It’s tough to imagine at this point that the Mets won’t end up selling a few players at the deadline, but just how many will move remains to be seen. The uncertainty doesn’t really involve the team’s willingness to deal away controllable assets — all indications are it won’t, perhaps barring a surprising offer. Instead, as explored below, there are some questions regarding the short-term veterans that the team is almost certainly willing to trade.
The Mets have received only tepid interest thus far in veteran outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network. Perhaps that’s unsurprising, given the inability of the Tigers to draw top-tier prospect talent for elite slugger J.D. Martinez. Both Bruce and Granderson are performing rather well, but neither is to Martinez’s standard and each earns at a higher rate ($13MM and $15MM, respectively).
All that being said, it’s still hard to imagine that these two players wouldn’t represent upgrades for many teams. Both are producing at quality rates — Bruce for the entire season, Granderson since a terrible opening month (though he has been limited by injury of late). Notably, too, New York is amenable to paying down some of their remaining salary obligations, per Rosenthal, if that means enhancing the prospect return.
One interesting element of the Mets’ decisionmaking is the possibility of issuing a qualifying offer to Bruce after the season, as Rosenthal suggests could be the case. If the team is indeed willing to pay him at a steep one-year rate, were he to accept (or recoup draft compensation if not), then that would suggest a higher barrier to a trade. Retaining Bruce does appear to be a plausible strategy given the club’s evident hopes of bouncing back in 2018, particularly since the team’s other top left-handed bat, first baseman Lucas Duda, will enter free agency (and may yet be traded away first). Dealing Granderson instead might help the team avoid an awkward playing time scenario; according to the report, the Mets are telling these two veterans, as well as long-term assets Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto, that the reps will be split evenly at least until the deadline.
Granderson doesn’t appear likely to factor in the Mets’ plans beyond the current season regardless. And he suggests Howie Kussoy of the New York Post that retirement is at least a possibility as soon as the coming offseason. “I’ve made my peace with it,” Granderson says of the eventual end of his playing career. “I’m going to enjoy this season. If an opportunity presents itself for me to play, that’s great. If not, I’ve had a great run and I enjoyed it. … We’ll see what happens, but there are other things I know I want to do.” That statement is hardly a clear sign, given that Granderson is sure to draw interest, but it does bear watching as his next stint on the open market draws near.
As the outfield situation awaits resolution, the team is also surely weighing its options with some veteran infielders. Second baseman Neil Walker is finally ready for a rehab assignment to test his hamstring, beginning on Friday, per MLB.com’s Chris Bumbaca. If all goes well, it seems that Walker could be back in the majors in time to prove his health in advance of the deadline. Though Walker’s $17.2MM salary makes him a possible August trade chip as well, that’s still of note. After all, teams considering second base upgrades may need to make final decisions on alternatives by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, the return of Walker will presumably push Asdrubal Cabrera off of the position that he reluctantly took over recently. According to Newsday’s Marc Carig, Cabrera will prepare to shift over to third base (with Jose Reyes presumably remaining at short, at least until the team decides it’s time to promote Amed Rosario). That’s a nod to the logistics, but perhaps will also allow possible suitors an opportunity to evaluate Cabrera at the hot corner, which he has manned just once previously in the majors. It’s also possible that the Mets could weigh Cabrera as a candidate there for 2018, given that the team could still pick up his option.
Finally, Carig also touches upon the status of two other Mets infielders, T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores. Both have drawn some trade inquiries, but it seems the Mets are rather uninterested in trading the controllable options. Indeed, Adam Rubin tweets that a source tells him the Mets “asked for an obscene return” when approached by another organization.