With a little over three weeks until Major League Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline, the Mets have long been doing their homework in finding the necessary depth pieces and potential upgrades to ensure they remain in first place atop the NL East.
Much of that homework was prompted by the onslaught of injuries that ransacked the roster over the first three months of the season — and continues to linger as we approach the All-Star break.
Starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard (September) and Carlos Carrasco (July or August) continue to work toward their long-anticipated season debuts while David Peterson is projected to miss approximately eight weeks with a right oblique strain.
Third baseman J.D. Davis — whose defense immediately provided pause for team president Sandy Alderson over the winter — is beginning his rehab assignment for a hand sprain, but the Mets reportedly have been searching the market for a third baseman, according to SNY’s Andy Martino.
While potential targets cannot be confirmed, a source suggested to amNewYork Metro on Wednesday morning that the Mets would be willing to go over the $210 million luxury tax threshold to obtain the necessary pitching depth or a possible third-base upgrade.
Per Martino, internal calculations have slated the Mets with less than $10 million of wiggle room to work with before hitting that threshold.
A player that has been mentioned as a third-base option is 35-year-old slugger Josh Donaldson of the Minnesota Twins, who is making $21 million per year until 2023.
That would be considerable money to take on for a player who would be on the books until he was 38; when a decline is expected sooner rather than later. Public perception, though, seems to be split on obtaining Donaldson’s services. Granted, the pot could be considerably sweetened if he was picked up in a package with starting pitcher Jose Berrios — a two-time All-Star who is 27 years old and under team control via arbitration next year before hitting free agency in 2023.
Berrios is 7-3 this season with a 3.36 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 101.2 innings pitched along with a 1.102 WHIP that is on pace to be a career-best.
Another appealing option that could be pursued is a deal with the Chicago Cubs — mainly for soon-to-be free agent, Kris Bryant, and pitcher Kyle Hendricks.
With Chicago already nine games back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, an already damaged relationship between Bryant and the Cubs should lead to trade talks heating up in the coming weeks should the team continue to sink.
Adding Hendricks to the potential rental in Bryant would only improve the Cubs’ return from the Mets. However, Mets general manager Zack Scott has already made it known that he won’t be so willing to part with some of his top prospects in Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, Matt Allan, Mark Vientos, or Ronny Mauricio.
“One thing I say a lot to a lot of people around me in the game is we’ve got to remember that baseball is not the NBA. It’s not one person who has the opportunity to make as big of an impact,” Scott said earlier this week. “That’s not to go down a slippery slope and say, ‘Why trade for any rental, then, if it’s not going to make an impact?’ You don’t want to go down that far.
“But the reality is the game is designed to limit the impact of a single player, whether that’s a starting pitcher or a hitter. So we have to be smart.”
That would certainly make it difficult to reel in a big fish like the Cubs’ duo, but there’s still plenty of time for such an outlook to change should teams start floating sizable names toward the Mets the closer we get to the trade deadline.