Assistant GM John Ricco has served as the voice for a collective of Mets decision-makers who insist they are open-minded on all their players, including Jacob deGrom.
But executives from outside the organization do not see that openness yet, particularly when it comes to deGrom, with one official of a contender that needs rotation help saying: “They are not talking deGrom. They are not trading deGrom.”
Another official from a team hunting rotation help said, “My read on them is at the end of the day, they only move the free agents.” That would namely be Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera.
The executives spoken to mentioned that it is a fluid time of year, and that new ideas and one text message could veer discussions strongly in another direction. But the current snapshot provided by executives from six organizations who have conversed with one of the three Mets officials filling in for Sandy Alderson — Omar Minaya, J.P. Ricciardi or Ricco — is that:
1. DeGrom is not available because either the Mets won’t move him or because they will set such a high price to move him that no team could match it. There remains a chance that if deGrom is retained, the Mets will visit trying to sign him to a long-term extension.
2. The Mets are more open to dealing Noah Syndergaard, but executives from other teams are dubious if the righty can show enough in two or three starts off the DL with how little he has pitched since the beginning of last season to get full value in return. The outside executives concur that the greatest value the Mets can get for Syndergaard is if he pitches healthy in the second half and they re-market him in the offseason, in part because he would still be three full seasons from free agency.
But another executive said, “I think the market is so bare of difference-making starters that as long as Syndergaard is healthy and pitches well, they will get legitimate offers and I could see him getting moved.”
However, another executive said of having a three-headed GM and involved owners: “I’m just not sure they have a leadership situation that lends itself to large or organization-changing decisions at present. Can those guys agree on that type of deal without Sandy?”
Or do they wait until the offseason and Alderson’s replacement to decide on mega-issues such as deGrom/Syndergaard?
“At this time of year you only have so much time and manpower and resources, so to go on wild goose chases when the other team either isn’t sure what it is going to do or is gauging interest perhaps for a future date is not valuable,” one executive said. “I feel like that with them [deGrom and Syndergaard]. I would have to see a lot more to make me believe they are truly gettable by the 31st [of July] before I put a lot into it.”
3. “The Mets are valuing [Steven] Matz a lot closer to deGrom/Syndergaard than to [Zack] Wheeler,” an NL executive said.
Mets officials privately have acknowledged this because, among other things, Matz first becomes arbitration eligible this coming offseason while Wheeler is a free agent after the 2019 season. Also, the Mets believe Matz is a better performer with a higher upside.
4. Wheeler is viewed, by far, as the Mets starter most likely to be dealt. He’s already thrown his most innings since 2014, timing health and a strong performance (3.50 ERA/.614 OPS against in his past 10 starts) at a good time, especially because without an ace in the marketplace (unless deGrom or Syndergaard gets moved) teams might be looking for starters with control beyond this season and upside potential.
For the upside potential, there might be this from a personnel head: “I would take a longer look at a Met starter like Wheeler or Matz and wonder if they might perform better outside of where they are because there is so much dysfunction and bad defense [with the Mets]. We have had someone on two recent Matt Harvey starts, and he is not back to where he was at his peak with the Mets, but the stuff was really good. His fastball, slider and pitchability were so much better than with the Mets [earlier this year] that it forces you to ask, ‘What was wrong with the Mets that they couldn’t stick with this guy and get this out of him?’”
In his last five starts with the Reds, Harvey has a 2.48 ERA and .577 OPS against. The executives asked said that Cincinnati will not make a killing at the trade deadline for Harvey because there are so many health and off-the-field concerns still with the righty, but one said: “I think they get two good prospects, nothing special, but stuff worth their time for getting him in a good place. And I think there will be a market because with [Harvey] in his walk year, you will get the most focused, best behaved version of him.”
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