ATLANTA — Top prospect Amed Rosario represents the Mets’ quickest path to a trade that would bring back an impact player, one who perhaps could breathe life into an ailing offense.
But with five weeks left until the non-waiver trade deadline, the Mets appear to have little interest in putting their best trade chip in play, according to a person with knowledge of the team’s thinking.
“Rosario is going nowhere,” the source said of the 20-year-old shortstop.
The Mets internally have stopped short of deeming Rosario untouchable, with one source leaving open the possibility that he could be used in a major trade. Still, the chances of a deal remain slim, just as they were last summer.
The Mets have plenty of time to decide. Jonathan Lucroy and Jay Bruce headline the hitters that are expected to be available, though access to those players almost certainly would require parting with Rosario.
The Mets have leaned on their pitching to stay within three games of the Nationals, but they could find themselves needing to fortify a lineup that has been besieged by health woes and underperformance.
Rival scouts and executives expressed skepticism about whether any talks regarding Rosario will gain traction, especially now that the prospect has improved his stock since his recent promotion to Double-A Binghamton.
“He’s a keeper,” said one longtime NL talent evaluator who recently watched Rosario. “They better not trade him.”
The Mets have yet to engage in any high-level trade talks, a source said, though the expectation is that Rosario’s name again will generate plenty of interest.
Before his promotion, Rosario had a .309/.359/.442 slash line with three homers and 40 RBIs in 66 games with Class A St. Lucie. Entering play yesterday, he was 4-for-9 in his first three games since the promotion.
Evaluators regard the 6-2, 170-pound Rosario as a good runner with a strong arm who is just beginning to gain strength as he fills out his athletic frame.
“He makes all plays look easy, even tough ones,” the scout said. “Swings the bat, makes adjustments with breaking pitches.”
Now he is encountering a new test in Double-A, where he made a brief cameo to end last season.
“We debated for a while when was the appropriate time to do it,” Mets director of minor-league operations Ian Levin said of the promotion. “But it just came down to now he’s shown us exactly what we wanted to see and it was time to challenge him at the next level. The ability started to become production in games.”
Levin cited Rosario’s improved plate discipline and defense as reasons for the move.
“He’s always been an outstanding defender at short, but he continued to make progress there,” he said. “He made, from what I saw, some outstanding heads-up plays, instinctual plays.”