It’s a hypothetical that Mets fans could be asking for years to come — what if the team didn’t make last December’s big blockbuster trade with the Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz? Yahoo Sports’ Matt Ehalt looks at a potential alternate reality where the trade didn’t take place, which keeps Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Gerson Bautista, and prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in the New York organization and also slightly dims Van Wagenen’s “win-now” push, which also means that Marcus Stroman isn’t acquired at the trade deadline (for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson). All other moves remain the same, which means that J.D. Davis and Wilson Ramos are still on the team, for instance.
The end result is a Mets roster that has a lot more young talent as its disposal as possible trade chips or roster reinforcements for 2020, plus a lot more financial flexibility without Cano or Diaz on the payroll. McNeil is locked in as the everyday second baseman, while players like Davis and Pete Alonso still blossom as they did in the real world. “In this alternate universe, the Mets enter the offseason in a much better position,” Ehalt writes, as while “this version of the Mets would win fewer games than the 80-plus games the Mets will win this year, but a few wins are irrelevant when neither season results in a postseason berth.”
Here’s more from Citi Field…
- “Boldness won Brodie Van Wagenen the job of Mets general manager, and lost the season,” the New York Post’s Joel Sherman writes in roundup of the Mets’ 2019 campaign and a look ahead to what the team should do this offseason. Sherman notes that while many of Van Wagenen’s bigger moves (i.e. the Mariners trade) backfired, many of his less-heralded moves proved successful, such as acquiring J.D. Davis or Justin Wilson. Looking ahead to 2020, Sherman proposes that the Mets should continue to “find hidden treasures” on other teams’ rosters, acquire a proper center fielder (Sherman suggests the Padres’ Manuel Margot) for at least a platoon role, and hang onto Diaz and Noah Syndergaard rather than trade either pitcher. To juggle the payroll, Sherman also suggests a few bad contract swaps, unloading the likes of Ramos or Jed Lowrie for high-priced relievers who are also in need of a change of scenery (such as the Rockies’ Jake McGee or White Sox righty Kelvin Herrera).
- Dominic Smith, center fielder? After getting work in the corner outfield this year, Smith tells MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo that he wants to contribute to the 2020 Mets at as many positions as possible. This includes all three outfield spots and at his old first base position, despite something of a roster logjam — Pete Alonso obviously isn’t going anywhere at first base, while Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, or J.D. Davis could all be options for corner outfield work (not to mention the x-factor that is Yoenis Cespedes, should he be able to get healthy). While center field may seem like a tall order for a player who didn’t fare well defensively as a corner outfielder, Smith will have an offseason to fully prepare himself for outfield work, and to that end has already hired a track coach for offseason speed training. With the Mets looking for answers in center, there’s at least a chance that Smith could be a part-time solution up the middle. “Why not get in great shape, man, and go out there and try to compete and do it? I don’t sell myself short on anything. I feel like I can go out there and compete and do anything,” Smith said.