The final countdown to MLB’s trade deadline is here.
The Mets plan to prioritize starting pitcher acquisitions, strongly prefer to keep their best prospects and, with three weeks to go, are not close to making any deals, acting general manager Zack Scott said Monday.
But the phones at least are ringing.
"I haven’t seen a whole lot of action throughout the league, so I think that itself gives you a sense of kind of where the prices are at," Scott said, referencing the dynamic in which asking prices tend to drop as the trade deadline draws near. "I don’t feel like anything is imminent, but trying to work something pretty much every day, trying to progress something."
Their rotation ravaged by injuries, the Mets’ most obvious need is help behind their big three of Jacob deGrom, Taijuan Walker and Marcus Stroman. They have gotten by with internal fill-ins recently — Corey Oswalt on Sunday, Tylor Megill on Monday — but are open to upgrades.
The wild cards: Carlos Carrasco (torn right hamstring), who is expected back in late July or shortly thereafter, and Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery), who is penciled in for early September.
Scott said the Mets "can’t make assumptions" about their eventual probable returns when mulling additions.
"There’s only one trade deadline and . . . you really gotta put your best foot forward in terms of building out the depth for the rest of the way," he said. "if we get those guys back, it’s a bonus. And if we have more guys, then we’ll figure it out. That’s how I look at it."
Because the Mets will be buyers, the cost in any trade likely will be prospects. Over the offseason, as they traded for Francisco Lindor (and Carrasco) and considered trading for others, they made it clear publicly and to other clubs that they wanted to keep their top minor-leaguers.
"I don’t consider anyone untouchable, but realistically there’s going to be guys that we definitely prioritize and see as a big part of the future of the Mets," Scott said. "I have been asked about some of those players. I’ve said no. Just don’t think the price was reasonable for what we’d be getting in return."
Scott didn’t want to name names, but it is not difficult to guess: catcher Francisco Alvarez, righthander Matt Allan, third baseman Brett Baty, righthander J.T. Ginn and others.
An interesting potential exception is shortstop Ronny Mauricio, who is blocked by Lindor at his natural position. The Mets know Mauricio eventually would have to learn a new position (or positions) to have a major-league future with them, but a trade would make sense, too. In an OK year with High-A Brooklyn, Mauricio already has hit eight homers, one more than his 2018-19 total.
A prospect of Mauricio’s caliber seems unlikely to get dealt for player set to be a free agent after the season, though.
"You need to be careful with rentals," Scott said. "You gotta find the right guys and the right fit and obviously the cost is a big thing. And the one thing I say a lot to a lot of people around me in the game is we gotta remember that baseball is not the NBA. It’s not, one person has the opportunity to make as big of an impact."
This year, teams aren’t bothering to ask about players from the Mets’ big-league roster, Scott said.
That is a different reality than the one the Mets have faced during recent trade-deadline seasons.
"We’re leading our division, and teams tend to think you’re not looking to take guys off your major-league roster, so haven’t had a lot of inquiries in that way," Scott said. "Most of the conversations that I have are about ways to add to our club, not subtract."