Whether by making a trade or by promoting top prospect Michael Conforto, it's clear that the conditions exist for the Mets to upgrade their moribund offense. However, what's less evident is whether the Mets will follow through on either front.
Conforto, 22, soon could have his path to the big leagues cleared. During a lengthy session with reporters Thursday, general manager Sandy Alderson said the team will decide in the next day or so whether Michael Cuddyer's left knee condition finally will send him to the disabled list.
"I'll be surprised if he is able to continue anywhere close to normal,'' Alderson said. "So, we'll have to make a decision on that tonight or tomorrow morning.''
Cuddyer, 36, has been limited by a bone bruise for much of July, but the team has insisted on hoping his condition would improve with medication. The latest attempt left Cuddyer lightheaded and did little to alleviate the pain in his knee. He received more medicine and will see if he feels better Friday.
Even when healthy, Cuddyer has flopped in his first season after signing a two-year deal with the Mets, hitting .250 with eight homers and 30 RBIs.
Conforto has dominated since his promotion to Double-A Binghamton, hitting .321 with five homers and 36 RBIs. But the Mets have shown reticence to promote the 2014 first-round draft pick because of his relative lack of experience.
Alderson said position players fast-tracked to the majors generally "aren't terribly successful in the short term.'' But he noted exceptions such as the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber, who has thrived since his recent promotion.
"The downside is sometimes not being successful at the major-league level can have a longer- standing impact on a player,'' said Alderson, who did not rule out promoting Conforto. "There are a variety of other issues.''
His addition could inject some life into a starting lineup that Thursday night had three position players hitting .179 or worse. So, too, could a deal ahead of next Friday's nonwaiver deadline.
Baseball's unofficial trade season kicked off Thursday when the A's sent pitcher Scott Kazmir to the Astros, and the Pirates acquired Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez. The Mets ruled out trading for Ramirez, though they had explored him as a potential fill-in for the injured David Wright.
Alderson rebuffed lingering skepticism about the Mets' ability to take on salary in order to facilitate a deal. When asked if the Mets have the financial flexibility to take on a major contract, he said: "I think the answer to that is yes, OK? Now, none of you will believe me.''
He said the Mets could make more than one move by the deadline, and that he hasn't ruled out acquiring rentals or even players with contracts running beyond this season.
According to sources, the Mets have explored the market for outfielders, which includes the Padres' Justin Upton and the Brewers' Gerardo Parra. The Mets also view themselves as contenders to acquire the A's Ben Zobrist, whose versatility is attractive.
The Mets are 49-47, three games behind the Nationals in the NL East. They boast a young, talented pitching staff that has kept them in contention, but they have been hindered by an offense that ranks as one of the worst in baseball.
Though no moves are imminent, Alderson said "conversations have picked up.''
Would the deadline be considered a failure if the Mets don't make a move?
Said Alderson: "Not as long as we've worked as hard as we need to, and have worked the process as hard as we possibly can.''
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