Yahoo Sports will be examining the Mets’ options at the trade deadline. Here’s the fourth piece on the players who will remain Mets, but if they were to be traded, could net quite the return for the fourth-place team.
Jacob deGrom is the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.
Seth Lugo is the Mets’ best reliever with three-plus years of control remaining.
Edwin Diaz, despite a down season, still has elite stuff.
Each of those three players will be Mets come Aug. 1, but there’s a case to be made that trading any of them could net the Mets a massive haul that allows them to retool faster than they otherwise would.
PLAYER: Right-handed pitcher Jacob deGrom
2019 STATS: 5-7, 3.21 ERA (19 starts), 115 IP, 101 H, 14 HR, 28 BB, 144K, 3.12 FIP 2019 SALARY: $9 million; under contract through at least 202 POSSIBLE FITS: Each and every contender
The Mets are not going to trade deGrom, who signed a $137.5-million extension in March, but it would be their quickest way to ensure a quick retooling.
DeGrom would instantly be the top available pitcher, and teams would line up for the opportunity to add a difference-making arm with postseason experience. Teams like the Yankees and Braves, among others, lack that ace for any elimination game.
The no-trade clause deGrom has would allow him to end up in a preferable destination.
DeGrom’s contract is also reasonable for an ace, and the Mets would be able to land several top prospects and/or players already established in the majors.
For this method to work, the Mets would have to spend on the market this offseason to replace deGrom with the likes of Gerrit Cole. The idea would be the Mets are essentially adding Cole and prospects for deGrom.
The youngsters the Mets receive in the trade could then help fill in some of the team’s holes, and Cole or another pitcher becomes the team’s ace.
PLAYER: Right-handed pitcher Seth Lugo 2019 STATS: 3.15 ERA (36 games), 45.2 IP, 39 H, 6 HR, 13 BB, 61 K, 3.30 FIP, 0/4 saves attempts 2019 SALARY: $591,875; under team control through 2022 POSSIBLE FITS: Contenders as well as teams hoping to contend soon
Lugo is the Mets’ best reliever this year, and the Mets could likely receive a nice package in return for him at a time when most teams need relief help.
The righty has shown he can be a setup man, but his ability to pitch multiple innings makes him particularly intriguing. The Indians reached the World Series in 2016 using Andrew Miller as a fireman, and Lugo has excelled in that role.
Lugo’s team friendly contract also makes even more the enticing since he’s yet to reach arbitration, and as a non closer, he won’t be owed massive sums. An asset like that is quite valuable, and a team could even try Lugo as a starter.
Trading Lugo would likely net the Mets a few quality pieces, but the downside is they be losing their one stable relief from an awful bullpen.
The Mets would have to replace him, but they could try to sign a free agent in the offseason while benefiting from the pieces they acquire.
PLAYER: Right-handed pitcher Edwin Diaz
2019 STATS: 5.20 ERA (39 games), 36.1 IP, 42. H, 7 HR, 12 BB, 58 K, 3.60 FIP, 21/25 saves attempts 2019 SALARY: $607, 425; under team control through 2022 POSSIBLE FITS: Contenders and rebuilding teams
Diaz is not going to be traded despite his terrible season, and one simple reason is it would be quite the egg-in-the-face moment for the Mets considering it cost stud prospect Jarred Kelenic. The Mets are very cognizant of the public relations aspect of any move, and trading Diaz less than one year after acquiring him would look bad.
Trading Diaz at his lowest value would also not be a sound strategy.
That being said, Diaz is only year removed from a monster season, and there would be plenty of teams that would believe they could get him back on track.
Diaz has blown big saves and rarely appeared to be a dominant closer, but his advanced metrics are better than his results, and his stuff is still very good.
New York is also not for everyone, and perhaps a less-pressured environment –like his previous home in Seattle – would benefit Diaz.
Diaz has yet to reach arbitration, and while he will receive a large pay raise this upcoming offseason, he will still cost less than most free agents.
Any team acquiring Diaz would essentially be signing a closer for a three-year deal in the $20-$35 million range.
Trading that type of player could help the Mets fill some holes, and it’s been proven that non-contending teams don’t need great closers. They’re wasted on a bad roster. It’s not a guarantee the Mets will be contenders this year or next.
Moving him now could allow them to bolster the roster for when they can contend again, and they can add a closer at that time.