QUEENS — The Mets held on to their top prospects last season at Major League Baseball’s trade deadline and it appears that they will plan to do the same this summer.
General manager Billy Eppler said that the Mets’ front office will take the “same approach” as last season in which they were approached about potentially trading the top young talent in their farm system, but remain committed to building a sustainable pipeline of talent for the future.
“Last year, we weren’t particularly willing to part with top-level talent, and there were some situations where we talked about those players with other clubs,” Eppler said on Tuesday. “But it was going to be for players we could control for multiple years moving forward. When that didn’t come to light, we weren’t going to move those guys for rental players.”
Keeping tight clutches on top prospects has been owner Steve Cohen’s M.O. since his takeover ahead of the 2021 season minus the dealing of Pete Crow-Armstrong for Javier Baez at the 2021 trade deadline. Under the Wilpon family and former general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets depleted their prospect pool significantly — most notably when he included Jarred Kelenic in the deal with the Seattle Mariners for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano.
The Mets have already called two of their top prospects up this season in catcher Francisco Alvarez and third baseman Brett Baty. They also had Mark Vientos up for one month after his hot start in Triple-A.
As it stands, the organization has three players — Kevin Parada, Ronny Mauricio, and Jett Williams — ranked within MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects.
But Eppler has been placed between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Not only does he have to help build up the farm system, but he also has to oversee a team that is in win-now mode considering they have the most expensive payroll in baseball.
And the Mets haven’t been winning lately.
They were 5-16 in their last 21 games entering Tuesday night’s game with the Milwaukee Brewers and are 16 games out of first place in the NL East.
A major splash on the trade market could turn things around this season, but only if it supports the team’s long view.
“The only other way that you can supplement a major league team is either through trading prospects, and that’s not going to serve that long-term goal or spend money,” Eppler said. “And like I commented this wintertime, where our payroll went and the commitment that Steve and Alex [Cohen] made to the team, that was the angle we chose to go in order to put a competitive and contending team on the field.
“The ultimate goal here is to build our World Series odds over the long-term horizon. So the things that serve that goal will be put in front of any kind of shorter-term goal.”
There is still plenty of time for that stance to loosen. The MLB trade deadline is under five weeks away and Eppler confirmed that there have been zero trade talks “at this juncture.”
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