SAN FRANCISCO — Years ago, when he first heard his name linked to trade rumors, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson still was excited about starting what became a long and productive tenure with the Tigers.
The rumors consumed him. They became a topic of constant conversation with former teammate Joel Zumaya, the reliever whose name also had come up in a potential deal with the Braves.
“Early in my career, I let it get to me,” Granderson said of rumors that ultimately went nowhere. “I vowed from that day that I’m not going to do that.”
Now that general manager Sandy Alderson has indicated that he will listen to offers, it’s a challenge that will be shared by many in a Mets clubhouse stacked with the kind of walk-year players whom contending teams might look to add. Granderson is among a group of Mets in the final year of their contracts.
It includes relievers Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, second baseman Neil Walker, first baseman Lucas Duda and outfielder Jay Bruce, who arrived in a deadline-day deal almost a year ago.
Bruce, 30, has 20 homers and 52 RBIs in 70 games. It’s the kind of offensive surge that made him an attractive trade chip last summer.
“I’ve been through this before,” Bruce said. “I’ve had a blast here, I’ve really enjoyed my time. But I also understand that there’s a business side to it, and that teams are trying to make themselves better now and for the future. And sometimes teams end up on the other side of that than they expected to be.”
Of course, this situation is somewhat different. Injuries and poor performances have sabotaged this season, but the Mets still believe they have a window for contention next year. They retain control of a core group that includes Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Jeurys Familia and Amed Rosario, one of the top prospects in baseball.
The Mets even have remained open to considering a qualifying offer for Bruce at season’s end, with an eye toward potentially keeping him under control past this season. At this point, he’s the only potential free agent the Mets are believed to be open to retaining.
The belief that contention still is within arm’s reach will shape how the Mets proceed. Consider Blevins, the lefty-killer who has a 2.45 ERA in a league-leading 39 appearances. Blevins’ deal also includes a $7-million club option for next season that would make him even more valuable as a trade chip.
The Mets are leaning toward retaining Blevins and picking up the option, though sources indicated that he could be moved in the right deal.
“This would be a first for me playing in that situation,” said Blevins, an 11-year veteran who never has been dealt at midseason. “But I treat it like any other thing you can’t control. Try to ignore it, do your best to not think about it. It’s out of my control. There’s nothing I can do. If I worry about it, it doesn’t matter, so you do your best to ignore it.”
Within the industry, the belief remains that the market will favor buyers rather than sellers. For now, Alderson appears ready to let things play out, with the possibility that the landscape will shift leading up to the July 31 deadline. Though the Mets have made it clear they will listen, industry sources said they have stopped short of aggressively shopping their players.
The Mets also could wind up retaining most of their assets, especially with a market in which veteran trade pieces might fetch midlevel prospects at best. Nevertheless, the rumors won’t stop swirling anytime soon.
“It’s something that the veteran guys have gone through at some point in time, a lot of rumors and speculation,” said Granderson, whose 1.184 OPS in June has raised his trade value. “A lot of the times, it doesn’t end up panning out the way that you think it might. Instead of stressing about it and worrying about stuff that you can’t control, you continue to be ready to play, and if something happens, they’ll let us know.”