Zack Scott is in no-panic mode. Or, at the very least, he’s trying to show other front offices that he’s in no-panic mode.
That was the sense Tuesday, even as the Mets acting general manager went through the litany of injuries that have plagued this team, and particularly its pitching staff.
There’s no Joey Lucchesi or Carlos Carrasco or Noah Syndergaard. No Robert Gsellman or Jordan Yamamoto (remember him?). Dellin Betances is still rehabbing and Jeurys Familia is on the 10-day injured list with a hip impingement. All of those injuries, save for Familia’s, are long-term, and the July 31 deadline? Well, it sure looks further away than just five weeks.
"It’s hard to feel like you have to do something," Scott said. "You’re kind of painting yourself in a corner when you do that. There are all sorts of ways to stabilize, really. There are different ways to do it. We’ll just continue to explore different avenues to build up depth in the minors. It could be finding a starter, it could be going with quote-unquote bulk guys to get you through some innings. There are different ways to do it and we need to explore all options."
Of course, it behooves Scott to play it cool. There is no doubt the Mets expect to be buyers at the upcoming deadline, but Scott has said time and time again that he doesn’t want impatience to dictate his actions – especially since impatience can be mighty expensive this time of year.
The Mets also lost Marcus Stroman after three outs Tuesday. After throwing three pitches to Austin Riley in the second, Stoman summoned Luis Rojas and the trainer. He made a valiant effort to stay in, throwing one warm-up pitch, consulting with the trainer again, and throwing two more, but was soon lifted for Yennsy Diaz.
There are players in the farm system who could be potential, immediate band-aids – lefthander Thomas Szapucki and righty Tyler Megill – and he’s also ready to work the waiver wire. Scott pointed to the small transactions he made to help keep the team afloat even after Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis went down with injuries.
"I don’t go into it with an all-in approach, that we’re pushing all our chips in the middle because I think that can be very shortsighted," he said. "But we also think we have a chance to win, so we want to make improvements wherever we can. We have to make sure that we have a good sense of the guys that are here, the guys that are injured and when they’re going to come back and the likelihood that they’re going to be able to contribute to a championship club."
So where does that leave the Mets over the next few weeks? Well, despite his desire to find internal and cost-efficient options, Scott has made it no secret that he’s willing to deal. Trades will get cheaper as the deadline approaches and no prospects are really off the table, he said, though he won’t deplete the farm system just for the sake of depleting it.
"You want to always get the best players," he said. "Winning now, this is why we do this. You don’t get rings and trophies for having the best farm system in the game, but the reason you want to have the best farm system in the game is to eventually have the best major league team."
The Mets are open both to rental options and longer-term contracts, he said, while owner Steve Cohen said last week that if the move is right, they’d be willing to cross the luxury tax threshold.
Despite recent injuries to Gsellman (torn lat) and Familia, Scott said he still thinks the bullpen is solid. It stands to reason, then, that the focus will likely be on the starting rotation. The top three – Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker – have been a formidable presence, but there needs to be some caution with deGrom, who’s throwing as hard as he ever has but has also been nicked by small, frustrating injuries. David Peterson has struggled and Lucchesi, who was showing great promise, just tore his UCL, necessitating Tommy John surgery.
A big move is possible, Scott said, though that didn’t seem to be his focus.
"I mean, we’re going to explore all options so, yeah, obviously it would be great to add a player who could impact the team," he said. "But also, there’s value in finding players that can stabilize the team as well. We think we’ve got a good club with all the players that we have. Sometimes the stabilizer is the more prudent thing to do both short and long term."
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