagenen and company went along with trading Syndergaard to one of the many suitors who chased him, they would have effectively slammed their window shut for the foreseeable future, and they would have had to spin this into a full-blown rebuild. The problem with that is that the Mets are not in a very good place to embark on a rebuild right now.
The biggest fish the Mets have is Jacob deGrom, and they spurned the decision to trade him multiple times and mega-paid him, giving him a five-year, $137.5 million extension, with a 2024 option and complete with a no trade clause. Simply put, he’s almost certainly a Met for life.
Outside of him, there is not much for the Mets to sell. It is way too early to give up Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, and Brandon Nimmo, to trade them now is essentially pointless. You could trade away Michael Conforto, but he is not a free agent until 2022 — on top of that, he is a .252/.352/.479 (125 wRC+) hitter; he is the kind of guy you extend long term, not trade away. Edwin Diaz’s name was floated these past few weeks, but he also is under team control for a long time (2023 free agent), and his play almost certainly ruined any value he may have had — he is more valuable to the Mets as a pitcher than as a trade chip as we stand today.
They could have floated Steven Matz, but inconsistencies and a laundry list of injuries in his career likely make him less valuable than he should be.
The other big name is Zack Wheeler, and for my money, he provided the most interesting case to be traded. It is up in the air that he gets extended (though he totally should be now that he was not traded), so there is a legitimate risk that he walks in the offseason. That being said, a rotation of deGrom, Syndergaard, Stroman, Wheeler, and Matz is going to be fun to watch for two months, and that’s important even if the playoffs are a longshot.
Overall, though, there just is not much for the Mets to sell. They are in a weird spot — they have plenty of holes throughout the roster to fill (mostly in the bullpen), but their best trade chips are just too early in their careers, or, in deGrom’s case, control their own future and certainly do not want to go. Trading those players would make the Mets and their fans hope to be in this exact position they are in now — stocked with a lot of talent that is under team control for a long, long time.
The biggest reason why this trade deadline was a win is because of 2020, however. As it stands today, the opening day rotation will have deGrom, Syndergaard, Stroman and Matz in it — that is a quartet that will be a force to be reckoned with. On top of that, the majority of their offense will be returning, and that group has a .252/.324/.429 slash line, good for a 101 wRC+ — tied for 11th best in baseball with the Cubs.
The team obviously needs more than that, since this season has been more bad than good. But a full-blown rebuild is just not a smart decision right now — their best players are under team control for so long, and the Mets should build around them instead of tearing it down. Whether or not the Wilpon’s actually do build around them remains to be seen, but it is simple as this — the Mets window is ostensibly the next four or so years, while deGrom is under contract and the likes of Alonso, McNeil, Conforto, Nimmo, Rosario, Lugo, Matz, and Diaz are the pillars in which they build their team around. One off year should not change that.