The Mets are on pace for 82 wins, well above what Vegas had predicted for them (between 76-79 wins). They are above .500 and may be getting back All-Star third basemen David Wright soon. Fans are excited and Citi Field saw a record crowd earlier this month against the Yankees. The team also sits 7.5 games behind the Braves. They are one of seven teams between five and nine games behind Atlanta and according to Baseball Prospectus, they have just a 2.1 percent chance of reaching the playoffs and are 450-1 odds to reach the World Series.
There are many positives to be taken from the team’s first half. Ruben Tejada, Lucas Duda, Dillon Gee, Jonathon Niese, Josh Thole and Pedro Beato are all getting valuable experience. First-year Manager Terry Collins is getting to know the team and the city and is instilling his baseball acumen with the team. First-year General Manager Sandy Alderson is evaluating the team and seeing what works and what needs fixing.
But all these positives and potential for the future will most likely not help the Mets reach the playoffs this year. With that said, building for next year and beyond should begin now and since Alderson strongly suggested trading Jose Reyes is off the table, two prime trade candidates remain with the deadline fast approaching: Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran.
Let’s start with the player that absolutely must be traded: Rodriguez.
That $17.5 million option is just sitting there. When Rodriguez finishes his 55th game, that money will be guaranteed for next season. He has already been on the mound at the end of the game 34 times this season and is on pace to finish 62 games. Besides the fact that the Mets may be financially strapped next season, paying that kind of money for Rodriguez is insane. Bobby Parnell could step in as closer and do an as good if not better job; he of the $433,000 salary.
For a team wanting to trade for Rodriguez, that option will not be a worry if he is used in a set-up role.
Having that albatross of a salary on the payroll next year would be inexcusable. The return the team gets for Rodriguez is not even important. A low-level prospect is fine considering the financial flexibility the Mets would gain. (Rodriguez has 10-team partial no-trade clause)
Carlos Beltran’s situation is a little murkier. He is still one of the best offensive players on the team and there is not an obvious replacement for him. In most cases an argument could be made to let him finish out the season, hopefully make a run at the playoffs and collect the two draft picks that come with losing a free agent (He will most likely be a Class A free agent.) The only problem with this scenario is that Beltran has it in his contract that the Mets cannot offer him arbitration, meaning they cannot receive the compensatory draft picks for another team signing him. Their only options now are to let the season play out and lose him for nothing or trade him before July 31 and get what they can for him.
Beltran’s bat will certainly draw interest on the open market. With offenses struggling around the league (The average MLB player this year has a line of .253 AVG/.319 OBP/.391 SLG. Beltran’s numbers are .285/.377/.503 and that’s with playing half his games in Citi Field) almost every contender could use an influx of offense. I understand a fan’s attachment to Beltran and desire to do everything in the team’s power to reach the playoffs. But you have to ask yourself if a two percent chance of making the playoffs is worth hurting your team next year.
A Beltran trade could also clear the way for Fernando Martinez to get a chance for two months of at-bats (unless he gets injured) so the Mets could see once and for all if he could cut it in the majors.