TORONTO — Upheaval is coming to the Mets’ clubhouse, and they know it.
The Mets’ on-field performance has left the club’s GM triumvirate — John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya in place of general manager Sandy Alderson, who took a leave of absence because of his cancer recurrence — with little choice but to become sellers as the July 31 trade deadline nears.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the Mets’ thinking indicated this week that no deals are imminent, though the expectation is talks will pick up during this rare prolonged in-season stay in New York City. The team will conclude the first half with a three-series homestand beginning Friday against the Rays, and after the All-Star break (July 16-19) the Mets have a three-game set against the Yankees in the Bronx and a home series against the Padres.
In three weeks, the next time the Mets hit the road, the traveling party could look a lot different. In the interim, manager Mickey Callaway and his coaching staff are trying to help players keep their blinders on.
“You definitely have to hit them up every now and again just to make sure, ‘Hey, keep your head where it needs to be and go about your business the right way,’ ” Callaway said. “Mainly, the position player coaches talk to them, whether it’s the hitting coaches, their positional coach. Just, ‘Hey, hang in there. Everybody’s name gets brought up.’’
The Mets aren’t lacking in trade candidates. The most obvious choices are Asdrubal Cabrera and Jeurys Familia, free agents at season’s end. Jose Bautista and Devin Mesoraco also fit that description, as does Jerry Blevins (and Jose Reyes, who is more likely to be cut than dealt). In the Mets’ next tier up are players who could be expendable for the right package, but who are under team control beyond this year: Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Wilmer Flores to name three. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are the subjects of much speculation, and Ricco said the Mets are open to anything, though the cost would be high for any team looking to acquire the front-line starters.
In the clubhouse, trade-deadline season can be a strange time. The players all use the internet, friends and family ask them about this and that, and MLB Network is a common afternoon choice on the clubhouse TVs. Imagine sitting down to lunch with a couple of teammates and hearing the talking heads discuss who your next employer might be, a significant life change that you have no say in.
Cabrera, Familia, Wheeler and others have been steady in insisting they have to block out the rumors. But that might be easier said than done.
“No question, no question,” hitting coach Pat Roessler said. “Something will drift in or some family member will say something to them about it. As coaches, we have to stay on top of it and bring them back to just controlling what you can control, your next at-bat or your next pitch or your next play on defense.”
There are also families — and lots of logistics — to think about when the trades eventually come down. When Cabrera got sent to Washington from Cleveland at the 2014 deadline, his wife was pregnant with their third child, two young ones already at home. Cabrera said his oldest, Meyer, now 11 and a regular presence around the Mets, took it particularly hard.
On the trade block again, Cabrera said: “I would love to stay here. But it’s nothing I can control.”
For Familia, the Mets are the only major-league organization he has ever known, signing with them as a 17-year-old in 2007. Players who have done it say changing teams the first time is toughest. Familia believes that.
“It has to be tough,” Familia said. “I’ve never had that situation, but it has to be tough, because this is the only team I’ve played in the major leagues with. This is the only place I know. I know everything — where I want to go eat with my family, if I want to do something. When you go somewhere, you start over. You start from zero.”
When it comes to noise, Todd Frazier steers into it. A year ago, he was a tradeable piece on a bad White Sox team. “I kind of knew I was leaving,” Frazier said. “It was a matter of when and who.” The when was July 19, and the who wound up being the ALCS-bound Yankees.
“I want to watch it. I want to see what’s going on. I want to get a good laugh or I want to get, ‘Oh, all right!’ and think about the possibilities,” said Frazier, an unlikely trade candidate this year. “If you’re one of those guys, well, where am I going to live? What am I going to do? Man, I really don’t want to go to that team, I hope they don’t [make that trade]. All that stuff goes through your head. Most of the time it works out for the person because they’re going to a contender.”
That’s one of Callaway’s messages to his players: Trade rumors are oftentimes compliments.
“It means you’re performing and other teams want you,” Callaway said. “It’s good motivation. It should make you feel good, give you confidence.”