By Zach Gewelb
The Mets were expected to be big sellers ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, with a plethora of steady veterans available for the taking. It was thought the Mets would seek out deals for Lucas Duda, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed and Asdrubal Cabrera.
The trade deadline passed and general manager Sandy Alderson only managed to make two trades, dealing Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays and Reed to the Boston Red Sox for mostly insignificant returns. Alderson failed to cash in all his chips, and the team will suffer as a result.
With the team out of contention, the Mets needed to turn the page on the 2017 season and focus on next year by giving their younger players a chance to show their skills at the big league level. Moving Duda created an opening for Dominic Smith, who is performing well at the Triple-A level. But Smith remains in the minors for the time being, waiting to receive his call to The Show.
The move the Mets were most expected to make was trading Asdrubal Cabrera to create an opening for top prospect Amed Rosario. Alderson told reporters he would not call Rosario up with Cabrera, Reyes and Neil Walker all healthy on the big league roster. Yet, here we are, with all three on the roster, as Rosario receives the call to the big leagues.
Despite failing to move an infielder, the Mets summoned Rosario to Colorado Tuesday to make his Major League debut against the Rockies. Now, the pressure falls on Terry Collins to utilize Rosario properly.
Rosario needs to play every day at shortstop. Collins needs to keep him in the lineup at all costs, even if it means upsetting some of the veterans. Rosario has the chance to be a special talent, and while there may be growing pains at first, he needs the chance to work through them. The worst thing the Mets can do is bring Rosario up and play him one or two games per week. He needs consistent playing time. He plays aggressively and with lots of energy, which could provide a spark the team so desperately needs.
Alderson also failed to move an outfielder, meaning the Mets will still deploy an outfield rotation of Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, Bruce and Granderson. The wealth of outfielders will continue to take at-bats away from Conforto, one of the Mets’ brightest young stars. The All-Star needs to be a fixture in the lineup, and with Bruce and Granderson still here, that means he’s bound to lose some at-bats down the line. And for what? Granderson and Bruce are both free agents at the end of the year and it is unlikely the Mets will bring them back.
In terms of the pitching staff, there wasn’t much for the Mets to do. They kept their starting pitch intact, and while Alderson did jettison Reed, he acquired reliever A.J. Ramos — who is under contract for next year — from the Marlins to solidify the bullpen this year and next.
Aside from that, Alderson dropped the ball. When it’s all said and done, the Mets missed an opportunity to get rid of some dead weight from their roster while focusing on the future. Acquiring Ramos helps and promoting Rosario was absolutely necessary — even if the promotion was about a month overdue — but Alderson still has a lot of work to do if the Mets want to compete in 2018.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe