The New York Mets head into the All-Star break with a 47-40 record and with a 3.5 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East. It’s the first time the Mets have led the division at the All-Star break since 2007.
It has been a memorable season and overall Met fans should be happy where the team is at after 87 games. It hasn’t been perfect though.
At one time in May, the Mets had 17 players on injured list and their offense hasn’t scored a lot of runs. They are second to last in the National League in runs scored. Offensively, a lots of players have not live up to the back of their baseball cards.
Yet the club is in a prime position to win the division and make a push for the playoffs. The next step for the Mets is to build their team with eyes on October. There’s a different philosophy when it comes to building teams that can win in the regular season and building teams that can win in October in a short series.
I always feel that teams in October need three top line starting pitchers and a lineup that has no weak spots. That is obviously easier said than done, but that’s what teams in contention should be aiming for including the New York Mets.
The club is in their first year under new owner Steve Cohen who came out early in the off-season with the goal of the team winning the World Series in five years. It was a lofty goal for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016 and has a pretty depleted farm system after a few odd trades by the previous regime. As lofty as Cohen’s goal was, through 87 games that goal is closer than it’s been in 14 years.
The Mets pitching staff has been sensational so far this season, especially the top three starters in the rotation. Jacob deGrom is in the conversation for another Cy Young Award. Taijuan Walker has made his first All-Star game and Marcus Stroman has thrown the ball great as well. It can be said that without one of those three starters pitching the way they have in the first 87 games, the Mets are nowhere near contention.
Starting pitching or starting pitching depth could be something the Mets focus on in the next 20 days as the July 30 trade deadline approaches. After deGrom, Walker and Stroman, there are question marks in the rotation. Tylor Megill who has thrown the ball decent in his first four starts but has yet to provide the Mets with any sort of length. He has yet to surpass five innings in his first four starts. Megill is an inexperienced pitcher who has shown flashes of success but he’s nothing to hang your hat on just yet.
Carlos Carrasco hasn’t pitched all season but is starting to progress a little bit. He may make a rehab start shortly after the break. Noah Syndergaard has a September timetable for his return, though it is fluid depending on how his rehab assignments go. Joey Lucchessi is out for the year and David Peterson is hurt as well. There is no timeline on Peterson’s return at the moment. A couple of other depth pitchers, most notably Jerad Eickhoff and Thomas Szapucki, have not pitched great in their short time with the team. Starting pitching is a place where the club needs to improve just to get them through the regular season.
So is adding an arm in the bullpen. Closer Edwin Diaz has been solid as has setup man Seth Lugo. Trevor May has been inconsistent but has a great track record of being a solid major league pitcher. Lefty Aaron Loup has been fantastic. Jeurys Familia has looked excellent for the majority of the year. The rest of the bullpen is sort of up in the air. Miguel Castro was expected to get big outs this season, but has really struggled since the beginning of June. The backend of the bullpen is up in the air a bit as well. Adding another arm there wouldn’t surprise me either.
While adding a couple of arms in the rotation and the bullpen would be nice, both of those moves are to essential get the Mets to October. They’re going to need a bigger move if they want to be forces to be reckoned with come the post-season. The biggest and perhaps most important addition will be to add to the offense. It will also be the trickiest and costliest addition.
By costly I mean it will cost the team some prospects. Two names that the Mets have been linked with recently are the Cubs Kris Bryant and the Twins Josh Donaldson, both who play third base and would be major additions to their lineup down the stretch and in the post-season.
Bryant would be a rental piece as he is in the final year of his contract and is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season. With his future past the year up in the air, the Cubs may want to trade Bryant and get something back for him. The Cubbies have fallen out of contention recently and if Bryant tests free agency, they could essentially sign him back long term and get some pieces for him being on another team for a few months. How much Bryant fetches in a trade remains to be seen, though rental players typically don’t yield a whole lot considering their murky future.
Donaldson’s situation is a bit different. His contract is worth a lot of money and runs through the 2023 season. With Cohen’s deep pockets the Mets now have the wherewithal to take on a major contract like Donaldson’s and not many teams can do that. They have some flexibility and if the Twins value the money being off the books more than the prospects they get in return, it could affect what the Mets give up in the trade. That is an advantage the Mets have over a lot of the small market teams looking to add a bat.
Adding a bat is going to cost the Mets, whether it’s on the payroll or prospects. I do believe the Mets should do it though. I know I stated earlier that the organization’s farm system is a bit depleted after the previous regime but there are very few times in which a team has a shot to make the playoffs and make a deep run. They are in the best position to do that in years and they owe it to their fanbase to give it their best shot.
The Mets have only been to the Fall Classic twice in the last 35 years and lost both times. They’ve only made the playoffs five times in the last 30 years. You have to strike while the iron is hot. If the Mets have an opportunity to acquire Bryant or Donaldson, it would make the team a legit threat for a World Series title.
At this point, that should be the goal. I am not saying that the Mets should trade the farm for either of these players but if the cost is a big prospect or two to get someone the caliber of Bryant or Donaldson, the Mets need to pull it off. Now’s the time to put the strangle hold on the NL East and to get themselves ready for October. A big bat will help them do that and the Mets need to make that move.