Which Mets will be going, going, gone?

Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran is almost certain Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran is almost certain to be traded if he stays healthy, writes Ken Davidoff. Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

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The Mets kicked off action in Denver last night with a 15-19 record. Not awful. The Red Sox stood at 16-18, and Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds have Boston capturing the American League wild card.

But we need no sophisticated equations to know that the Mets simply don’t look like a contender this season — although, if you like sophisticated equations, BP had the Mets with a 0.3-percent chance to win the National League East and 0.9 percent to get the NL wild card.

A good organization plans for all scenarios, so you can bet that the Mets, under the intelligent leadership of Sandy Alderson, are preparing for the chance that they’ll be sellers come July. Not just any sellers, either. The Mets, their poor record notwithstanding, have the sort of potentially available talent that could make Citi Field the trade-deadline headquarters, and could replenish the Mets’ talent base considerably.

Let’s take a look. The players are listed in order of buzz they are generating:

JOSE REYES

Why he’ll be traded: His contract expires after this season, and if he keeps up his strong start, he’ll put himself in line for an immense contract on the free-agent market.

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Why he won’t be traded: Besides the slim chance that the Mets will be in the playoff race? If the Mets’ ownership straightens out its finances and if Alderson alters his philosophy about long-term contracts, then Reyes — who could get a free-agent contract worth more than $100 million — could stay.

2011 stats: .331 BA, .379 OBP, 49 H, 12 SBs.

Likely return: The best of any other impending free agent. Look at what Seattle got from Texas last July for Cliff Lee, who was in a similar contract situation — a top-flight prospect (first baseman Justin Smoak) and three more young players with some promise.

Possible suitors: Boston, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Oakland, San Francisco, St. Louis.

Likelihood he’ll be traded: 80 percent.

 

CARLOS BELTRAN

Why he’ll be traded: Like Reyes, he can be a free agent, and like Reyes, he is playing well.

Why he won’t be traded: There’s no good reason. If the Mets aren’t in contention, they’ll have zero incentive to hold on to Beltran. They wouldn’t even recoup draft picks if they kept him and then lost him through free agency.

2011 stats: .295 BA, .536 SLG, 5 HRs, 18 RBIs.

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Likely return: It depends wholly on how much money the Mets would be willing to include. With an $18.5-million salary, Beltran will have about $6 million owed him from August onward. The more the Mets provide, the better talent they’ll get back.

Possible suitors: Atlanta, Detroit, Angels, Yankees, San Francisco, Tampa Bay.

Likelihood he’ll be traded: 98 percent.

FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ

Why he’ll be traded: Like Reyes and Beltran, free agency beckons — but he has a $17.5-million vesting option for 2012 that activates with 55 games finished. He entered last night’s game on pace for 52.

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Why he won’t be traded: That vesting option could be a deal-breaker. There even could be teams looking to acquire him as a setup man, which would lower his trade value.

2011 stats: 1.17 ERA, 9 saves.

Likely return: Like with Beltran, the dollars will be an issue; K-Rod has about $3.8 million coming to him in the final two months.

Possible suitors: Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Florida, Angels, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Texas.

Likelihood he’ll be traded: 55 percent.

MIKE PELFREY

Why he’ll be traded: With a $3.93-million salary, and with two more years before free agency, Pelfrey will keep getting more expensive for the Mets. Will he keep getting better?

Why he won’t be traded: If he keeps slipping and sliding his way through this campaign, it might not make sense to sell low on him.

2011 stats: 2-3, 6.06 ERA.

Likely return: Assuming he can look like his old self until July, Pelfrey could bring back a nice package, highlighted by a top-flight prospect, since a) he’d be a long-term investment rather than a rental and b) it doesn’t look like there’ll be much quality starting pitching available.

Possible suitors: Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida, Yankees, Texas.

Likelihood he’ll be traded: 25 percent.

DAVID WRIGHT

Why he’ll be traded: If a team knocks the Mets’ socks off with an offer of impressive prospects. Think of the package Texas received from Atlanta for Mark Teixeira.

Why he won’t be traded: He’s under team control through 2013, and even though he has declined since 2008, he still has value to the Mets.

2011 stats: .240 BA, 5 HRs, 16 RBIs.

Likely return: He’d go only if the return were tremendous. In that Teixeira trade, Texas received five players, including the major league-ready Jarrod Saltalamacchia and young studs Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz.

Possible suitors: Cincinnati, Colorado, Oakland.

Likelihood he’ll be traded: 10 percent.

The rest

(Tim Byrdak, Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Jason Isringhausen)

Why they’ll be traded: They’re all impending free agents. No reason to keep them around if the club isn’t contending.

Why they won’t be traded: Someone might be hurt.

Likely return: Nothing over which to throw a party. But good scouting and negotiating could produce a few interesting, lower-tier prospects.

Likely suitors: Everyone could use bullpen and bench help. If Capuano improves and Dillon Gee produces, the purported Pelfrey suitors could be in on them.

Likelihood they’ll be traded: Byrdak 80 percent, Capuano 70 percent, Hairston 75 percent, Isringhausen 85 percent.

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