Sandy Alderson is a fan of steak, he’s a fan of sizzle, but he’s not a fan of selling away the farm to get it.
If anyone is wondering, that’s his way of saying that as much as the Mets would like to add some flashy pieces at the trade deadline, they’re mostly unwilling to deal the top prospects teams are looking for, and probably won’t be making any splashy moves in the week leading up to the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline.
“This is the entertainment business: we talk about steak and sizzle,” the Mets’ general manager said Monday afternoon. “I enjoy sizzle as much as anybody. Those are the fun aspects of the job. But at the same time, you have to be realistic about where one can improve and what makes sense both short-term and long-term. Last year worked out really well. Deals at the deadline don’t always work out that well.”
Alderson was fairly clear what that means for the Mets: in their depleted farm system, promising prospects — say, first baseman Dominic Smith or shortstop Amed Rosario — are pretty much off-limits. And that, he said, will take them out of the running for most desirable position players or starting pitchers. That leaves the front end of the bullpen.
“[That’s] the area where we can probably get someone who can make a difference at a relatively low cost in terms of prospects,” he said. “Realistically it’s unlikely we’ll end up with another starting pitcher. It’s unrealistic that we’ll end up with a significant position player. And with respect to the bullpen, we’re very happy with our bullpen. But at the same time we’re looking to upgrade.”
And, however obliquely, Alderson also seemed to address the rumor floating around Flushing that Travis d’Arnaud was going to be shipped to Milwaukee for fellow catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Alderson’s reaction: Yeah, not really.
“Look, I understand there have been some rumors regarding a couple of players and if I’m thinking of the same rumors you’re thinking of, that rumor was dead on arrival,” he said. “We have a fairly deep roster, and if we’re going to be successful the rest of the season, the roster we have is going to have to produce with regard to run production more than we have. But we certainly think we have the capability of doing that; it’s just a matter of performing.”
The prevailing thought was that yes, the Mets have to get better. But they’re not that far off from being where they need to be — not enough to mortgage their future for a wild card spot, and not enough to give up on players that are underperforming but historically capable of more.
But that doesn’t seem to quash the incessant speculation surrounding the Mets, who are firmly in the buyer category. Even Terry Collins said he needs to be careful to pay attention to some of the rumors, especially after what happened last year: A botched trade that had Wilmer Flores crying during a game, and a real trade that had Yoenis Cespedes almost singlehandedly changing the landscape of the Mets’ season.
“I learned a lot last year, I really did,” Collins said. “In all my years in the big leagues, there were never deadline trades when we were in first place like we were last year, or second place. I never had a deadline deal that made a difference and I saw the impact that it made . . . So this week, if I hear one of my guys whose name is being mentioned, after what I saw last year, I think yeah, I want to spend a little time with him.”
In other words, don’t expect the steak, don’t expect the sizzle. But anything is possible on a hot stove.