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.

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.
  1. Walnutz15 July 12, 2011 at 7:40 am
    “We think something’s going to happen,” said Mike Pelfrey, who took the loss Sunday despite pitching fairly well. “Someone’s going to get traded, but we’re hoping it doesn’t happen and when we get David and Ike back, and maybe Johan, we can make a real run.”

    Reading this quote from Pelfrey yesterday……I’m not gonna lie: it sounds a lot like “The Cavalry” talk we’ve heard from players and personnel in the past.

    If you asked me, the Mets won’t have everyone they’re “supposed to” have in the lineup actually in it together at any point this season.

    For me, guys like Beltran and Rodriguez should be no-brainers to be dealt – provided the deal’s there for them to make. The 1st Half was a nice surprise, after that 5-13 start out of the gates….but I’m not a proponent of holding onto any of these guys right now, just to save face – or keep people coming through the gates to close out the summer months.

    Above .500, nice road trip out to the West Coast before dropping a tough series with the Giants…..however, I think the bloom’s about to come off the rose, and it will become more about trade talk as July winds down.

  2. Walnutz15 July 12, 2011 at 8:13 am
    Joe: How do you see the Francis-Rod situation shaping up?

    To me, the worst possible development for the Mets was seeing Bora$ taken on as Rodriguez’s agent:

    “Francisco Rodriguez is a historic closer,” Boras told Newsday. “He’s not going anywhere to be a setup man.”

    Complete and total opposite from the quotes we got last month from Rodriguez himself, citing that he’d be willing to work as a set-up man if traded to “good teams like the Yankees or the Rays.”

    If this rings true, then there’s absolutely no way in hell that his 2012 option doesn’t vest. Especially on a “good team” amidst a Pennant Race, in need of a closer.

    Gonna be the most interesting angle of all, IMHO.

    Otherwise, I think Beltran’s the 1st (and easiest) to be moved.

    • John July 12, 2011 at 8:54 am
      I think the Boras hiring changes the dynamics of trading K-Rod. If Boras gets any percentage of the 17 million option then there is no way he lets K-Rod walk away from that. If he doesn’t see any of that money since it was negotiated by the previous agent, then Boras will be looking to renegotiate an extended deal.
      • Walnutz15 July 12, 2011 at 9:11 am
        Good point, John.

        The only way I see this Bora$ situation becoming a positive is if he isn’t going to be paid a cent of the vesting option for 2012.

        If that is the case, which it should be – since he didn’t have a word in about the initial negotiations a few years ago……then you have to figure that he’ll do everything in his power to get Rodriguez in the ideal situation before the end of the season.

        Maybe it’s just posturing on his part? — saying that his client’s an elite closer, he won’t set-up, etc.

        I really hope they’d accept a deal to set-up somewhere.

        It’d actually help Bora$ in that he can negotiate a new deal for his client this winter.

        I’m just hoping for “win-win”, for everyone involved.

        That’s the only way it works for me. LOL

    • Joe Janish July 12, 2011 at 11:07 pm
      I really don’t know how this K-Rod situation is going to pan out. Boras is obviously being Boras and upping the ante by announcing he is a closer and only a closer. It’s all smoke to drive up the price of an extension; he’s all about leverage. Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see. I think in the end he winds up with either the Yankees or Red Sox, who give him a lucrative 3-year extension.
  3. Joe July 12, 2011 at 8:40 am
    What about Murphy or Turner?

    I continue to think trading Dickey is stupid. Granting you might get something, I doubt it would be enough to give up such a useful player, even if fan appreciated is not taken into account. Who cares about that, right?

    I guess David Wright being traded seems unlikely too. As to Jason Bay, right, though if they eat some of the contract, I think it is not a total “no.”

    • JoMama July 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm
      It would make my year if anyone took Bay.
  4. Mack July 12, 2011 at 9:10 am
    Nice piece…

    Featuring snippets of this all week on my site.

    Mack

    • Joe Janish July 12, 2011 at 9:47 am
      Thanks Mack! Glad you enjoyed it.
  5. JerrysKids July 12, 2011 at 9:22 am
    “I guess David Wright being traded seems unlikely too.”

    Unlikely and stupid…. and that’s if you hate him.

    You never trade players when their value is low. You especially don’t trade 28 year old star third basemen when their value is low.

    • Joe July 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm
      I would have to determine how much “higher” this third baseman, who has not played quite like the “star” that people expected for quite some time by now., will increase.

      If — and if there is hope otherwise I’d appreciate it — he will just get somewhat worse next season, when would be a good time to trade him? I guess it would pay to wait to the off season but if a team offers something of value, I might still keep an open mind.

      • Joe Janish July 12, 2011 at 11:09 pm
        Because of the injury and his contract situation, I think you have to wait it out with Wright at this point and hope he makes a full return. His presence sells a lot of Mets jerseys and tickets, and once Reyes and Beltran leave, there aren’t many other moneymakers left on the team.
  6. Mike July 12, 2011 at 11:22 am
    Nothing wrong with your list. I would welcome trades of anyone in the bullpen, Pelfrey, Beltran, and anyone off the bench.

