If it already wasn’t a priority for the Mets to keep the pedal to the metal and win the National League East, it became that much more imperative now.
The San Diego Padres pulled off one of the largest trades in MLB history, acquiring Juan Soto from New York’s NL East rival, the Washington Nationals, for a king’s ransom of prospects headlined by McKenzie Gore — and veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Normal circumstances would normally dictate a sigh of relief from the Mets and their fans. Soto is one of the greatest young talents the game has ever seen and he’s been shipped out of the division and across the country where his impact isn’t felt so often in Queens.
But the shambolic Nationals didn’t pose much of a threat to the Mets before gutting the roster of its few stars remaining, and the Padres are going to be a prevalent threat in the National League for quite a bit.
Soto is poised to join a lineup headlined by Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., who is working his way back from a wrist injury, for at least the next two seasons. The bullpen was bolstered by the acquisition of Josh Hader to support a rotation that is already flush with talent from Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, to Mike Clevinger.
Translation: The Padres are going for it — and no one will want to see them in the postseason.
As it stands, San Diego sits in second place in the NL West, 12 games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers — quite a lot of ground to make up over the final nine weeks of the regular season. But they firmly sit in second place of three Wild Card spots, which should only improve as they sit 4.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves. The very same Braves who enter Tuesday night 3.5 games behind the Mets for the NL East lead.
Under MLB’s new expanded playoff format, the top two division winners get byes to the NLDS while the lowest-ranked division winner and the three wild-card teams face off in best-of-three series.
If the season were to end today, the Mets would be the No. 2 seed in the National League four games behind the Dodgers with the Milwaukee Brewers at No. 3, the Braves at No. 4, the Padres at No. 5, and the Philadelphia Phillies at No. 6.
The Mets would play the winner of the No. 3 vs. No. 6 matchup, which would not entail the Padres as long as they don’t catch the Dodgers, which again, seems unlikely for now.
Only way to avoid them until (hypothetically) the NLCS is to win the division.
For more on the Mets, visit AMNY.com