You need only to gaze at the two non-Manhattan sides of the RFK Bridge to understand the concept that, when it comes to the July 30 trade deadline, some clubs earn reinforcements and some don’t.
The Mets, clobbered by injuries and nevertheless atop the surprisingly bad National League East, are the New York group earning its reinforcements, you probably know. That goes triple for their fan base, who have withstood a decades-long flurry of embarrassment and ineptitude that could fill another seven seasons of “Veep.”
It’s equally obvious where the Mets’ primary area of need lies, and so when it comes to their pursuit of starting pitching, on the scale of extremely cautious to Brodie Van Wagenen, they should veer toward the aggressive lane, open-minded to giving up top youngsters, for the likes of Minnesota’s Jose Berrios.
Because to add a higher-end arm to this roster, well, let’s yield the floor to Mets acting general manager Zack Scott.
“The goal is to win your division, get to the postseason and given especially the top of our rotation and our bullpen, I think we’ve got as good a chance as anyone once we get there.”
Unless the Nationals fall off a cliff this month and make future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer available, it appears this trade market will lack the sort of arm that can electrify a team and a city like, say, Justin Verlander to the Astros in 2017 or David Price to the Blue Jays in 2015 or CC Sabathia to the Brewers in 2008. That’s too bad for the Mets, whose president Sandy Alderson witnessed how such a buzzworthy player can elevate such an endeavor when, as this franchise’s GM, he imported Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers in 2015.
That effort ultimately fell short, the Mets dropping the World Series to the Royals, and this team, owners of the fifth-best record in the National League, certainly possesses the potential to end the Mets’ parade-less streak at 35 years. Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker give them a potent front end of the starting rotation; the bullpen has excelled; and the offense, one of the industry’s worst overall, appears armed for a considerable uptick as all of its regulars return from the injured list. Actually, if J.D. Davis can complete his rehabilitation stint and resume his starting spot at third base, the Mets would find themselves in a spot where any trade for a starting position player would displace an established guy there. Which you don’t rule out, Davis’ grasp on the hot corner most vulnerable, but there’s something to be said for this team’s culture and its possible disruption.
Which brings us back to the starting rotation, which features two clear openings and two veterans, Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard, working their way back from the IL with no guarantees they can deliver.
“I think at this point, given the timetable, I can’t make assumptions. There’s only one trade deadline,” Scott said of those two guys.
Berrios, the 27-year-old right-hander, owns a 106 career ERA-plus and 118 this season and will be eligible for free agency after the 2022 campaign. He is solid, not spectacular, and could slot in as the fourth starter. For sure he would be worth giving up shortstop Ronny Mauricio, whose position is blocked by Francisco Lindor for the foreseeable future. Perhaps right-hander Matt Allan, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this season. Then you can take a guy like outfielder Khalil Lee, who made his major league debut earlier this season, and consider him as a secondary piece.
The Twins also employ a pair of impending free-agent starters in former Yankees Michael Pineda (currently injured) and J.A. Happ (currently bad), and Pineda could be a difference-maker. Berrios, though, ranks as the more reliable commodity. And these Mets deserve such a commodity.
Minnesota’s current asking price on Berrios is said to be sky-high, predictably. The Mets can wait. They shouldn’t pass altogether, however, on rewarding this impressive group with a pitching boost.