Don’t pack up the hammer just yet. No reason for Jacob deGrom to pack up his cleats, either.
John Ricco, one of the trinity making up the role of Mets general manager, said trading Noah Syndergaard or deGrom before the July 31 non-waiver deadline would require an “overwhelming deal” that includes high-caliber players who are at least close to major league-ready.
Ricco added that it’s entirely possible that the two will be part of a short rebuild that he hopes will make the Mets competitive as soon as next season.
“I don’t want to mislead the group: We’re not out there actively looking to move Jacob or Noah by any stretch,” Ricco said Friday before the Mets faced the Rays at Citi Field. “I think for right now we’re looking at — because of the makeup of our team and because we have guys like Noah and Jake at the top of the rotation that if we add the right pieces around them, we can be competitive really quickly . . . I don’t think we’re looking at a two- or three-year thing.”
Though Ricco wouldn’t shed too much light on exactly what the Mets are looking for, he did say they’d be interested in athletic “up-the-middle players,” with the implication that the team is looking to get younger.
Ricco added that in addition to possibly moving players with expiring contracts — Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera fit the bill, though they were not mentioned by name — the Mets could clean house a little more than they did last year. There is no pressure, he said, to trade players simply for the sake of doing something drastic.
Last season, the Mets parted ways with Lucas Duda and Addison Reed before the non-waiver deadline and Jay Bruce, Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson after it. Each was on the final (or only) year of his deal. The logic was that injuries had mostly hamstrung the Mets, and retaining the services of players who were locked up for 2018 and beyond — in addition to a number of offseason signings — could be enough to return them to 2015 glory.
With a number of key players, including Yoenis Cespedes, Syndergaard and Bruce, sacrificed to the altar of the disabled list for large chunks this season, the temptation could have been there to do the same. Not so, Ricco said.
“That’s where you’ve got to be open to maybe moving some guys that are not necessarily just your expiring assets,” he said. “But I don’t think we look at it — last year Sandy [Alderson] made the trade for [AJ] Ramos, which was a trade with next year in mind. I think those are the types of things you want to be open to and looking for so that it’s not just all about moving pieces and partially about setting yourself up moving forward for the future, next year included.”
In a “perfect world,” he said, the Mets would be looking at players from Double-A and up, with an eye toward players who can contribute almost immediately. “Our goal is not to have the best farm system,” he said. “Our goal is to have the best team.”
This year’s free-agent market will be one of the most tantalizing in recent memory, with Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson and Clayton Kershaw (who can opt out of his contract) becoming available. That, though, will require spending money — lots and lots of it.
Notably, though — and perhaps because of all the talent out there — Ricco said trading Syndergaard or deGrom would not preclude a short rebuild.
“If the return is the right one and you’re getting young players that are major league-ready, I think you can,” he said. “It would have to be somewhat of an overwhelming return for us to even consider something like that.”
Even if Syndergaard or deGrom departs, Ricco seemed fairly confident that at least one key person will return next year — the manager.
Regarding “Mickey [Callaway], I’m really excited about the job he’s doing, about the dialogue we’re having and about the future,” he said. “My perspective hasn’t changed at all.”