The Mets' approach to Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline reflected their relative position in the standings -- caught somewhere in the middle, where they are not quite buyers and not quite sellers. So as blockbuster deals sent shock waves throughout the game, the Mets engaged in talks, only to pocket their trade chips for another day.
"We were looking at the market and what it would dictate," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "We set a price on some of our players. And under the circumstances, they weren't met. So be it. We're happy with the team that we have."
The team Alderson has occupies a gray area, a position he described as "neither here nor there." At 52-56 and seven games out of first place in the NL East, the Mets remain in contention, but only on the fringes.
Alderson said the Mets were hesitant to "subtract from our big-league club just to add to our stash of prospects."
He also was cool to the idea of dipping into his store of young pitching prospects, which would have been the key to any big moves. "At this particular stage," he said, "we're not prepared to do that, at least in the deals that were presented, or were available to us."
Trade talks picked up in the hours leading up to the 4 p.m. deadline, but none ever came close to fruition. "While we were active in conversations -- although not super-active -- we just didn't make any deals," Alderson said.
Bartolo Colon, the 41-year-old righthander, had been considered the most likely Met to be traded. And the Mets, according to a rival executive, continued canvassing the league to gauge interest. As the deadline loomed, the Mets hoped interest might pick up, especially as higher-profile pitchers came off the board. But a market for Colon did not develop, with another rival executive describing the Mets' asking price as significant.
Daniel Murphy also had generated some interest. But the Mets seemed to cool on the idea of moving him at the deadline, according to a rival executive.
So the Mets' next chance to make a significant upgrade likely will come in the offseason. Last week, the Mets expressed interest to the Rockies about shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Though the chances of a megadeal remain small, some optimism remains within the organization that it is possible.
Alderson said the Mets would be "better off" waiting until the offseason to put their best trade chips into play. "In some way, we don't want to limit ourselves to the options that are available now as opposed to what we think may be available in the offseason," he said.
The Mets also might find a better market for Colon in the offseason. Assuming he stays healthy, he is due $11 million next season, a reasonable price tag for a veteran arm. But for now, all the Mets can do is wait.
"We had conversations regarding significant players both from the Mets and from other teams in return," Alderson said. "We just never agreed on anything."