Home News Mets have a few off-limits players if they opt to sell

Mets have a few off-limits players if they opt to sell

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The Mets have skated dangerously close to the point of no return, but it’s still only the beginning of July, and as general manager Billy Eppler said recently, there is still some “runway” before the front office must decide whether to buy or sell on this season.

But there is no evident reason to believe manager Buck Showalter will find the magic potion over the next few weeks (sorry, Jose Quintana’s imminent return doesn’t resonate enough) and transform this club into a wild-card contender before the Mets have to decide on potentially overhauling the roster.

Twenty-four games remained before the Aug. 1 trade deadline as the Mets opened their series against the Giants on Friday, and barring something like a 17-7 or 18-6 run, it’s safe to assume July will be the last month in which several members of this roster will wear a Mets uniform.

Playing even a few games over .500 for the next month won’t cut it.

Steve Cohen may regret that he said, upon buying the team before the 2021 season, that he would be disappointed if the Mets didn’t win a World Series in three to five years. He acknowledged in his press conference on Wednesday the difficulty of accomplishing such a task. But it’s hard to envision, even as the Mets crave elite prospects that would restock their farm system, that Cohen would blow up the entire team and cripple the organization’s chance of competing for perhaps the next two or three years.

Even so, there are few untouchables on this roster. Everybody should be available in the right trade with the exception of maybe three players. Before we name those should-be untouchables, we’ll name a few who, under the right circumstances, should be available (other than the obvious candidates on expiring contracts).

Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty are two players not off limits for the Mets.

Francisco Alvarez: It would have to be a special deal for the Mets to even consider dealing the rookie catcher, but if a team were willing to trade an elite pitching prospect for Alvarez, it might make sense.

The Mets have another highly regarded catching prospect, Kevin Parada, and could probably survive one season with Omar Narvaez as the primary catcher. The opportunity to land a stud pitching prospect might be the only case in which trading Alvarez should be considered.

Brett Baty: There is some thought in the organization that the rookie third baseman’s future will be as a corner outfielder. So the Mets may not necessarily have their third baseman for the next decade in Baty, even if he fulfills his high potential on offense.

Much as with Alvarez, the Mets shouldn’t be in a hurry to trade Baty, but he doesn’t reach “untouchable” status.

Jeff McNeil: After he won the NL batting title last year, it finally seemed he had arrived as a core player. A half-season into his four-year contract extension, worth $50 million, McNeil is floundering and might not garner much of a return in a trade.

Pete Alonso rounds bases after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Pete Alonso rounds bases after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies.
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Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer: Both pitchers have been disappointments and could be available if they are willing to waive their no-trade clauses and Cohen is willing to eat a significant amount of their contracts. They certainly aren’t untouchables, but the logistics in trading either could be difficult.

And now for those should-be untouchables …

Pete Alonso: He’s probably the Mets’ best asset for a quick infusion of top prospects, but trading Alonso would essentially “wave the white flag,” as one major league talent evaluator said this week, that the team isn’t serious about winning next year.

Alonso, drafted and developed in the organization, can become a free agent after the 2024 season and should remain a focal point for the front office even if the Mets believe they can sign Shohei Ohtani this offseason. Alonso is a face of the franchise.

“I can’t picture him anywhere else,” Michael Conforto, Alonso’s former Mets teammate, said Friday.

Brandon Nimmo: He just signed an eight-year contract worth $162 million in the offseason and has consistently expressed his desire to play his entire career for the Mets. The 30-year-old’s no-trade clause puts him in position to fulfill that goal. Nimmo has become the successor to David Wright as “Mr. Met” and despite a defensive slump, still provides a presence atop the lineup that wouldn’t be easily replaced.

Francisco Lindor: Though he hasn’t lived up to superstar expectations, he is still among the game’s best shortstops and wouldn’t be easily replaced. That point aside, even Cohen isn’t going to absorb enough of the $290 million or so remaining on Lindor’s contract to make a trade worthwhile. It shouldn’t matter. If the Mets are going to compete for a championship in the next few years, they will need Lindor.

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