Mets owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson have made it clear that the team is intent on being big players this offseason, though Alderson provided a bit more clarity about these winter plans in an interview with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (partial audio link).
“We expect to be somewhat active in the free agent market as opposed to the trade market. We don’t want to give up our young guys,” Alderson said, noting that the Mets plan to “recommit to our farm system and try to stay away from…our really prospects in significant trades.”
While Alderson stated that the organization’s lack of “patience…to allow these players to develop” dates back beyond just “the last couple of years,” the obvious implication is that the Cohen/Alderson Mets aren’t planning any of the blockbuster prospect-for-star trades that defined Brodie Van Wagenen’s tenure as the team’s general manager. (Namely the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade with the Mariners and the deal that landed Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays.)
It could be that this strategy was also somewhat born out of necessity, as the Mets don’t have a ton of blue chip minor league talent. Baseball America ranked the Mets 20th in their August ranking of all 30 organizations, and MLB.com doesn’t have any Mets prospects ranked within the top half of the top-100 prospects list (though Ronny Mauricio, Francisco Alvarez, and Brett Baty all appear later in the list).
“There are only two currencies in baseball: players and money,” Alderson said. “Right now, especially in the upper levels of our system, we don’t have the players. We have some money at this point. So, we’re going to sort of balance those two things.”
This is surely music to the ears of free agents, as the Mets are expected to be bidders on multiple big names on the open market. Cohen’s financial resources could also play a big role in trades, however, given how many teams will be looking to cut costs this winter and might be open to moving some of their higher-salaried players. If the Mets are willing to eat a larger portion of those contracts, rival teams could give up some noteworthy talent for a relatively meager prospect return.