    The reasons are simple:

    Bullpens are easy to construct for a competent GM. Sandy did it. The Rays do it every year. these are pieces you trade away for whatever you can get. Such as next year’s bullpen pieces. Additionally Krod is a no brainer given his contract.

    Pelfrey is not an ace, but he will command the contract of a good pitcher soon with his arbitration. Sandy would be wise to move an underwhelming piece before he becomes expensive. Let another team worry about that. And I think that whoever picks him up could buy out his next few years and get a middle rotation guy with top of the rotation potential. The Mariners seem like a good fit, or the Angels, or someone else with a top of the line starter and an outside shot at this year. None of the big time teams this year seem to need him.

    Beltran for obvious reasons.

    The bench players are exactly like the bullpen. Easy to replace. Might bring in a nice piece for next year.

    I dislike trading Dickey because he could be a Met for a decade and I hope Alderson realizes this. Pagan is more likely to be traded next year because no one is ready to take his spot now (i.e. Kirk is injured in AAA) and the rest of the CFers in the system are more than a year away. Pagan is only due 3.5 million this year and is arbitration eligible, so they can see what happens next year and if the team is in the same or worse situation move him then.

    That’s what I would do anyway.

    • Joe July 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm
      Tim Wakefield is still doing the Red Sox some good after all. Yes, I really think trading Dickey is dumb. Unless something useful is returned for Capuano, given the lack of alternatives at the moment, I’d even be wary about trading him. But, I can see that. Dickey, that is just silly.
      • Joe Janish July 12, 2011 at 11:39 pm
        Why would you be wary of trading Capuano? If it comes to a fire sale, it doesn’t really matter who is taking the ball, does it? Sign Kevin Millwood if need be. Or, maybe they pick up someone in another deal to fill in. I can understand Dickey because he’s signed through 2012 and could have several more years ahead of him but it’s unlikely Capuano re-signs with the Mets in the offseason. Get something for him while you can.
        • Joe July 12, 2011 at 11:58 pm
          Sure, get something. But, if it isn’t someone useful, what’s the point? I rather a few more meaningful games (I’ll still be watching, did in ’10 after all) than getting some AA nobody for him or something. It’s not like we need to get rid of the salary or something.
  7. Rob July 12, 2011 at 11:26 am
    Joe: Great piece! Of course, the one thing that I wonder is that if you trade all those players, who’s going to be left to play on the field and keep the team competitive. Otherwise they save a bunch of money on salary, only to have everyone abandon the team at the ticket gate.

    But the more important question that I have is this: we’re giving up some players that could help this team in the near term (say two or three years from now). Exactly how long do you envision it will take to bring this team back to competitive status (not that they’re not competitive and entertaining now…which is what is making this so hard to understand)? If the “rebuilding” process is five years…then I understand why you would be eager to rid yourself of players who are older. But this team does have a core of relatively younger talent (including Wright and Reyes) who would be in their prime in the years that it will take to rebuild and become competitive. RA Dickey strikes me as a guy who will be around for a long time, despite his age, precisely because of his skills as a knuckleballer. Is this a longer term rebuild that envisions players who are much younger?

    Thanks, Joe and keep up the great work!

    Rob

    • Joe Janish July 12, 2011 at 11:41 pm
      Rob, thanks for the kind words.

      I would assume that the Mets would get players in return for all these players traded away. Some would fill in. Others would come from the minors. It’s a chance to see people play who you might not otherwise see get an opportunity.

  8. gary s. July 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm
    Yankee fans get a 3000 hit club member, met fans get to look forward to a fire sale.Please settle the NFL lockout and open up the camps.Time for football!!!!J E T S !!!!!!
  9. Josh July 12, 2011 at 7:40 pm
    trade wright the mets can get by without him and can get quality pitching in return
    • Joe July 12, 2011 at 8:55 pm
      What sort of “quality pitching” would they get?
  10. Mic July 12, 2011 at 10:42 pm
    I set up my comments already. But just to extrapolate:

    1. Beltran is sitting on a hof career. I could see him traded to boston, or the giants.

    2. Pelfrey for zito? Dont laugh if it also the mets brings an a++ prospect.

    3. Dickey is not going. He sets up the rotation, he is a clubhouse leader and he has alot of intangibles.

    4. Pagan…see. No.1. Pagan is a millionaire now. And with cb healthy pagan is excess. With capt kirk, fmart and duda there is an excess of young ml ready ofers.

    5. The list of arms available is tasty. I like/ covet anibal sanchez in particular, but volstad is interesting too.

    6. Pel is good but will always be underachieved as a met.

    7. July 31st is when pumpkins are often traded for potential gold mines. See jose bautista.

  11. murph July 13, 2011 at 12:07 am
    Looks like K-Rod is the first to go.