With the Mets reeling due to a massive slate of injuries, they’re not waiting until the trade deadline to look for ways to help their roster. Acting general manager Zack Scott told reporters prior to last night’s game that he’s in active pursuit of reinforcements (links via Newsday’s Laura Albanese and The Athletic’s Tim Britton).
“I’m pretty much on the phone all day, every day,” Scott said prior to a game which saw the Mets incur yet another injury, when Johneshwy Fargas sustained a sprained AC joint in his shoulder upon crashing into the center field fence. “We’ve got to find the best solutions, always. … We’re trying to find the best internal options and the best external options and trying to get the best out of the guys that we have
The Mets have been hit with a near-unfathomable slate of outfield injuries, some of the soft-tissue variety that have been on the uptick in 2021 throughout the league but many freak injuries that are entirely unforeseeable. Fargas becomes the second Mets outfielder to injure himself colliding with the wall in center field, joining Albert Almora Jr. in that regard. Kevin Pillar was struck in the face by a fastball last week, leading to multiple nasal fractures that required surgery. Brandon Nimmo is currently being plagued by a nerve issue in his left hand that forced a recent minor league rehab assignment to be halted. Meanwhile, the Mets revealed last night that both Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil will likely be out until late June, as the hamstring strains that sent them both to the injured list have proven to be “significant.”
At this point, the Mets are a catcher injury shy of having legitimate MLB-caliber starting lineup on the IL. Pete Alonso, McNeil, Luis Guillorme, J.D. Davis, Pillar, Nimmo and Conforto represent a better foundation for a lineup than many rebuilding clubs around the league trot out on a nightly basis.
Unfortunately for the Mets, this is also happening at a time when most clubs aren’t yet ready to throw in the towel on their season. Save for a few clubs who entered the year knowing the 2021 season wouldn’t be a competitive one — Pirates, Tigers, Orioles, etc. — teams generally wait until further into the summer to determine their trade deadline direction.
Even those clear sellers may prefer to wait a bit longer, as the demand for the players they plan to market will likely increase along with the number of motivated buyers. Many of today’s front offices seemingly prefer to wait until the eleventh hour and choose not to start dealing until the deadline is just days or even hours away. The Nationals’ remarkable turnaround in 2019 likely only further dissuades clubs from becoming early sellers.
“It’s harder to assess, to address your needs in May or early June, than it is when everyone’s kind of in that (trade deadline) mode,” Scott said last night. At the same time, there’s urgency for the Mets to act now, to the extent possible. “[T]he risk of waiting given all our injuries is that we’re in a different spot and not where we want to be come the end of July,” Scott added.
The Mets, improbably, remain in first place in the National League East in spite of their litany of injuries and a -14 run differential. They can hardly be expected to maintain that standing with the skeleton crew they’re running out on a nightly basis, but Scott and team president Sandy Alderson face an uphill battle in terms of prying meaningful help away from another club at this point in the schedule.