Mets should swing trades for relievers to make playoffs a reality

The Mets should be buyers.

Here comes the proviso: They actually have a little more time to make the final decision, and if they are in the midst of yet another downturn, then their play and the standings will scream about the proper course to follow.

If you need a refresher on how volatile the NL wild-card picture is: The Mets had a 7.9 percent playoff chance through June 2 (Fangraphs), a 46.9 percent through July 2, and a three-game losing streak heading into Saturday dropped it to 29.3.

That is how real-time sensitive the races are. Thus, what kind of information the Mets receive in how Edwin Diaz returns from his suspension and how Kodai Senga’s rehab is progressing is vital to which fork in the road to pursue.

Edwin Diaz is returning from a sticky stuff suspension. JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

For now, clubs are definitely talking, and as the Rays’ trade of Aaron Civale to the Brewers exemplified, some are willing to act. But most are distracted by the July 14-16 draft or stalling to gather more info to their true identity. And every day provides a change in perceptions.

Consider that the Yankees, like the Mets, need relievers. You know what would have helped push more in the marketplace and potentially lower prices? The Yankees not getting swept three games by the Reds. Cincinnati has six potential free-agent relievers in Buck Farmer, Nick Martinez, Lucas Sims, Brent Suter, Justin Wilson and Emilio Pagan (though Pagan is on the 60-day IL), plus a potential free-agent starter in Frankie Montas.

Mets pitcher Kodai Senga throws in the third inning during a rehab start with the Brooklyn Cyclones, Wednesday, July 3, 2024. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

But their president of baseball operations Nick Krall told me while they were at Yankee Stadium that he was looking at the team’s positive run differential more than their sub-.500 record, and he was going to need to be coaxed a lot further into becoming sellers.

And the Yankees did nothing to coax the Reds. Actually, they did the opposite for a Cincinnati club that — with Fernando Cruz, Alexis Diaz and lefty Sam Moll — also has relievers with control who would entice contenders.

Do the defending champion Rangers ever concede and open up a potential trove of free-agent pitching: Max Scherzer, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, David Robertson, Jose Leclerc, Michael Lorenzen and Kirby Yates? Do the Nationals do more than put walk-year journeyman Dylan Floro up for sale, and consider dealing also closer Kyle Finnegan and Hunter Harvey, both with one year of control?

David Stearns could be best served making deals as a buyer. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

In an ideal world, the Mets would land two relievers as soon as possible — one would be a lefty and one would provide closing experience in case Diaz remains a train wreck and both would have control beyond this season just in case the Mets are not actually contenders in 2024. Nevertheless, few teams get perfection this time of year.

The Mets are not really positioned to swing big, in part because their most obvious need in bullpen and unless they are suddenly in play for Oakland’s Mason Miller, these are more moderate July deals. Plus, David Stearns will appreciate where they are — and not just in 2024. The best 20,000-foot decision would have the Mets for one more year selling to further stock their cupboards and really accelerate this offseason.

But I think they are positioned to buy, or perhaps buy and sell. The promotion of Christian Scott and the potential return of Senga could give the Mets starter depth to use in the market. For example, I do not think the Rays consider themselves out of the wild-card race, and they traded Civale and might yet trade another starter such as Zach Littell because they called up Shane Baz to start Friday, feel Jeffrey Springs is near a return from elbow surgery and that Drew Rasmussen is not far behind that.

So why do I think the Mets should buy (at least two relievers) even if they do some selling too:

1. At a time when few teams have deep offenses, the Mets do, but it could be a mirage. Jose Iglesias, Luis Torrens and Mark Vientos will not stay this hot. Still, as opposed to, say, the Yankees, who feel like they can score when Aaron Judge and Juan Soto are due, the Mets are more dangerous inning to inning, producing from all over the lineup. The Dodgers and Phillies are the only NL teams averaging more runs per game.

If you lower to 125 plate appearances (which wouldn’t include Iglesias and Torrens, but would the difference-making Francisco Alvarez), the Mets have an MLB-best eight players with a 110 OPS-plus or better. They have an actual strength when most NL wild-card contenders do not.

2. No one is going to have to call Greg Maddux for comments on how this rotation stacks up against those from his great Braves teams, but the reinjection of Scott’s stuff with the promise of Senga to join Sean Manaea and Luis Severino and perhaps David Peterson moves the Mets group up in comparison to its NL wild-card competitors. It is also a group that might better be able to keep the pen from over-exposure. It is a real leap, no doubt. Scott is a rookie. Senga is returning from a shoulder injury. But there is potential here.

Christian Scott walks off after the second inning Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field, Thursday, May 30, 2024. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

3. The competition is soft. Even the wild card-leading Braves aren’t the Braves of the past six years. The Cubs have basically fallen from contention. The Nationals have not generally been viewed as serious threats. And as special as Paul Skenes is, Pittsburgh still does not have enough good players. If that is correct, that leaves two spots for the Mets, Reds, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Padres and Giants.

Those teams also are doing a form of calculus similar to the Mets. For example, the Giants are imagining if they can get Kyle Harrison, Alex Cobb, Robbie Ray and Blake Snell healthy and right to join rotation forces with Jordan Hicks and ace Logan Webb. Or the Diamondbacks keep waiting for Corbin Carroll to look anything like the star of last season’s NL champs, and stare at an IL with starters Merrill Kelly, Jordan Montgomery and Eduardo Rodriguez.

4. Being in contention and/or making the playoffs is fun. And the Mets have not given their fans a lot of this. In their first 62 seasons, the Mets made the playoffs 10 times. Over the past 15 seasons, they have had four over-.500 teams.

Fred Wilpon took a beating 20 years ago for saying his goal was for the Mets “to play meaningful games in September.” But the bigger problem was he did not oversee an organization consistently capable of doing so. These Mets are good enough to get in. The competition is bad enough to let it happen.

The Mets, without a plummet in the next 10 days, should buy to try to make it a reality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

God's Hand on Donald J. Trump

An inch. One inch, and President Donald J. Trump would be dead.…

Billy Ray Cyrus wins motion to ban estranged wife Firerose from using his credit cards after she allegedly spent $96K

Billy Ray Cyrus’ estranged wife, Firerose, can no longer use his credit…

Thomas Crooks pictured almost an hour before he shot Trump: Sniper identified gunman acting suspiciously checking his cell phone and a rangefinder at rally when they took photo

Security service officials had would-be assassin Thomas Matthew Crooks on their radar…

You Newsom Thing Was Fixin' to Blow

Aw, some folks just like to keep on pushing and doubling down…