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Reviewing the Mets’ 2023 Trade Deadline

The Mets shed a number of veteran players and restocked their farm system.

New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Mets had one of the busiest trade deadlines in recent history, sending six players away and acquiring a number of young players that the Mets hope to be pieces of their future. While there are obviously debates to be had as to whether the Mets should have (potentially) thrown away contention in 2024 by trading away Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the Mets did a ton of work to stock the top tier of their farm system and shed some payroll and veteran contracts at the same time. Let’s look back at what the Mets did over the past six days.

  • On Thursday, directly after the Mets game wrapped, the Mets traded David Robertson to the Miami Marlins for minor leaguers Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernandez. Hernandez is a 19-year old switch-hitting catcher who is tearing up the complex league, while Vargas is arguably now the Mets’ second best prospect. The 18 year old shortstop was considered, but just fell short, of Baseball Prospectus’s midseason top 50.
  • On Saturday, Max Scherzer waved his no-trade clause (and opted in for next season) and was traded to the Texas Rangers for Luisangel Acuña, who now slots in as the Mets’ top prospect. If the name sounds familiar, Acuña is the younger brother of the Braves’ superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. The 21 year old shortstop is currently in Double A. The Mets are paying $35.5 million of Scherzer’s remaining contract, leaving Texas on the hook for just $22.5 million for the remainder of 2023 and 2024.
  • Monday saw Mark Canha moved to the Milwaukee Brewers for 23 year old Triple-A pitcher Justin Jarvis, who projects as a potential back of the rotation starter with a propensity for giving up the long ball.
  • The Mets kicked off deadline day by sending Justin Verlander, who also waived his no-trade clause, back to the Houston Astros for a pair of outfield prospects, Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford. The pair were, according to MLB’s list, the numbers four and nine prospects in the Astros system, respectively. If Verlander’s 2025 option vests, the Mets will pay $52.5 million across the two + years left on his contract. If the option doesn’t vest, they still owe $35 million.
  • The Diamondbacks sent recent international free agent Jeremy Rodriguez to the Mets for outfielder Tommy Pham. Pham was, perhaps, the Mets most presumed to be traded, which turned out to be true, but took until nearly the last minute.
  • Dominic Leone was the final Met on the block, going to the Angels in return for Jeremiah Jackson, a 23 year old power-hitting infielder. Leone was the only player traded for whom there was not significant chatter of being moved beforehand.
  • The Mets were also buyers of a pair of fringe arms from the Dodgers, acquiring old friend Adam Kolarek and Phil Bickford for cash considerations. Hey, someone’s got to pitch the rest of this season’s innings.

Both Scherzer and Verlander (and to a certain degree Francisco Lindor) have all discussed how the Mets’ front office characterized 2024 as one in which they will be competitive, but will also be a somewhat transitional year, with 2025 being a year when more pitching free agents will be available and when a lot of dead money comes off the table.

All told, the Mets essentially punted on 2023 and left the question of 2024 on the table, while saving approximately $10-12 million in salary for next season. If they were going to be sellers, it seems like Billy Eppler and co. got about as good of a return for their assets as imaginable, even if it left the cupboards pretty bare on the big league team. But it definitely was not a fire sale.