Mets trade rumors: Steve Cohen hints at contingency plans at 2023 deadline

Max Scherzer
New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) reacts as he leaves during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

QUEENS — Steve Cohen knows when to cut his losses, so the only way that the Mets are going to be aggressive at the trade deadline in terms of pursuing potential upgrades is if they can turn things around within the next month.

“If I’m in this [same position], I’m not adding,” Cohen said on Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field before his Mets took on the Brewers. “I think that would be pretty silly. I would probably do very little… It’s on the players. They’re veterans, they’ve been there before.

“We’ll see if they can get their act together and string together some wins. I can’t pitch and I can’t hit. That’s the way it goes.”

New York’s playoff hopes are already hanging on by the thinnest of ropes. They’re 16.5 games out of the division lead behind the Atlanta Braves and 8.5 games back of the final National League Wild Card spot.

With it has come the first inkling of shedding some veteran money off the roster. The Mets dealt infielder Eduardo Escobar to the Los Angeles Angels for a pair of minor-league pitchers on Friday. Should their postseason prospects not improve, there could be more on the way.

“I’m preparing my management team for all possibilities,” Cohen said. “If we don’t get better, we have decisions to make at the trade deadline. That’s not my preferred end result, but I’m preparing for all contingencies. We’ll see where it goes.”

Steve Cohen Alex Cohen Mets
New York Mets owner Steve Cohen (right) with his wife, Alex.Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Selling potentially means a step back in the competitive department for a team that Cohen is shelling out $344 million to be a win-now unit. It’s the price that he maintains was necessary to pay as he continues to try and develop the farm system to a viable pipeline rather than forcing management to go to free agency or the trade market. 

“You want to stay competitive. You still want to take advantage of opportunities,” Cohen said. “If it turns out we don’t improve and we’re looking at [2024] with a similar team that’s one year older? That’s probably not a great place to be… We have to make those judgments and we have to make honest, truthful judgments. There are no guarantees we’re going to get it right.”

Should things not improve over the next four weeks, the focus will naturally shift to the Mets’ largest trade chips in veteran starting pitchers and future Hall-of-Famers, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. A team in the playoff hunt that’s desperate for starting pitching would present Cohen with an opportunity to bring in more talent to the prospect pool.

Cohen wasn’t quite ready to broach that topic yet as he still is holding out a glimmer of hope that things will improve.

“I’m a realist… the trade deadline is Aug. 1, a little bit more than a month,” he said. “We have to get going.”

For more on the Mets and Steve Cohen, visit AMNY.com