Before you read this and blame Sandy Alderson, I’d strongly caution: you can’t spend money ownership doesn’t provide or have. We’re playing a shell game until that changes.
The Mets, team insiders say, were willing last winter to increase payroll to the $125 million range, for the right players. Alderson is determined not to commit money irresponsibly, or make a deal at the wrong time, but the Mets seem ready to inch out of the age of extreme austerity.
Alderson’s friends and associates say that the GM values power hitting as much as he ever has, and wants a big bat in his lineup. But here’s the question: Would he deal Wheeler and d’Arnaud, centerpieces of his signature moves to date?
One associate of Alderson’s said that the GM did not have any extra attachment to those players, simply because he traded for them. He likes Wheeler and d’Arnaud because they are talented and valuable, not because he acquired them.
Alderson is also said to be eager to accelerate the construction of a winning team, and open to all possibilities — including bringing Giancarlo Stanton to New York, the most alluring possibility of all. Keep an eye on that one.
The plan was to use the first three years to save ownership money, strip things down and assess in-house talent. The next 12 months should be about putting together a legitimate contender, which will ultimately succeed either under his, or someone else’s, leadership. In other words, it has to start soon.
These days, people with other teams have been telling me the Mets are very willing to trade a top pitching prospect, a big-league arm (think Bobby Parnell) and Wilmer Flores, for a young, under-contract hitter. They have talked with teams about Jon Niese over and over again during the last 18 months, and I think they’d consider moving Zack Wheeler in the right deal.
No team can build an entire outfield in one winter, so I think Alderson knows he needs to make an acquisition this summer, regardless of the team’s record.
“I believe in the next six months or so, we’ll be in position to make some significant acquisitions, either by free agency or trade,” Alderson said. “It’s going to be up to us to make the right [decisions]. We’re working at it.
“Problem is, that at some point the best thing you can do is have a little patience. I’ve been preaching that for the past couple of years and I know it’s wearing thin. But we’re almost there.”
Things can change over 30 days, but the Mets aren’t expecting a significant building block — think a Carlos Gonzalez-type outfielder — to land in their laps before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
“I don’t think that’s something [for] right now,” a club official said yesterday. “That’s probably something more for the offseason.”
It likely means the Mets, for a third straight year under general manager Sandy Alderson, will be sellers heading to the deadline.