Mets’ trade deadline caution didn’t help World Series hopes

The Mets didn’t take a pass on trade-deadline day because they lack prospects or money. Their system is ranked 14th out of 30 and that is sure to rise after they drafted more players than almost anyone this year. And while Steve Cohen has less money than Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and a few fortunate sons, he has double that of anyone else who owns another baseball team.

They also didn’t do little because, as one Mets fan I know wondered aloud (and other misguided souls I’m sure are thinking), rival teams are either jealous of or mad at Cohen for either becoming exceedingly rich or for trying to win and therefore not willing to help the Mets. That’s just crazy talk. (To those folks, please stay off the internet!)

No, the Mets passed at the deadline because they are afraid to give up the next Pete Crow-Armstrong. At one time it was Jarred Kelenic. But now it is Crow-Armstrong they especially regret as he has risen up the prospect rankings with the Cubs organization.

From here though, prospect rankings and $2.75 will get you on the subway.

The Mets surely have prospects who could have netted them a nice combination of David Robertson, Raisel Iglesias, Christian Vazquez (or Willson Contreras) and Trey Mancini, who could have made enough impact to significantly improve their chances to hold off the Braves, beat out the Dodgers and ultimately win the World Series. They talked about all those players, and made offers on most of them, but they just didn’t want to give them prospects the other teams wanted.

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Pete Crow Armstrong
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Buck Showalter and Billy Eppler
Tom DiPace

You know it’s not about the money, because Cohen has already run the payroll to a territory Mets fans never even dreamed about. (Though in the case of Iglesias, they sought to have some of his $51 million remaining paid down as they didn’t want to have their set-up man on the books at $16 million per when they are hoping to lock up Edwin Diaz; so Iglesias went to their chief rival, the Braves.)

You know it’s mostly about the prospects, and the fear the next one might turn into the next Kelenic, who has a lifetime negative WAR and brought them Diaz, who is their second best and second most valuable player, not to mention a happening every time he enters a game.

Or he might turn into the next Crow-Armstrong, who has an .813 OPS at High-A South Bend. He looks like he might be a player, but after seeing the fellow at the Futures Game, I can report there’s little danger of him turning into the next Pete Alonso. He’s listed at 6-foot, but I assume that means while jumping.

There are things to regret, maybe like trading Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi. This is not that.

Anyway, the Mets need to deal with losing these minor league stars, and to get on with the business at hand, which should be taking a shot at the World Series. If they do win it, I am going to guess that whatever they did on Aug. 2 won’t be a major contributing factor. I heard comparisons to the Braves’ under-the-radar moves a year ago, but this is not that, either. They acquired three above-average part-time players and an above-average right-handed reliever.

While they did take runs at all the fine players listed above, ultimately, they settled.

Give them credit for improving the farm system when it was not only possible, but probable, they’d make impact moves at the deadline. But throw them a demerit for being so afraid to eat crow with another Crow-Armstrong deal that it triggered 24 hours of close to nothingness.

There’s no doubt it was a seller’s market, initiated by the Mariners’ deal for top-of-the-line starter Luis Castillo, in which they surrendered their Nos. 1, 3 and 5 prospects in a fit of desperation, born of two straight decades of incompetence. It’s hard to miss the playoffs for 20 straight years, especially from the perch of big-revenue Seattle.

But Robertson, Vazquez, Mancini and Iglesias — three rentals and an overpriced reliever — aren’t exactly Castillo. And there’s no need for desperation. The Mets are UConn’s women’s hoops compared to the Mariners.

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Mark Vientos (r) and Francisco Alvarez at the MLB Futures Game.
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In the end, Robertson went to the Phillies, a competitor in the NL East, for Philadelphia’s 26th-ranked prospect, Vazquez was traded for a pair of lightly regarded minor league position players, Mancini for part-time center fielder Jose Siri and pitcher Chayce McDermott, who is now 12th in the Orioles system. Iglesias was mostly a money dump. And Contreras wasn’t traded, which is really more a Cubs problem than a Mets problem.

So what are the Mets left with? They got two halves of a DH platoon with Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf, who have fine hitting records against the opposite arms, but aren’t full-time players for a reason, Tyler Naquin, a nice backup outfielder, and Mychal Givens, a reliever who looks like mostly a small salary dump, based on what little the Mets gave up.

The Mets ended up surrendering next to nothing at the deadline. Except of course the opportunity to enhance their chances at a World Series. Which is everything.

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