In what one must imagine is an extremely hectic organizational war room, front office employees for the Mets are mulling the packaging of Zack Wheeler and Edwin Diaz in a potential trade, according to a report from Joel Sherman of the New York Post (link).
For a club that is seven games under .500, the Mets–for all of the criticism they’ve received this year–are a team still laden with desirable players. According to Sherman, Mets officials have indicated that as many as 16 teams are currently “serious” about acquisitions involving Wheeler, Diaz, and/or Noah Syndergaard, and employees of rival clubs have informed the reporter that all three are expected to be moved before the July 31st trade deadline.
While an exit may be imminent for the recently recuperated Wheeler and the flamethrowing Diaz, the merit of packaging the two together is, at first glance, dubious. For one thing, with such a large number of clubs involved in the postseason running, it is hard to imagine that either Wheeler or Diaz could not, on their own, net at least a top-30 prospect or two. Secondly, we often see clubs package players as a means of jettisoning undesirable contracts, as was the case with Diaz’ arrival in New York. However, neither Wheeler nor Diaz are attached to burdensome contracts, and one could argue that a trade return on either player would be best maximized in isolated dealings with rival clubs, wherein their individual asset values could be more easily agreed upon.
While it is true that Wheeler’s ho-hum results and impending free agency limit his appeal, his lack of a long-term deal could also be seen as a limitation of risk–if he doesn’t perform well down the stretch, an acquiring club can simply walk away in the offseason. With Diaz, one has to respect that a great deal of his 4.81 ERA is allowable, partly, to a sky-high .407 BABIP. He only enters arbitration next year for the first time, which, despite his 2019 struggles, should make him the more desirable of these two players–this is the same player, after all, that was supposed to provide solace in dealing with the back portion of Robinson Cano’s monstrous $240MM contract. Diaz’ inclusion in yet another package deal, wherein his value is somewhat harder to determine, may make Mets fans feel justifiably queasy.
Meanwhile, in a piece of Mets reportage which runs somewhat contrary to this Sherman piece, Newsday’s Tim Healey relays that his sources within the New York organization are indicating that they fully expect to retain Syndergaard past the deadline (link). The report is relatively sparse on details, but it does suggest–especially when paired with this Wheeler/Diaz news–that the club is indeed more focused on trade permutations involving those latter players.