Who Will the Mets Shop This Month?

Through the first 91 games of the season, Mets are one game over .500, 11 games behind the NL East-leading Phillies, and 7.5 games behind in the Wild Card standings. From a positive perspective, the team is 9 games over .500 since April 21. That’s a nice pace, but unfortunately the Phillies are currently 23 games over .500, and the Braves 16 games over. Not to mention, the Washington Nationals are right on their heels at 46-46, and the Marlins are only three games behind the Mets. In other words, the Mets are closer to the bottom than the top.

That said, and considering the team’s financial problems, and their need to rebuild for the long-term, it’s all but certain that a fire sale is coming — even the players know it (hat tips to MetsToday loyal readers Walnutz and Mic for the link). What players are likely “on the block”? Here’s a list of possibilities:

Francisco Rodriguez
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past five months, you know that K-Rod is on pace to reach the 55 finishes needed for a $17.5M option to automatically vest. Even if the Mets could afford to pay that option, it’s nonsensical — no closer is worth that kind of dough, particularly for a team in rebuilding mode. So, Sandy Alderson’s #1 priority between now and September is to find a taker for K-Rod — most likely a team in need of a setup man. And yes, Frankie could be moved post-deadline, since his contract almost guarantees he’ll pass through waivers.

Carlos Beltran
In the midst of his best season since 2008, Beltran’s contract expires at the end of the year and includes a clause stating that the Mets cannot offer him arbitration. Therefore, if the Mets don’t trade him, they’ll get nothing when he walks. There are plenty of contenders who can use his bat and so the Mets might get a decent return. This is an eerily similar situation to the season right before he signed with the Mets — will he help another team to the NLCS as he did with the Astros in 2004? Surely his performance down the stretch that year is remembered by GMs around MLB.

Jason Isringhausen
There’s one argument that the Mets won’t trade Izzy because they’ll need him once K-Rod is gone, and further, he’ll continue to be something of a mentor to potential closer-in-waiting Bobby Parnell. Nice thoughts, but I doubt Sandy Alderson would refrain from actively marketing Izzy’s services, considering the dearth of quality middle relief around MLB. At the same time, Izzy won’t be given away — if he is traded, the Mets will get something of value in return.

Chris Capuano
Capuano is on a one-year deal, and he’s proven that he’s healthy and about as effective as he’s ever been in his career. He could slot right in as a very solid #4 or #5 starter on a championship bound club in need of rotation boost.

Tim Byrdak
With a 1.48 WHIP, 3.98 ERA, and 4.3 BB/9 IP, Byrdak has hardly been spectacular. Even in his main role of pitching against lefthanded batters, he’s been only average, allowing a .254 batting average and .736 OPS. Not awful, but not great, either. But he IS lefty, and even marginally effective LOOGYs have value. Rival GMs also get excited about his 11 K/9 ratio. There’s a chance the Mets can pick up a decent minor leaguer in return for Byrdak.

R.A. Dickey
People are mixed as to whether Dickey could be dealt. On the one hand, his plantar fasciitis is a concern and could cause other teams to shy away. On the other hand, he’s been a workhorse and innings eater. Additionally, his contract is affordable and it runs through 2012, which means he wouldn’t be a rental. Of course, these are all good reasons for the Mets to keep him. But my guess is that if the right deal comes along, R.A. will be sent away.

Jose Reyes

Two months ago I was certain that Reyes would be wearing another uniform by August 1. Now, I’m not so sure. First, his most recent hamstring injury makes him a risk, and therefore opposing teams may not be willing to deal away a worthy package for 2-3 months of what could be a hobbling player. Second, if he is healthy, he puts fannies in the seats, and the Mets need to do everything they can to keep people going to Citi Field.

Ronny Paulino
Like Capuano and Byrdak, Paulino is on a one-year deal. He’s been hitting as well as he ever has in his career, and far above average for a typical backstop. If the Mets can get a nice AA prospect or two, they most assuredly will move him.

Mike Pelfrey
Surprised to see him on this list? There was speculation as early as April suggesting that Sandy Alderson would deal away Big Pelf, citing the fact that he likely won’t be worth the money he’ll soon get, and that his value in terms of receiving a package of prospects may not get much higher — it’s likely to drop as free agency nears. Many GMs may view him similarly to how they did Gil Meche back in 2006: as a pitcher who has shown flashes of greatness, but never could “get it together”, yet might be on the cusp of a breakout year if given the right environment. Alderson will take advantage of anyone who has that perspective, if it means the Mets will get a handful of young, cheap, MLB-ready players.

Scott Hairston
Teams love Hairston for his professionalism, all-out play, team-first attitude, versatility, clubhouse demeanor, and ability to occasionally hit dramatic homeruns. He’s a solid 25th man on a pennant contender — the type of “final piece” that could help out a team short on offense. Compare to 2006, when the Mets added Eli Marrero to the bench, or in 2007 when they sent two minor leaguers to the Reds for Jeff Conine. You never know — bench guys with good reps seem to draw more interest than one might expect.

Willie Harris
See Hairston, above. If Harris can keep his OBP around .350, some team might be willing to part with a low minor leaguer or AAA bench guy.

Angel Pagan
What? Angel Pagan? Yes, Angel Pagan. Why? Because he’s dynamic, cheap, hitting again, and a solid center fielder. You may think these are all good reasons for the Mets to keep him. However, Pagan just turned 30, and a large part of his game is dependent on his legs. When the legs slow down, he becomes less dynamic and valuable. He is at his peak value right now, so it makes sense to take advantage of that fact and deal him. Of course, the return package has to be worthwhile — Alderson won’t trade him just for the sake of trading him. I hope it doesn’t happen, since Citi Field seems to be built for him (and Reyes).

Johan Santana
To clarify: there isn’t much chance of Santana getting traded in July, so he doesn’t technically belong here. BUT, if he gets back on a mound before the end of August, and is throwing in the low 90s again, and is pitching effectively, there is a slim possibility that the Mets could find a taker — it all depends on how desperate a team is at that time of year for pitching (Yankees?) and how healthy he looks.

Sorry, folks, I’m not seeing anyone banging down the door for Jason Bay, Jason Pridie, D.J. Carrasco, or Manny Acosta (among others). But hey, you never know.

What do you think? Is this list complete? Do you agree or disagree that these players will be shopped? Let me know in the comments.

Opinion and Analysis

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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